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These are some of the people who answer your TAG questions every month.
You can join the Gang too!
Ben's subsequent experiences include creating software in nearly a dozen languages, network and database maintenance during the approach of a hurricane, and writing articles for publications ranging from sailing magazines to technological journals. Having recently completed a seven-year Atlantic/Caribbean cruise under sail, he is currently docked in Baltimore, MD, where he works as a technical instructor for Sun Microsystems.
Ben has been working with Linux since 1997, and credits it with his complete
loss of interest in waging nuclear warfare on parts of the Pacific Northwest.
My schooling is a BSEE at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, but I was a nondegreed engineer during most of my career. I have been doing embedded software for about 20 years, and I'm 48 years old.
Networking protocols are what got me interested in Linux. For example, after reading TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1, by Stevens, I had a yearning to experiment with the protocols. Also, I got tired of using Microsoft Windows software on my 486 machine. A 66MHz 486 is sort of fast when running DOS -- Windows 95 brought it down to its knees. Also the Windows games require so much resources! Linux (I use SuSE 6.4) brought new life into that 486.
So I love Linux. I have lots of computers in the house with three of them running Linux (one of them with no keyboard or monitor -- just an Ethernet). I have another machine that runs FreeBSD because I like to see how the various systems (Linux, FreeBSD, even Windows with its protocol stack and Exceed) interoperate.
Physics, electromagnetics (fields and waves), and protocols are the things that I study most. I know the IrDA protocol, I have studied its specs, and I have ported a commercial IrDA protocol stack into more than one embedded system.
I am married with three kids, and I actually see them. When I am not
hobbying and working, I actually get some sleep now and then.
Following completion of a degree and extended sojourns as a real-time embedded systems programmer and UNIX sysadmin, Dan gravitated to Linux Journal, where he helps edit Embedded Linux Journal, and plays with Linux systems all day (and more of the night than his dear and patient wife Jacque would prefer).
Dan spends his spare time hiking, reading to his two children, and doing
volunteer gardening at their school.
Starting at an early age of 10, when Guy took the 27" console television apart one afternoon when the parental units were busy elsewhere, they learned to keep him at bay with his own personal electronic components. It started with a Radio Shack 200 in 1 electronic test kit. Quickly he grew into computers (Apple ][ series - TTL chip sets). Guy entered into an electronics course at school, but was more capable of teaching the course than the teacher. So he was given run of the class to do whatever projects he came up with.
After high school, Guy joined the working people. He worked in IT/MIS for such companies as Adept Technologies (Robotics), Micro Focus (COBOL), Apple, Ibm... His interests in hardware quickly grew into interests in software too. Reading any technical book about any OS, he quickly learned about DOS, Win, OS/2, MacOS... Taking him to a new job title, OS Tech. He heard about Slackware Linux. Obtained a copy, never really thought it would take off and shelved the project.
Guy operated a FidoNet based BBS for many years. Always trying to get more out of the computer by trying different operating systems. Connectivity really interested Guy.
Continued life working for various Microsoft based companies (QualComm, Stac Electronics). Until one day in the late 90's, he heard about Red Hat Linux. Once again, obtained a copy, installed it... and promptly deleted Windows (much to the annoyance of the people in his household). Ended up buying more computers, one specific to Windows for those less apt at Linux, but kept playing with Linux.
Today, Guy runs Red Hat Linux on several systems offering dns, webhosting,
email services... to small businesses. (He also has one Windows machine,) He
also also, operates a taxicab and karaoke hosting business in Las Vegas,
Heather is a hardware agnostic, but has spent more hours as a tech in Windows related tech support than most people have spent with their computers. (Got the pin, got the Jacket, got about a zillion T-shirts.) When she discovered Linux in 1993, it wasn't long before the home systems ran Linux regardless of what was in use at work.
By 1995 she was training others in using Linux - and in charge of all the "strange systems" at a (then) 90 million dollar company. Moving onwards, it's safe to say, Linux has been an excellent companion and breadwinner... She took over the HTML editing for "The Answer Guy" in issue 28, and has been slowly improving the preprocessing scripts she uses ever since.
Here's an autobiographical filksong she wrote called
The Programmer's Daughter.
Jim has also worked in other computer roles, and also as an electrician and a crane truck operator. Jim has also worked in many other roles. He's been a graveyard dishwasher, a janitor, and a driver of school buses, taxis, pizza delivery cars, and even did some cross-country, long-haul work.
He grew up in Chicago and has lived in the inner city, the suburbs, and on farms in the midwest. In his early teens he lived in Oregon-- Portland, Clackamas, and the forests along the coast (Brighton). In his early twenties, he moved to the Los Angeles area "for a summer job" (working for his father, and learning the contruction trades).
By then, Jim met his true love, Heather, at a science-fiction convention. About a year later they started spending time together, and they've now been living together for over a decade. First they lived in Eugene, Oregon, for a year, but now they live in the Silicon Valley.
Jim and Heather still go to SF cons together.
Jim has continued to be hooked on USENET and technical mailing lists. In 1995 he registered the starshine.org domain as a birthday gift to Heather (after her nickname and favorite Runequest persona). He's participated in an ever changing array of lists and newsgroups.
In 1999 Jim started a book-authoring project (which he completed after attracting a couple of co-authors). That book Linux System Administration (published 2000, New Riders Associates) is not a rehash of HOWTOs and man pages. It's intended to give a high-level view of systems administration, covering topics like Requirements Analysis, Recovery Planning, and Capacity Planning. His book intended to build upon the works of Aeleen Frisch (Essential Systems Administration, O-Reilly & Associates) and Nemeth, et al (Unix System Administrator's Handbook, Prentice Hall).
Jim is an active member of a number of Linux and UNIX users' groups and has done Linux consulting and training for a number of companies (Linuxcare) and customers (US Postal Service). He's also presented technical sessions at conferences (Linux World Expo, San Jose and New York).
A few years ago, he volunteered to help with misguided technical question that were e-mailed to the editorial staff at the Linux Gazette. He answered 13 questions the first month. A couple months later, he realized that these questions and his responses had become a regular column in the Gazette.
"Darn, that made me pay more attention to what I was saying! But I did decide to affect a deliberately curmudgeonly attitude; I didn't want to sound like the corporate tech support 'weenie' that I was so experienced at playing. That's not what Linux was about!" ( curmudgeon means a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man, according to the Merriam-Webster OnLine dictionary. The word hails back to 1577, origin unknown, and originally meant miser.)
Eventually, Heather got involved and took over formatting the column,
and maintaining a script that translates "Jim's e-mail markup hints"
into HTML. Since then, Jim and Heather have (finally) invited other
generous souls to join them as The Answer Gang.
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