Me Working

Joshua M. Thompson


joshua [at] linguistlist [dot] org

Greetings, and welcome to my little personal page here at Linguist List!

I've been programming most of my life. My first introduction to a real computer was in 4th grade, when my family moved from Detroit to Grosse Ile. We had a Commodore PET in the classroom and I took an immediate interest in it, spending as much time as possible playing on it. Back then we either loaded software from cassette tape or entered them by hand from printed program listings. It didn't take me long to teach myself the dialect of BASIC the computer used, and pretty soon I was writing my own simple programs.

Eventually I convinced my family to buy me a TI-99/4A home computer, which was pretty cutting edge back then. I have fond memories of entering programs by hand from listings printed in Family Computing magazine. I wrote my first game on my TI, it was called "Shoot a Man" and was nothing more than a little stick figure falling from a random location at the top of the screen that you had to shoot by moving a little turret back and forth a long the bottom of the screen ("Space Invaders"-style).

When I reached 6th grade (which was the next year; I was double-promoted and skipped 5th grade) I was introduced to the Apple II line of computers. My grandparents bought me an Apple IIe and eventually an Apple IIgs, which is probably the most fun computer I've ever owned. I even wrote shareware for the Apple II including NuPak GS, Alert Sound, and the Future Vision BBS system. I loved my IIgs so much I actually sat down and wrote an emulator a few years ago called XGS that lets you run Apple IIgs software on a Linux system.

When I started college at U of M Dearborn in 1990 I instantly fell in love with UNIX and I desperately wanted to run it at home. I had a Macintosh as my main computer at the time but I picked up a cheap IBM 386 from work and started messing around with Linux. Eventually the Mac went away and I settled on Linux. I haven't looked back since.

I came to Linguist List in February 2007 upon recommendation of a friend who recently left LL for greener pastures. I was excited the moment I heard about the job; although I'm not a linguist, nor have I studied linguistics formally, I do have an interest in the subject. I've always been attracted to studying how various things relate to one another and linguistics certainly has a lot to offer in that regard. In fact, I've pretty much decided to go back to school and become a computational linguist someday.

Over the past two years I've worked on a number of projects at The LINGUIST List, but my favorite is by far LL-MAP. Although the grant on LL-MAP has recently run out I'm hoping to be able to continue work on it because I have a lot of really cool ideas that we just haven't had time to implement. I am also part of our grant writing team, after I accidently let Helen & Tony notice that I write very well. :) Actually though I quite enjoy the breaks from programming, and hopefully some of the grants I've worked on will get funded so that I have even more exciting programming work to do.

In addition to my work at The LINGUIST List I also do a little Linux/UNIX consulting and programming work as an independent consultant. I specialize in web application development, particularly Perl, MySQL and AJAX, although I also do work in a number of other languages including C/C++, PHP, Java and ColdFusion. In general I can pick up a new computer language in a day or two, as long as I have some reference documentation and some sample code to play with.