March 02, 2010

Hijacking Brains: The Why-I-Work-At-Adobe Story

Back in 1999, before I came to Adobe and a couple of years before the iPod was introduced, I heard about how Adobe engineer Chris Prosser had, with a friend, built his own MP3 player for his car. As I recall, they’d put an old stripped-down Pentium box into his trunk, fed Ethernet cable up to the glove compartment, attached a simple LCD text display, and written a Java Telnet app to synchronize songs between his laptop & the car system. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do any of that–but I want to hijack that guy’s brain. If I can make my (and customers’) problems his problems, those problems will get solved.”

I thought of this story when I saw ZhengPing Wang’s “Robot Toy with Flash Player,” a homebrew mobile contraption that lets him keep an eye on his young family. ZhengPing is the lead engineer on Adobe Configurator, and he’s always up for trying something new.
I’m told there’s a Japanese proverb, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” If I could code worth a damn, you’d never see me again as I’d never leave my basement. That is, I already have the ideas for what to do, but I need to collaborate with people who can actually turn those ideas into reality. I’m lucky to work somewhere that lets me go beyond daydreaming, at least sometimes.

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