Terry Newton - an electronics technician living just outside of Nashville, TN. Although electronics is how I presently make a living I am interested in and sometimes expert in a wide range of scientific and computer-related disciplines from robots to earth lights. This is me in a cave...
I don't know much about caves, just found myself there in front of a camera.
Major professional skills
Musical Amplifier Repair - I service electronic equipment for numerous professional musicians, my specialty is vintage tube amps like old Fenders, Marshalls, etc but I also work on modern solid-state amps and other equipment.
Musical Amplifier Design, Modifications and Manufacturing - people tell me what kind of tone they need and I design circuitry to meet their needs. Amplifier manufacture is expensive so I often rebuild existing equipment to new specs.
Custom Electronic/Microcontroller Applications - sometimes I get calls to design and/or manufacture electronic devices, a popular product [was] a box that plays music for ice cream trucks [got too busy with other custom apps for that, passed on the plans so they could make their own music boxes].
Computer Systems Operator/Programmer - once upon a time I ran a Wang minicomputer on night-shift and wrote the system batches to make everything go smoothy, that was back when PC's were a new irritant a few executives just had to have. Major accomplishment: Conway's Life in COBOL. Major Lesson: don't plot Mandelbrots while jobs are running. :) Seriously I don't think mainframe experience would help me much these days but if all of a sudden I found I had a network I had to manage I could manage. Not that I seek that sort of job but who knows.
Guitar Player - Not gigging currently except for weekend jams for fun, but I jam. In the early '90's I played guitar for "Peace Cry", an intense socially-consious regional rock band. We played from Atlanta to Chicago for fun and a little pay.
Robotics - Perhaps my favorite hobby (and sometimes profession) is creating autonomous robots that have at least some capacity to think for themselves. My robotics and science pages document many of my robots and ideas about the subject. Of particular interest are simple systems that self-organise themselves to perform well in varying environments. Evolving core war programs show how natural selection can write procedural programs from scratch but an evolving neural network is usually better-suited for robotics control. The key to evolving proceedural programs is to use a language which has no wrong instructions (limit the scope) but the principle is the same for both methods: change it until it works, copy what works and delete what does not work. This is the principle that drives life here on earth and behind most A-life software.
Computers - My first computer was a ZX-81 assembled from a kit, I have been hooked on computers ever since. For a while my main system was an Atari 130XE with a couple disk drives and a ramdisk but I soon found out one had to have a PC to get anything done. I got my PC when AOL didn't even have an internet connection and surfing the net meant using a shell account and lynx. Around '94 things really picked up, got a web page and enough computing power to run Windows. These days I can emulate old computers when modern computing life gets too hectic, experience some of what it was like to program an old PDP11 or even one of the early Manchester machines. As far as programming PC's go I'm not an expert but I get by. Batch programs are very good friends, I know enough QBasic to accomplish most of the tasks I need to do, compiled basic can be like any other dos program so no cheap shots. Every now and then I dabble with assembly but only enough to write simple programs like filters. Visual Basic sounds interesting for making Windows programs without too much complexity but I haven't tried it. I keep saying I'm going to learn C but never seem to find the time. Unless I found myself working as a programmer I care much more about getting the job done than worrying about what language it is written in. Most of the programming I do is for PIC microcontrollers, simple computers I use for embedded control. I usually write the code in Parallax assembly or in my own high-level language using a compiler I wrote. In basic.
Science - my favorite magazine is Scientific American. I find subjects like quantum mechanics, particle physics, cosmology and geology (to name a few) highly facinating, I have a few mind-boggling links in my Answers and Questions section. One thing I'd like to see explained are earth lights. Another interesting mystery is the quantum-like role played by microtubules in living cells. The world around us is filled with mysteries, what about those electric-field things that fly around like air-fish?
Last modified January 14, 2000 [minor editing 9/22/07]