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User:Pat Palmer

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Mostly retired now, in recent years I was the sysadmin and programmer for a group of algae scientists in the Phycology Section at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, where I have written many web services such as this one, showing data about one algal species. Working out of my home, part-time and with a flexible schedule, I am also a research associate for a professor in the CIS department at the University of Pennsylvania.

I have an M. S. in computer science (Univ. of Tenn., 1983), and I started my computing career in 1984 as a member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories, which was originally part of AT&T but later split itself into many companies such as Lucent (now Alcatel-Lucent). For more than a decade there, I worked on everything from embedded systems to light-wave communications to network operations systems. The company paid part of the costs, and granted leave of absence, for me to get a second master's degree in public sector management (Fels Center, Univ. of Penn., 1992).

After more than a decade at Bell Labs, during which time the company slowly fell apart around my ears and my former colleagues scattered to the four winds, I finally left for various one- or two-year jobs, where funding continually fell through so I had to keep moving on. In 2002, I took a 4-year untenured lecturership in the MCIT program at the University of Pennsylvania. After that, I spent 5 years as a full-time employee at ANS before changing to part-time, from-home work.

In the late 1970's, I spent 2 years repairing telephone switches for GTE in southwest Virginia and worked in some of the last Strowger switching offices remaining in the United States. During that time, I also repaired electromechanical telephone switching systems made by Leich, that had so-called common control units for call routing--in effect, a fully electromechanical, special-purpose computer. I could see numbers being stored in registers as people dialed, which is a pretty good introduction to how computers really work.

In two different stints (70's and 80's), I completed all the coursework required for a Ph D in Germanic linguistics (at the Univ. of Tenn.), reading Old High German, Old Norse, Icelandic, Middle High German, Afrikaans, Pennsylvania Dutch, Yiddish, various regional German dialects under direction from Professors Nordsieck and Kratz, and also studying Spanish, Latin, and Russian. Unfortunately, I never completed that degree, but I did read a lot of really interesting literature, travelled some, and am still fluent in German as a result.

I have a B. A. in German, with a minor in English (Univ. of Tenn., 1974), and while an undergraduate, I managed to complete a couple of years of calculus and a year of physics, which stood me in good stead when I converted to being a computer scientist.

More about me personally is here.

In this project, I am an Editor in the Computers workgroup, and I am currently serving on the Council, partly because no one else will, but also in hopes that we can somehow save this project and even revive it. I believe in its possibilities despite all the growing pains the project has been through.


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