This is my home page. Everyone else has one, so I suppose I should too.
When I'm not working, I like riding my bike, running, drinking micro-brews, driving my car on the track and spending time with my wife and our grandchildren. I'm also into local music. My favorite local band is Naked Blue, formerly known as Wish, formerly known as Naked Blue.
My first experience programming computers was in physics class in high school (1976) where we had access to a Model 33 Teletype connected to a timesharing computer with a 110 baud acoustic coupler. It was crude and slow but I was hooked (thanks, Paul!). After that I took a degree in comp sci at the University of Maryland, learning FORTRAN, COBOL and assembler by punching cards and dropping them off to be run in batch mode. Even compared to the Model 33 it was a drag.
In 1979 by an odd coincidence I got a job to write business applications in FORTRAN on a PDP-11 for a commercial bakery. Not only did I have access to an interactive computer system with 9600 baud video terminals, I got all the free cookies I wanted, too. The only drawback was that there was no one to learn from. Reading the DECUS newsletters made me think that there must be intelligent life out there somewhere, so about 1981 I set out in search of it. I spent a year at a Major Non-commercial Television Network helping to build a prehistoric network that used a satellite link for the downstream data along with telephone modems for the return data.
In 1982 I landed at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center , where I had the chance to work on lots of neat projects and develop software for all sorts of now-obsolete systems, some of which are still in use. I also had a lot of opportunities to travel, including 4 trips to the South Pole , where I installed the first e-mail link from there to the outside world.
In 1987 I left NASA and went to work for Digital Equipment Corporation, or DEC as it was known in those days. I did a number of projects for different customers, including a Tough Guy That Sold Tender Chickens. I had wanted to do operating system programming for a long time and I finally got a chance to do that by being a contributor to the VMS version 5 effort.
In 1989 things started to go downhill for DEC, and I left to work in the robotics lab at NASA. It was the most fun I ever had at work. The only problem was when we made mistakes things broke. Sometimes big things. Everybody broke something, but some people broke more things than others. I learned a lot about attention to detail while I was programming there. We also flew a VAX on the space shuttle, which was really exciting. It was also where I had my first exposure to Unix and TCP/IP and I became a convert.
In 1992 or so, the Space Station (which had been funding the robo lab) had shrunk to the point the robots we were developing weren't required anymore, and Congress (opposite of progress?) killed the robo lab. I went to work as the IS manager for the contractor that I had been working for and also had my first brush with the Evil Empire. I also put up a Linux system there (FQDN omitted to protect the guilty) to relay email which was still running kernel 1.1.85 the last time I checked.
I hung around there until early 95 when I joined the Internet Engineering department at MCI, where I was the sysadmin for all of the Unix hosts used to support the operation of the backbone. I had the chance to learn a lot about network engineering from real experts in their fields, including our vice president, who was one of the co-inventors of TCP/IP.
I stayed at MCI until August of 96 when I joined some friends that had started a company that was trying to sell Internet access over cable TV modems. I mostly did business development while I was there but I stayed involved with Unix so my hair didn't get completely pointy. Their parent company ran out of money in the fall of 1997 and I worked as an independent Internet consultant for several years.
Update, March 11, 2004: Well, I haven't updated this page in years, so its probably time to do so. I spent about 6 years doing Unix sysadmin and programming in various capacities at A large On-Line service. I survived the dot-com meltdown, but just barely. In July of '03 I got a call offering me a position as a systems engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope Control Center System team. It was great to be back in the old neighborhood and doing something interesting. Then W. decided we should go to Mars and the HST repair mission was canceled. While I'm waiting for the ax to fall I've had a lot of time to think about various things: out-sourcing, off-shoreing, SCO vs. IBM, the PATRIOT act, the DMCA and pervasive-ness of digital technology in our daily lives. I don't have any answers, but I do have plenty of questions.
Update, April 12, 2010: After the HST repair mission was cancelled (but before it was subsequently reinstated), I moved over to another project, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO. It was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral AFS while Washington DC was enduring the great blizzard of 2010, part deux, AKA the snowpocalypse. SDO is currently on orbit and undergoing science instrument calibration and my part of the mission is complete.
I am currently working on a
to modernize NASA's
Construction pictures on Flickr
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