I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and since then have lived in Montréal, the New York City metropolitan area, and now the greater Washington, D.C. area. Technology—mainly programming, system administration, and network management—is my main interest. However, I’m also an avid transit fan, with a focus on trains (especially the London Underground and New York City subway) and light rail, and an amateur photographer. I also have a growing interest in critical pedagogy, particularly the works of Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto.
I’ve been working with technology nearly my entire life; I got my first computer (an Apple Performa 405) on August 28, 1993. Before then, I’d already poked around DOS and Windows 3.1 a fair bit, and I knew just enough QBasic to be dangerous. After the Mac arrived, though, I started programming in FutureBASIC—my crowning accomplishment of that era was MathTime, a tool for learning multiplication tables (not that it would do any good, as I would learn over a decade later that I was in fact dyscalculic). The Performa 405 came bundled with a modem by Global Village (now owned by Zoom and nearly defunct), and so I was able to get online for the first time. This was in an era when online services were still all the rage, and at various times I had accounts on CompuServe, AOL, and Apple’s ill-fated eWorld.
I quickly outgrew AOL’s walled garden, and in 1995 I got an Internet account through my local library. At the time, their terminal concentrators did not support PPP, so all they offered were shell accounts. Out of necessity, I learned my way around the UNIX command line rather quickly. My first exposure to the Web came through
lynx, and I spent several years reading my mail in
pine, until finally a new modem bank was installed which supported PPP. I credit this with having shaped my future interactions with technology—even though I was a Mac user, and GUIs were everywhere, I was equally at home at the command line. Not only did I know what UNIX was, but I actually liked using it, and around a year later I made my first attempt at running a UNIX at home, with a copy of Slackware Linux that came along with a book I’d found at the local bookstore.
I never made much progress with that original installation of Slackware, but found success three years later with Red Hat Linux 5.2—and around the same time, raschke.net was born. I’d had networks before, but they were always little single-platform AppleTalk networks using LocalTalk between Macs. raschke.net was a real network, with an Ethernet backbone and clients running Linux (and later Solaris and OpenBSD), Windows, and the Mac OS. I used raschke.net to teach myself UNIX and network administration in a real-world environment—if I slacked off, my mail quit working, or my Web sites would go down, so there was a strong incentive to get it right. I’ve said more about raschke.net and its predecessors on the Networks page, for those readers who may be interested in the details.
I am not just a network administrator, though; after having learned BASIC early on, I learned UNIX shell scripting, AppleScript, Perl, and PHP; around 2003 I started learning Java (for school) and Python (for myself). More recently I’ve also dabbled in Erlang, but the vast majority of my programming in the past few years has been in Python and Java. I’ve detailed my adventures in software development further on the Software page on this site.