Ten years, one month, and one week
Sunday, February 6, 2011 8:56:52 PM
Opera was still a rather small company then, less than a hundred employees. Opera 5 was just released, they were expanding and could use some help in the QA and documentation area. How did they end up with me?
At that time I had been a volunteer for Opera Software for a few years, worked on a Dutch translation, and was part of the NDAd volunteers group 'Elektrans' that had helped out in testing Opera 4 and Opera 5. I had also picked up some experience with CSS. While I don't have a computer science background, I found the web fascinating and the promise of CSS styling of web pages so much more elegant than the table-layout mess that was common then. So I was hooked on Opera when they released version 3.5, which was the first browser with a more or less complete implementation of CSS 1.
CSS support in the other browsers was a mess at the time: IE 3 had had some experimental support for the CSS 1 draft spec, IE 4 added experimental CSS 2 positioning features but didn't fix their CSS 1 support when the CSS 1 spec had become final. Netscape had been betting on a different technology (JSS) and had to shoehorn kind-off CSS support into Netscape 4 to keep up with IE. I made some test cases comparing CSS support in Opera 3.5 with Netscape 4 and IE 4, was active in the c.i.w.a.s Usenet newsgroup, and won an Opera t-shirt for my third place in an Opera competition with this webpage showing off the power of CSS 1: PowerWare. This way I attracted attention from Håkon Wium Lie, Opera's CTO.
I met Håkon in Amsterdam, when he was there for the ninth WWW conference in May 2000, as he and some others (including Sue Sims (the Elektrans ringleader at the time) who had asked me along, and Eric Meyer) went out for dinner one evening. Not long after that, I was approached by Håkon for a QA job in Opera Software. He already knew that I wasn't interested in moving to Oslo, as I had just started a family. We came to an agreement: I would work from my home in the Netherlands, and would visit Oslo every now and then.
In December 2000 I signed a contract at Håkon's place. Together with some other Elektrans we were visiting Opera's Oslo headquarters for a few days, for some direct contact with the developers and also as a sort of treat for the help we had given Opera in the past two years. I remember that Håkon served the traditional Norwegian dish of Lutefisk. That was before the signing of the contract, so I bravely ate a bit of it. To be honest, I hope other Norwegian home cooks can do the dish more honor
Since then, I've had countless bosses inside Opera, as the structures changed all the time, and as I moved from browser testing to Core testing to Desktop testing. Nowadays, I spend most of my time working with the Mail client in Opera. But I'm also involved with other activities that involve the browser user interface. I'm one of those guys who actually remembers why things work in the Opera browser as they work, as I've followed its development from close by since version 3.6. Ironically, I'm not involved anymore in the work on CSS support in Opera, the thing that originally got me hired. Still lurking on the WWW-Style mailing list though...