Archive for January 8th, 2009

Sea Story Break!

If you’ve read my backgrounder, you know I am a former Naval Officer and US Naval Academy grad. That job has a number of perks, one of which is a healthy appreciation for the humor of the men and women in uniform. Under the Sea Stories category, over time, I’ll write a series of short stories about my Navy experience and life in general. Just fun stuff, and a break from work.

This is a story about one of my better screw ups…

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About Bob

I’m a 1980 graduate of the US Naval Academy, with a degree in Marine (Nuclear and Power Generation) Engineering. I then served 5 years as an engineering officer. My claims to fame in the Navy were: Fixing a broken ship – when I reported aboard, my ship was unsafe to get underway. 4 years later, she had the highest rated engineering plant of her ship type. Training – My guys achieved the highest propulsion plant test scores ever given up to that time. Maintenance – I managed her 1985 overhaul. $30 million budget, 6 months duration, 4500+ tasks on the critical path. We completed it 6 weeks early an $6M under budget. I used a Lisa (predecessor to the Mac) and their Project Management software linked to my master db of work to be done.

My mother taught me computer programming when I was a kid, so when I left the Navy, I went towards high tech. I worked for an instrumentation company working on product development and software. In this case software was all assembly (early microcontrollers), with a little bit of C work later on. Throughout my life I have taught myself new programming techniques and technologies.

I left that company and went to work for GE Nuclear in San Jose. I was the senior engineer responsible for emergency core cooling systems and residual heat removal systems. My primary task was to research the design bases of these systems to help plants achieve licensing for a service life extension.

While I was at GE, my software side got the better of me again. They were using such antiquated engineering software. I proposed and got funding for an engineering knowledge management system. The idea was a bit ahead of it’s time in that it used an Oracle database as an XML repository. This was in 1991, 7 or so years before anyone coined the phrase “XML”. It was a massively linked system that tracked design decisions at the paragraph level. You could look at part in the system, and trace its engineering history back through the design documents paragraph by paragraph to find out why it was made of stainless steel.

I left GE to start my own company based on this technology. I funded starting the company by working as a contractor for EPRI. At EPRI I developed a 3d database model of a nuclear boiler, mapped the components to other plants as well as 1, 2, and 3d models for neutron flux and water chemistry to attempt predict the emergence of ISGCC cracks in reactor internals.

Then of course, came the web. I adapted my earlier work to a web model, and raised about $3M in venture capital. I worked for the company I founded for about 7 years when it died during the dot com bust. Our biggest success story was a corporate travel portal for Galileo. The home page on their portal had some 500 elements of dynamic content, and our server was able to render pages that complex at the rate of 70 pages per second with its dynamic caching technology. There still isn’t a web technology in existence that can meet that performance level. That system was written in Java, and I was a primary code contributor as well as the inventor and architect of the system.

Since then, I’ve been rocking around doing consulting work. I’ve done a bunch of database optimization projects (Oracle, SQL Server), as well as 3 stints with Adobe Systems working on automating their creative suite. I have done projects for a number of firms that automate print and web production workflows using InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Bridge.

I did spend a year with firm that does catalog software. I architected and wrote an XML interface to InDesign to automate the development of product catalogs. One project, for example created a 900+ page catalog with some 6000 products. It went from concept to print-ready in 4 days.

My IQ hovers around 170. I learn and absorb a tremendous amount of information very quickly. I have a proven knack for finding elegant solutions to very complex problems and am known for out of the box thinking.

I am married to the great wife, Mary Beth. We are animal lovers having horses, dogs, cats, donkeys, chickens, and…

For fun I like to sing barbershop. Here’s a song if you care to listen.

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Templates and the Contact Sheet for InDesign Script

The Contact Sheet for InDesign Bridge script has the ability to use InDesign templates. This posting is an example of how to create and use an InDesign template that will make your contact sheets into things of beauty…

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