I know, I know, terribly rude of me to take advantage of the forum's collective generosity in helping me sort my vector issues out without actually introducing myself.
Please allow me to make amends
I'm a 22-year-old mechatronics engineering graduate. I studied at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and graduated earlier this year with honours. I've since come back to do a Masters course, in Engineering Management. Herding monkeys, essentially.
Mechatronics, for those who don't know, is a combination of mechanical, electrical and software engineering, geared towards creating engineers with skill sets appropriate to the design, production and troubleshooting of autonomous mechano-electrical systems. In short, robots and shit
I was lucky enough to do my final year project with an industry partner. I got a very enjoyable project and the result was (as far as I know) a world first - an autonomous system fully capable of grading broccoli on colour and defects without human input. Being as it was an industry project, it was intended to be presented to a client at the end, who had fairly exacting parameters for the outcome - the system had to be fast and it had to be accurate 85% of the time. I was able to deliver less than 1 second per process cycle (very fast :O ) with an accuracy of greater than 92% and a false positive rate (ie, letting damaged broccoli through - arguably more damaging to a business reputation than not letting acceptable product through) of less than 1%. I got that project because my talents and interests lie very much towards the software end of the mechatronics' course, my electives being in networking and embedded system design.
I started using Vector around the same time I entered full-time employment - I got a job with the folks I did the project with, and as they were a small start-up company, they needed as many talented people as they could get. Officially, I was the Research & Development & Commercialisation Engineer, but unofficially I was also Site IT Geek, fully able to pull computers apart and put them back together and have them work. As we didn't have too many IT resources, one of my first tasks was to outfit the company with cheap, reliable computers. Having gotten some bargains at an IT auction, I restored to Windows what machines I could, but for my own personal machine I took the one which wasn't working and therefore presented an enjoyable challenge. A mate of mine had pointed me to Vector a few years earlier (back when Vector was in the 3.x state and I was willing but inexperienced with *nix) so my first choice was to go with what I knew somewhat - Vector. A few startup quirks - sorted out with assistance from the wonderful community here - and I haven't looked back.
Vector was going to be the development platform upon which our next ambitious project was going be based - an autonomous fruit/vegetable harvester capable of discriminating between ripe and unripe produce. Unfortunately, this didn't get going for too long before issues with another partner university cropped up which, coupled with poor cash flow, ultimately led to the shutting down of the department I worked in. So, out of a job, I headed back to uni.
I admit, although I swear by Vector, I'm still very much a Windows-person at heart - I play games frequently, so I don't have much choice
That said, I find MS to be tipping their hat more and more to the open-source community with Vista - it's one of the most linux-y Windows OSs I've played with.
I've also had a few friends ask me to do up a media box for them after seeing how well my Vector media box runs. They're even more impressed when I tell them it's running on an old P3 500MHz with integrated graphics. Those with linux experience nearly fall out of their seats when I further tell them it manages what it does with KDE
So, that's me in a nutshell. This is one of the most mature, friendly and helpful communities I've been a part of and, as time allows, I look forward to becoming a more active member.