Paul Spencer

Paul Spencer (pagameba) is one of the voting members of the OSGeo Foundation. Paul is participating in the gogernance through the incubation committee. Read on for our Developer Spotlight interview:

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself (what you do, experience, hobbies,
family, interesting things about you).

A: I’m now 38. My first career was in the military as an Electronic Warfare officer. I managed to get both an undergraduate degree (computer engineering) and a masters degree (software engineering) while still in the military. I served just over 14 years in a variety of positions in Kingston, Ontario and Ottawa.

I’m married to Gail (coming up on 14 years now). No kids, but we do have a dog, Bailey, who we dote on. Our immediate families are nearby, mostly in Ottawa. Our extended family is in England, Ireland and Australia.

My hobbies are mostly computer related, which is pretty geeky. But I do like to travel when I have the chance, and I’m pretty handy at building stuff around the house so I have a long list of jobs waiting for me whenever I get some down time. Plus there is the dog.

Q: How long have you been working in the geospatial domain and why?

A: About 7 years. I wanted to be in software development after my military service. Dave McIlhagga (president of DM Solutions Group) is my cousin and I had been talking with him ever since he had the idea of forming his own company. Even before I left the military, I started doing some work on the side to help him out. When I did leave the military, I formed my own consulting company and had a couple of contracts to develop in the geospatial domain. I ended up working almost full time for Dave and decided to make the plunge and go full time. I guess I ended up in geospatial by accident.

Q: What are you using geospatial and what software are you using to get the job done (we want to know about both commercial and open source)?

A: I don’t really use it that much since my primary job is to develop it. I’ve tried most of the open source geospatial software out there at one time or another. I don’t think I have ever used any commercial software for anything.

Q: What attracted you to the projects you are using/participating in?

A: Primarily my participation is driven by company priorities, which in turn is driven by the needs of our clients. We try to stay involved in a lot of different projects so that we can provide the best solution to our clients.

Q: Are you involved with any of the OSGeo governance or committees?

A: I’m part of the Incubation Committee

Q: What open source projects are you contributing to as a developer?

A: Chameleon, ka-Map, and Map Guide OS are the ones I’m actively involved in. MapLab and ms4w sometimes get my attention, but those are lead by other folks now and so I don’t get involved much. I contribute to MapServer, mostly by asking for new features and bug fixes. I’ve got cvs commit access to OpenEV, but I haven’t done much with it lately.

Q: What open source projects do you consider yourself a user and why are you using them (remember to use the full URL)?

A: I don’t use a lot of stuff that I don’t actually develop, but occasionally I need to look at data in something else to debug problems or convince myself that something I’m doing should work …

QGIS, mostly for looking at vector files that I’m having problems with but also for postgis data.

uDig, again for looking at vector data, postgis data, and also for WMS/WFS stuff.

GDAL is invaluable for its command line tools, I use these frequently.

Q: Is your company using code from these projects and if so please describe how/why if you can?

A: We tend to use projects as libraries on which we build our own solutions, so we don’t use the code from other projects really. We are also guilty of the ‘not invented here’ syndrome, a habit I am trying to break myself of.

Q: In your open source projects, do you
need help and if so what skills or experience are you looking for?

A: We do web-based stuff and are always interested in folks that have experience in this environment. We are primarily using PHP on the server side. Our focus is currently on leveraging AJAX techniques to improve user experience.

Q: What operating systems are you using (Windows, Linux, BSD, Apple, etc.)?

A: Apple’s OS X

Q: What programming languages do you use (scripting and compiled)?

Right now I’m developing in javascript and PHP. I did quite a bit of work in python when I was actively developing with OpenEV. C, I guess, but my skills there are somewhat rusty. Java, but again, somewhat rusty. In the past, I’ve developed in Smalltalk and pascal (but that’s going back a bit).

Q: What spoken/written languages are you fluent in?
A: English.

General Information:

Name: Paul Spencer ID: pagameba

City: Ottawa

State/Province: Ontario

Country: Canada
Company:DM Solutions Group

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