April 2016 is Inventors Month. Per DaysOfTheYear.com; “Inventor’s Month is dedicated to recognizing the creativity of inventors everywhere, and encouraging everybody to get inventive.”
This post is in a series of interviews highlighting some of the talented individuals we are privileged enough to work with here at Quest.
Senior Distinguished Engineer
When did you begin your career in technology?
I received a Commodore 64 computer for Christmas in the 3rd grade, and began to program in BASIC immediately. I continued learning technology through high school, through a Computer Science degree from MIT, and while at Dell from 1994 to present.
What was the path to your first invention/patent?
My first invention, with Michael E. Brown, was a result of our need to be able to apply firmware updates while a system was running Linux. All previous methods required either DOS or Windows to be running, and for a person to figure out which firmware updates were available and appropriate for each system. Our patent let a system administrator “yum update” their firmware, just as they would any OS package. We filed the patent in July 2006, and eight years later it was granted by the USPTO. This was also my first international patent, being approved in Taiwan, Singapore, and Great Britain.
Has/Have your patent(s) been introduced into a product or product line?
The firmware update methods we invented to run in Linux became the basis of the Dell Update Packages used on PowerEdge servers regularly now.
Describe the experience of seeing your patent in use for the first time:
Released as an open source project, we announced the implementation of firmware-tools to our Linux customer mailing list, letting adventurous system administrators give it a shot long before it was supported by Dell Technical Support. The positive feedback was overwhelming. Suddenly, what used to take them days of manual labor and system downtime could be scripted across their whole environment automatically. Because it was so simple, the most common question was “when will this particular device get update capability?”, followed by “can I do this on other Linux distributions?” We knew we had a winner of an idea.
Have other inventors/technologists inspired you? Who? How?
My family vacationed near Ft. Myers, FL this spring, and visited the winter home of Thomas Edison, toured his “home” laboratory, and learned about just some of the 2332 international patents he had. My 4th-grade daughter was so impressed, she wants to turn her bedroom into her lab.
Closer to home, prolific inventors Senior Fellow Jimmy Pike (retired) and Senior Fellow Liam Quinn have been role models and mentors to both myself and hundreds of Dell inventors. Their combination of technology insight and business acumen have brought Dell inventions to life for millions of our customers.
What interests outside of work do you have?
My wife Celeste, I, and our four kids enjoy outdoor activities, youth sports, and Scouting. I currently volunteer as a coach and the president in our neighborhood Northwest Austin Youth Basketball Association, which keeps 750 youth each year active through the winter playing basketball.
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To find out more about the products Matt helps create & to gain more time to do the things you love using solutions from Quest: #ExpectMore from IT management software