I "do" SCO Unix and Linux.
Programming, training, support, installations, troubleshooting
and Web stuff. If I have to, I can do NT and Windows too, but
usually only if it's in the context of other Unix work- I'm not
very interested in Microsoft work by itself. However, I do the odd
script or two and certainly know my way around Windows
I don't call myself a "wizard" or a "guru". There are such
people, but the real ones are few and far between. I would hesitate
to use the word "expert", too. Certainly I have some expertise in
some areas, but I know there is always someone else who knows more
about any given area than I ever will. That's partly because I'm
more of a generalist than a specialist (though today, it's tough to
be a "real" computer generalist: the field is too broad) and partly
because there's always somebody smarter, faster, tougher, bigger,
older or younger. Always. In the computer field, it's perhaps even
harder to be expert at anything, because everything changes so
incredibly fast. Someone may be an expert at version 1.7 of
Multi-Prog (whatever that is), but the current version is 1.9, and
that's only been out for six months, and 2.0 is already announced,
and the reality is that most folks are now using All-Prog version
1.3 instead. So much for experts.
There are, of course, times when I cleverly figure out some
nasty problem that a few self-styled guru's have already given up
on. I feel pretty sharp on those days. Unfortunately, there are
also days when I feel like a hopeless idiot because I just can't
seem to get some darn thing to work at all. Usually that turns out
to be simply because I did something really dumb early on or
completely misunderstood some important concept. Computers have a
great ability to teach humility, don't they?
Back around the same time that I learned Cobol, I took a first
year accounting course, plus first year Mechanical Engineering.
Pretty much of everything I learned in those other courses is still
true today, and the knowledge is still useful. Just about nothing I
learned about computers back then is relevant or useful. Heck, most
of what I've learned and continue to learn about computers becomes
obsolete in a year or two anyway. This is a fast moving field.
Most of what I do is pretty simple. Most of whatever it is that
you do is probably simple, too. But there is a lot of simple, isn't
there? You could probably explain 98% of your work in terms that a
10 year old could easily grasp. I could, too. The problem is that
by the time we got done, the 10 year old would have a driver's
license, and we still wouldn't have gotten to the 2% that might be
a little hard.
I've given classes where I talked for forty hours just giving an
overview, a beginner's overview, really, about one release of one
vendor's Unix Operating System. None of it's hard. None of it is
rocket science, and it sure isn't brain surgery. There's just a lot
That's most of what I have to offer to the nice folks that pay
me to do things for them: a lot of basic knowledge, mixed in with a
whole bunch of experience, and seasoned with an attitude that we
all have our jobs to do, the computer is just a tool to help us do
our jobs, and while computers may sometimes be neat and fascinating
all by themselves, we shouldn't forget that their primary purpose
is to help us do other things.
I sometimes tell people that I really don't like computers. What
I mean is that I'm not a computer geek, the latest version of
Whatever doesn't interest me a bit unless there is some problem
that needs that latest version of Whatever. I don't spend my free
time surfing the Net looking for who knows what. I spend my free
time doing other things.
Way back in the late 60's I attended the Electronic Computer
Programming Institute and learned to use card sorters, wire IBM 402
Accounting machines, write SPS and Cobol code, and all that
wonderful stuff. I can't say that I enjoyed Cobol, and the card
sorting machines seemed to have a personal dislike for me, but I
enjoyed the experience.
After graduating, I found there was a heck of a lot more money
to be made selling industrial boilers, so I did that instead. For
quite a few years, I didn't even think about computers. I thought
about steam pressure, and BTU's per hour, and soot blowers, and
water tubes vs. fire tubes. However, eventually I branched into
heat exchangers, and it was there that I once again thought about
computers, and realized that I needed a Personal Computer.
The problem was that I needed to do some very time consuming
calculations to tell my customers just how much money a heat
exchanger stuck in their boiler stacks would reclaim for them. I
could send data off to a timesharing computer, but that sometimes
took weeks. I could sit at my calculator for hours and hours and
hours, but that was plainly ridiculous. There had to be a better
One night in 1977 I wandered into a Radio Shack, and they had
this incredible device on display: a TRS-80 Model One with 4k of
memory. I asked the salesperson what he knew about it, and got the
answer "Not much" (at least some things have remained constant at
Radio Shack). I asked him if I could write programs for it. He
didn't know, but thought maybe I could. Having more money than
brains, I then handed over $700.00 and took home my very first
I taught myself Basic, and found that I really had 2.9k (yes, k)
of memory to work in, and that I actually could write a program
that gave me better than 90% of the accuracy of the time sharing
computer and it ran in minutes (at a whopping 1.77 mhz, of course).
I later learned some Z80 machine language, and wrote a pretty poor
assembler in Basic. I wrote some games for my kids, and some more
business applications for myself. I had gotten myself involved in a
retail hobby ceramics store, so I wrote programs to handle the
receipts. Those early computers were pathetic, but they sure beat
calculators and slide rules.
A few years later, I went to work for Tandy Corp as a Customer
Support Rep in one of their computer centers. I learned about 123,
and Wordstar, and Model III Profile, and then they started selling
these Xenix machines.
I couldn't understand one thing about Xenix, but I knew it was
something far better than TRS-Dos or even the pathetic MS-Dos that
was just starting to come out. It beat CPM hands down, and I had to
know more. Books were scarce in those days, and I was many years
away from having an Internet connection, so the learning process
was slow, but I eventually learned enough that I felt I'd be better
off on my own, so I did just that.
Since then, I've never stopped learning. My strong points are
trouble shooting and innovative solutions to vexing problems. I
sell primarily time: I will sell hardware and software but mostly
it's just time.
If you need a SCO Unix/Linux consultant or programmer, I might
be the right person. If not, thanks for stopping in, and be sure to
check my listing of other
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