MVP Insider: Q&A with Oisin Grehan

His first foray into computers began at age ten with the eight-bit Amstrad CPC 464; twenty four years later, he’s still at it although we’ve gained a few bits in computer horsepower since then. His flirtation with internet technologies began in the mid-nineties, when he designed and built Ireland’s first large-scale e-Commerce system using Microsoft Merchant Server 1.0 for Allied Irish Banks (AIB), known as First Trust in North America. Programming is a passion for him, and he enjoys high-pressure environments and the company of inspirational and talented colleagues. He has worked as an independent software developer and consultant for the last five years, and lives in Quebec, Canada with his wife Carly and two oblate cats.

1. What does being an MVP mean to you?

Being an MVP is incredibly fulfilling. I’m not classically trained, and so receiving such recognition makes me feel like that I’ve managed to keep pretty decent instincts about the directions this fast moving world has been going in. You can get involved in so many interesting things, like reviewing technical books, going to conferences as speakers and/or guests, techno-groupies (well, maybe not so much.) There are plenty of other perks, but I’d have to kill you if I told you them.

2. If you could ask Steve Ballmer one question about Microsoft, what would it be?

With the proliferation of easy to use and intuitive touch-screen based smart devices made by a certain competitor, is it time to throw away the overly complex and labyrinthine Windows Mobile UI and start afresh with something multi-touch based? Maybe we’re already going there, but it would be great to know.

3. What do you think the best software ever written was?

In its day, Borland’s Sidekick TSR for DOS was pretty cool. The first time I learned what a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) program was and how it worked, I was fascinated. This led me to learn 8088/86 assembly and really got me interested in the inner workings PCs in general. I kinda miss those days where the tag “computer expert” actually meant something. The term is meaningless these days. That world is too broad. Well, maybe Mark Russinovich might qualify… I really feel compelled to say PowerShell has taken over that position now - an incredibly fun piece of software to work with and extend.

4. If you were the manager of Admin Frameworks, what would you change?

I would make source code snapshots available with NDA PowerShell drops. I might even go further and try to push source for the public version out there too. 100% compatible clones on other platforms would be pretty cool. People are already trying to do it with things like PASH on the Windows Mobile Platform and MoonShell on Mono, but without source, they are probably going to be incompatible in ways that are not discovered until it’s too late.

5. What are the best features/improvements of Admin Frameworks?

A very responsive, friendly and open product team. The guys there are super passionate about what they do, and are very open to MVP input. I really feel like I (we) can make a difference.

6. What was the last book you read?

I’m current reading [Monty Python writer] Michael Palin’s Diaries 1969 - 1979. The last book was actually “Unforgivable Blackness: The rise and fall of Jack Johnson” by Geoffrey C. Ward. Although I’m not against fiction writing per-se, I find biographies and historical books way more interesting.

7. What music CD do you recommend?

Anything from Laurent Garnier, or David Bowie. I quite like the Beatles too. That and hard German techno; that’s coding music.

8. What makes you a great MVP?

I might not blog the most in my peer group, but I do pump out quite a lot of source code to CodePlex. People can download this code and use it freely to build their own projects based around PowerShell. I enjoy helping others to get the same pleasure out of coding that I do. I’m not sure I could support the generalized implication of “great” in the question. Aren’t we all “great” to someone?

9. What is in your computer bag?

Laptop (Surprise), Portable 80gb drive, USB stick, Zune cable, iPhone cable, HTC TyTN (Windows Mobile), Nintendo DS. All gadgets for the metro commute downtown.

10. What is the best thing that has happened since you have become an MVP?

Connecting with so many other interesting and talented MVPs both online and offline. I really enjoyed my trip to Redmond last year to meet the PowerShell team. We went out to dinner with them, and shared a few drinks even. The only bad thing about that visit has been a continuing thread about Sushi on a team mailing list that has refused to die. It’s been nearly 8 months now guys. I don’t even like Sushi.

11. What is your motto?

“Ex scientia gaudium” - I’ll leave the translation of this latin as a cheeky task for the reader.

12. Who is your hero?

Richard P. Feynman; the man embodied everything that is great about discovering the beauty that is contained in every item or concept in nature.

13. What does success mean to you?

Waking up and wanting for nothing. Well, maybe a cup of tea.