Evolution Of An IT Guy
I think everyone gets contemplative at times, do they not? I now tend to get this way around this time of year…for a specific reason. Which I’ll cover later.
I may or may not have spoken about my origins in IT, networking…or computers at all. If I have, suck it up, because I’m going to do it again. Picture it…Texas, 1996…Christmas. A then 15 year old Greg opens a large box to find his very first computer…a Compaq all in one! I just googled and can’t find it, but I can still see it in my mind’s eye. That sweet hunk of beige plastic…it looked more akin to a 1980’s TV. I still remember plugging in the phone cord to the 14.4 modem, inserting the floppy disk, installing the dialup networking setting for the local ISP and installing IRC. 🙂
I know everyone has those great moments in life. I remember the first time I saw my wife, the first time I saw my sons and the first time I got on the internet…hehe. I opened IRC, connected to Dalnet and then made it into some chat room. I remember asking someone where they were from and when they informed me they were from Sri Lanka…I said out loud “wwwoooowww.” I can still remember that feeling of touching the other side of the world…being able to affect something or someone so far away. I think this is the point at which my love of networking was born…whether I knew it or not.
Through IRC I eventually began writing scripts. I remember one in particular would sit and wait for a room reset. Occasionally a room would have all the users get kicked off save for one or two. When you were the only person left, it would make you an admin for the 3-5 seconds when you were the only person there. My script would wait for that event, then it would quickly change the password on the room and boot everyone out the instant they tried to rejoin…hehehe. I admit it…I was a script kiddie. Everyone gets their start somewhere, right?
At some point my highschool was offering the option to get class credit for heading to the local technical school and taking classes. I went and talked to their computer science department. They explained to me that scripting and the logic involved is a key piece of what that program was about. I went for it. This meant that I only had to take two classes my senior year, then go home for an hour, then head to a couple of classes at TSTC. It worked out pretty well. One interesting thing is that I took no classes in networking. It was never even mentioned.
I graduated and got a job working for a soulless employer called UCS (Universal Computer Systems). There we were nothing more than a number and were considered replaceable. Many of us called it UCS High, since it was the place you went and worked until you had enough experience to graduate to a real job. I have to say that it allowed me to build all the requisite skills necessary to get where I am today. I started in the NOC working as a server/phone administrator. We had a ton of server 2000 boxes that had just recently been updated from an NT domain. The phone system was an ancient ROLM system that was the size of about 4 refrigerators stacked together. Eventually, the only network guys quit and I was just finishing my CCNA, so it was perfect timing. Fresh off the high I received from getting my cert, I took over the network. As you can imagine I did a TON of combing through configs and googling what was going on. I immediately began studying for my CCNP. I think withing about 10 months to a year from this point I got my CCNP. I believe everyone should have to earn their way, and UCS forced you to do that.
I really began to hone my MacGyver skills at UCS. We had to do complex things with no equipment and no money…creativity was the only thing left. We also did everything IT, so you learned to do a little of everything. This is a skill I highly value in people and I strive for in myself. Another attribute I admire in people is modesty. I know the more certifications and experience I gain the more humble I become. I can still remember in highschool configuring a linksys router and thinking I was the shiz. I still remember when I discovered port forwarding. I was networking like a boss! Once I started educating myself I realize how little I really know and how much more I wish I did.
I then began work at FIBERTOWN Datacenters. I was and am surrounded by some great people. Some have gone and some have stayed. I make a difference here and I am appreciated here. It’s amazing how a disparate work environment can really change your outlook. I’m now the Network Engineering Manager. I can make a routing change and see it change a route server in Sri Lanka…I’m still touching the other side of the world 🙂 I’ve built entire datacenter IT infrastructures…network and server. But what means more to me are the relationships I’ve built. You’ll notice that I surround myself with people that share these attributes.
JJ came to me by way of this blog. He’s a guy that knew more about radios at age 10 then I will in the entirety of my life…hehe. He works hard and LOVEs technology. He loves to tinker and build. He also cares about people and works hard to do the right thing.
Justin I know via JJ. Any friend of JJ is a friend of mine. Justin is just about the most well rounded WISP consultant I’ve met. This guy flies all over the country and sometimes outside of the country to climb towers and BUILD WISPs. I instantly had a comradery with this kid and I know that I can count on him to answer any of my ridiculous questions. Also, he has an unnatural obsession with G.I. Joe…I’m just saying.
Jimmy has been a friend of mine for a looong time. He worked with me at UCS. This guy is one of the single most brilliant people I have ever met. He has the ability to take an idea or suggestion and turn it into PHP as if he’s writing out the grocery list. He’s one of the core cacti programmers and he sits on the board. I still remember the day at UCS that I introduced him to cacti…hehehe. That’s right…it’s all my fault. You know how he learned to program? He taught himself to program while he was framing houses…hehe. He’s a good friend, but beyond that, he’s a good person, which I highly value. The only thing about Jimmy is that his sense of humor is terrible. THE WORST PUNs…next to Andrew. I mentioned he’s a gifted programmer, but only if you can motivate him. Often enough money won’t even motivate him. You have to tell him that it is impossible and that he couldn’t possibly do it…then he will knock it out in a half hour or so.
Quote from Jimmy
Andrew is a brilliant kid from Aussie Island. That’s right, he talks with a funny accent and his toilet water spins backwards. I met him via my blog also. He’s quite a clever guy…his sense of humor is awful, as is Jimmy’s, but he still seems to make me laugh. I know that he has done plenty of charity work, networking wise, just for the love of it…which most people can’t say about IT. I’m also hoping I get to meet him IRL at this year’s MUM.
Brian is another old school UCS’er. He’s a self taught network guy like me. He also does linux, windows and whatever else it takes to get the job done. He’s also a vegetarian, which I love to make jokes about…he eats healthy and I get new comic material – WIN/WIN. This guys is another one of those hard working jack of all trades that has always taken the time to answer a question when I’m too lazy to use google…actually, he’s my load balancer guy type person.
Rob is another fellow I met through the blog. Rob is out in Arkansas and inspired my banjo wireless picture way back. He’s got the pleasure of working as IT at a high school (which personally sounds really cool!) It sounds cool to me because I think about all the things I could lock the kids out of…hehehe. I don’t believe it is all it’s cracked up to be as his “little darlings” are always doing things they shouldn’t. He’s a network admin for the school, a local WISP and also a talented programmer. Since I have a computer science degree, those who can actually produce useful programs have a place in my heart. Rob still maintains some code that runs a frickin MFG plant! I’ve always loved having puters interact with the real world, so this is like overload for me…hehehe. In the past I would try and call and converse about once a month, but I’m way behind…though a phone works both ways Rob 😉
There’s many more of you out there, but you guys don’t have blogs(Seth, James, Jacob, JR, Brandon, Salsa Dancers), so you didn’t make it to the list :P.
I do this about this same time of year because right about 3 years ago I almost lost my wife. I told myself that I would always take the time to tell my friends and family that I appreciate them and care about them. I know it is so easy to put your head down and work and work….and work. I think it takes something big in one’s life to make them stop and look around.
I challenge you guys (especially the guys I mentioned here) to throw up a post about yourselves talking about how you got started and maybe even talk about the friends, IT related or not, that have made a difference in your life.