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One of the first questions when meeting someone is, 'Where are you From?'

Well, Gee, how far back do you want to go? http://www.ahsgr.org/ [Note: While some of my ancestors were Germans from Russia, or more specifically were Germans who moved to Russia, and then moved to the United States, I found this specific site from Google.]

Of more importance to me specifically was, I did the first half of my growing up in the Nebraska city of North Platte. We moved to St. Peters Missouri where I graduated from Francis Howell High School. I then attended two years at the local St. Charles County Community College. The community college had provided a scholarship that covered tuition and fees. The scholarship is provided to some local high school students.


What about college?

College life continued by moving to the University of Missouri at Rolla. Besides college classes, I was always active in the University Band and University Marching Band, which I would highly encourage anyone to participate in. There also is the Association of Computing Machinery (http://acm.cs.umr.edu/ for UMR-ACM) and the programming contest I participated in. The team of three people I was in received 2nd place at our location.

Off campus there is always co-oping, besides the money and a break from your books the experience is well worth putting off graduation (provided you return to graduate). I did two terms at Hewlett Packard in Richardson Texas just north of Dallas Texas. The first was a Summer through Fall term. That gives you all Summer to figure out what is going on and all Fall to contribute now that you know how to do things. Knowing a computer language is about like knowing a natural language such as English. You may know what a car is and what it does, but the language its self won't help you do something as simple as change your tire. At Hewlett Packard I was working on the HP-UX Unix core kernel. The piece of software that gets loaded before any applications and even manages the device drivers. It is written mostly in C and some assembly. I know the language, but that doesn't help in doing even the most basic task of compiling or converting the human readable and writable code into something the computer can execute. From there you learn what URLs have the information you need to do your job as well as who to ask for information.

I highly encourage anyone in college to do a co-op, you might even be offered a job from your employer. Not only have they had a chance to see what kind of work you do, you have an evaluation of how well you like it there. Me, I had four job offers one being from Hewlett Packard. I decided for a cooler area of the country, Minnesota, and to work with Linux. I had developed some good friends at Hewlett Packard, but the decision did allow me to try out other companies. Hewlett Packard was a great place to work, but how do you evaluate if it is the best place for you if you've never tried anyplace else? Now that I've worked for huge, medium, and tiny companies, I like working with the bigger variety. With Hewlett Packard I was working on an incredibly small piece of a very big piece of software, but that also meant there were many other people working on the same or closely related pieces. It makes it more of a team and easier to cross check for code reviews. Just writing this section makes me wish I was back working at Hewlett Packard, but my friends are in the St. Louis area now and I would like to stick around here.


Degree?

I received a Computer Science Bachelor's Degree with the Summa Cum Laude. I'm told it means "highest honor" or something of the sort in Latin, but then I never took that class so I wouldn't know.


What about work?

I've since worked at Digi International after graduation until shortly after September 2001 in Minnesota near Minneapolis. I was working on Linux serial port drivers for the hardware they sell. I mostly was doing bug fixes and found a few really though ones. I never before realized the large number of options and how complicated Unix serial ports are. Gee and I always just thought you put a byte in and it comes out the other end.

I'm currently working at Boeing in the St. Louis area as a computer programmer. I'm in the research and development group working closest to aircraft simulations and training groups. I've learned that head trackers should be avoided at all cost unless what you work on requires one. In that case it is pick your poison and then realize your job is to make everyone using it think it works great and wish they had one. Head trackers or generic motion trackers are used to find out where and or in which direction a person's head is and the data is sent to a computer for various things. They are used in the simulation world.


Interests etc

I have some. I've been interested in electronics and robotics although I have yet to do anything with robotics and I only do a very few, small, and far between electrical projects. Like the time when I got some parts from Radio Shack and built an infra red transmitter/receiver for my computer so it could talk to my Hewlett Packard graphing calculator. It worked, although I didn't get much further than proving that much. Now a power supply from CompUSA fried that system so there isn't much chance I will be doing anything with that project.

What I do a lot of work with is with computer software. I'm running Debian which is a distribution of Linux. It is all Open Source, which means if I really what to know how something works I can get the code for it. That makes it really convenient to fix a bug once and a while. The Debian bug list is at http://www.debian.org/Bugs/ where you can view previously reported bugs. Sometimes it is useful to see if the bug you might be reporting is already listed. Feel free to fix as many bugs as you find, I know I've fixed a few in my time.


A place to call my own.
I bought my first house in the first part of 2004. I've moved at least once a year since 1998 and now my goal is to not move next year. The other goal is to unpack from my move here. I've had some apartments I liked in the past, but this house tops them all. Although there was that apartment complex in the cold windy Minnesota with a heated parking garage on the first level and a car wash stall. It was handy in the winter to get all the salt off and you didn't have to worry about it freezing.

I have a really long driveway driveway now. Six cars could easily fit in it while other houses around the area are lucky to get two before people have to part on the street. Which wouldn't be too bad anyway with the street I live on. It is also nice to have stores within walking distance. It has a very nice looking fireplace and some brick accents. I like the landscaping, whoever did it was very thoughtful and made it easy to mow around. I have learned that the special three foot high grass needs to be chopped off in late winter before it starts to grow again. I had to dig the old dead grass out of the new year's grass.


Written by David Fries <david@fries.net>

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