October 27, 2010

Two Worlds Collide: Perforce in Space

Zig Zichterman Astronaut Hall of Fame
Zig at a Mission Control Console, Astronaut Hall of Fame

I've always been a space fan. My childhood bedroom had a giant mural of the Buzz Aldrin "visor" photo. Pamphlets on Skylab and the Mars Viking Landers were pinned up over my desk and NASA Ames exposed me to computers during an open house event when I was 10.

About a year ago, I tried to watch the Ares I-X launch on TV but found my cable company did not carry NASA TV, not even on launch days. I headed for my computer and watched streaming video from NASA's website. Unfortunately, NASA’s video was tiny and blocky.

Then a friend pointed me to Spacevidcast.com. Spacevidcast’s video was big and clear. So clear that I could see the wrinkles in the instrument cover as it snagged on top of the rocket.

Over the last year, Spacevidcast.com, whose mission is to “make space commonplace” is responsible for my renewed interest in space exploration. The weekly shows are fun and interesting and their interviews include scientists, engineers, and authors whose books fill my shelves.

I was a fan of Perforce long before I became an employee. I’ve had a long career as a programmer and used many version control systems. They all slowed me down and got in my way, imposing unwanted working styles on me. Someone pointed me to Perforce.

Perforce was really fast and let me work how I wanted to—checking out a few files at a time or the entire world. When I had a question, Perforce support staff was amazing. They were engineers—real programmers answering my questions.

Over the years, I learned to use Perforce as a database of recorded history. I tracked bugs to their original checkin. I wrote scripts to generate release notes and status reports from checkin comments. Three years ago, I joined Perforce, and now I improve the software that improved my days.

Here’s where it all comes together—this week these two worlds met. Spacevidcast was looking for support to supply HD coverage to viewers. With the purchase of a new 12-core MacPro with new capture cards, next week Spacevidcast will be able to broadcast the shuttle launch in both HD and SD. And, it was made possible by Perforce.

Spacevidcast.comI hope you'll tune in to watch! Live coverage of shuttle flight STS-133 starts Monday, November 1, 2010, at http://www.spacevidcast.com/.