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Thread: Introductions

  1. #1
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    Sep 2006
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    232

    Introductions

    Hi All and Welcome,

    One of the joys of working on open projects is you get to meet amazing people and work with them to build amazing things. We're just getting started here at CosmoQuest, and I welcome all of you to join us on this adventure.

    If you are a programmer, project administrator, systems admin, or graphical artist (or anything related) we could use your help. Over the next few days and weeks, I'll be setting up threads discussing things we want to do, and I hope you'll chime in with your own ideas, and tell us what you want to see.

    As you get engaged, I hope you'll spend a few minutes introducing yourself on this thread.

    Me? I'm Pamela Gay, aka starstryder. I'm a PhD astronomer by trade, but I think the title I'm proudest of is getting tagged as a code ninja by one of my students. While at Michigan State I got about halfway through a bachelors in computer science when I realized I was going to be forced to take Assembly - this was back in the early 1990s - and I realized I really really didn't want to do that. I had 3 semesters of C under my belt, and I decided the 400 level physics courses were way more attractive then, well, anything having to do with assembly (it wasn't logical, but it's true). Since then, I have spent (and I continue to spend) more hours coding computers then doing anything else other than email and writing. This is because all the science I've ever done has been database driven. Even when people say I do education research, really I'm just writing software to study large surveys; I use computers to transform tables into new understanding.

    I am a LAMP stack kind of girl, and I feel at home on a good Ubuntu Server humming on an EC2 node connected to RDS and S3. I have to admit, I'm still learning javascript and consider it magic (and not necessarily white magic), and my python skills are lousy. I know my limits, and I've tried to hire a team here at CosmoQuest that both keep me humble (my lead programmer, Cory Lehan, can code circles around me in every way but interface design, and then it may be a tie), and who know things I don't know. I'm going to ask the team to introduce themselves as they come up for air between deadlines and classes.

    I'm the type of person who codes for the same reason that other people do puzzles. There are these pieces - functions, libraries, algorithms - that can get put together in near endless combinations. In my head, I can see what I want the code to do - I can see the cover of the puzzle box - and it is the challenge of using all those pieces to build the image in my head that drives me. My periodic "Just one more div", "Just one more test case", "Just one more piece of functionality" promise to myself has this nasty habit of turning into seeing the dawn - but I love it.

    Working on CosmoQuest is a love affair for me. I get to combine my passion for astronomy with my love of coding to create someplace where other people can join me in painting not just the picture in my head, but a bunch of pictures I haven't even imagined yet. While I don't think our server would run well if I gave you actual paint, I am here to write the needed API calls we'll need, and to do graphics and layout to wire together functionality you dream up that makes this place that much better to use to explore the universe.

    Let's build something great together.

    Cheers,
    Pamela

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    119

    Introductions

    I'm Cory Lehan, lead programmer for CosmoQuest. I've been working for Pamela for I think three years, most of that as a student. I've been programming since around 13. Most of that's been personal projects and game development, but a bachelor's degree filled in some holes. My strongest skills are in anything visual. If it has pixels, I can magic. I hate it when people tell me I can't code something. I've never encountered a problem I couldn't solve in some form.

    I come from a very different programming background than CosmoQuest requires, so it's been an effort getting used to it. Give me a graphics or visualization problem for C# or Java, and I'll show you a small miracle. I'm only now gaining PHP wizardry, so I still have a lot to learn. I typically use pretty strict object oriented code, so it may look a bit foreign or confusing to those not used to it. So far I've been working on the back end (PHP / MySQL), with Joe on the front end (Javascript / CSS / HTML5), and Pamela in some sort of all of the above. Hacking together code is something I can no longer do, my conscience forbids it, so I don't always get something done quickly. Pamela and Joe are better at throwing things together last minute. I'm typically slow and steady, even in a panic.

    I'll try to get an API running today for people to play with. I look forward to working with such an enthusiastic crowd!

  3. #3
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    Feb 2012
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    Hey Guys,

    I'm Michael Kwan, an engineer. I've been coding for around 10 years on various projects ranging from games to robots. Currently, I've been working mostly with Android programming for the past year or so, though I can probably pitch in on Java, Python, and HTML/CSS/JS. I can do C/C++ and PHP if needed, though I'm sure others are far better qualified than me to hammer things out there.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2012
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    3

    Introductions

    I'm Eric Narges and I have been a software engineer for the last 15 years(has it really been that long ). I have done development on everything from AS400 mainframes (blech) to assembler on an emulated IBM 360 series, so Pamela I can say you probably got off easy . After leaving the Buckeye State, and college(Go Flyers!) for the east coast I have written software in everything from Java, C, C++, KSH, CSH, and whatever crazy language is necessary to get the job done. I've ben doing mobile development for the last 3 years for both android and iPhone. Both have their place, so I dont evangelize either. When I'm not at work I am down in my wood shop, or teaching my 2 yr old daughter the constellations, planets etc, or tinkering with my home made 8" dobsonian. Sadly it doesn't get used as much as it used to, but the interest is there... Maybe when the kiddo is a bit older I guess you could say I was the type that liked to take apart the toaster, VCR, or anything else I could get my hands on when I was a kid (sorry mom ).

  5. #5
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    Feb 2012
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    Hello, my name is Ryan McGreevy and I'm both a programmer and a scientist. During undergrad in MD I double majored in Biochemistry and Computer Science. After graduating I worked as an engineer on flight simulators for a DoD contractor before moving on to my current position at the University of Illinois. Here I am a research programmer for Biophysics software (NAMD/VMD if anyone is familiar with the molecular dynamics field) while also working on my master's in bioinformatics. I have pretty typical language experience (C/C++, C#, Java, python, tcl, erlang, perl...etc..) across web, client, mobile, and cloud (EC2) development. My hobby time is spent on game development and electronics (microcontrollers). I don't have a lot of astronomy experience, but have been following Phil Plait for a long time which lead me here!

  6. #6
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    Feb 2012
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    My name is Jeff Harris. I am the lead engineer for embedded Linux products at the small telecommunications company where I work, Kentrox. I am fluent in C, C++, and Java. I work on my Android app, PasswdSafe, as a hobby.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2012
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    Hello, my name is Irene Antonenko. I am a planetary geologists, with a PhD in lunar remote sensing. As one of the science co-leads for the Moon Mappers project, it is my job to help develop the science goals for the Moon Mappers project, and then to help analyze the data, turning it into amazing, publishable science. Helping citizen scientists do their jobs better and answering their questions is also part of what I do at CosmoQuest. I have been studying the Moon for 20 years now, and am excited about this novel way of learning new things about the Moon.

    My programming skills are fairly minimal and very research oriented, but I do have several years of professional software testing experience. I am a stickler for usability and user-first methodologies. I look forward to working with the coding community here to help keep these aspects in mind.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2011
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    58
    Hello, I am Joe Moore. I am terrible at making long posts, so lets do this the quick way. started programming in 2008. I dabble in a bit of everything, read as Game dev, small database stuff, php stuff (not much lately though), and I am sure some other stuff I am forgetting about. Graduated last December with a Bachelors in Computer science, and then they for some reason let me in the grad program....those fools. <- note the sarcasm. Lately i have been writing the code for the apps for CosmoQuest (example being moon mappers) and some other pre-alpha stuff.

    Oh a bit of good news, if everything goes well i have about 5 hour of sleep scheduled around March 5th. So that should be nice.

  9. #9
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    May 2009
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    6
    Hello, my name is Joe Sauder. I'm a software engineer, programming XBox and PC games for about 13 years now (mostly game simulation work with C/C++, occasionally C#). I have a bachelors in physics and I've also been a radiologic technologist for about 20 years, off and on. I love anything related to astronomy or physics, and am addicted to Astronomy Cast, which is how I heard about this site. Contributing to science in some small way, would be the only thing I'd like more than learning about it.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2008
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    4,692
    Hi All,
    My name is Wayne Francis. I'm 41 and I'm located in South Australia these days, I'm a dual citizen originally from a small town south of Boston called Stoughton.


    Work wise I'm a analyst/developer/dba with over 23 years of experience including 6 year serving in the USMC. I've been a certified MS developer, DBA and trainer but haven't kept the certification up to date in the last few year. I primarily develop in .NET languages but I'm design and developing some Android apps so I'm obviously doing java coding too. I've worked on many different projects over the years but most relevant would have been the Satellite Imaging System for the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing. This was years ago and involved implementing their old satellite imaging catalogue system that stored 80x80, 600x600 pixel scaled down images and meta data associated with the images. The images where acquired from various satellites like Landsat and JERS back then. I was also responsible for designing and writing a custom windows desk top app to allow users to query the the database in a graphical manner using Australian mapping data displaying the results to the user along with a graphical representation of the image's footprint overlaid the mapping data. I've also written my fair share of web service providers and consumers. I think one of the biggest contributions I can make will be with database design, optimisation and queries especially for spatially related data.

    Hobby wise I'm a big science nut getting first into biology then quickly into astronomy and physics. I love to watch/listen podcasts teaching all forms of science especially uni courses from places like Standford, MIT, Berkeley or any other university I can find that allows free access. Besides that I loving to go out with my friends as much as possible.

    I've got a PC ready to set of a dev environment running, as close to as possible, the Ubuntu environment of CosmoQuest. Finally I'll be buying a ASUS transformer prime for more android development as soon as I can find someplace local that has them for sale.

    Tip of the hat to MDWingsFan, I used to program on the IBM 390e while in the Marines. I don't admit to that much these days for fear of someone wanting me to do it again.

    I'm a big fan of the BAUT forums and have learnt a LOT there.

    Finally I'm looking forward to working with you all.

  11. #11
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    Feb 2012
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    1
    Hey all. I'm Julian Peterson and I'm a software developer in my "Real Job"(TM). My resume is reasonably buzzword compliant, including the usual languages (especially of the unix-land variety) Java/C++/Perl/bash etc - and a bunch of toolkits/frameworks/libraries, eg Qt, Spring, SDL, OpenGL. I've written regular desktop GUI apps, web based MVC style multi-user systems, web services for a bunch of protocols, back-end number crunching systems, stuff to glue other stuff together, patches, hacks, things of beauty, things of horror - once something in Cobol. I've done stuff like game development, worked on a program to generate planets from fractals, and wrote a credit card payment system for a large telecomms company - a bunch of other boring stuff cause it pays better, and a bunch of cool stuff so my brain doesn't revolt.

    I've always been interested in astronomy though my knowledge is embarrassingly limited. I'll be looking to rectify that at least a little here =) Along with my general support of OSS projects, and my looking into getting into Android development, this looks like a great opportunity to help make something cool.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2012
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    11
    Sean McKenna here, senior working on my undergrad BA in Computer Science & Physics at Cornell College, a small private liberal-arts institution in Iowa.

    I began work with Pamela this summer through an internship at Baltimore, MD through the Space Telescope Science Institute. After delving into their citizen science project on cataloging solar system objects, I hit a snag in that I had to leave and go back to school. With some time off during the year, I have started to help code some side projects for CosmoQuest/Moon Mappers/etc. such as gallery software that should hopefully be implemented soon.

    My experience is varied.. I have knowledge of Java, Python, PHP, SQL, and, of course, LaTeX. A lot of the code I have dealt with is hacking together multiple things in an attempt to making something functional. With time, it gets pretty. When I don't have knowledge of something I need to get a task done, I research and figure it out. I believe that learning is an experience in and of itself. Another tool I possess is my intimate knowledge of unix and servers. I adore working with servers, setting up servers, etc. Using command line just makes me giddy, so long as it is more efficient than a GUI.

    I love OSS, object-oriented design, scripting, and citizen science. I want to pursue graduate research in scientific visualizations, so the aesthetics and usability of these projects really intrigues me. I just hope my contributions will be worthwhile to the project.

  13. #13
    Hello all! My name is Matthew Jones and I'm a software developer working with on Ruby on Rails and HTML5/JQuery/Javascript frontend development. I've also worked on past projects in PHP, Perl, C++, and C#. I work on linux servers with mySQL databases and apache webservers. (I also do a few open source projects and work on wordpress plugins.)

    I'm also on the board of the San Fransisco Amateur Astronomers and enjoy helping people learn about astronomy and how we fit into our galaxy.

    I love working on new systems and creating prototypes. Looking forward to making something cool!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    171
    I should probably add something here. I've been merging web design and astronomy outreach since 1997 when I was in seventh grade and I was way on top of all the latest web stuff until about 2000 when I was finishing high school. Now all I can really do is design stuff but I haven't figured out HTML5 yet. I can program in Java and some JavaScript, and I can read C++.

    I entered college in 2001 for astronomy, went through with a straight astronomy curriculum (all physics with the upper-level labs replaced by astronomy classes), and then went to grad school not knowing what exactly I wanted to do. I ended up studying craters and building a ginormous crater database of Mars for my dissertation, which I defended in April 2011. Since then, I split my time analyzing the Mars craters and working on Moon Mappers.

    It took me awhile to add something here because I was at a conference last week on the early solar system bombardment, where I presented some work I've done on age-dating large craters and basins on Mars. And I got sick on the way back so I've been in bed most of the last three days.

    - Stuart Robbins

  15. #15
    Hi there, name is John Reed. I have ** in Microbiology and an MS in Software Engineering. I love Perl and I'm not afraid to say it. It is a beautiful, wonderfully expressive language that makes it hard to work with other languages as gleefully. I was a System Administrator for 10 years at a biotech company and finally moved on to software engineering for a non-profit.

    In a previous thread I mentioned that space is a calling, and I have set aim to change careers to a space-related field. I am doing this by learning the Arduino microcontroller so I can design my own space experiments, such as remote sensing, microrovers, and high-altitude balloons.

    As far as working with open source programming, I have to admit I may not be much use. With a full time job sitting in front of a computer the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit in front of a computer. Even forums are a bit much for me, although I am hopeful that something like moon mappers may be cathartic. But if #CQX has a need for hardware hacking, I'd be happy to contribute.

    Nice to read there are so many other software folks here!

    John

  16. #16
    Hi everyone. My name is Andrés and I'm a Physics PhD student from México. I work with computer simulations and I have to code myself a lot of things. I don't have any formal training in computer science or software engineering but I love to spend many hours coding stuff and I always want to have a new problem to tackle with computers. My little programs only do number-crunching. I know a little C and Fortran but my real love lies with Common Lisp.

    I don't know how I can contribute among so many professional programmers but I will gladly participate in any way I can.

  17. #17
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    Feb 2012
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    14
    Hi, My name is Malcolm Whinfield from Bertram suburb of Perth Western Australia. I am a trained and qualified Electronics technician specialising in Radio Communication servicing and after 28 years in the industry dealing in Radio, TV, Video and many other disciplines in electronics and numerous small and large surgeries I decided to recover by studying at University. I have been approved for a double degree in Physics and Electronics Engineering and now wish to pursue a passion in astronomy which I have longed to do for a very long time. Astronomy course I have completed during my enabling course is Astronomy 101 and Planetary Science 101 both of which I attained distinctions and proud of the achievement.

    I have two children and with there passions I hope they will assist me in my future as well. My eldest son (16) has a large interest in Geology, while my youngest son (13) loves Robotics. Each of these passions contribute to my learning as well. I assist and in a small way to program Arduino and PIC and expect University will provide a course structure in other programming skills as well.

    Although my strengths are with hardware electronics I am sure that I can assist where ever possible in the field of Astronomy science and technical issues that may arise.

  18. #18
    Hi, Everyone!

    I am Tamara Temple, aka tamouse! I am a web developer as my most recent code wrangling incarnation. In the past I've worked on lots of old operating systems and computers doing networking software, then I spent a stint doing process improvement consulting in and around the company I was working for, which stimulated my interests in anthropology.

    Currently, I write a lot of PHP and Perl code, as well as a smattering of Ruby on Rails. I love building tools, especially little ones that can make life easier without a lot of bells and whistles and kitchen sinks involved.

    I am absolutely *nuts* for science. I so <3 astronomy, physics, biology (although that last is a bit harder for me to grasp; oh, and forGET chemistry!), psychology, neuroscience, anthropology... I guess I could go on...

    I have a few rabbit holes. Pretty much any talk about "How does the brain work?" gets me going. That stems from my career-long interest in helping people figure out how to do their jobs better, easier, and with more enjoyment.

    Astronomy has *always* been an interest, even (especially?) when I was a youngster. I had a telescope when I was 9 and was out looking at the sky all the time. I think our universe is endlessly fascinating and love love love all I get to see and learn now.

  19. #19
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    Apr 2003
    Posts
    15
    Hello All... My name is Chris and am an avid listener of Astronomy Cast and a lover of all things Astronomy and Physics. I am a Software Engineer with a background in C++, C# , Java. Mainly Windows Application development professionaly as well as Android as more of a hobby (I have several Android Apps in the market as more of learning projects). I would love to help any way I can and have fairly advanced development skills (20 years professional experience).

    I love the site, and the idea of reaching out to non professional scientists to take part in real scientific research is a great idea. Sometimes passion can be just as valuable as experience in any effort.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    540
    Quote Originally Posted by astrostu View Post
    I should probably add something here. I've been merging web design and astronomy outreach since 1997 when I was in seventh grade and I was way on top of all the latest web stuff until about 2000 when I was finishing high school. Now all I can really do is design stuff but I haven't figured out HTML5 yet. I can program in Java and some JavaScript, and I can read C++.

    I entered college in 2001 for astronomy, went through with a straight astronomy curriculum (all physics with the upper-level labs replaced by astronomy classes), and then went to grad school not knowing what exactly I wanted to do. I ended up studying craters and building a ginormous crater database of Mars for my dissertation, which I defended in April 2011. Since then, I split my time analyzing the Mars craters and working on Moon Mappers.

    It took me awhile to add something here because I was at a conference last week on the early solar system bombardment, where I presented some work I've done on age-dating large craters and basins on Mars. And I got sick on the way back so I've been in bed most of the last three days.

    - Stuart Robbins
    There's a Stuart Robbins who has a (first rate) WordPress blog called Exposing PseudoAstronomy.

    Is that a cosmic coincidence?

  21. #21
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    Jan 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
    There's a Stuart Robbins who has a (first rate) WordPress blog called Exposing PseudoAstronomy.
    Is that a cosmic coincidence?
    astrostu is the same person (see e.g. here).

  22. #22
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    Dec 2011
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    171
    Quote Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
    There's a Stuart Robbins who has a (first rate) WordPress blog called Exposing PseudoAstronomy.

    Is that a cosmic coincidence?
    Quote Originally Posted by kmasterdo View Post
    astrostu is the same person (see e.g. here).
    Indeed, I is. And don't forget first-rate podcast!

  23. #23
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    Mar 2012
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    2
    Hello fellow Scientists/Engineers/Enthusiasts!

    As a child, I was always fascinated by Astronomy and the night sky in general. Unfortunately, since I was raised 20 minutes outside of NYC (in Jersey), I never really had the opportunity to actively pursue this interest until I moved away from the area as an adult. I currently live 15 minutes outside of Princeton, NJ and am a member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton. Aside from my recreational interests in Astronomy, I am a Network Engineer with nearly 15 years of experience in the IT industry. I went from IT consulting in NYC, to a Senior Network Administration position for Xerox, to my current consulting endeavors.

    I'll admit, my knowledge of coding is fairly limited, but growing. I've dabbled in VB Script, Python, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and SQL (Oracle, MySQL, and MS SQL). However, my extent of experience in these languages is strictly from a lab or recreational perspective. Only when required would I turn to these skills in my professional environment (as an administrator, it was only on occasionally incorporated into my list of responsibilities).

    Additionally, I'll be finishing up my Masters of Science in IT Administration and Security at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (Go Highlanders!) by next year.

    I hope my knowledge of various IT technologies and methodologies will provide an asset in some way/shape/form to this excellent website. I couldn't think of a more compatible marriage of interests: technology and astronomy!

    -Fernando

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    1
    Hi,
    My name is Patrick. I live in Auckland, New Zealand and have always had an interest in Astronomy. Currently my brother and I are building a 10" Newtonian telescope which we hope to finish one day

    I am a self-employed software developer who currently delivers solutions using C# and ASP.NET MVC backed with SQL Server 2008. I have coded in assembly (Z80, 80x86), VB, C, C++ and Java, and have an intimate understanding of the SDLC, software patterns, TDD, BDD and refactoring. I have also been a DBA for some large corporates in NZ and am more than proficient at optimizing long running queries, designing databases and so forth.

    I would love to be involved in this project - please let me know how I can help.

    Patrick

  25. #25
    My name is Dave Regan. I'm currently a System's Engineer for a local ISP and help keep the various computers running including the email system (a cluster of about a dozen machines).

    I've been programming since 1974. In college I found a small PDP-11 Unix computer and learned C as well as many of the other fun things on Unix systems.

    Professionally, I've worked on real time control systems, compilers, data bases, and web sites, as well as doing system admin work on Linux machines.

    Most of my quick and easy programming is in Perl or C, although deal in other languages as needed.

    I have an interest in astronomy as well as other science topics.

  26. #26
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    Jan 2012
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    2
    Hello...My name is Alex Cole. I don't have a real job doing any programming, but it has been a hobby of mine for about 10 years. Currently I work almost exclusively in Objective C and most of my time is working on my iPhone apps. I have a decent knowledge of C, C++ and Objective C. While I am not of the calibre of most people on the thread here, I can possibly help with the mac side of things. I would love to work on projects that incorporate my interests in programming and astronomy!

  27. #27
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    Jan 2012
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    Hjorted Sweden
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    I firmly believe that it is time to introduce myself.

    I'm Thomas Tranåker (Crane Moor) aka Tranan (The Crane) and is a Swedish citizen who got caught with his eyes upward. For a while I was a proportional consultant on photographic techniques, which led me straight to a good career. It worked for a few years until the family tragedy came and gave me a couple of hard punches. After many years as sick leave and job which did more than pay for the day and obesity, I have begun what I see as the final step to a normal life.

    I live in Hjorted which is a small village outside Västervik, which is a small town in southern Sweden. It is an incredibly beautiful part of the country which few know about. The place I live in is isolated and if you want a pizza, prepare to drive the car for 40 minutes

  28. #28
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    Jun 2012
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    1
    Hi all,

    Rod from Melbourne Australia. Amateur Visual Backyard Astronomer. Been a hobby of mine for about 10 years, so I am slowly gathering a collection of scopes (each one bigger or better than the last). Been listening to Astronomy Cast for several years, really enjoy them but have yet to catch up on all the episodes - too many. Now enjoying the Hangouts by Pamela and Fraser. Trying to catch the Online Starparties, but the time difference has caught me out, but I'm pretty sure I've got it worked out now. Love reading about the universe and have a good selection of reference books for whetting my appetite.

    Looking forward to some interesting discussions.

    Clear skies

    Rod

  29. #29
    Hello,

    I am Phil V, from Depew, NY (Buffalo is close enough). I am a student, blogger and gamer*. I enjoy the Google+ hangouts with my younger son Nate and listen to Astronomy Cast in monthly marathons with my older son, PJ. The three of us are in to camping and use the information from the shows, BAUTforum.com and UT.com for background on our camp trip "Star Walks". I have been a member of Bautforum for about 9 years or so.

    I have been visiting Moon Mappers for a couple of months, but really haven't work especially hard on it. It all seemed rather daunting, but I see there are tutorials now.

    Solfe

    *The "Solfe" name comes from gaming, sometimes it is important to have a gender ambiguous name to get invited to events, hunts, etc.

  30. #30
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    Jun 2012
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    2
    Hi everybody,

    I'm DocBlitzbottom (aka Bruce H.) from a little town in central Florida. I just retired a couple months ago as a psychologist and am finally getting to do what I want including amateur astronomy. I have an ancient Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Florida but I don't think that is going to help me much in my new hobby as a backyard astronomer. Right now I have an 8 inch Meade S-C and am really enjoying it. I am an avid listener (some 6 years) of Astronomy Cast and also like to tune in on the weekly space hangouts and star parties.

    Anyway, Great to be here.

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