St. Ambrose computer science major David Bloom is making a name for himself as a glitch hunter. So far, his discoveries have earned him an internship at the Silicon Valley offices of Web search giant Google last summer and, just this past winter, an internship at Opera, one of the oldest internet browser companies, in Oslo, Norway.
In fact, the problem he found in Opera's browser security was more than just a small glitch, David explains. When he reported his discovery to Opera, they were so impressed-as Google had been-that they invited him to intern at the company's headquarters over winter break.
"It's a lot of fun," he says about his knack of finding errors in computer code. His latest discovery meant that the Opera browser would need to be taken offline to fix. "I was responsible for inconveniencing millions of people," he chuckles.
Due to the time of year, no other students were interning at Opera aside from him. Adding to the intimacy of the experience, the company is a lot smaller than Google. Opera's CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner, even had lunch one day with David. Fortunately for David, no crash course on Norwegian was needed, since Opera conducts its business in English.
Best of all, Opera put David to work on doing what he likes best: searching out and fixing software problems. "I made sure that the Opera browser runs Web pages correctly," he says of one of his assignments.
On a typical day, he would walk two blocks from his apartment to Opera. Tasked to work on quality assurance, David did his job well and efficiently. He also discovered that the full version of the Web email program service, Hotmail, wouldn't work in Opera.
"So I took it apart," he says simply. Since Hotmail is the fifth-most popular Webmail service worldwide, it was important that it work in Opera. "I actually got Hotmail working better in Opera than it does in (Mozilla) Firefox," another well-known Internet browser.
This summer he'll return to Google as an intern and continue working on their "Docs" team. He says the environment is comfortable at Google because he works with people who share the same interests.
While at Google, he'll pay a courtesy visit to Mozilla, also located in Silicon Valley, since he had to turn down the company's offer of a summer internship. That's right-back at St. Ambrose last fall, David discovered yet another software glitch, this time on Mozilla's popular Firefox browser.
In August, he'll return to finish his last semester at St. Ambrose. From there, David doesn't know exactly where he'll land, but says it will probably be in California. He jokes about having a lack of options once he graduates, but is rather wistful about how to give "computer programmer" a little more pizzazz.
"So what words can we put together to make ‘programmer' sound glamorous? Software engineer?" he says with a laugh.
Perhaps, as with each of his internship opportunities, it'll be something he creates for himself.
But we're voting for "glitch hunter."