Bob Clark


The Bob Clark Omnibus

If you took everything about Bob Clark — a résumé, a passion for Apple software development (Mac OS X, iOS, iPhone, iPad), a hodgepodge of social-networking links, a select cross-section of Clarkwood Software products, and links to family web pages — whizzed ’em up in a blender, and spilled ’em out onto a single web page, you might end up with this. This very page you’re reading right now.

If there were no accents in there word “resume”, SEO would be easier.

Bob Clark’s Personal “Brand Pillars”

My “philosophy” of engineering and engineering management can be scrutinized through the lens of what I consider to be my personal brand pillars.

These are five characteristics that I try to embody to drive my career and my life.


Honesty               Deliberation               Kindness               Curiosity               Catalysis


Honesty

No long-term relationship — with a spouse, with a friend, or with a company — can survive without a pillar of honesty. Deception, even if it’s as innocuous as estimating a task too optimistically or sugarcoating an employee’s performance appraisal, will lead to situations that are worse in the end than if they had been handled candidly in the first place.

I can acknowledge that there are times (buying a car, say) when it would be a tactical advantage to be able to skirt the truth a bit, but for better or worse — usually better, to be honest — I strive to be honest.

Deliberation

Some disciplines require instant feedback and snappy rejoinders. Engineering, fortunately, is generally not one of them. Software Engineering involves crafting products of beauty and simplicity over the course of weeks, months, or years. Knee-jerk responses and overreactions are damaging. My deliberative approach to solving problems ensures that decisions aren’t made in the heat of the moment, but rather there has been a chance to let things brew for awhile.

Although it can be awkward the first few weeks I work with someone (“Let me process that for a couple days” is a phrase many of my managers and co-workers have heard), a professional relationship is much more successful when I deliberate.

Kindness

Kindness does not come naturally enough to many of us engineers. We can focus so strongly on a technical problem that we forget that those around us are humans, too, with human frailties and human emotions. Inadvertent hurtfulness can cause repercussions for years.

I have always enjoyed long-term (years or decades) working relationships; building and maintaining those relationships has required that I reciprocate others’ kindness and that I, too, show kindness.

Curiosity

Curiosity is how we can inoculate ourselves against painful or even deadly surprises. When people learn something that might contradict their assumptions, some people will be incurious or even find themselves in denial. Others will be delighted to find an opportunity to expand their knowledge.

Keeping a vibrant and always-learning mind — being curious — ensures that I don’t get stuck.

Catalysis

A very few people have the ineffable quality of empowering the people around them. Somehow, you drop one of these people onto a project and everyone else steps up and creates magic. I have been fortunate to work with some people like this (Peopleware’s DeMarco and Lister call them catalysts, and so do I), and I try to improve the life and productivity of those around me as well.

In my own life and work, I try to catalyze.

The Work Experience
and Education of Bob Clark

Historically I have not been much of a job-hopper. I’ve been at Apple for a decade; I worked for nearly fourteen years at RealNetworks, and previous job tenures were just over seven years, and almost four years.

  • Apple (Cupertino, CA) 2012-present. Software Engineer.
  • RealNetworks, Inc. (Seattle) 1998-2012. At RealNetworks I was Development Manager for the development team creating mobile clients (notably iOS/iPhone/iPad) for several RealNetworks products. My team was also responsible for the Mac OS X version of RealNetworks’ flagship product RealPlayer.
  • Edmark, Inc. (Redmond, WA) 1995-1998. I contributed to Edmark’s award-winning “House” line (Millie’s Math House and others) and other products as Software Engineer and Lead Macintosh Engineer.
    Millie’s Math House; Bailey’s Book House; Trudy’s Time & Place House; Stanley’s Sticker Stories; Imagination Express; Astro Algebra; Travel the World with Timmy; Millie & Bailey: Pre-School; Millie & Bailey: Kindergarten.
  • Curriculum Networking Specialists (Walla Walla, WA) 1987-1995. Software Engineer. (The company was known as Computer Networking Specialists, then renamed to Curriculum Networking Specialists, then was bought by Chancery Software... and the cornerstone product still lives on elsewhere as ClassWorks.)
  • Clarkwood Software (Lynnwood, WA/San José, CA) active 1995-2016. Clarkwood Software is where I have gone for creative release, to work on products and ventures that don’t fit into my day job.
  • Walla Walla College 1995. BSEE (Electrical Engineering) cum laude

That cum laude was kinda like Ted Williams when he hit .400. He had to round up to achieve .400 until his final double-header in 1941. In my case I had to round up to hit a 3.5 GPA until my last quarter got me up to 3.509, so if “barely cum laude” was a category, I’d like totally own it.

My goal — whether it’s as a software engineer, a technical lead, or as a development manager — is to bring a calm, deliberative presence to an often-chaotic environment.

Earlier in my career I vowed to avoid management, just as in college I vowed that I would never own a station wagon. The vagaries of life have ... revised ... my intentions for both of these situations.

If This Were the Résumé of Bob Clark...

My résumé would reflect a pragmatic passion for iOS and Mac software development: the passion necessary to release quality software, and the pragmatism necessary to release quality software.

If this were my résumé, I’d be sure to include bullet-item buzzwords associated with expertise. Buzzwords like C, C++, Objective-C, Cocoa, UIKit, Xcode, macOS, iPhone, iPad, and iOS.

If this were the résumé of Bob Clark, surely there would be room to mention low-level expertise in techniques like multiprocessing, networking, and optimization, and could mention source control experience (especially git, subversion, and cvs).

Bob Clark’s résumé might include some words about how I am effective (and happiest) when I am thoroughly and deeply involved in shepherding a product through all phases of development, from inspiration and planning through implementation, deployment, and ongoing maintenance.

A résumé of Bob Clark might have a subtext that building strong products requires building strong teams, and nurturing the health of a team is one of the most important responsibilities for every professional in the high-tech industry.

(If this were, in fact, the résumé of Bob Clark.)

If only the past subjunctive mood were something that made sense.

The Social-Networking
Pool O’ Links for Bob Clark

The social networking sites I currently play with are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and a bit of dabbling in Goodreads and Nextdoor.

This plethora of social networking sites is ... inelegant. Each of them has a slightly different way of doing things. Twitter has its one-to-many asymmetric relationships vs. LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s two-way connections; LinkedIn has its professional perspective; and Facebook has more of (my) acquaintances.

And, to make the situation even more inelegant, there’s no good way to social-network between social-networking sites. I see invitations from the same people on LinkedIn and Facebook, and then see them following me on Twitter. (Or vice versa, I’ll send invitations to the same people on different sites.)

Yuck! It offends my delicate sensibilities to have to reproduce the same work over and over.

I’m generally rather discriminating when it comes to whom I invite to social networks — like, I have to actually know the person(!) — but I’m pretty “easy” when it comes to accepting others’ invitations. So invite away! I’ll be your friend.

The Personal & Family Side of Bob Clark

I am currently a resident of San José ... the Bay Area ... Silicon Valley. For many years I lived in the also-awesome Seattle area. High tech and playing outside is a sublime combination and something that is deeply satisfying for me.

I have a bookshelf with “Bob’s Top Five Novels.” Right now that shelf includes:

  • The Brothers K, David James Duncan
  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy, Douglas Adams
  • The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu

 

Other Nerdy Projects and Articles
Related To Bob Clark

There are a number of projects in which I have been involved, from college assignments to just-for-fun tinkering.

More Clarkwood Software articles are available from the Extras page.

Ask me about F.A.R.T. logic sometime.

Contacting Bob Clark

If you need to contact me without the overhead of “friend”ing me on Facebook, or “connect”ing on LinkedIn, you can find my email address on my résumé.

RFC 793: section 2.10