NASA engineer working on aeronautics programs in aviation safety and weather. Currently too busy with family and work to participate here.
First used a computer in 1966, when doing a plot for EE lab in Algol on Hollerith cards consumed the entire room-sized Burrows B5500. First interactive programming was in BASIC on a paper TTY circa 1969, before dropping out to waste a few years in menial pursuits.
First professional programming job was as a grad student in 1977 doing FORTRAN on punch card decks on a CDC mainframe for NASA Microwave Landing System research. Had to sign up a day in advance to get time on the one Tektronics graphics terminal to develop models and view results interactively. Then at graduation, hired on with a NASA contractor to work on SeaSat radar satellite research that resulted in the first satellite remote sensing of ocean wind speed/direction. Did some real-time hardware/software to digitize and analyze microwave radiometer data recorded on analog tape on a Data General "mini" that had front-panel switches to start the boot from 8" hard-sector floppies - still FORTRAN. Moved on to a DEC VAX 11/750 in 1983 with a VT100 terminal all my own, and became the de-facto VAX/VMS system administrator when nobody else jumped in to learn to manage it. (I believe Jon "maddog" Hall left DEC about the time Microsoft hired much of the VMS team to create NT.) First UNIX experience was on SunOS, later Solaris, on Motorola 68K and then on SPARC in the late 1980s and early 1990s - still primarily FORTRAN but began moving to C. Also dabbled in Pascal, Forth, and C++.
First PC Unix was SCO (right after becoming a NASA bureaucrat and before SCO became a dirty word) to run Oracle on a $14K i386 (still cheaper than the SPARCstations) in 1991 - to analyze research data from a prototype airborne wind shear radar, after we flew it through microbursts on a NASA B-737 nicknamed Fat Albert to collect the data. Spent a lot of nights and weekends getting a real-time VME-bus Motorola 68K system with 6 DSPs programmed in C under OS-9 to work to collect/display radar wind shear hazard data. We knew it was working correctly when the NASA pilots began to trust the airborne radar displays we gave them over the up-linked wind shear hazard data from the big ground radars. This led to FAA certification of wind shear hazard detection on commercial weather radars from Bendix-King/Allied-Signal (now Honeywell) and Rockwell-Collins, now in use on thousands of airliners. On the home front, played with the Commodore VIC20, C64, and Amiga; then M$ DOS and Windows 3.1. First home "Unix" was Coherent (Unix-like PC OS that eventually had TCP/IP and X) on a 286.
Have been using Linux since 0.99-12, circa 1993 - on 5.25" floppy. First distro was Slackware on ~60 3.5" floppies, first CD distro was Yggdrasil. Tried some other early distros including Caldera (again before the SCO acquisition and nastiness) before settling on Red Hat with 3.0.3 (Picasso). First serious Linux use for work was the development of radar simulations on Red Hat 4.0-4.2. Moved to Fedora Core after the RH9 demise - never having required the RH support that came with the boxed sets - supporting radar airborne/runway object and enhanced radar turbulence hazard detection. Moved to WhiteBox 3 for work purposes when it became clear that FC was not sufficiently stable.
Moved to CentOS when they were first with a viable EL4 rebuild. Don't really do much programming any more except in Matlab/Octave and hacking up a few non-CentOS SRPMs for local use when stuff I need is not available from the standard repos. I currently maintain CentOS on 3 home machines and 6 work machines (one a quad-processor 10TB RAID data/compute server), try to help out a bit with QA efforts, give answers on various lists, act as a moderator on the CentOS Fora, and play with Fedora and Ubuntu, when I'm not doing my current real job in the NASA Aviation Safety Program - External Hazard Detection sensor research.
Now the new kid on the block at ELRepo finding ways to contribute there.
You can contact me via PM on the fora, or at pschaff2 at verizon dot net.