The Man The Car The Deal

Jack Murray's Technical Biography

Jack has a wealth of experience writing and designing computer software, managing computers and their networks. More importantly, this experience comes from a desire to learn new things and use the tools and technology available to solve programs and do things better, faster, easier. Jack believes what is important is not knowing the latest buzzwords and TLA's in the industry, but having the ability to understand underlying processes and how to improve them. Jack says the simplest solution is the best solution, until it isn't. Below we outline his history and accomplishments.

The first program he wrote was in FORTRAN, using punch cards! With help from his Dad (a mathematician), he wrote a program to print out a banner with his name on it, and proudly posted it up on the wall in his bedroom.

Years later and now in College at Cal-State Fullerton majoring in Psychology, Jack became interested in computers once again, this time it was on his dads Apple II computer. Without any formal training, the interest in developing graphical computer games was irresistable, and Jack dug in to learn how to write Basic programs, and then primitive machine language to get the speed needed on such a slow computer. He developed a number of interactive games he proudly showed off to friends and family.

Jack found his passion and adopted a minor in Computer Science. This combination of Psychology and Computer Science made him sought after by students and teachers doing statistical analysis on research data collected in psychology studies. The psychology department then hired him on as a computer consultant to officially help students use the computer lab. Back in this time, students used mainframes with line-by-line text terminals. Jack saw the need to use full screen editing, and wrote a large and complex editing tool that was used by psych students to significantly improve their ability to enter and edit data.

Working with Professor Art Graesser, Jack joined his team researching cognitive psychology, how people organized their memory to learn. Jack coauthored several published papers, and used his programming expertise to develop software to test computer interfaces, presenting data and testing memory.

After completing his Bachelors degree in Psychology, Jack then headed off to Graduate School, not in Psychology, but in Computer Science, at the University of Massachusetts. Working with Professor Wendy Lenhert and David McDonald that specialized in understanding and generating human language, Jack assisted in developing many programs, and most importantly began a deep understanding of software itself. Earning his Master of Science, his Thesis involved the development of a working "online manual" that digested the English documents that described the functions provided by the operating system. It allowed software developers to describe in plain english what they wanted to know, and using its database of operating system functions, would respond with the documentation of functions that matched their request.

Following completion of his Masters Degree, the University recognized Jacks abilities, and hired him to lead the development of an exciting new project in the Computer Science department. He was to build the software systems needed to run Common Lisp on large scale multiprocessor machines. In the beginning, the multiprocessor hardware was not yet created, so Jack implemented a machine emulator that could execute the binary machine code of the target machine. Then the compiler and runtime system was developed and tested using the emulator, so when the hardware finally arrived, the software was up and running in record time. In addition, external remote debugging tools were created which allowed the halting of all processing on the multiprocessor machine. One could examine the complete state, including all the threads executing at the time. Jack wrote academic papers and gave presentations on this technology at conferences.

Jack then left the University and created a company to commercialize the multiprocessor software system. This involved significant improvements in the development tools at a commercial level of quality, and importantly that the application software built was Portable -- not dependent on the specific hardware as most all multiprocessor software was at this time. Jack ported the system to four different multiprocessor hardware platforms, marking a significant achievement. He wrote a full business plan along with research grant proposals, and achieved funding of over quarter million dollars.

After relocating to Florida with his family, Jack took a short break from computers, but was soon back at it. The University of Florida was establishing a regional supercomputer center with multiprocessor machines, and Jack was selected to manage and administer the supercomputer center. He went back to being a consultant to teachers and students on how to best utilize multiprocessors and improve performance of applications. He also administered its network of Unix Workstations of different types, as well as X-terminals. It was here that Jack was introduced to the Netscape Browser, a full graphical display of information shared amoung academic researches in computer science that had previously been limited to simple file transfers. The supercomputer center was one of the earliest to have a website, and Jack joined everyone in the fascination as the numbers of websites grew from 100's to 1000's to 10,000's over a short period of time.

Seeing the value of X-terminals, but their limitations as only black/white displays, Jack started NCX, Inc, and began developing a new X-terminal that supported color displays. Using low-cost, off-the-shelf PC hardware. NCX.COM was one of the first 10 websites in the world that was a commercial business, showing the potential of providing product information on the internet. Jack created his own micro operating system written in C and assembly language, a boot loader that was stuffed into a tiny 8,000 bytes of ROM, and a multithreaded X-server that could run in as little as 2Mb of memory, which was the smallest amount of hardware resources of any X-server at that time.

Jack then relocated back to California and accepted a job at Franz, Inc in Berkeley, where he was once again developing software using Common Lisp. Franz had an Object Database system which added Persistence to Common Lisp objects, and they needed someone to extend and improve the performance of this product. Using an underlying C++ database called ObjectStore, Jack maintained this underlying C++ implementation. He improved the higher level Common Lisp implementation, and achieved a 10x improvement in performance in a short time. Jack was asked by the Journal of Object Oriented Programming to write columns about Object Oriented programing techniques which were published in the journal. As the web contined its explosive growth, Jack began developing a high-performance web server and web application language called Charlotte, which combined web browser user interface design and persistence objects. As Franz maintained its focus on building PC development tools, Jack joined up with the COO of Franz, and spun off a new company IntelliMarket.Com that focused on building web sites using the Charlotte technology.

At IntelliMarket.Com Jack used the Charlotte system to build an online shopping system with many advanced features at the time. There was interactive product FAQs to add question and answers associated with individual products, a wishlist capability to save products for future purchase, and display of products related to those being viewed. Jack developed import utilities to convert existing product and pricing information from various data formats into the Charlotte system. Interfacing with credit-card processing services was integrated into the software, using SSL layers and requiring understand the protocols used by the credit card industry. Jack was also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the network of Linux machines used to host the websites at the location in Berkeley.

Jack relocated to Sacramento, and was researching high speed internet connections. He investigated wireless technology to provide broadband connections, and founded NetNimble, developing hardware that used off-the-shelf 802.11 technology for large area internet connectivity. Jack developed wireless routers designed to be placed outdoors. Jack pioneered the use of power-over-ethernet, allowing wireless routers to get their power over the ethernet cables, and created simple hardware that enabled outdoor power-over-ethernet with protection from lightning strikes coming through the ethernet. Jack built dynamic HTML web interfaces to the routers, using features like automated updating displays. He created customized versions of Linux for use as embedded devices, and wrote device drivers for the 802.11 wireless devices. Jack also created custom antennas to increase range inside buildings and homes, and also very large dish antennas for establishing wireless links for many miles. At its peak, NetNimble had revenue of over half a million dollars.

Jack then took a break from computers (so he thought), and started a hobby of racing R/C cars. He discovered the cars were controlled using primitive technology where each driver must use different fixed frequencies, and adjacent frequencies typically caused enough noise to disturb control of the cars. Using his knowledge of 2.4Ghz wireless technology he endeavored to build a 2.4Ghz frequency hopping r/c control system. With the technology of low-cost embedded microprocessors, much of hardware design was becoming software. Using a MSP430 microprocessor and Linux based development system using GNU C tools, he developed an embedded RF protocol that was highly robust in the face of noise and keep control of the car. It was packaged into a very small, lightweight, and waterproof reciever. With FCC approvals, Nimble Motorsports DART product was launched. Jack also developed a battery charger for NiMH batteries used in the R/C cars, using a simple yet effective user interface with a 2-line LCD and two buttons.

Jack was hired on at iRadeon, to rewrite their existing web portal interface, orginally developed by contract programmers in India. The original application code achieved the contracted functionality, but was a highly brittle system where changes and update were almost impossible. Written in PHP, and using MySQL as the database, and using XML for configuration and deployment, Jack redesigned and reimplemented the software as extensible and more efficient. He maintained the server machined using VMW virtual servers. In addition, he supported SugarCRM for clients, and added improvements and customizations. This involved extensive client-side Javascript, Dynamic HTML, and dynamic CSS coding to create highly interactive web interfaces.

Jack was then hired by ALLDATA to work on developing a user interface for technical document editors. He was given the task of determining the best technology for this job, and selected JAVA/J2EE and its SWING user interface libary, and JDBC database interface, and went about developing prototype interfaces, and understanding the over 15 year old existing C++ and X-Windows system and its database structures. As a new database structure was being designed, Jack extracted usage patterns from data logs and did performance analysis. An Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) application written in Perl was previously developed that converted the old database into the new database. This process took almost 3 weeks of continious 24x7 execution to complete a database conversion, which was unacceptable. Jack rewrote this application using JAVA and reduced the conversion time to 4 days.

Other tasks undertaken at ALLDATA were developing an online AD server that customized ads presenting on webpages by analyzing the associated content being viewed. Jack developed both the ad server application and managment tools. The management interface allowed salesman to sell ads using a wide range of criteria for selection. This application used the DERBY embedded database system for JAVA. In addition, Jack was often called upon to solve some other difficult problems, such as APACHE web servers for the marketing department that failed to work properly, and updating Java applications used in India for transmitted processed data back to the USA.

Jack worked at Kura.MD where he worked to increase performance and security of a web application for IntelliMedicine. Patients could search for Doctors with a wide range of search criteria and schedule a video conference.

Jack Murray's Automotive Biography

Jack start his automotive exploits at 14 years old, when he was given a rusted go-cart frame for free from a school friend. He then slowly acquired the needed parts to complete the go cart, earning money with his bicycle delivering newspapers.

The first car Jack's drove was his Dad's 1955 Oldsmobile 88. A large heavy beast, he used it to drive to his first real job of busing tables at the Southern California landmark Knotts Berry Farm. He then got a job working at the local neighborhood Castle Auto Parts in the machine shop, and continued to work there for almost 5 years, transitioning from the machine shop to the parts counter and manager of the store on weekends.

During this time he saved his money until he could buy his first car. His father insisted he not buy any car with a V8 engine, but as usual, Jack wore down his dad looking at car after car. After Dad had enough, Jack drove home his new 1970 Plymouth Duster 340 V8 with a four speed. His Dad was furious, but the deal was done. One of Jack's first modifications was converting the bucket seats so they fully reclined. He turned to rebuilding the engine and modifying it to go faster, adding the usual things.

While working at the auto parts store, the dry cleaners next door parked a wornout 1958 English Ford in the back. It barely ran with a flathead 4 cylinder engine. Jack bought it for $50. He then set about completely modifying the car with a Toyote Hilux drivetrain bought from a parts store customer. Painted bright 'Hemi Orange', the car was unmistakable. After a long drive on a camping trip into the California desert and some offroad adventures, a friend commented "Pretty good for Homemade/". Jack called the car 'Just A Little Custom".

Jack took his Duster to the drag races, but began thinking about building a faster car. He graduated high school a semester early so he could work two full time jobs to save up to build a racecar, working in a production Machine Shop and the parts counter at a CAT dealership, in addition to working at Castle Auto Parts on the weekends. A fellow employee at the parts store had a 1971 Chevy Vega that had already started a conversion to a V8, which Jack bought and finished building the car, installing a 9in Ford Rearend. As he could not afford a 'posi', it had welded spider gears, which could make driving on the street a challenge. After much excitement breaking two sets of axles while driving at speed, a 'posi' was acquired.

During his early college days, Jack bracket raced this Vega almost 4 days a week at OCIR and Long Beach.

Jack had also learned how to do bodywork and paint cars, and after painting his own cars, began a business painting cars for others. As he turned to his studies at Cal State Fullerton, Jack still managed to trade his Orange Ford for another Vega which he converted to use a small V8.

Jack bought a small house in Massachusetts and designed and built a large 3-car garage next to it. With the snow, Jack wanted a 4WD truck, and rebuilt a 1972 Chevy Blazer, fixing major rust before painting the truck. Jack then acquired a 1970 Triumph TR6 and went about restoring it.

In Florida, Jack acquired a 1971 Camaro to race at Gainesville Raceway. He made the body as straight as an arrow and painted it black.

Jack sold the Camaro and stopped racing. He then began building a very low-cost racecar starting with a 72 Mustang Coupe shell and a junkyard 460 engine, gutting the interior, and was back racing. He ran an internet discussion group called DragNet for six years.

After moving to Berkeley, Jack begain building a complete ground-up 'Pro Street' '63 Falcon. Jack learned how to make fiberglass molds and made fiberglass parts for the Falcon. The car was raced at both Sears Point in Sonoma and Sacramento Raceway. Jack then designed a 506ci motor using an offset ground crankshaft for a longer stroke, 455 Pontiac rods and 403 Olds Pistons.

Jack then turned his attention to Electric Cars, building his first Pontiac Fiero EV.

He then started the MGEO project, attempting to build a car that gets 100 mpg and retaining the sports car feel, he took a 1971 MG Midget and starting from a completely stripped chassis, he installed a Geo Metro 1.0L 3-cyl engine and Suzuki Samuri 5-speed transmission, and a custom three-link suspension.

And today the Indy One.

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