Geoff Sobering

Hi all.

If you care, there's a fair bit of detail on my background and interests below.

Most importantly, I sail (that's me in the photo above - here in Wisconsin we try and sail year 'round).

I'm currently working in the research group of Accuray Incorporated.

My current project is investigating Delivery-Verification for the TomoTherapy radiation treatment system.

My current software/programming interests are in the area of EmergentDesign and the correlation/analogies between LeanProduction? and software development (ex. LeanProgramming). I'm also getting involved in some of the ways UserCenteredDesign and XP can interact, or be used in conjunction.

I almost always feel like MyBrainIsFull, but I always seem to be able to cram one more interesting tidbit into it...

For those interested in who I am, here is a brief synopsis:

Organized by interest/activity:
  1. Professional Geek.
  2. Photographer (mostly airplanes and sailboats).
  3. I love to sail (on either soft or hard water).
  4. When I'm not doing other things, I enjoy lighting large bonfires.

I now (finally!) own a domain with a *real* web-site: (two domains, count 'em!)
There's some newer stuff of mine (using PHP, TheDrupalCMS, and CoppermineGallery) at: (Airplane photos)
I'm in the process of setting up a wiki for iceboating topics. Probably based on the Mediawiki package, but I'm a bit hesitant to embrace it's complexity.

I've also joined the BlogSphere? with a number of "official" blogs (i.e. they are hosted by software that calls them "blogs", I believe my first real blog entry was in 1996: (geeky stuff) (my current iceboating blog) (about my aircraft photography) (summer-sailing) (my first "official" blog - started with a trip in 2004)
In addition, some of my ramblings are published at:
	Midwest Flyer Magazine ( has published a number of my photos and writing (ex. (an article about the 2006 DN iceboat North american Championship Regatta) (where'd the pictures go?)

Some older web-sites of mine: (a copy is at:

Organized historically:
  1. I'm a chemist by training/schooling (1978-1988). I've been through the academic process through college and graduate school (Ph.D.).
  2. My first job (1989) was as a researcher and computer sys-admin at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.
  3. I then (1995) moved back to Madison, WI (nice place to live; please just visit) and worked for GE Medical Systems for a few years.
  4. Got sick of the "Corporate Life" (and a long commute) and went to work at Berbee in the summer of 1999. I moved to the Isthmus Group in August of 2004.
  5. After six years of "business" programming, I headed back to my instrumentation and bio-medical "roots" and joined the research group at TomoTherapy (

Organized by programming philosophy:
  1. I started writing software sometime around 1975 using FORTRAN and BASIC with no idea what I was doing. Used lots of 'goto' statements.
  2. Late in college I was exposed to Pascal (many thanks to BarryBurd? and AlanCandiotti?) and the idea that programs might want to have a structure to them. What a concept...
  3. Sometime in the winter of 1981, I taught my first formal class about the importance of structuring a computer program's source code to reveal the intent of the design (in BASIC! - *not* VB, BTW).
  4. Through graduate school I continued to discover more things about program structure - information hiding, "monitors", encapsulation, and the like. Unfortunately, I also stayed firmly rooted in the procedural world, and never made the jump to objects. I did get to write a fairly large Pascal program to run the spectrometer I built in graduate school. For awhile, I also earned my living fixing and supporting a data analysis/display program (pcNMR+) written in C and running under DOS 3.1.
  5. During my post-school scientific/engineering career, I mostly wrote code in IDL ( Mostly one-off code in-order to analyze some bit of data in order to write a paper; I also wrote a framework for processing NMR spectroscopy data in IDL. In addition, there was some C coding, too.
  6. While at GE Medical Systems, I was exposed to the rigors of requirements management mandated by the FDA for medical devices (in my case, Magnetic Resonance scanners). Definitely, "BigDesignUpFront". I learned some interesting things about ISO9000 and SixSigma. While I was there it all seemed overkill; in hindsight I realize I learned quite a bit about eliciting requirements from users, and managing large projects (the latter to the point where I now *really* value a good project manager).
  7. Late in my GE career, I started seriously trying to "become altered" (as MartinFowler would say) into the object world.
  8. Once I moved to Berbee, OO in Java was "the way" (except for some nasty bits of Perl...). I was exposed to the various methodologies floating around for managing software development. After the usual flirtation with "why don't we build software like we build a [house|bridge|building]" (i.e. SoftwareIsDifferent) I became a serious proponent of the various LightWeightMethodologies? (aka: MinimalMethodologies) (ex. ExtremeProgramming, AlistairCockburn's "Crystal" family (CrystalClearMethodology), etc.).
  9. Heading the admonishments (over *way* too many years) of two very smart colleagues (DavidGurr? and AlexGarret?), I'm starting to look at FunctionalProgramming techniques and style.


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