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(?) The Answer Gang (!)

TAG Bios

These are some of the people who answer your TAG questions every month.

You can join the Gang too!

Andrew Higgs

Andrew started out with a book called "Slackware Unleashed" containing a copy of Slackware 3.0 on CD around 1996. He has been using Linux as a server at work pretty much since then. Recently he took the plunge and now is happily working on a Slackware workstation. Andrew helped start the Eastern Province Linux User Group, which is based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where he lives.

Ben Okopnik

Ben was born in Moscow, Russia in 1962. He became interested in electricity at age six--promptly demonstrating it by sticking a fork into a socket and starting a fire--and has been falling down technological mineshafts ever since. He has been working with computers since the Elder Days, when they had to be built by soldering parts onto printed circuit boards and programs had to fit into 4k of memory. He would gladly pay good money to any psychologist who can cure him of the resulting nightmares.

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.

Chris Gianakopoulos

I do embedded software for a living. I work at Motorola in Schaumburg, Illinois, and I design and implement RF networking protocols for a living.

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.

Dan Wilder

Dan was born in the late Pleistocene before mortals were permitted access to computers. Raised on a diet of grilled Wooly Mammoth, he wrote his first program in high school, for an IBM 7090 in a language called MAD. Following a meandering career as a sound technician, auto worker, offset pressman, mechanic, roustabout and journalist, Dan went back to college to study Forestry. There, he met his doom in the form of the keys to a room in the cellar of the forestry school containing an IBM 1130, given him by an evil lecturer who became his computing mentor.

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.

Faber Fedor

Faber runs LinuxNJ.com, a Linux hacking, er...consulting company in New Jersey, USA where people pay him to practice his hobby. Besides teaching Linux around the country, writing code and setting up networks, Faber does occasionally walk away from the computer. During those times he's either sleeping or watching reruns of Star Trek or Babylon 5.

Guy Milliron

Guy grew up in SillyCon Valley (San Jose/San Francisco Bay area) where frequent road signs say Intel, HP, Apple, etc...

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, Nevada.

Heather Stern

Heather got started in computing before she quite got started learning English. By 8 she was a happy programmer, by 15 the system administrator for the home... Dad had finally broken down and gotten one of those personal computers, only to find it needed regular care and feeding like any other pet. Except it wasn't a Pet: it was one of those brands we find most everywhere today...

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.

Huibert Alblas

Huibert Alblas is my real name, but everybody has been calling me Halb since the day I moved from Holland to Germany. After spending 5+ years on University (mostly hanging around on campus) "studying" math and physics to become a teacher, I was finally asked by a small .com to work for them, doing what I was doing all day anyway (programming, Linux, Windows, hardware support (a little bit) and overall messing around with computers). In the evenings I teach Wing Tsun (kung fu) 3 times a week or sit in my favorite cafe, drink Weizen (2 times a week), or practice playing guitar and writing a songbook with campfire songs in LaTeX.

Jim Dennis

Jim has been using Linux since kernel version 0.97 or so. His first distribution was SLS (Soft Landing Systems). Jim taught himself Linux while working on the technical support queues at Symantec's Peter Norton Group. He started by lurking alt.os.minix and alt.os.linux on USENET netnews (before the creation of the comp.os.linux.* newsgroups), reading them just about all day while supporting Norton Utilities, and for a few hours every night while waiting for the rush-hour traffic to subside.

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.

Karl-Heinz Herrmann

I'm a physicist. Right now I'm working in a research center in Germany, and am enjoying my good fortune in having mostly Unix machinery around me. I started out with Linux as it made the leap to 2.0.0 and have been running my home PC under Linux since then.

Mike Ellis

Mike works as a Research and Development Engineer in Surrey, England. His first experience of Unix was in 1990 at the University of Kent in Canterbury (UKC) where he also came across Linux in 1992. He has been running Linux systems at home and at work since 1996, starting with Slackware 96, although he now tends to prefer RedHat. He spends as much of his work time as possible writing code for Linux and Solaris, although unfortunately most of it is commercially confidential. Having learnt a lot from other people, Mike hopes to repay some of the debt by contributing to the Linux community through TAG. He also regularly contributes to C-Vu, the bi-monthly magazine produced by ACCU. Non-computing activities include Juliet, flying light aeroplanes and target shooting.

Mike ("Iron") Orr

Mike is the Editor of Linux Gazette. You can read what he has to say in the Back Page column of each issue. He has been a Linux enthusiast since 1991 and a Debian user since 1995. He is SSC's web technical coordinator, which means he gets to write a lot of Python scripts. Non-computer interests include Ska/Oi! music and the international language Esperanto. The nickname Iron was given to him in college--short for Iron Orr, hahaha.

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2001
Published in issue 68 of Linux Gazette July 2001
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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