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PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: BobK54

As told to Smileeb

Hi smileeb! OK, I've been shamed into volunteering! I've been hanging around here for about 7+ years and I too enjoy learning a little about others on the forum. "You don't have to be a prolific poster." Yeah, that's me. What can I say? It just works! I'll volunteer to be a victim. Kind of a daily-user type with a mostly semi-computer background. Computers have always been tools. I think if I didn't go into aviation engineering I might have gone into IT though. How about this for using tools: years ago I had a turbine engine performance algorithm supplied to me by my company on an HP41C (in RPN). I then converted that to BASIC on an AppleII and then rewrote it in Fortran on PUNCHCARDS for a missile customer. Let me know if you're interested. Thanks!!

Here is BobK54

How old are you?
At the end of March I was 61 years young.

Married, single or what?
I have been happily married to my wife for 38 years.

Children, grandchildren?
We have four children, all boys...or adult men now! Our boys have blessed us with eight grandchildren and an additional three came to us with a daughter-in-law from a prior marriage. The grandchildren are eight boys and three girls and range in age from 18 months old to almost 16 years old. At one point, we had eight grandchildren under six years old! Yikes.

Retired or working and for how long and at what.
I'm working full time in the aerospace field for 32 years, with an eight year automotive electrical motor/actuator stint in between.

Today I'm an applications aerospace engineer/sales manager providing turbine engine oil debris monitoring systems, fluid accessories, and pressure sensors to aircraft engine and gearbox makers, as well as direct to the airframe makers like Boeing and Airbus. Our systems provide early warning of wear in engines and gearboxes, allowing scheduled maintenance instead of those annoying in-flight engine shutdowns. Our parts can be found on virtually every new aircraft flying, as well as some missiles and spacecraft, including the now retired Space Shuttle.

Helicopters are a big customer focus. They have very big, complex transmissions with lots of bearings and gears, which make all kinds of metal shaving debris which needs to be collected and sensed.

By far, the most interesting part of my career was for the several years that I worked with Burt Rutan, who designed the Voyager. Round-the-World Non-stop/Non-refueled aircraft; the Spaceship One/Whiteknight One X-Prize aircraft/spacecraft; and the Virgin Galactic SpaceshipTwo/WhiteKnight Two aircraft/spaceship. During the time I worked with him we built the NASA AD-1 Oblique Wing test aircraft (scissor wing), the PARLC jet powered scale model ship for the Navy, as well as the Fairchild NGT 62% scale model aircraft, which actually helped Fairchild win the T-46A trainer contract in the early 80's. I wrote the Feasibility Study for the Beech Starship in the mid-80's, an all-composite canard wing biz aircraft which eventually died an ugly death when metal-minded structures committees and the FAA couldn't cope with this new-fangled composite structure stuff. Sad. The eventual aircraft was way too heavy and slow, not what was originally designed. I'm still a few years away from retirement, and I'm looking forward to working on the next generation of aircraft and aircraft engines.

What is the area you live in like. Weather, Quietness, Scenery.
I'm an ex-Long Island New Yorker living in the small town of Bardstown Kentucky for the past 28 years. Bardstown is the "Bourbon Capital of the World." They say 85% of all the bourbon made comes from a 50 mile radius. The weather here is hot and humid in the summer and can get significantly cold in the winter. Growing up on an island, I was more used to the surrounding water moderating the temperatures in the summer and winter. That's not the case in the landlocked midwest US. The winters tend to be pretty grey as well, with not a lot of sunshine. Kentucky is a great place to live, we have mountains, lots of lakes, and lots of horse farms too. It's really green in the summer, and a pretty place to live most of the year.

Are you handy with your hands and have any hobbies.
I'm pretty good with my hands. At one time I actually built and tested turbine engines full time, and worked as an auto mechanic part time, so my skills grew at diagnosing and fixing mechanical "stuff". If it breaks, I'll try to fix it. "Try" being the key. Sometimes I actually have to call an expert.

Hobbies are few. I actually enjoy home repairs and working on friends' and families' computers. I enjoy making things. I can work with wood, plumbing, and electrical pretty easily. Other than parts changing in a computer box, "electronics" is a bit of a mystery, so I stay away from anything which requires you to keep the "magic smoke" inside the box.

What is your education level?
I have a two-year associate college degree in engineering and subsequent classes in program management and sales. I once considered getting into the solar energy field, and took some HVAC classes as an entry point. I made more money with aircraft engines, so I never went into alternative energy. I still have an interest in those technologies though! Windmills and solar arrays still fascinate me.

Do you like to travel, go camping?
I have traveled a bunch on business. It's funny. You go on a business trip and never really stop to visit the places you go. It's get in, get out, go home. I've been to 47 of the 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Japan, England, and France.

I do like to travel! We did some camping when my kids were young, but my wife prefers air conditioning/heating and a private bathroom these days. Although I'm definitely not athletic, all of my boys are and enjoy hiking, rock climbing, camping, and boating. We tag along sometimes. I may get to visit Key West in a few weeks. We're looking forward to getting out of the cold for a change.

What caused you to try Linux and join this forum.
I think I'm a bit of a closet IT guy. If I didn't go into engineering I probably would have gone into the world of computers. I've always had an interest in computers. I had a Timex-Sinclair ZX81 at first, and learned BASIC commands on that beast. I then graduated to a VIC20, and then a C64. I would type in programs from Compute magazine regularly and save them on the cassette recorder, and later a 5 1/4" floppy drive. My first "real" computer was a Trash 80 without a hard drive. Tons of fun there. My first IBM clone was an AST Advantage Multi-Media computer running a smoking 486DX2 33MHz processor with a 10MB hard drive. I STILL can't believe that thing cost $2,100 USD in the mid-90's.

During this time I was working full time and working on my engineering degree part time, and was introduced to Fortran as part of my studies. Fortran on PUNCHCARDS, folks. The good old days.

One of my biggest achievements at that time was converting a turbine engine performance program written in RPN on an old HP41C programmable calculator into a BASIC program on an Apple II and then further converting it from BASIC to Fortran, once again on punchcards, and shared that with our customers using our engines. Good times! By default. I became the sysop for a Baby System 36 running COBOL for my company. Nobody else had ever touched a computer. I never got into COBOL though. I only knew how to turn it on, update it, and turn it off! All of this "user" and semi-sysop stuff kept my interest in computing alive while I made my money in the aerospace industry.

Finally, around the end of 2006 I had an old computer in the basement, and had read some articles about this new freedom-loving thing called Linux. I started some distro hopping and ran a few other distros in the short term before discovering PCLinuxOS Big Daddy 0.94. I was in love. After playing with Big Daddy for about 6 months I cobbled together an old Pentium III 450 system and permanently installed PCLinuxOS 2007 as a single boot. That was it. I was hooked. I joined the forum to sort out a few little problems and made some standard newbie mistakes. I once blamed PCLinuxOS for a problem which was really a KDE3 problem. Tex and O-P were kind, even though they knew I was being a total idiot.

I discovered the error of my ways and learned a lot. Over the years I've had some nVidia driver issues, which were quickly fixed (thanks Terry). But mostly, IT JUST WORKS. I have become a quiet evangelist, and converted my 82 year old mother's XP machine to PCLinuxOS early last year. She loves it. It doesn't break. It doesn't blue screen on her. She's happy. Even though I don't have a high post count, I do lurk a lot and read a lot and try to help if and when I can.

If you want send some pictures of you and area of interest.
I attached a picture of myself and my wife on a trip to Las Vegas two years ago. Amazing I don't have many picture of myself!

PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight is an exclusive, monthly column by smileeb, featuring PCLinuxOS forum members. This column will allow “the rest of us” to get to know our forum family members better, and will give those featured an opportunity to share their PCLinuxOS story with the rest of the world.

If you would like to be featured in PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight, please send a private message to smileeb in the PCLinuxOS forum expressing your interest.

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