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I Hate Linux

Friday, August 31, 2007

Six Months: One benefit... NDA

Not a second after I posted the last post I remembered one major advantage of this point... portions of my NDA with my previous employer would have expired... specifically the portions regarding their ownership of anything I create, invent, write, etc.

Why is this important?

Back when I was only an intern there (nearly 4 years ago) there was an immensely useful piece of software that came from a company in France, a piece of software that was only part of a larger suite and one that my employer was the only authorized seller of it in this nation (we rebranded it).

One problem (aside from the extreme cost)... hardware dongles.

One weekend while at home I sat down with a copy of the relevant ISO document (ISO 13818-1 defines MPEG-2 Transport Streams, the fundamental basis of digital television today) and got to writing a basic version in VB.NET of one of the applications in the suite and come Monday morning was quite proud of my work and figured I should probably tell my manager just in case they had a problem with me writing an app at home that could theoretically compete with something the company sold down the line.

After seeing a couple of screen shots my manager was shocked... and along with a short document I wrote up explaining my intent for writing it and how far I wanted to take it he took it to the department manager.

In short I wanted to make a piece of software I might sell for $50-$100 that had a few of the features of something the company sold for ~$70,000... so needless to say mine would be pretty limited by comparison.

After giving it a read through the department manager took it on to the head of the sales department and they scratched their heads for a while. Eventually the department manager got back to me and said that while he technically couldn't force me to stop building my app... he assured me that if one day there was news from up front that they'd lost a large sale because of the personal work of someone in the engineering department... heads would likely roll.

Needless to say I didn't continue it. Partially due to that threat, but also because I figured that they could technically take control of it from me at anytime due to the before mentioned NDA.

That isn't the case anymore... and perhaps it's time to consider restarting that project (from scratch of course).


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