Hi boys and girls, my name is Luke and I am the deranged individual responsible for most of the posts on Terminally Incoherent. I am not a very interesting person, and you can probably find out more about me by reading the blog itself, but I guess it is nice to have an About Page people could check out. So here it is.
I’m a 32 year old software engineer with a Masters degree in Computer Science. My graduate research resulted in several publications in peer reviewed journals. I wrote a 100+ page thesis titled Parallel Nonnegative Matrix Factorization Algorithms for Hyperspectral Images. You can see my flier here, and my presentation slides here.
I’m not going to tell you where I work because it is a rather small company and revealing it’s name would make me way too easy to track down. I am a big fan of keeping the internet off my front porch, so I will keep the exact details to myself. I guess I can tell you about my work though.
My current day job requires me to wear many hats. Sometimes I’m a sysadmin, sometimes I do end-user support, sometimes I code. I mostly do server side web application development on LAMP and WIMP platforms. I also do some desktop application development in C# and office macro development in VBA. When left to my own devices I prefer to hack in Python and sometimes Java.
In the evenings I teach a basic computer concepts course at a local university. It’s more of a hobby than a real job though – I enjoy it quite a bit. It is a little bit like being a technological Prometheus bestowing knowledge upon those who have never ventured beyond the walls of Facebook, and have never actually wondered how the technology they take for granted actually works. Sometimes I imagine I make a little bit of difference and my students a little bit enriched. Nah, they probably forget everything as soon as finals are over – but it is a nice notion.
I usually try not to discuss politics and/or religion on this blog (though if you look through the archives you may notice this was not always the case). For the sake of full disclosure however I should probably mention that I was raised Catholic but I’m not a terribly religious person. I respect beliefs of others but I openly despise shallow religiosity and anti-intellectualism that is often exhibited by religious groups.
My political beliefs are a bit of a mix but I have a very liberal world view. Let me put it this way – I am a geek, I have a masters degree, I love the academia, I am technically minded, I frequent Reddit. You can probably figure out my political ideology just from that alone.
I fancy myself as an intellectual and a man of science. I’m a technocrat and a transhumanist. I believe that human advancement through scientific progress is the noblest cause there is. If I could have one wish, it would be to live long enough to see the technological singularity taking place.
You are not my father.
Let’s establish it right of the bat: you are not my father. I’m sure you think it is extremely witty to quote the most known Star Wars line at me, but it is not. You are not the first person who thought about it.
My full name is actually Łukasz Grzegorz Maciak. I go by Luke for two reasons. First, it is the official localized version of my first name. If you don’t believe me, here is a proof. Second, no one can figure out how to spell or pronounce my name in the original format so why not make it easy for everyone.
I also go by several interweb nicknames. One I have been using recently is Tuxmentat which is a compound word created by combining Frank Herbert’s Mentat concept with the name of the Linux mascot. Or you know – just a well dressed Mentat – it works both ways. When I was active in the Scaper community I went by Ligrim – a nickname I created by adding random letters to my initials (LGM). Also it included the word grim which I though was kinda bad ass.
My very old stuff may be signed as Szaman or Szaman2 which was my actual high school nickname. Szaman is essentially shaman in Polish. I wish there was a good story behind it but there is not. My friends simply lacked imagination. I got that nickname because when I was a Freshman in high school I still used to wear my hair pretty long (don’t ask – that was long time ago). Around that time a song called Shaman’s Girlfriend became quite popular. Unsurprisingly the music video for that song featured a Shaman played by some dude who looked nothing like me, but also happened to have long hair.
I am not a native English speaker.
I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. When I was 17 I moved to United States and found myself in the middle of New Jersey suburbia. Having taken several semesters of English at school, and being a gamer (most pirated video games were not localized) gave me a good enough grasp of English to be placed in a regular English class rather than ESL.
After living in US for 15 years I consider myself to be for the most part fluent English speaker. For example, I tend to think in English most of the time, unless I’m actually talking with someone in Polish. I also frequently dream in English. I don’t do any internal translation – and in fact, I do not always know “how do you say ____ in Polish” – especially when it comes to scientific or technology related terms. If you ask me something like that and I’m drawing a blank, that’s probably because I never actually thought about that subject in Polish, and now I must make the mental gymnastics and try to re-formulate my thoughts in a different language.
That said, I do have a funny accent and I’ve been known to pronounce things in profoundly weird ways on an occasion. Also my fundamentals are likely not as strong as yours. You spent your whole childhood memorizing the rules and the exceptions – I sort of jumped into it head first. I learned how to write properly by having friends and relatives proofread my homework’s and then try to learn from that.
I read Encyclopedia of Biology cover to cover – or close to it
My mom is a teacher. She currently works with kids with hearing disabilities, but she used to teach Bio. She always had lots of bio books – from textbooks targeted at high school students to her old college textbooks. She would also buy me every illustrated nature/science book she could find. Got me hooked on that stuff with dinosaurs. I used to be able to name every single fucking one of the things – I even found discrepancies in the dinosaur descriptions between some of the books. I loved that stuff. Whenever i ran out of age-appropriate literature I would dip into my Mom’s textbook stash.
My favorite book was an incredibly huge volume titled Encyclopedia of Biology. It became my bible for a while. I would crack it open on a random page and just inhale the knowledge. One of the most awesome entries was under E – Ebola Virus. I was like “Holly shit, they should totally make a movie about this or something”. Few years later the mainstream discovered it too and several crappy movies were made.
I am a huge geek.
Chances are that I can totally out-geek you. I tend to be fascinated by things that are inherently uncool. Let me give you a few examples:
I play role playing games. Real pen and paper stuff. Stuff like D&D for you un-initiated folks. However I never actually played D&D or AD&D. I never actually found a gaming group that would be into that system – which is rather strange considering it is the mos popular game out there. I played Warhammer RPG, Mutant Chronicles, Star Wars D6, Dzikie Pola, Vampire Masquerade, Spacemaster and Cyberpunk 2020. I’m more of a player than a GM though. I did GM a few times and I’d probably do it in the future. I certainly don’t lack the imagination – I’m just not all that good in that role.
I also play tabletop battle games – mostly the two flagship Games Workshop systems. Warhammer WFB (Dwarfs) and Warhammer 40k (Dark Eldar). I did dabble in Necromunda and Mordheim as well. The funny part is that I am not that much into painting miniatures anymore. I just don’t have the time to do this. For me the best part of the hobby is the so called “fluff” – ie the meta-story of the Wahammer universe. I love to immerse myself in that lore from time to time – I think I get a bigger kick out of researching and discussing it than from actually playing the game.
I used to play the collectible card game based on Tolkien’s writings – it was called: Middle Earth the Wizard’s. I still have a deck somewhere. Magic the Gathering was not obscure enough for me. Us METW players used to scoff at it as a pedestrian mainstream game for simpletons. Our game was vastly more complex and more awesome.
I cut school to see Star Wars: Special Edition when it first came out.
I used to be a hard core Scaper. Used to moderate private Farscpe message boards. I met some of the folks from these boards at a Farscape convention. I also brazenly walked up to Gigi Edgley and got a picture with her, which I am very reluctant to show to people because I look horrible in it.
I’m a former Amiga user
I used to be a die hard Amiga user. I had the awesome A600 and relentlessly made fun of my friends who were stuck on clunky old PC’s. All my PC using friends were running DOS with Norton Commander, I was running AmigaOS with Workbench. I remember that when I actually saw an early version of Windows for the first time I actually laughed. My friends taught that it was the best thing ever, while I could not believe how much the Workbench UI was superior to it.
I jumped ship at some point after Commodore kicked the bucket. I used Windows exclusively for a few years and then discovered Linux and never looked back. I still keep a windows on my dedicated gaming rig though.
I sold out once
When I was in college Microsoft just came out with .NET and it was aggressively trying to promote at universities. They were trying to recruit people for their “Student Ambassador” program. My friend decided to sign up. He went to their two day orientation seminar, after which he decided he didn’t want to do it. So he gave it to me. Initially I didn’t want anything to do with it… Until I found out that they will give you a brand spanking new Dell Axim Pocket PC, a fully licensed versions of Visual Studio and Microsoft Ofiice, 3 boxes of swag you can give to other students and a bundle of PC and Xbox games you can use as contest prizes (or you know – couple of the good ones for yourself cause they didn’t actually care how you used them). All I had to do in exchange is to do a half-assed attempt at promoting .NET on campus and work with the IT department at my school on getting the MSDNA crap off the ground.
It turned out that my need for a pocket pc was stronger than my principles and so I signed up. So for one semester I indirectly worked for the most evil company in the world.
My job does not actually suck.
Nope. I do tend to embellish my “work related” stories a bit to make them funnier and more entertaining to read. Especially the ones in which I talk about clueless lusers, and doing thankless IT work. You will notice the trend – I’m always a cool, collected arrogant smart-ass and the users are dumber than bricks. Things do not always play out this way though. But this is my blog, and this is the way I choose to tell my stories.
Some of them are true. Some of them are half true. Some are completely made up, or only vaguely based on disconnected events and conversations that happened to me over a longer period of time. So take them with a grain of salt. Any time you read an story that sounds real, chances are I made it all up. And no, I won’t tell you which stories are real and which are “embellished” or outright fake because it would spoil the fun.