I was born on July 4, 1980 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and I grew up in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, about 25 km west-northwest of Philadelphia. I am an only child, and when I was little my parents taught me lots of things that turned out very useful. My father got me interested in math, science, and computers (simple BASIC and LOGO programming on a Commodore 64!) at a very early age.
I went to Devon Elementary School, Tredyffrin-Easttown Intermediate School, and Conestoga High School. I hated elementary school, because we studied the same things every year. I liked the first year of intermediate school, but then they got the middle school concept, and started making it like an elementary school, so I hated it again. High school was much more interesting, and I became involved in lots of activities. If I get bored sometime I might actually write about them.
I went to college at Harvard, where I lived in Canaday Hall in my first year and then in Eliot House. I chose to be a Physics major at the end of my first year, but switched to Computer Science at the beginning of my third year. I also considered Economics and EPS (Atmospheric Science) along the way. But while I was there I ended up spending a lot of time working on Mozilla and other Web-related things, and a good bit of time singing with the Harvard Glee Club, a men's chorus that accepted me the beginning of my second year. I graduated in March 2003 because I took a semester off to work at Netscape/AOL (I was otherwise part of the class of 2002).
My first involvement with the Internet was reading newsgroups via my father's email account. (That is also how I learned about Unix.) My interest in the weather dated back to Hurricane Gloria in 1985, and I was able to pursue it further by following local weather and hurricane advisories on the University of Michigan's Weather Underground telnet machine. In the summer of 1992, I decided I would track (by plotting in pen on a map) all the hurricanes that year in the Atlantic. The first storm I got to plot was Hurricane Andrew. As you might imagine, that sparked my interest quite a bit. I've become somewhat less interested in the weather since 1998, as I've become more interested in the Web.
One of the things that initially attracted me to the Internet was my interest in weather. It turned out to be a great system for transmitting weather data of various sorts, and was adopted quite early by the weather community. I read and posted on the newsgroups ne.weather, sci.geo.meteorology, and bit.listserv.wx-talk. These interests (and others) led me to collect lots of links to web pages, starting in 1994. (Digression: Back then, many of the links were to gopher and FTP servers. The main browsers were NCSA Mosaic and Cello. And it took me two hours to get Trumpet Winsock working (along with Mosaic 2.0a2) because I had to do the parity calculations for the login script by hand!) I had an especially good collection of weather links, and within that, an especially good collection of links to weather satellite images. I am still somewhat interested in the weather, but I don't follow it on a day-to-day basis as much anymore or do much maintainance on the Web sites I created relating to weather. I don't really read the weather newsgroups anymore, and I don't miss them much, as they have become quite hostile.
In late 1994, when I was in the 9th grade, I became involved in helping my high school set up their internet access and their web page. I helped maintain a few Windows machines in the library on a Novell network, and I ended up running the Linux email server for about 3 years. (This experience greatly enhanced my appreciation for the tremendous power of Linux. And the server originally ran kernel 1.1.59, I think.) It provided email accounts to many students, but only those whose teachers asked for it. We could have provided email to all students, but for some administrative reason, that never happened. Halfway through my senior year, the Linux was taken out of service (as its Internet connection was lost to make way for a new network with NT servers and firewalls), and all student email accounts went with it.
All this work (along with playing the piano and playing tennis) gave me tendinitis, a form of Repetitive Strain Injury, which started in June 1996. I couldn't really return to normal computer use and to the piano until the summer of 1998. My experiences with speech recognition software amazed me, and I occasionally still use it, even though I am a very fast (Dvorak) typist.
My return to web-related activity in the summer of 1998 led me into a number of new interests. I developed an automated system for handling the thousands of bookmarks that I had accumulated to add to my links pages. I became more interested in web development, including writing HTML that is correct and device-independent.
However, my biggest interest became Cascading Style Sheets, which offered to return HTML to the content markup language that it was intended to be while also creating a wonderful (and very powerful) system of author-user interaction over how pages should be displayed. I was involved in trying to improve browser support for CSS in various ways, since in the early days it wasn't very good. I became involved in the newsgroup comp.infosystems.www.authoring.stylesheets and the www-style mailing list, became a member of the Web Standards Project's CSS Action committee, contributed to the W3C's CSS Test Suite. I also wrote a number of pages relating to CSS (which includes results from the CSS Test Suite and my own tests) and other WWW-related things. My interest in CSS led me to do a significant amount of bug testing on the New Layout Engine that was used in Mozilla and in Netscape 6 and 7. I also became an invited expert to the W3C's CSS working group.
I ended up doing summer internships at Netscape/AOL/AOLTW in the summers of 1999 through 2002, and also working there in the fall of 2001 when I took a semester off from college. During the first two internships I gradually switched from testing to programming. After I graduated, I worked there for a few months before they laid everybody off in July 2003 (although I stayed until the end of September). Then I went to work for the Mozilla Foundation, and as of October 2005, I work for the Mozilla Corporation.
Earthquakes I've felt:
Earthquakes I've been told I should have felt, but didn't:
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