Terry Hancock

Terry Hancock

Terry Hancock is working currently as the producer and director of a free-licensed science fiction animated video series called "Lunatics", which deals with the establishment of the first settlement off of the Earth. As of early 2012, this project has received crowd-funding for series pre-production work, with the intent of launching a crowd-funding campaign for Summer 2012 to support production. If successful, this will become one of the largest free-licensed artistic projects to date.

He is also continuing to write for Free Software Magazine, as he has been doing since 2005. His column covers free-software, free-culture, and open-hardware subjects, including reviews of books, projects, products, software, and data resources. It also includes tutorials and analysis of economic and social issues relating to this field.

In 2009, he wrote and published a book in cooperation with Free Software Magazine, called Achieving Impossible Things with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise, which examines the remarkable achievements of free-culture projects in recent years, and offers advice on how to successfully manage commons-based enterprises of your own.

A space advocate since childhood, Terry Hancock has been an active member of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and of the National Space Society and of local chapters in Texas and California. He was one of the organizers of the 1996 Southwest Regional Space Conference and of the 2004 and 2007 International Space Development Conferences. He was also the 2000-2001 editor of the Odyssey, the chapter newsletter of OASIS, the LA chapter of NSS, and the 2007-2009 webmaster for the NSS of North Texas.

Terry received a BA from The University of Texas, majoring in Astronomy. He went on to work as a research assistant, writing software for such projects as the McDonald Observatory Planet Search program in Texas (for Dr. Bill Cochran) and the testing at the University of Arizona/Steward Observatory of the NICMOS infrared imaging chips for the Hubble Space Telescope. Later he worked with data from that same camera for astronomical research at Extrasolar Research Corporation in Pasadena, California (for Dr. Susan Terebey). He later went to work for Caltech/JPL's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC). In 2003, he left Caltech to focus on Anansi Spaceworks projects. He now resides in Texas.

Since 1999, he has been active in the open source community, learning the basics of open-source project management through several small SourceForge projects. In 2005 and 2006, Terry worked remotely on a freelance basis as the News Editor and, later, Deputy Editor for LinuxUser and Developer magazine, a London-based international magazine covering Linux and free-software topics.

He is an advocate not only of using free-licensed open-source software but also of applying its free-licensing methodologies to other areas, including the arts, electronic and mechanical design, and space development.

Books and Series

Terry Hancock has written a few books:

Achieving Impossible Things with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise (2009)
Starts by evaluating six "impossible things" achieved through the use of commons-based enterprise, and proposes a set of rules for creating successful commons-based projects. Available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book formats.
Making Free Movies with Free Software (2011+)
On-going series of articles for Free Software Magazine documenting my experiences producing our free-culture science-fiction web series Lunatics as well as contributing to Konstantin Dmitriev's free-culture anime movie The Beautiful Queen Marya Morevna: Underground
Towards a Free Matter Economy (2005)
Explores the possibility of applying free-software methods to the development of hardware in the "matter economy" -- what today we would call "open hardware". Seven-part article series for Free Software Magazine, intended to form part of a book on Open Hardware (as yet unwritten).
Zenoss: A Reluctant Administrator's Guide
Technical documentation for "Zenoss", a network-monitoring tool, applied to small-scale networks, such as a home LAN system. Free Software Magazine e-book.
A Tour of Free Software Vector Graphics Applications
Article series for Free Software Magazine. I intended to test and review several additional applications, but I got bored doing the same drawing over and over again. Maybe I'll eventually finish it.

Towards a Free Matter Economy

This series explores the concept of applying free software methods to the development of designs for the matter marketplace (thus "freeing" the "matter economy"). The original inspiration for this series was my "Narya" project which was intended to provide a free-culture/free-design based approach to developing technology for space travel and space settlement. In fact, there's no particular reason for this specialization, and the whole area of what would now be called "open hardware" is within the scope of this concept.

Narya was not a success in itself, though many of the concepts have since been implemented in one form or another. The complete "Narya Bargaining" concept has not yet been implemented, as far as I know (as of 2012) -- this is simply a combination of auction-based supply with crowd-funding based demand which creates an electronically-negotiated "haggling" protocol to result in efficient interaction between the capitalist supply economy and the commons-based enterprise of the demand side.

Part 1: Information as Matter, Matter as Information
What does it mean for hardware to be free or open? We are really talking about design. And design is increasingly the real source of value for many items.
Part 2: The Passing of the Shade Tree Mechanic
The transition of society from a group of self-supporting individual to dependent consumers, and the increased sequestering of key design data, which centralizes power. Open hardware gives us an answer to that.
Part 3: Designing the Narya Bazaar
The actual design of the bargaining system proposed as part of the "Narya" project. As far as I know, this still hasn't really been implemented, though it is a simple-enough combination of "auction" and "crowd-funding" technologies, which have been.
Part 4: The Tools of the Trade
A major problem area for open hardware engineering is (or at least was) the dearth of good free software engineering design tools. This situation has improved considerably since I wrote this, though there is still room for improvement.
Part 5: Inventing the Future, Remembering the Past
Maintaining effective documentation databases for open hardware so that technology, once invented, remains available is a considerable challenge in itself.
Part 6: Legal Landmines
Many legal obstacles and liabilities exist for open hardware, ranging from licensing issues to safety, liability, and environmental regulations.
Part 7: A Free Future in Space
The original application concept for Narya was to support development of space technology for settlement. This article explores some ways open hardware might help with that.

Network Monitoriing with Zenoss: A Reluctant Administrator's Guide

Zenoss is a network monitoring packaged based on Zope. In this commissioned article, I explore its use on a small home LAN.

Getting Zenoss
Simple Network Management Protocol
Modeling an SNMP computer in Zenoss
SSH/Command modeling
What Zenoss can tell you
Going further

Free Software Vector Graphics Applications: A Guided Tour

I never actually finished this series (I got tired of drawing the same diagram over and over), but it was an interesting comparative review. I drew essentially the same diagram using each application, and then compared the result and the ease of creating it. The other applications I had planned to cover were my old favorite "Skencil", OpenOffice.org's "Draw", and "Karbon-14". Perhaps someday when I get really bored, I'll finish this series.

Text is not enough!
Dia: A useful, though flawed, solution for simple diagrams
Inkscape: one essential vector graphics application
Xara LX and the leading, bleeding edge of free software graphics
Xfig: a classic program for diagram editing

Articles on Free Culture


Advertising Revenue Under a Creator Endorsement Model
This article for Question Copyright explored the idea of using their "Creator Endorsed" trademark to support an advertising-based business model for works, especially film or video. The idea is similar to the idea of using an advertising/sponsorship basis for free software distribution. In both cases, the retention of ads is essentially voluntary for distributors. In this case, the author's endorsement is used to encourage keeping the ads in the release.
For Love or Money: Vocationalism
The official definition of "professional" and "amateur" is based on whether you make money on something, but this might not be the best criterion for talking about the quality of work. This article suggests an alternative based on how much effort is put into it.
Ten easy ways to attract women to your free software project
Not being a woman myself, I sort of expected to get crucified for writing this one, but it actually went over pretty well (one of my most read and best-rated articles). I wanted to keep things practical and turn vague complaints and behavioral suggestions into actual project policy decisions that a leader could practically implement. I also wanted to avoid "affirmative action" type solutions (i.e. special treatment), as these tend to breed resentment. Instead, I just thought about the differences between male-centric free software communities and online communities that I knew were mostly visited by women. What was different? What could be changed to make the former more like the latter?
Exploitation? Entrepreneurship, Capitalism, and Making Money on Free Software
An exploration of the values and social contracts in free culture production.
Choosing and Using Free Licenses for Software, Hardware, and Aesthetic works
Useful guide for "best practice" in licensing various kinds of works.
The Jargon of Freedom: 60 Words and Phrases with Context
A lexicon of useful words and phrases for understanding free culture topics.
Defending the Free Commons: Another 30 Words in Context
A continuation of the previous article, focusing on terms for "copyleft" and transparency of data.
Is free software "communist"? Maybe yes...
One of my most controversial articles. It's been translated into at least French and Polish, and stirred up a lot of commentary. In it, I introduce the idea of "free market communism" as opposed to "command economy capitalism" -- to show how the information economy tends to subvert (and invert) our assumptions about these economic models.
My Quest for Free Licensed Japanese Pop Music with Wacca.Fm's XMLRPC API and Python's xmlrpclib
I think this article was under-appreciated! It's a great example of using basic programming skills to deal with a humanities problem: finding a selection of music I wanted using a website's API. Also shows how interesting things can get when working through a language barrier.
Interview: Nina Paley (author of "Sita Sings the Blues" and the two "Minute Meme" animations)
I didn't write this, of course, I just transcribed it from the audio. But it was a great interview which explores a lot of the free culture marketing knowledge I learned from Nina Paley's experience with Sita Sings the Blues and which informs my production planning on Lunatics today.
Making money on free art
Often presented as dialectical opposites, "ethics" and "pragmatics" are actually tightly intertwined. Before new free culture micro-patronage and creator-endorsed ideas which I've since adopted, the future for free-arts looked bleak, which justified much of the concern and exceptions for licensing aesthetic works (e.g. the "Non-Commercial" module of the Creative Commons licenses). Unlike some commentators, I think this matters to our understanding of what is "ethical" -- which is one reason I have felt compelled to explore the options for monetizing free-licensed art.
Viral advertising via free software
Advertising was the solution (at least in the US) to the inability to "sell" television shows. The internet presents a similar problem for many media, and advertising is one of the options. Conventional advertisements rely on "forcing" people to watch ads, but it seems likely to me that voluntary advertising could be as effective.
Much later, I proposed a similar idea for using the "creator endorsed" model with advertising in this article for Question Copyright. Reactions were somewhat mixed -- some people hate the idea of advertisements in any form. But I think it's pretty simple and not very invasive idea for supporting free culture works with embedded ads.
Why You Should Join Diaspora Now, Like Your Freedom Depends On It
Diaspora is a social media software designed to work very much like Facebook or Google+, but to be distributed or federated -- sort of the way email is. This eliminates the single-point-of-failure and single-provider monopoly issues with Facebook and Google+ and similar services. I've found it to be a very nice platform which tends to attract fans of free software and free culture. It's still very niche, but it's a good niche.

Others (Free Software Magazine)

Download Sites: Rogue Pirate Hangouts or Vogue Free Media Distributors?
Four sources for Free-Licensed 3D Modeling Textures
The real problem with media pirate culture: Punishing artists for making art
The Taxman Cometh for Kickstarter
Nielsen's report and Video on the Web
Free Culture Pitfall: Bait-and-Switch Free Licensing
Bach's Goldberg Variations commissioned for Public Domain Release
Creative Commons and FreeSound.org Phase Out Sampling Licenses, Choose More Freedom
2011: The Coming of Gestalt Politics?
Libre.fm: A music sharing site just for free-culture works
Disaffection with Jamendo among artists
Piracy is not a problem; SOPA is not a solution
Motion-Tracking comes to Blender with Project Mango
MusOpen.org is Commissioning the Prague Symphony Orchestra this January
36 Free 3D Model Sites Compatible with Free Blender Animation Projects
Minute Meme "Credit is Due" Distinguishes Plagiarism from Copyright Infringement
Free Software needs Free Speech!
MusOpen.org: Public domain performances of public domain music
Wikileaks: Whistle-blowing, Censorship, Persecution, Retribution, Transparency, and the Future of Freedom on the Internet
Sintel DVDs have shipped with film, commentaries, and Blender tutorials
Confusion and Complexity: High time to prune the Creative Commons licenses?
Flattr: A Social Micropayment Platform for Financing Free Works
Finding Free Music for a Free Film with Jamendo, VLC, and K3B
An open letter to Victoria A. Espinel, US "IP Czar"
Making a copyright system that works
Question Copyright's "Minute Memes" challenge copyright rhetoric
Response to Sam Tuke's Response to "Is free software major league or minor?"
Discovering "Sita Sings The Blues"
Implementing a sensible copyright: "FLOW-IT"
Is free software major league or minor?
Free-licensed art for free software games: OpenGameArt.org
Durian is Coming: Blender's Third Open Movie Project
Debian: contempt for "end user" values has to stop!
A glimmer of hope from whitehouse.gov
Deploying CC+ for the common good: Buy4Commons
Supporting your free software? Don't burn out
Stephen Fry wishes GNU/Linux a happy 25th birthday
Copyleft has no impact on project activity?!
What if copyright didn't apply to binary executables?
Why sharing matters more than marketshare to GNU/Linux
The Blender Foundation's "Big Buck Bunny" is a Peach!
Microsoft and free software? I don't think so...
Google App Engine: Is it evil?
Promoting the Public Domain with Creative Commons' CC0 Initiative
Red Hat packagers dance around frivolous music game software patents
“GNU”, “Linux”, or neither...?
Some numbers on Creative Commons
For love or money?
Free software and world peace
Debian and the Creative Commons
Spirit of the machine I
Who owns me?
Ghost in the shell
Two free open-source movies
Seeking independence?
DRM, guardrails, and the right to be stupid
The case for a Creative Commons 'sunset' Non-Commercial license module
Free software games need a richer “character franchise”
Free art and copyleft conflicts 2: The rationalizations strike back
Free art and copyright conflicts
Free file formats and the future of intellectual freedom

Articles about Film-making


Raising money For "Lunatics" with Kickstarter
Money has always been a scary area for me, but Kickstarter has made crowd-funding much more successful. This article documented my creation of a Kickstarter campaign for funding the pre-production work (mainly character design) on Lunatics. We succeeded (very close to the wire!), and I plan to write a follow-up documenting what we did after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Creating a Project Website for "Lunatics" with Apache, Zope, Plone, MediaWiki, Trac, Subversion, and the Cloud Too
One of the hardest things for me in setting up the Lunatics project, was tinkering together the project website. This is a brief overview of how I did it and what free software tools I used.
Artists should be paid, Part 1: Why Creator Endorsed sales promote fair sharing
How should artists be paid their proper share of profits on a free culture collaborative project? Who should decide? And how?
Artists should be paid, Part 2: What's "fair"?
Establishing that enough motivation exists for project leaders to be trusted (to be "fair") with profit-sharing decisions, how do we figure out what's "fair"?
Artists should be paid, Part 3: The Big Picture
How should a producer decide how much profit to share with music versus animation or voice actors? Ultimately this is a production decision, and will change the character of the production -- it's a kind of budgeting.
Five ideas for escaping the Blu-Ray blues
This is the research that inspired me to start the Lib-Ray project, which is still going on, although I'm a little stumped technically at the moment.
Creating 3D Printed Models with Blender and the Shapeways Printing Service
I made some physical models using the Shapeways 3D printing service, and so I documented the process for FSM.

Others (Free Software Magazine)

Object and Camera Path Tracking in Blender - "Monkey See Monkey Do"
Video editing with Kdenlive: Might be the sweet spot
Video editing with OpenShot: Capable, but lacks some polish
Video editing with Blender VSE: "It's complicated"
Video editing with Kino: Simple, but very limited
Motion-Tracking comes to Blender with Project Mango
Dialog Recording with Audacity and a USB Microphone
36 Free 3D Model Sites Compatible with Free Blender Animation Projects
Emulating disk menus with HTML5 and Chromium for Lib-Ray
Assembling and Testing a Complex Ogg Theora Video with Command Line Tools and VideoLAN Client (VLC)
Migrating Multiple MediaWikis with Practically Perfect People Policies
Creating Subtitles from SRT Sources for an Ogg Video with kateenc
Assembling Video from a PNG Stream for an Ogg Video with png2theora
Assembling Ogg Soundtracks for an Ogg Video with Audacity, VLC, and Command Line Tools
Understanding Surround and Binaural Sound
Creating a Storyboard Animatic with Blender
Creating a moving story-reel shot with Inkscape and Blender
Making realistic characters for Blender with MakeHuman
7 Things We Don't Have to Invent for Animation Production (Thanks to Free Software and Previous Free Culture Productions)
Private Collaboration and Digital Asset Management with MediaWiki
Reflections on a page design: my, how the web has changed...
Sky Over Baikonur Backdrop with Gimp
Finding Free Music for a Free Film with Jamendo, VLC, and K3B
MediaWiki and Script Translation for the Morevna Project
Extracting and Using a Recorded Sound Effect with VLC and Audacity
Soyuz Launch Vehicle in Blender: Part I, Modelling the Core Stage
Storyboards for a film with Flickr, OpenClipart, Inkscape, Gimp, and ImageMagick
Making Movies with Free Software
Creating an Animatic Using Audacity and Kino
Painting Sound with ARSS and Gimp
Making a videoloop with Kino and Audacity
The Morevna Project: Anime with Synfig and Blender
Save "Sita Sings the Blues" from the Flash format: can you convert FLA?
Mastering a DVD using QDVDAuthor
A great Blender tutorial: back to school with Blender

Articles about Computer Hardware, Open Hardware, and Open Design


The Made-To-Order revolution: custom flexible manufacturing is here
Technology in the 19th century led to more and more centralization and standardization through the Industrial Revolution. But the computer revolution has made possible (once again) a much more personal and personalizable form of manufacturing. Today, many highly sophisticated hardware products could be assembled as short-run or one-off prototypes by using manufacturing services and a home shop. I chose a "smart phone" as an example, and looked into what you'd need to make one this way today.
Hobby Robotics with Free Software: Part 1 - Lego Mindstorms
Explores the possibility of doing robotics as a hobby with the Lego Mindstorms hardware using free software.
Hobby Robotics with Free Software: Part 2 - Arduino
Explores using Arduino open-hardware electronics and various mechanical kits to do hobby robotics, and then compares this to the Lego alternative in the previous article.
Group interview: a graphic view of the open hardware movement. Part 1: motivations
One of the greatest opportunities I've had as a writer for Free Software Magazine was to get involved in the "Open Graphics Project" -- an initiative to create free-licensed open source hardware for accelerated 3D computer graphics, and part of that thrill was getting to meet the people behind it. I organized an email-based "group interview" in which I asked several volunteers from the project several questions about it. I got a lot of interesting responses and knitted them together into a (hopefully) comprehensible conversation. The original was very lon, so I broke into into separate pieces for publication. In the first part, I wanted to find out about why people were involved in the project.
Group interview: a graphic view of the open hardware movement. Part 2: technical and social issues
In the second part of the interview, I asked questions about the technical issues being addressed, and also how the community worked.
A world of beautiful broken toys
A heartfelt piece about some of the emotions I get from dealing with restrictively-licensed software and hardware that makes you dependent on it.

Others (Free Software Magazine)

Pirate Bay Gets Physical with 3D Designs
Lasting Digital Archives: Millenniata's New Archival DVD Technology
The OpenPC project: Ready-made GNU/Linux Machines
Post-Christmas Review: Tech Toys and GNU/Linux Compatibility
Flip: A Simple Camera Done Right
An Easy and Inexpensive Quad-Core System for Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux
The Bittersweet Facts about OLPC and Sugar
A triple-boot system with GRUB: Debian GNU/Linux "Lenny", FreeDOS 1.0, and Windows 98SE
Homebuilt computers for Christmas
Purchasing free-software-friendly hardware
One Laptop Per Child kicks off PyCON 2007
Keyboards of the future
Introducing the Open Graphics Project
Broadband, standards, and a web of little white lies
Thoughts on the “One Laptop Per Child” project
Secret standards

Articles about Free Software


Mouser: A Simple Game of Cat & Mouse (2008)
Originally serialized as three articles in "Python Magazine". This was a dead-simple tutorial on basic programming targeted at novice users, based on Python and PyGame. Starting from a "hello world" example, it works up to a simple arcade game with a cat trying to catch mice. The link is to the omnibus version I made from all three articles, along with all of the sample code.
Keeping score in test-driven development with Python, PyLint, unittest, doctest, and PyRate
Fun with Python programming and some "agile" concepts, including test-driven development.
Getting Stanford's "Karel the Robot" to Run in Debian's Eclipse
Karel the robot is a Java "microworld" used in "open courseware" free classes in introductory computer programming available online from Stanford University. With this article, you can follow these classes using the free version of Eclipse included in Debian GNU/Linux (the Stanford site only has instructions for Windows and Macs).
Make your own Wayback Machine or Time Machine in GNU/Linux with rsnapshot
Nifty backup solution for a LAN using the "rsnapshot" package.
Free software game favorites
For this article, I actually asked my sons what their favorite free software games were, and then reviewed them.
Answering a tricky question with the KStars desktop planetarium package
Well, I am an astronomer, after all. A friend asked me to figure out what the nearest of the easily visible stars on a summer night would be; I used KStars to answer the question; and I documented how I did it as a way to introduce the program in this article.

Others (Free Software Magazine)

Python Scripting in Blender: A Piece of Pie - Part 1
Checking Out Ubuntu Studio 11.04
A Simple NFS File Server
Installing a Debian GNU/Linux test server with VirtualBox
Learning with TuxMath
OpenOffice.org is Dead, Long Live LibreOffice -- or, The Freedom to Fork
Marketing Bug: How Do I Contact You?
Moving to an IDE for programming (Eclipse with PyDev)
Debian: contempt for "end user" values has to stop!
Howto: A Theme for KMahjongg
An easy library catalog with Tellico
Eye candy for KDE Desktop Manager (KDM)
Making eye candy for GRUB
OpenSocial overview: how opensocial works, and how to integrate it with your CMS
Free software tools for designing productive community sites
Report from the Texas Open Source Symposium
Indexing offline CD-ROM archives
Programming languages and "lock-in"
Getting the login right: moving from xdm to gdm or kdm
Why can't free software GUIs be empowering instead of limiting?
Red Hat packagers dance around frivolous music game software patents
Wrapping up PyCON 2007
Thrills, chills, and pictures from PyCON 2007
Python conference 2007 starts tomorrow
Who's playing whom?
Distributed search follow-up
Spiff up your website with KImageMapEditor
A bit about BitTorrent
User interfaces should teach, not hide
Free your mind — write some free software
Structured writing with LyX
Was BRL-CAD the tool I was looking for?
Just a thought: free distributed search?
2000 was the “year of the GNU/Linux Desktop” for me
Is Microsoft bracketed by GNU/Linux?
Reports from PyCON 2006 (Python Conference)
Some briefs for this week
Praise for Python
I'm finally learning procmail
Reducing the risk of risk
Skinning XMMS with BuildImage and Skencil

Articles about Space Transportation, Technology, and Settlement

Odyssey Newsletter

I was the editor for the Odyssey, the newsletter for the LA chapter of the National Space Society, known as OASIS. OASIS is one of the oldest chapters of NSS and a number of its active members are employed in the aerospace industry, which is quite well-represented in the area. However, as with most volunteer newsletters, content was hard to find, and I often filled in with my own articles. Here are a few of the better ones:

Articles and Papers in Astronomy

Off and on from 1989 (after I graduated from college) until about 2003, I worked as a professional astronomer ("Research Assistant" -- I never got a PhD). As a result, I'm listed as a co-author on a number of astronomical research papers. This was primarily for doing the research, although I did sometimes prepare graphics and occasionally some text to go into these papers.

Work with McDonald Observatory Planet Search Program

Constraints on the companion object to HD 114762 (1991)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 380, Oct. 10, 1991, p. L35-L38. DOI:10.1086/186167, Bibliographic Code: 1991ApJ...380L..35C, PDF
The Companion Object to HD114762 (1998)
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 21, p.972. Bibliographic Code: 1989BAAS...21..972C, PDF

Work at Steward Observatory in Tucson, Arizona

Infrared imaging of M CAS B using rapid image motion compensation (1993)
Astronomical Journal (ISSN 0004-6256), vol. 105, no. 2, p. 652-659. DOI: 10.1086/116463, Bibliographic Code: 1993AJ....105..652M, PDF. I created all of the figures for this paper and I contributed some of the text.

Work with Extrasolar Research Corporation in Pasadena, California

I actually did this work in 1998-1999. Several of these papers were completed years afterwards, based on data I helped analyze during that time.

A Candidate Protoplanet in the Taurus Molecular Cloud (1998)
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 30, p.933. Bibliographic Code: 1998AAS...192.7904T
A Candidate Protoplanet in the Taurus Star-forming Region (1998)
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 507, Issue 1, pp. L71-L74. DOI:10.1086/311671, Bibliographic Code: 1998ApJ...507L..71T, PDF
Near-infrared Hubble Space Telescope Images of Nearby Protostars (1998)
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 30, p.828. Bibliographic Code: 1998AAS...192.1006H
The Contribution of Ionizing Stars to the FIR and Radio Emission in the Milky Way: Evidence for a Swept-up Shell and Diffuse Ionized Halo around the W4 Chimney/Superbubble (2000)
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 32, p.711. Bibliographic Code: 2000AAS...196.2609T
Dynamical Structure in HST/NICMOS Images of Nearby Protostars (2001)
From Darkness to Light: Origin and Evolution of Young Stellar Clusters, ASP Conference Proceedings, Vol. 243. Edited by Thierry Montmerle and Philippe André. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific, ISBN: 1-58381-081-1, 2001, p.243, Bibliographic Code: 2001ASPC..243..243T, PDF
The Impact of Ionizing Stars on the Diffuse Interstellar Medium: A Swept-up Shell and Ionized Halo around the W4 Chimney/Superbubble (2003)
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 590, Issue 2, pp. 906-916. DOI: 10.1086/375160. Bibliographic Code: 2003ApJ...590..906T. PDF
The Circumstellar Structure of the Class I Protostar TMC-1 (IRAS 04381+2540) from Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS Data (2004)
American Astronomical Society Meeting 205, #117.07; Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 36, p.1545. Bibliographic Code: 2004AAS...20511707T
The Circumstellar Structure of the Class I Protostar TMC-1 (IRAS 04381+2540) from Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS Data (2005)
Protostars and Planets V, Proceedings of the Conference held October 24-28, 2005, in Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hawai'i. LPI Contribution No. 1286., p.8611. Bibliographic Code: 2005prpl.conf.8611T. PDF
The Circumstellar Structure of the Class I Protostar TMC-1 (IRAS 04381+2540) from Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS Data (2006)
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 637, Issue 2, pp. 811-822. DOI: 10.1086/498385. Bibliographic Code: 2006ApJ...637..811T. PDF

Book Reviews (Free Software Magazine)

Book Review: Introducing Character Animation with Blender, 2nd Edition by Tony Mullen

Book Review: Character Development in Blender 2.5 by Jonathan Williamson

Book Review: Machinima by Matt Kelland, Dave Morris, and Dave Lloyd

Book Review: Annie's CS101 by Dmitry Zinoviev

Book Review: The Transparent Society by David Brin

Book Review: Animating with Blender by D. Roland Hess

Book Review: Sound Effects Tips and Tricks by Eddie Bazil

Book Review: No Safe Harbor by the US Pirate Party

Book Review: Bounce, Tumble, and Splash! by Tony Mullen

Book Review: Stop Staring by Jason Osipa

Book Review: Blender 2.49 Scripting

Book Review: The Book of Audacity by Carla Schroder

Book Review: Blender 3D 2.49 Architecture, Buildings, and Scenery by Allan Brito

Review: Making Software, Edited by Andy Oram and Greg Wilson

Review: Blender 2.5 Lighting and Rendering, by Aaron W. Powell

Book Review: Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition by Al Sweigart

Book Review: Foundation Blender Compositing by Roger Wickes

Book Review: Crafting Digital Media by Daniel James

Book review: Bounty Hunters (Metaphors for Fair Intellectual Property Laws) by Greg London

Book review: Design Concepts with Code: An Approach for Developers by Stanko Blatnik and Kelly Carey

Book review: Foundations of Ajax by Ryan Asleson, Nathaniel T. Schutta

Book review: Python How to Program by Deitel & Associates

Book review: The Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source by Martin Fink

Book review: Zope 3 Developer’s Handbook by Stephan Richter

Book review: Web Mapping Illustrated by Tyler Mitchell

Book review: Building Online Communities with Drupal, phpBB, and WordPress

Book review: Deploying OpenLDAP by Tom Jackiewicz

Book review: The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide, 2nd Edition by John H. Terpstra and Jelmer R. Vernooij

Book review: Samba-3 By Example, 2nd Edition by John H. Terpstra


Formal Education Programs

Primary: Fort Worth ISD Schools. Fort Worth, TX. 1972-1980.
Secondary: Bishop Nolan Catholic High School. Fort Worth, TX. 1981-1985.
"College prep" program. Honors English. Calculus. Spanish through "Spanish V: The Modern Latin-American Short Story". Two years of French.
Undergraduate: University of Texas. Austin, TX. 1985-1989.
Started in "aerospace engineering" major, progressed through "film", "physics", and "astronomy" as majors. Took a lot of electives. Did some undergraduate research with Dr. William Cochran's "McDonald Observatory Planet Search" program (although it wasn't yet called that then). Scholarships: National Merit Scholar, Ernest Cockrell Jr. Scholarship in Engineering. Organizations: Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).
Graduate School: University of Arizona. Tucson, AZ. 1990-1992.
Graduate level classes in experimental and mathematical physics, astronomy, and planetary science. I did research with Dr. Donald McCarthy on the brown dwarf companion to Mu Cas at this time and also did technical work supporting the NICMOS camera for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Continuing Education and Training

I've taken several courses through continuing education programs and community colleges, mostly for practical skills. The class in Systems Engineering at UCLA was meant to be part of a certificate program, but I was not able to finish due to work changes and relocation. It was still a pretty fun class, though, so not wasted.

Space Mission Systems Engineering. UCLA. Los Angeles, CA. 1999-2000.
Covered systems-level mission design for spacecraft.
Japanese: Pasadena City College. Pasadena, CA. 2001-2003.
Two years of Japanese (basic and intermediate).
Basic Electronics
Pasadena City College. Pasadena, CA. 2002. Basically, we built a radio.
Machine Shop
Pasadena City College. Pasadena, CA. 2002. Lot of small projects with lathe and mill, etc.
Basic Welding
Hill College. Cleburne, TX. 2005. Basic welding skills with gas and flux-core electric-arc welding.

Open Courseware

Although I try to take courses that are related somehow to my work, this is mostly about keeping my mind from atrophying!

Blender 3D Modeling
Online. 2010-present. Following several online Blender tutorials including a particularly good one from Tufts University.
Linear Algebra
Online. 2010-present. MIT Open Courseware series with Gilbert Strang. Still working through it when I can.


Technical Writing and Editing
Wide range of skills in science and technology areas, especially astronomy, physics, computer science, and engineering. Every age and skill level from outreach curricula for grade schoolers to technical documentation for PhD Astronomers. Experienced as a professional editor, as well as many years' experience writing documentation in an academic environment.
Graphic and Scientific Programming. Web development with Zope, Plone, and Python. Simulation and Management problems. Python.
Teaching / Adult Instruction and Enrichment Classes
Linux/Unix Desktop. Space Resources. Space Technology. Astronomical Topics. Curriculum Development.
Software Integration and Support
Scientific and technical. Linux Desktop Migration. Finding the right tools—or making them, leveraging open source development
Soft Skills
Project direction and management on free culture / free software projects. Embedded interviewing and communication. Network learning. Crowd-sourcing. Crowd-funding.

Professional Experience

Director and Producer of "Lunatics" Web Video Series
2010-present. This is a start-up project on a semi-commercial basis, using crowd-funding and pre-sales. As of early 2012, we are in pre-production work, partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign completed at the end of 2011. Our plan after pre-production is to create a more credible/prominent proposal for production, including a "teaser trailer", an animatic, and other materials. Using this we will do additional recruiting and crowd-funding to support production. The plan is to move from this to a sustainable fan-financed series model.
Regular Columnist for Free Software Magazine
2005-present. Regularly submit columns on a fee basis to the online magazine Free Software Magazine. Recently transitioned to a commission basis. Articles cover a wide range of topics relating to free software, free culture, and open hardware. Many are reviews of projects, products, software, and resources. Some are tutorials or "examples" demonstrating the use of free software tools. Some are analysis of trends and economics relating to free software and free culture production.
Deputy Editor for LinuxUser & Developer Magazine
2005-2006. News & Deputy Editor for LinuxUser & Developer magazine. LU&D is an international Linux magazine, published out of London, England. Contact: Daniel James, Editor. Responsible for producing 6-10 page news section consisting of news features and briefs, as well as a weekly e-mail newsletter. 100% Telecommute basis.
Scientific Applications Software Integration & Maintenance Contract for Caltech/JPL IPAC
2003. Extended role as Software Support Engineer for Caltech/JPL Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) on Anansi Spaceworks contract. Contact: Dr. Bill Reach. Responsible for integrating scientific applications into a “SciApps” bundle for research astronomers at major NASA research center. IPAC, including the SSC, is the major support center for the Spitzer Space Telescope (previously known as SIRTF). 100% telecommute.

2002-2003. Software Support Engineer for Caltech/JPL IPAC. Created SciApps bundle, based on rotating release system as used by Debian GNU/Linux. This allowed scientists to use the most common (mostly free-licensed) scientific software packages without the overhead of maintaining their installations. These consist largely of difficult-to-maintain packages that were rejected by the regular IT staff. Acted as liason (and occasionally mediator) between scientific and IT staff. Solved problems related to increasing dissatisfaction with existing software management solutions. Contact: Dr. Bill Reach. Approximately 50% telecommute.
Research Assistant for Extrasolar Research Corporation
1998-1999. Assistant in astronomical research; conducted business management tasks; maintained Solaris 2.5 and 7 operating systems on SPARC compatible workstation, and all necessary scientific software. Wrote software for analyzing results from NICMOS instrument and also from forward ray-tracing scattering simulations of protostars. Conducted research image processing for data reduction and analysis tasks based on NICMOS infrared data from Hubble Space Telescope as well as some ground-based observations. As the sole employee of a two-person small business conducting astronomical research, this was a very unique position. Dr. Susan Terebey had started this business in order to continue her research after leaving IPAC. The position was very demanding in that it required a lot of different kinds of tasks to be managed. This is normal for a small business, of course, but very unusual for a research institution. On-site (conventional employee).
Wrote "Radial" Software for Original McDonald Observatory Planet Search
1988-1989. Originally as student employee and then as Research Assistant, I worked on data reduction and data reduction software for what was later called the “McDonald Observatory Planet Search” program, started by Dr. Bill Cochran. The software I wrote for this task, which handled the difficult task of tracking shifts of less than 1/20 of a pixel on high-resolution absorption spectroscopy radial velocity data, was still being used at least until the late 1990s (though with some modifications). The software was a large Fortran program, called “Radial”, based on a body of existing libraries for accounting for the observer's own motion and relied on correlation techniques. I was also largely responsible for testing the software on synthetic data generated by Dr. Artie Hatzes.

Current Projects

Lunatics Web Video Series (2010-Present)
lunatics.tv This is my biggest priority at the moment. We are currently engaged in heavy pre-production work, financed in part by a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign. Daniel Fu is currently creating model sheets for the characters. Rosalyn Hunter is working on the script, story arcs, background material, and character sketches. I am working on set design, modeling, and other production work.
Free Software Magazine (2005-Present)
FSM For several years, now, I have been writing for Free Software Magazine. My articles are accessible elsewhere on this site. I also wrote a book, called Achieving Impossible Things (with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise). I'm considering the possibility of updating this to a second edition or of writing another, related book.
Lib-Ray HD Video Standard (2011-Present)
Lib-Ray In considering release options for Lunatics, I came face-to-face with the disturbing reality of Blu-Ray, and it led me to consider alternatives. Lib-Ray will be a standard format based on open-standards. Originally I favored Ogg Theora, though it now seems likely that we will switch to a standard based on MKV / VP8 / Vorbis, otherwise known as "WebM". This, combined with HTML5-based standards for interactive menus, and some Javascript coding, appears capable of creating a user-experience similar to that of DVD or Blu-Ray media. In fact, I am now leaning against optical media, with the possibility of using high-density flash media (perhaps SDHC) as a standard hardware format. There are a number of advantages to Flash memory as a format, especially for free culture projects like ours.

Of course, I've started a lot of projects, and I don't finish them all, and not all of them have been successful. If you have the courage, you can therefore visit my Graveyard of Dead Projects for the projects I may never get back to.

Graveyard of Dead Projects

Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day. This is a list of my projects which have not been updated for a long time, and I don't expect to update them any time soon due to the pressure from other commitments. This is mostly for historical purposes (and the faint hope that one day, I will have the chance to get back to them). If you have a strong interest in taking over one of these projects, though, you should contact me.

The list includes some particulars about the last state of the project, and the reason I'm not pursuing it now. Hopefully it won't be too depressing or destructive to my reputation. :-)


Status: On Hiatus - Will Be Back

One problem faced by collaborative free culture multimedia projects is that of managing attribution and licensing information (the credits list) for all the different creative elements. I felt it would be much better if this information was embedded in the data files -- something which most file formats allow for, but which is not widely supported by software in any kind of consistent way.

To improve this situation, I started work on a python-based command line tool with a plugin architecture for applying metadata to files and extracting them. I called it "Palimpsest", mainly for metaphorical reasons, though I did come up with a backronym: "Python Attribution & Licensing Information Metadata Processor with Systematic Extensions for Sundry Types". Which was silly of me, but why not?

Currently Palimpsest has some basic functionality implement, but it has only one fully-functional backend which works with GIF files. I have a partial PNG implementation, but I'm not too happy with it. It will be relatively easy to write Ogg format support using the available Python libraries, and JPG support is pretty simple, although the EXIF extensions are a little annoying.

I also created a Glade design for a GUI application front-end for Palimpsest, though there is nothing to connect this design to the existing code, as yet.

The main stalling point, though, was the implementation of the XML/RDF code and the XMP support, because I'm just not familiar enough with them. I do have some leads I want to try out on simplifying that part of the code when I get the chance. I also do not have any experience using Glade to control a Python program, but then, that's part of the reason for doing it.

When time allows, I plan to:

  • Restore the website from backup
  • Use Sparta to solve the XMP support problem
  • Implement the already-designed Glade GUI with PyGTK
  • Possibly also create a Qt version (?)

The need for this program has softened a bit. Although consistency is still a problem, there are more tools that honor embedded metadata these days. Also, wiki software makes handling metadata "out of band" easier. Still, it would be useful on a number of projects, including "Lunatics". The main question is just whether I have any time for programming work.


Status: On Hiatus - Low Priority

Inkscape extension to procedurally create "toning" effects -- like "screentones" used in graphic arts (they are especially popular in Japanese Shojo manga). They could also be used to create cloth patterns for use with Spoonflower.

I created a Glade GUI for this, but again, this is something I'm just learning how to do. There is another problem, which is how to integrate it with Inkscape's extension system (which doesn't make it easy to your own persistent GUI).


Status: On Hiatus - Low Priority

A learning project, grown from DigiTone. Cassie is the Clip Art and Skinning System Inkscape Extension, which would provide a clipart library and tools for automatically generating and compositing images as part of a build system. So it's also the successor to the Buildimage idea.

Not much done yet -- still haven't figured out how to get around the roadblocks with Inkscape. Probably need some kind of interprocess approach where Cassie runs as a separate process and exchanges information through extensions in Inkscape. Or maybe I need to patch Inkscape. I'm not sure.


Status: Dead - Bitrot

This was a working extension for Zope 2.5. However, with a later Zope (2.7, I think) it simply stopped working. I never had a chance to figure out why, although it seems to be related to a change in the acquisition code.

It was really meant to support Narya, and wasn't important enough for me to keep up to date after I abandoned that project.


Status: Dead - Superceded by CASSIE

Programmers use GNU make utilities to automate the build process for programs. It works great for this. But it's a poor fit for building image resources used for skinning applications. I wanted something that would make this much easier. BuildImage was my first concept -- very close to the command line make utility.

However, BuildImage was not totally satisfying. Specifying how to create images from original art was far too manual and difficult. Instead, I felt you should be able to draw what you want in a program like Inkscape. From this came the idea that I should really be developing an Inkscape extension of some kind. Also, I'm not aware that BuildImage itself caught the imagination of anyone but me. So I decided to let it go, and look towards making a better system in the future sometime.

The Python Universe Builder

Status: PUB 1 is Stagnant, PUB 2 is Dead

The original P.U.B. was created by Joseph Strout in the 1990s. However, he had no more time or interest in maintaining it (his next project was a "MOO" based on a similar design concept), and it had been ignored for several years.

I took over PUB with the intent of updating it to a more modern Python, making it easier to internationalize, and adding a graphical adventure game shell ("Universe") on top of it. This would be the game engine for The Light Princess. But it would also continue to be usable as an IF engine, and I hoped to add some ideas I had read about "broad, shallow agents" as non-player characters.

By the time I did this, though, Light Princess was already starting to wind down. At one point, a student named Gabriel Jagenstedt became interested in working with PUB, and he had his own vision for how it might work.

Unfortunately, we never got these visions to mesh, the dependencies became a mess, and so the "PUB 2" rewrite collapsed. We have a heap of code, but it doesn't do much.

The original "PUB 1" is available from the website, though, updated to work with more recent versions of Python (I believe it works up to at least Python 2.5), and it is possible to write IF games with it.

The Light Princess Graphic Adventure Game

Status: Definitely Mostly Dead... Probably

I started this project with my wife and partner, Rosalyn Hunter, in 2000, in response to claims that the aesthetic quality of free software games was poor because artists would not be willing to contribute under free-licensing terms. I suspected that this was more of a problem of networking and recruiting (i.e. that the programmers didn't know any artists), and so I approached it primarily from that point of view. Ironically, it was primarily the programming side that let us down on this project (I was good at it then, and didn't manage to recruit anyone who was skilled and willing enough to do it).

The project continued until about 2001, when it became clear that the programming problems weren't going to be solved fast enough, and when I got a full-time job at Caltech. So I tabled the project then. My wife and I did a couple of quiet revivals of the project in 2005 and 2007, doing some of the additional post-processing of artwork, and creating an introductory animatic.

As it sits, "The Light Princess" has a story concept, a basic game-play idea (but with no details), a node-and-link design for the "Day 1" part of the game, and a fair amount of concept art, including character designs by Katherine Chi, Daniel Fu, Corene Werhane, and Marc Yang. There is an introductory animatic which also mocks-up some of the concepts for game play.

The Light Princess also served to identify many of the missing infrastructural elements needed to promote more creative projects of this type, and some of my later projects were meant to address parts of these needs. Others have been solved in the meantime by completely unrelated projects, but I have kept a close watch on these developments, partly as a result of my experience with this project.

In brief: we didn't make a game, but we had fun, and we learned a lot.

Narya Project Incubator

Status: Totally Dead As-Is, Might Resurrect the Bargaining System

The original concept for the narya.net domain was to set up a incubator similar to Sourceforge (though obviously much smaller!) for what would now be called "Open Hardware" projects.

It was conceived as an integrated concept with many features that existed in other software, but which I wanted to bind more tightly together:

  • Forum
  • Documents (Somewhat like wiki)
  • Version control
  • Support for Computer-Aided Design documents

But what was really the unique feature was the "Bargaining" system, originally called "Bazaar" (but I later adopted "Narya Bazaar" or "Narya Bargaining" to avoid confusion with the distributed version control system called "Bazaar" which came out in the meantime).

The idea was to combine an RSPP-inspired collective patronage system with flexible donation pledges with a reverse-auction system in which suppliers could bid to provide needed services. There were really three major parties in each transaction:

  • The project developers - who created the specification
  • The donors - who contributed money
  • The vendors - who provided goods and services

In addition, a fourth party would act as a trusted mediator to verify that a vendor product met the given specification, and therefore release the funds collected by donors. The idea was to solve the common problem with open hardware of raising funds for prototype manufacturing, engineering services, and other problems that faced non-profit, free-culture open hardware projects.

All that I really managed to produce was a very buggy Zope-based forum.

In retrospect, it's clear to me now that I would've been much better off to develop the critical element only (i.e. the Bargaining system), and design it as a plug-in for some existing CMS (perhaps Plone or Drupal), or as a "cloud" service to be integrated generically in any site. I may yet try to do that myself, or collaborate with someone else wanting this kind of feature.

"digitante at gmail dot com"