Migs Paraz Profile

Miguel A. Paraz Profile
by: Gary Mercado
gary@exchange.ph
February 22, 2003

Any important event has its key players, and in the local Internet Revolution of the mid-90’s, few people in the industry can dispute the role Migs A. Paraz played.

Migs comprised the technical management of then Iphil Communications, one of the first ISPs to resell bandwidth and management to other ISPs. He describes his responsibilities as “developing the technical part of Internet solutions, in both system administration, network administration, and new solutions”. A decidedly understated statement of the fact that Migs had a hand in almost every technical aspect of as many as thirty of the first Internet Service Providers in the country.

In effect, Migs was right “in the middle” of all things Internet in the Philippines, or just about as close to the middle as one can get. As the primary attendant to the hubs and routers to which the Philippine Internet-using-public was relying on, his role as far as keeping things humming along was crucial. Quite a deal for this Atenean 1995 CS Alum who was in his mid-20s at the time.

Here are some thoughts from Migs himself, of then and now.

– On The Past; A brief history:

IPhil started operating in July 1995. We, the owners, sold it to PSINet in 2000. It was transferred to Inter.net in 2001. I was developing the technical part of Internet solutions, in both system administration, network administration, and new solutions. I was also doing some of the operations.

I can recall as many as thirty or so (ISPs connected to Iphil), small and large ones. Most of them asked for help with running their systems, and some, we were really hand holding.

– On His Current Employ:

I’m now with Gibeon Philippines, and my title is “Chief Software Architect” The company has a variety of projects. I’m now involved in mobile banking, designing and writing software for cellphone systems and how they connect to banks.

This is quite different from what I’ve been doing from being doing in the past years, but, it actually goes back to what I’ve been interested in school. Back then I thought my career would be in software development. It’s interesting because I get to practice software design. I would like to help grow the software design and Computer Science community. I also want to be more well-rounded in the IT discipline.

– On Programmers, The ‘Net And The Current Local Technological Scene:

I think we could do much more in the software design and development sectors, whether for contract or shrink-wrapped software. This is because we don’t need much by way of physical infrastructure or financial capital. Sadly, I believe most of our programmers and the schools that teach them are blinded by the glamor of technologies that get obsolete soon. Some of our perceived weaknesses are actually strengths – we may lack computers, but computer science theories also need textbooks – local reprints at that!

Programming doesn’t need the latest and greatest PC’s – a one year old (today) computer will do fine, and we have a lot of spare computing power to get by.

– On Advocacy Efforts

I’m the founder of the PH-ISP mailing list, which has its origins in late 1995. This was active in the early years, and then became quiet. Recently it’s becoming a little active. I started it to get ISP’s working together in technical issues, but as it happened it also helped get activities like PISO started. I remember, we hosted a meeting at Online Advanced Systems, which was at the time the sister company of IPhil Communications. In a way, the discussion in PH-ISP led to what we have as PH-Cyberview today – Jim’s**** of course. PH-ISP was intended originally, and in the early years was, a forum for ISP’s, but it evolved over time to include consumers, and non-ISP IP networking or sysadmin questions. I’m not unhappy that it isn’t too active since the ISP scene is no longer too hot and the telcos aren’t really opened up into talking about tech issues “in public.”

When I was heavily into pushing Linux, I was active in the PLUG mailing list. Now that I’ve retired from that role, I’ve limited my presence to the PLUG-ORG or organizational issues list. Sadly it isn’t too active. I used to be the president of PLUG (2000-2002), but now can watch it “from the outside.” I think the reason that PLUG doesn’t take off is that: 1. people have different agendas of what they want to do for PLUG; 2. they don’t want to be bothered by administrivia (that is, administrative matters) like getting the org SEC-registered, and, they’re not really organizational-types who would set up events, which is the consensus anyway.

I got started in PH-CERT only relatively recently – 2002 I think – when Abet*** decided to restart it. At that time I was pretty much free in terms of time (and like people call me, I’m the “professional volunteer” :) )… back then I was more interested in the security side of network architecture. Back in Inter.net I was also hacking on some security tools where I collaborated with William Yu** – the URL’s are on my homepage****. Nowadays since I’m more into software, I’m concerned about the secure design + implementation of custom software that we write. Alas, PH-CERT is another org that’s hard to stitch together, considering people are busy and security is still not an important concern for the typical enterprise CIO.

– On His Programming Language Of Choice, Java:

I’m fascinated by software design because I see parallels with real life design, and in the craftmanship and discipline – much like art. I’m also very passionate about education – sharing what I know and helping others in learning from each other. I have plans to teach formally in the future, at the university level. For now, it’s more of peer teaching like in PinoyJUG, and a yahoo group I started called “pinoyjavalearners.”******

Right now, I spend the most amount of time with PinoyJUG since I am sharpening my skills by teaching. I’m most interested in the core Java language and tool set, as opposed to the technologies available. We have regular meetings, currently set at once every two weeks. I write a good amount of programs for practice which I share to the group. I have a plan of arranging these into a portfolio with descriptions so people searching the web for examples can find them.

I would say PinoyJUG is the most successful by the fact that we have face-to-face gatherings. Unfortunately, I don’t think we cover the of local Java programmers and we could use some fresh insights and people to help us out. To help on the newbie side, I set up a yahoo group called pinoyjavalearners but I haven’t really had the time to push for it. My plan there was to hold live study sessions and help new programmers, whether in industry or in school. I really like teaching.

While Java is my work language right now, it’s not my only tool. I helped started a “compsci” mailing list for Computer Science and related topics. There are some discussions here for people who want to further their Computer Science explorations. This group and friends has only met (with me, at least) twice in real life.

The groups I want to join have an active user community of real people. I’m really a person who likes to reach out and meet people face to face, so I’m not satisfied with witty exchanges via email and forums. I’m involved in a bunch of other groups and circles of friends that are not within the IT realm.

* Migs homepages: http://mparaz.com; http://techscene.com

** William Yu – open source and IP networks pioneer at the Ateneo.

*** Abet Panganiban – current (and forever – Migs) head of PH-CERT.
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ph-cert)

**** Jim Ayson – founder of The Philippine Cyberspace Review
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ph-cyberview)

***** Pinoyjug – Philippine Java Users Group
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pinoyjug)

****** Pinoyjavalearners – another Phil. Java group but run by Migs
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pinoyjavalearners)

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