Jeff Newmiller

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Work Information

What I Do

I am a "Project Engineer" with BEW Enginering, an engineering consulting firm based in San Ramon, California, mostly on projects involving photovoltaic power (solar electric power systems), writing communications software and databases to analyze performance data. Before that I worked for Endecon Engineering doing similar work, and a long time agoi I used to work for Aerojet Propulsion Division of Gencorp in Sacramento as a "Design Engineer" designing digital (computerized) rocket engine controllers.

My Educational Background

My parents moved a lot during my elementary school years, and I ended up going to around thirteen different elementary schools, with a couple years of home-schooling in there as well. I skipped high school (attending a continuation school for six months) and went to Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California when I was 17. That was where I first encountered a microcomputer (Apple II+) and quickly started learning how to make it do what I wanted with Basic, Pascal and assembly language. I had decided I wanted to be a Solar Engineer when I was 12, but ended up settling for Mechanical Engineering at the University of California at Davis. I received my BS in 1986, and went for my MS on a project to build a belt-pack data acquisition computer for bio-mechanical studies (bicycling and skiing). I finally graduated in December of 1989.

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Contact Information

My personal email address , and my work email address . I usually check once a day on workdays.

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Current Projects

Solar power system testing

I am managing a project to install a rooftop PV test facility, including weather monitoring and facilities for both manual and automatic IV curve measurements.

Independent Engineering

I have also been reviewing system designs for institutional investors in solar power. This involves making comments on the design of the system, as well as making modeling their future performance to predict energy production.

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Personal Interests

Juggling

My ex-wife Katje started juggling when she was in high school. For years I watched her juggle, but I could not get the hang of it and never really thought I would be able to (I can only see out of one eye). Then, in November 1996 I saw the Karamazov Brothers perform a show on Juggling and Music and was amazed. Also, about that time I saw a PBS documentary on Michael Moschen, and was inspired. Since success in juggling simply involves throwing reasonably accurately, I overcame my vision problem through repetition. Since then, I have learned various three-ball patterns (Mill's Mess, Burke's Barrage) and three-club juggling (working on Mills Mess), and various club passing patterns. Performing is not my purpose in this hobby... I am just continually amazed that I can do it at all, and am thrilled when I get a chance to teach it to someone else. I would like to thank Mike Brown and Monica Buck for their support and encouragement. They are both great jugglers, and Mike has a rare talent for breaking motions down until even I can understand them.

Guitar

I started playing guitar when I was about seven, since my dad refused to get me drums. When I attended Alta Vista Junior High in Agua Caliente, California, I took a guitar class that got me started on fingerstyle guitar, and that has remained an interest ever since.

Samples: Fisherman (very quiet), and Freight Train.

Go

This is an ancient (2000-4000 years old) board game with complexity similar to chess, but a very different flavor. I first heard of this game in a book called Shibumi, by Trevanian, when I was about 15. I found a Go board, with pieces and a book, in an attic of a house my dad was renting when I was about 17. I finally found people to play with here in Davis sometime around 1988.

Puzzles

I enjoy the challenge of solving engineering and mathematical word problems, as well as manipulaton (tinker's) puzzles. I have also recently been doing cryptic crosswords and sudoku (sample solutions for fairly difficult problem and a very difficult problem).

Occasionally I like to explore odd topics... obsolete alternating current systems, Tau Beta Pi Brain Ticklers are a couple.

Family

I have five kids (Cordell (b. '88), Julia (b. '90), and Clayton (b. '94) from my first marriage). My wife Jeanette brought Veronica and Avery to the party.

Linux

The versatility and capability of this computer operating system impress me. As a Macintosh and Windows user, I find that much of it is ad-hoc and difficult to maintain, but as someone who implements automated systems I admire its power. I regularly use it as a problem-solving tool.

A few years ago I started using the Linux Router Project distribution to reclaim otherwise useless 486 PCs to connect whole LANs to the Internet via low-cost single-user internet accounts. These days, I follow the LEAF project mailing lists to keep up with the descendents of LRP.

If you don't like the roll-your own style of LRP, you might like to try IPCOP which is also based on Linux but assumes you have a hard disk, 32MB of ram and a CD-ROM drive to install from. By providing this more extensive hardware, you can obtain a system which is easier to install and offers a comprehensive web-based setup and maintenance user interface.

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Last Revised: 27 July 2008.