Announcing the TAMS Small Schools Scholarship

I’m proud to announce the creation and sponsorship of a new TAMS Alumni Association1 scholarship for incoming TAMSters: the Small Schools Scholarship. Like the other TAMS Alumni Association scholarships, this one covers the cost of the TAMS program charge. Unlike the others, this one is targeted towards students who attended a 3A2 or smaller school.

As a former student of a 3A school I know how limited the opportunities can be in schools of this size, particularly for schools in small towns. TAMS was a life-changing experience for me and I want to help others have that same opportunity.

I’m thrilled this year’s Small Schools Scholarship was awarded to Sarah Gutierrez, an outstanding candidate from a 3A school!3 Congratulations Sarah!

A hearty congratulations to all eight TAMS Alumni scholarship recipients! We, the TAMS alumni, wish you the best in these next two life-changing years.


1 I am not formally associated with the TAMS Alumni Association beyond being a very strong supporter of their mission — I don’t speak on their behalf.

2 3A is a designation of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) organization in Texas. Its primary use by that organization is grouping schools of similar sizes for both academic and athletic competition within the state. Sizes range from 1A (smallest) to 6A (largest).

3 While I sponsored the scholarship this year, I did not participate in the selection of the winner.

Pathfinder-1 launches today!

This evening at 8:43p Pacific, BlackSky will launch our first satellite, Pathfinder-1! PF1 is going up on an Indian rocket, PSLV-35, and there will be a live stream of the launch. We have a 15-minute launch window, so if the weather doesn’t cooperate and the rocket is unable to launch within that window the launch will be scrubbed and attempted again Monday night at the same time. So far the weather looks good!

The primary payload should separate from PSLV-35 about 15 minutes after launch. Then the rocket will change orbit in space before PF1 will be released around 11:30p Pacific.

The BlackSky Twitter account has links to some interesting blog posts about PF1’s trek to India and will have updates on the status of the launch and early operations. The SatOps team has been asked to not discuss the status of the sat after launch and let all official communications happen through corporate, so the Twitter account is the best place to figure out how things are going with PF1 after launch.

LEO, here we come!

Promotion: Validation Manager

I’m excited to announce my promotion to Validation Manager! I’ve lead teams in a technical capacity many times over my 16-year career, but this is the first time I have HR management responsibilities.

My team and I are the sole software validation team within Spaceflight Industries. We’re responsible for the end-to-end testing of our entire software stack: from the web interface customers use to task and purchase satellite imagery, to the ground-station software that operators use to communicate and task satellites, to the flight software running on the satellites in orbit.1 One of our missions is creating and implementing software validation practices across the entire company.

I’m very fortunate that my direct reports, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with over the past three months, are rock stars. I fully expect the bulk of my “manager” duties to be protecting them and giving them space to work.

Oh, and did I mention we’re hiring? I’m looking for a strong SDET with embedded experience to work with our satellite flight software team. Have a strong test background? Feel at home in a Linux terminal? Have experience with C? Like to play with hardware? Excited about SPACE? Contact me!2


1 I like to joke that “we prevent your satellite from becoming a meteor!”.

2 Unless you work for DellEMC, because this is NOT a solicitation of any kind for you.

Celebrating a decade at Distributed Proofreaders

Today marks my 10 year “DP birthday”, as we like to say on the site. 10 years ago I joined Distributed Proofreaders and proofread a few pages. Turns out they needed developers more than proofreaders, the former being harder to find, and I was encouraged to dip my toes into the code. It wasn’t long before I was working with jmdyck, one of the lead developers, rewriting the spellcheck function into WordCheck.1 Thus began my foray into a development style best summed up by the phrase “development by community”.

My involvement with DP has waxed and waned over the years as my free time fluctuated, but I’ve always loved DP’s mission and the great community of people. Despite being a world-wide organization and very geographically dispersed I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of them in person – all of whom have been delightful people.

Today I am one of the main developers working to improve our code. I periodically wear a system admin hat (a role we affectionately call ‘squirrels’) helping to keep our site running. Recently I was elected by the community to serve on the umbrella organization’s governing board where I am the board president.

If you love ebooks, believe public domain materials should be free and widely available, and need an outlet for a bit of OCD, I would encourage you to drop over to pgdp.net and join a wonderful community of people helping to preserve history one page at a time.


1 Not surprisingly, you’re really more interested in having the text of the page you’re transcribing match the image and be consistent throughout the book, not knowing how they spelled a word in 1892 differs from the contents of a modern dictionary.