Friday Foray: Where I identify myself and what I stand for professionally.

What do you mean I have to introduce myself?! Isn't it patently obvious that I'm a networking genius? (Part 1 of 2)

What do you mean I have to introduce myself?! Isn't it patently obvious that I'm a networking genius, capable of fixing problems with either hardware, software or firmware by looking at it cross-eyed? Am I not a paragon of even-handedness, without bias for or against any particular side in an argument, regardless of my personal opinions?

Umm, no. OK, so who am I really? You can see my official bio over to the right of this post, but it doesn't go into near enough detail to satisfy me, let alone you. Here's some more detail for you folks to chew over, along with some of the things I've come to understand in the course of my 30+ year career in Information Technology.

I can very clearly recall my first encounter with a computer. It was age 7, and my father was working for a corporation in the Chicago suburbs as a manager. He took me to work one day, and while for a little kid, that was already pretty exciting, he then led me into their machine room. They had an IBM 360/30, probably running DOS (IBM's DOS, not Microsoft's QDOS clone.) Lights blinked, card readers whirred, line printers chattered, etc. I was hooked, almost instantly. When Dad said I could ask it a question, I leaped to it, asking for blackmail information on the neighborhood bully. I thought it was omniscient, but then I was 7. Dad had the op on duty run a quick ob with my question as a comment, then handed me the printout. Like a typical user, I demanded to know why I didn't have exactly te information I had requested? Staff laughed, and Dad took me home. Little did he know, he set me on my career path. I may not have gotten along well with him all the time over the years, but for this I owe him thanks. Thank you, Dad.. Flash forward a few years to age 12 and junior high. (I grew up in Illinois, we 6 and 7th grade in junior high.) In a mobile classroom, stands a clunky AT&T teletype terminal. It used an acoustic coupler at 110 baud (That's 110 bps for you youngsters,) across a POTS line. On the other end was an time-shared HP 2000C minicomputer. We could program in BASIC, and play games such as Star Trek. There was little to no communication with anybody in any form, except for 1-line messages from the system operator. It used paper tape (!) for offline storage, and was loud, slow and broke frequently. My friends and I wrote our first code on that system, and I kept writing code on it over the next 6 years, through high school. Graduation from high school lead to an attempt at college which failed. I was determined to become a professional programmer, so I managed to get a job at one of the first stores on the East Coast to cater to computing hobbyists. I was a floor salesman, selling the Commodore PET (chicklet keyboard and all,), the Apple ][, the Ohio Scientific Challenger 1-P, and a couple of real oddities: An S-100 bus system that ran the first word processor I had encountered, Electric Pencil, and the first multi-user microcomputer, called the Alpha. I was in the job for 6 months, commuting to and from Northern New Jersey. It was tremendously exciting, as was my next job, coding a point-of-sale/inventory control system in BASIC using the Apple ][ as a hardware platform. I learned a lot, but still felt I needed more business-related experience. The one way I was going to get it without going to college was obvious: The military.

Part 2 later.

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