Career (brief history)
I have been involved with computers for as long as I can remember. Way back in high school, when computers were just starting to be widely used in business, my interests in math lead me to explore the field of computes. Starting in a class using punched cards and paper tape I was lucky that my high school was one of the few schools that had a class in data processing and access to real computers, though they were miles away we had access via a teletype.
I went to college to be a "computer scientist" but is was really just business programming. Still I learned standard COBOL, FORTRAN and Assembler on an old, card munching IBM 360 mainframe. From there I got a job as a computer operator for a small market research firm on an HP/3000 machine. Even though I was an operator I used my programming skills to write a few applications in FORTRAN and learned SPL (System Programming Language) on my own. I did not know it but my involvement in HP equipment and HP itself would continue to this day.
From there I moved to various business programming positions and started consulting, writing COBOL, View (screen forms package) and Image (database) applications for business on HP systems for some 8 years.
In 1987 I moved to California when I got a contract at HP Cupertino itself performing testing. After a while I joined HP as a permenant employee and was soon reorganized into the Language Labs at HP. I was trained and took to HP-UX and within a short time I became the Clearcase and Unix administrator for the entire lab of some 80-120 engineers. I left HP in 1998 after 10 years.
Since leaving HP I had contracts as such noname companies in Silicon Valley like Sun and Cisco and then back into HP itself.
Then, as everybody knows, the Internet bubble burst and I eventually hooked up with a start up company, Salira Optical Network System, where I am today
Next on tap, with Salira on the verge of bankruptcy I took a contract down in Orange County at Ameriquest Mortgage. LA was nice but my family is up here. After a while at Ameriquest I get a job at LynuxWorks in San Jose. Ah, working on Linux was nice. But soon it was back to contracting for me, now at Broadcom.
Please refer to my resume for a detailed listing of my work history.
My site is hosted at my home through an always on DSL connection. It used to run on my Windows XP box, a 5 year old 450 Mhz machine that's still kicking and provided a lot of service. Being brought up on Unix I am more comfortable at programming in a Unix mode. As such I have discovered and utilize Cygwin which is essentially Linux running under Windows. With it I was able to run my web server (Apache running under Cygwin), mail server (Exim), FTP server, provide SSH services as well as a very functional development environment using Bash, Perl, XEmacs, vi, etc. That, plus running my XP Desktop, browsing the web (I use Netscape and now Firefox and Thunderbird), image processing, music production (Cubase, Cakewalk, Media players and the like), providing my answering machine in a 24/7 environment really has been taxing my poor old 450 Mhz machine!
Next I offloaded most services to my Mandrake 9.1 Linux system. Not that the Linux box is any more powered - it's a 333 Mhz machine but doesn't seem that bogged down since it's running Linux. More things will move to Linux because it just a lot easier to program and much more stable. Still the Linux box is quite responsive. I'm also starting to use MySQL and am playing with some weblog software from MovableType.
I've also set up Gallery which is a PHP web application for managing a photo gallery and, of course, requires that your web server understands PHP. I've been getting into PHP lately and have been changing MAPS Perl based web pages with PHP based web pages. For one, since the PHP intepreter is embedded in the Apache web server it's faster - I'd bet that mod_perl would make the Perl versions as quick but PHP is more "web oriented" than Perl anyway.
Finally I've installed WebDAV so I can host Mozilla's Remote Calendars from my web site. The goal is to centralize my data, my life, from my house, under my control and be able to provide me with all of my stuff from wherever I am. Also, I believe with WebDAV I will be able to use things like Netscape's publish option so that I can even edit my web pages from anywhere.
After suffering for years with my 1998 450 Mhz PC I finally decided to get a new one. I was due! After getting some money from a side contract I purchased a Dell Dimension 3000. This sucker's a 3 Ghz Hyperthreaded CPU with 512 Meg Memory. The video card is a little bit better (64 Meg of video memory whereas my old machine had only 8 Meg!).
I got just a DVD player because I figured I could transfer my HP 9100i CD Writer into this box. I also wanted to transfer the Sound Blaster Live Drive which is a CD spaced "drive" that connects to the sound card and allows you to plug in many things like michrophones, headphone, MIDI keyboards, Optical ins and outs, additional line ins and outs. This is convenient to be able to plug right into the front of the box. Alas, the Dell only has 2 bays so it was either the Live Drive or the CD Writer but not both! I choose the Live Drive at this time.
I also got a voice grade modem hoping that I could finally get a true hands free speakerphone working but the damn modem that Dell uses isn't even TAPI compliant! I tried to move my USB voice modem from the old machine to the new one but was unable to plug it in. So I put this and the CD Writer back into the old machine.
I also wanted to go to 24-bit 192 Khz sampling for a sound card. I decided to upgrade to a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS. This card also features 5.1/6.1 and 7.1 outputs. I figured I could then play a little bit with making my own surround sound recordings. I also get a new surround sound set of speakers for this card. I hope to eventually meld my PC sound with my Bose Home Theater that I have. I now effectively have 2 home theater systems, one on my PC and one in my living room. Maybe one day the PC will move to the living room and start controlling my entertainment...
All in all I'm quite happy with its performance. It is much faster than the old system and it supports standby. My old system supposedly also supported standby but that was on W98. Besides my old PC used to be my whole domain so it couldn't standby. Since services moved to Linux it could standby but on Windows 2000 and later XP it wouldn't standby! Videos play just great, no hesitation, no jerkyness and I can do other things while doing heavy processing. With the DVD drive came WinDVD so now DVDs work. My old system's DVD drive just plain broke.
Maybe in the future I will move the Linux box up to the 450 Mhz (i.e. the old XP box) but right now it's still doing just find
Well my poor old server has really be stressing lately. With Gallery and Andromeda as well as handling email and filtering it though MAPS (using Perl and MySQL) the old gal was really starting to drag. But when I went from Andromeda to Jinzora - a much more feature rich web application for maintaining your media collection and streaming it on the net - it was quickly becoming unstable. Often I had to just reboot her because she was swaping so much that she would eventually crash or just go off the net because she was just way to busy - sorta like falling asleep on the job.
It's a good thing that system prices have come way down - especially if all you are really looking for is raw speed and don't need to buy all of the added junk like sound cards, Windows XP, gaming capable video adapters and the like. Hell I don't care about that! I'm just gonna be installing Linux on it anyway. Don't need no fancy monitors or speaker systems on this machine - hell I don't even have a monitor on my servers! I just stick them in a closet and access them remotely!
For example, this system is 2.2Ghz (Athlon 3200+), has 512 Meg of memory, a 160 Gig drive. Oh it also has a DVD/CD writer combo and even an extra CDROM drive as well as things like connections for headphones and USB ports on the front. I won't be using any of those but hey they came with the box. I may use the DVD Writer though... I believe it had XP Home on it but honestly I never booted it up with XP. Just stuck in the Linux boot CD and went from there. Totally price? $399!
It was an opportunity for me, however, to go from Mandrake 9.1 to a more modern and common Linux Distro - Fedora Core 3 (Yeah I know Core 4 is out). This did, however, entail some confiuguration changes. I had to remember all the config changes I did to the old box and replicate them here. Then I had to move data from the old system to the new, move MySQL DBs, reconfigure applications, install Perl modules, set up various system level services and the like.
I also took this opportunity to update some of my web apps. Gallery's now at 2.0 and Jinzora is now 2.2. Moveable Type went up to 3.2. Nicer apps now, more speed, etc. What can I say?
I wanted to get into and understand Wiki's, which are collaborative web sites or CMS (Content Management Systems), and decided to set up a wiki for Quicken. Plus the name QuikiWiki.com was just too cute to pass up! Plus my Unofficial Quicken Web Page (noticably absent from the menu on the left) was too stale to be of much use anymore. I don't want this to be too much of time drain on me. Wiki's have the potential of solving that problem because every account member has authorship rights for creating and maintaining the pages. The wiki engine I choose was TikiWiki and it has a ton of features like forums, FAQs and much, much more. Check it out!
If you use Quicken then sign up now and help us to build the best wiki for Quicken!
One of my big projects right now is MAPS a Mail Authorization and Permission System. In concept it's pretty simple - all email is considered potentially spam until and unless the sender registers for the privilege of emailing the MAPS user. This dramatically cuts down on spam.
MAPS is now running on my Linux box using MySQL. It is pretty functional but not yet ready for prime time.
While not a technology project as per se, the old Cast of Shadows band is working on new material. It's interesting because we've all gotten more into computers so now we are writing new material and passing it around our computers using software as our studio.
I started putting together some PHP code to browse my music collection. While this was an interesting exercise, when looking for some PHP code to get ID3 tags out of Windows Media Audio files (.wma as I use them more than .mp3 format because they are usually much smaller in size) I came across Andromeda which does a much nicer job than I could do unless I spent a lot of my time doing it. My Music Collection is now online!
I've also put a bunch of my photos into a photo gallery. Gallery is open source software that runs on my web server and uses PHP. As it seems to do a fine job on it's own I'll just use it. Maybe I'll tweak it some later...
I've also installed weblogging software from Movable Type. This package is written in Perl and also runs on my Linux web server. Blogging is not only a culture but can be tremendous time sync. As such I have not sunk that much time into it but I have sunk some time into it. There are lots of "plugins" and tweaks for Movable Type and being written in Perl the community seems to be encouraged to hack it. Maybe sometime when I get more time. Meantime I've basically used it for a part of Danielle's section of the web site and I also use it to keep track of my work status.
Cascading Style Sheets
Partly due to Movable Type and my MAPS project I started getting into Cascading Style Sheets. They're pretty cool and I'm not an expert but I can get around in them a little bit now.