John Pellman

Systems Engineer
Columbia University Libraries
pellman [dot] john [at] gmail [dot] com



Greetings! My name is John Pellman. I am a system administrator / cognitive science geek in Manhattan. My interests lie at the intersection of science and IT, with a particular focus on how technology can facilitate progress in our understanding of the world and improve the human race's quality of life.

In our contemporary, post-industrial age a pervasive fear has arisen that, with increased automation, technology will replace the need for humanity. I believe that technology cannot replace humanity, and that this perspective that humans can be replaced should be discarded for a healthier view in which society perceives technology as a tool to accompany cognition rather than a stand-in for expertise and wisdom. Technology (as a tool) should be used to enable and ennoble humanity, augmenting our natural abilities just as previous tools such as hammers, quills, glasses, and printing presses have augmented us in the past. In my role as a technical professional, I would like to serve to help society leverage technology to make the world a better place. In brief, I like to bring a humanistic perspective to my work.


I'm using this website as an opportunity to practice systems administration. It is hosted on a virtual private server that I maintain remotely from my stronghold in New York. The domain name is a portmanteau of my high school nickname (J-Pell) and a popular C library used to encode/decode JPEG images. Since this website / server is a bit of an experiment, expect to see it change with some regularity as I try out new things.

Current Projects

Many of my projects are on my Github. Here's an overview of some of them:

textgridR - textgridR is an R package that allows you to load in Praat TextGrid files and manipulate them as R objects. Praat is an application used by linguists to perform phonetic analysis and annotate speech. - I'm using this website as a sandbox to improve my system administration skills. Specifically I am focusing on the popular and ubiquitous LAMP stack.

The Wiki - I have set up a Wiki that I am using to write notes on IT, as well as prepare for several certifications (should I ultimately pursue certification). I am also trying to use it to organize other notes on topics that interest me.

Previous Projects

WOD - Throughout high school, I was tasked by my English teacher with administering a website containing all of the "words of the day" for a given month. These words were used for weekly vocabulary quizzes and needed to be publicly available on the internet for students who had missed class. Some of the example sentences could be rather humorous.

On the Backburner

spmR - spmR is an implementation of SPM, a popular neuroimaging technique (which has previously been implemented as a MATLAB toolbox by the Wellcome Trust) in R. Unfortunately, I have not been able to work on this as much as I would like to and I have put it on hiatus. Nevertheless, I may resume working on it in the future by adding additional functionality (such as the ability to load in SPM.mat files).