I obtained my FCC Commercial and Amateur radio licenses while still in
High School. My Science Club Teacher arranged an internship for me as
a radio station broadcast engineer in 1963 which I worked at for several
years before graduating. I then joined the Military and used the G.I. Bill
to pay for my college education at Northeastern University.
Upon graduation in 1972, I went to work as a Systems Test Technician for
Compugraphic Corporation, which was a start-up at the time. After several
years of that I was promoted to Field Service Engineer and later to Senior
Field Service Engineer
It is fairly common now for High School drop outs who have passed the
Microsoft MCSE exam to call themselves "Network Engineers". I happen to have
EARNED my Engineer title by obtaining a four year degree, doing my
internship as well as several years as an apprentice Technician before
being qualified to claim the title of "Engineer". An important distinction
in these times where flash seems to often be valued over substance...
Being a Field Engineer meant travelling to the customer site, where ever in
the World that might be, and dragging out schematics, your oscilloscope and
soldering iron to fix problems. There was no "team".
It was pretty much you and your screwdriver and that was it. There was some
minimal support on the other end of the phone line but you were pretty
much expected to fix problems on your own and asking for help too often
could definitely be a career limiting activity. The computer systems that I
worked on were mostly either wire wrapped digital IC chip backplanes or two
layer solid state (transistor) PCB architecture. So you actually had to know
how to troubleshoot to fix these things. Randomly swapping parts until
you finally got things working again was just not an option back then.
I've also done a lot of
vacuum tube architecture troubleshooting in a high wattage RF environment.
With the advent of the "Field Replaceable Unit" (FRU)
in the late 1970's, I decided that I needed
to become less hardware oriented and work more with the total system.
I took a job as Technical Support Engineer with Applicon Corp. which later
became Schlumberger Corp. This was back in the day when Tech Support
Engineers had to actually know something, not the helpdesk/phone support
function that is currently known as Tech Support today. Back in the early
1980's, there was no such thing as a Tech Support Engineer who didn't
have a degree and a decade or so of Field Engineering experience under his
belt before coming to that job.
In that capacity, I flew all over the World fixing problems that Field
Engineers, Regional, Area and Country Support Specialists had given up on.
It was during this period that I more or less invented the concept of
remotely run diagnostic support.
I had tried to get something like this
off the ground a few years earlier at Compugraphic but they had very little
interest in it. And even in 1980, it was still an uphill struggle to get even
cursory management support for this type of new technology and service
At Applicon, I became an expert with D.E.C. PDP-11, RSX-11M and VAX/VMS
at the systems internals level. I was also being groomed for management
and had been promoted to Program Manager while also managing the "Tiger
Team" and also working as an individual Engineering contributor. I would
probably still be working there if Schlumberger hadn't decided to move the
company to Michigan, where I did not care to relocate to.
From there I took a job with a start-up called Metagraphics where I
built and managed all of Field Engineering, Technical Support, Customer
Training and several other functions. When they ran out of money and went
out of business, I came West to work for BiiN, a joint Intel/Siemens
as Customer Service Manager. I again built Field Engineering, Technical
Support, Customer Training and several other functions from the ground up.
By the time BiiN ran out of money and folded, I knew enough about
management to know that I was much happier being on the technology side
of the business.
I then went to work for Ateq for a couple of years as a Software Support
Engineer. They also wound up having money problems and I was laid off (along
with 25% of the company) the day before Thanksgiving. Having now had the
last several jobs shot out from under me, for reasons that had nothing to do
with me or my performance, I figured I could probably do better on my
own. So I started
Easyrider LAN Pro, a systems and network engineering
consultancy, and have been doing that pretty much ever since.
It's not a lot of fun scratching for your next project and I don't enjoy
frequently not having medical benefits. But I do have a great boss and I
never have to worry about showing up to work and being greeted by a
pink slip. Would I like to have a "permanent" job that I can depend on,
where I am treated with respect and as a valued asset? You bet.
Show me a company that will provide that and reasonable pay and benefits
and I'll be happy to start work there tomorrow.
If you're interested, go here to see what I have been doing with
Easyrider LAN Pro for the past 18 years.
I have spent a great deal of the past 18 years building Network Operations
Centers (NOC). I have worked with UNIX (as a Systems Administrator and as
a Systems Engineer) on a daily basis for the past 25 years. I consider
myself to be a "fair hand" with networking issues, having worked steadily
with networks since before bridges were invented. I do understand (more
or less) how stuff talks to other stuff but I generally need to Google
router settings if I have to build or modify something. When you're old,
you just can't retain as much trivia in your brain it seems. While I
make no claims to be a Microsoft expert at all, I probably know as much
if not more about Windows servers and desktops as the so-called
"experts" do. When ever I need help with my own Windows machines, all
the "experts" seem to know how to do is reboot and re-install software.
I am currently typing this page on the fifth or sixth PC that I've built
all by my lonesome from the ground up.
Not that I am so in love with PC technology, but I do tend to learn an
awful lot every time I do this. This is a very nice, very fast
Allendale Duo Core machine with 4 Gig of RAM, over 1 TB of disk and a lot
of nice bells and whistles that cost me about $700 in [the best available]
parts to put together.
This machine replaced the Pentium III workstation that I built 7 years ago
and is still working just fine.
I also build my own UNIX servers which usually
run the latest version of RHEL.
Economically building things that work correctly and last for a very long
time is a big part of who I am.
In addition to all of the above, I have also found time to be a night time
radio personality and to do a few other unrelated things "in another
lifetime". I am very active politically at the Legislative level. I
am committed to the protection of our Bill of Rights and to motorcycle
rights and safety issues. I am also an NRA Certified Training
Instructor, an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer and a DPSST Law
Enforcement training volunteer.
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