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MacTech Spotlight: Steve Modica, CTO, Small Tree Communications

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 07
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

MacTech Spotlight: Steve Modica

CTO, Small Tree Communications

Your Company:

Small Tree Communications. I founded Small Tree with a group of 5 former SGI employees as SGI augured in back in September of 2003.

What do you do?

I am CTO. I keep an eye on products, partners, technologies and trends to figure out what we can do, what we should be doing and what will be successful in the market. I spend a lot of time talking to and presenting to customers as well as asking customers and resellers what they need.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I started in the computer industry back in 1988 at Herstal Automation. I was doing device driver work for HP UNIX systems in 1990 for them. I spent 11 years at SGI prior to starting Small Tree.

Your first computer:

An Atari ST 512, followed closely by an 8088 based XT Turbo that could run at 10Mhz.

Are you Mac-only, or a multi-platform person?

I became Mac only once I started Small Tree. For the last couple years that I was at SGI, I used my own personal laptop to do all my work.

What attracts you to working on the Mac?

The completeness and ease of the GUI (the OS in general in fact) combined with the underlying power and flexibility of the BSD UNIX running underneath it.

I've hardly had to think about configuration issues even though I use the computer in many different network settings. At the same time, it has powerful tools like lsof and ktrace that I was used to using on my SGI desktop years ago.

What's the coolest thing about the Mac?

To me, the coolest thing is that it's an easy to use Unix machine with all the apps I need. It's everything SGI should have been 10 years ago.

If I could change one thing about Apple/OS X, I'd:

SGI systems running Irix had some awesome debugging features. icrash would let you interrogate the running kernel without screwing it up. par would let you trace the scheduler's activity. sar (and later Performance Co-Pilot) would give very detailed performance information. OS X is missing a lot of that stuff.

What's the coolest tech thing you've done using OS X?

I've setup my machine as a bridge between wired and wireless networks on extremely short notice. Since the system is Unix, it was pretty easy for me to figure it out.


Showing DVD movies on the wall using my LCD projector got the biggest rise out of my kids, so that wins hands down.

Where can we see a sample of your work?

Most of the stuff I have a hand in today is on Small Tree's website: I spend a lot of time worrying about the GUIs and how easy the various products will be for customers to figure out.

The next way I'm going to impact IT/OS X/the Mac universe is:

Making high speed iSCSI availble for things like video editing.


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