PermaLink How did I get to where I am in the Domino world?05/01/2006 04:21 PM

A piece the other day on Rocky Oliver's "LotusGeek" site asked us:  how did you get to where you are in your career of working with Domino?
If you didn't see this over at Rocky's site, take a look.  It's an interesting observation he makes about generalizations that can be drawn about people who work with Domino, and almost all of them apply to me (his bullets up at the top).

So, how did I get here?
  • In the 1970s, my father introduced me to a Prime Model 1 mainframe at the college at which he worked.  I fooled around with programs written in BASIC, back when BASIC was, well, "basic."
  • In 1977, he bought one of the first TRS-80 Model 1 home computers.  Back then, we called them "microcomputers," since the term "PC" would not exist for four more summers.  I stayed up all night several nights in a row writing software for the thing, and learning how incredibly crappy Radio Shack's implementation of BASIC was compared to, say, NorthStar or Ohio Scientific.  I also wrote incredibly crude Z-80 assembler code for it without really knowing what I was doing.
  • In the summer of 1978, I had a brief stint collecting bait worms -- nightcrawlers -- on local golf courses for $5.00 per can, then I was a page at the local library earning $1.25 an hour in the evenings, tried picking fruit right after school let out and discovered I hated farm work, and then got a job in a restaurant in a service area on the New York Thruway earning minimum wage, a job I would keep until the summer I left for college.
  • In 1979, my high school got a TeleType model 55 terminal that was connected over a 110/300-baud connection to a timeshare computer in Syracuse.  I was one of the few students -- one of the few people -- in my town with any experience with computers, and I was made a monitor for the terminal, helping other kids get on and run their remedial-math programs or whatever.  Several months later the principal fired me from that task because I'd been using the free time slots to write software which would print out the lyrics of rugby songs on demand.  Really... dirty... rugby songs.
  • My first girlfriend, the summer of 1979, was so impressed by my father's TRS-80 that she got her parents to buy her one of her own.  I showed her lots of tricks to do with it.
  • My first job in college was scraping food off trays in one of the largest cafeteria complexes in the world.
  • I was a projectionist in the campus film series for a few weeks.  I nearly herniated myself hauling around the incredibly heavy IEKI projectors.  DVDs would not be invented for another 15 years.
  • I was also a DJ on the college radio network, and though it paid nothing, I am still a DJ off and on today, though now instead of turntables, I have an iBook.
  • My next decent college work-study job was keeping track of index cards for a project investigating certain lipid compounds and derivatives.  One day they hauled in an Apple II with a disk drive and asked me if I could do something with it.   Alas, I was a goof-off and the professor fired me after a couple of months, but I'd learned a lot of good stuff.
  • For the next two years, I did programming and operations when I could (not always paid), word processing when I had to, and anything else when the finances demanded.  I was a cashier in a hotel parking garage, a part-time paid fundraiser, and once worked at NCR.  It was the last place I ever saw punch cards.  Seriously.
  • I did some consulting for Xerox Corporation, where I laid hands on my first Mac.  It was actually a Mac XL, which is what they called the Lisa 2/10 when it was refitted to be a big Mac with a hard disk inside.  I had the first LaserWriter anyone had ever seen and first started writing native PostScript to make it do incredible shit.
  • I eventually ended up at the University of Rochester operating PCs and Macs, running software on old DEC-10 and DEC-20 machines that used TOPS.  I discovered kermit and CompuServe, into which I would empty a truly scary amount of money in the next ten years.
  • In 1986 and 1987, I was a support consultant at AT&T back when they had the old PC6300 XT-clone machines.  I worked in a building in South Plainfield, New Jersey for a bunch of guys who used to climb poles and were now PC-support managers.  Go figure.
  • I was the PC and network guy for a year or so for a community college in Jamestown, New York.  This was the first place I was introduced to the horror that was IBM Token-Ring.
  • After their funding shrank, I spent two years with a law firm in Buffalo, where I installed an enormous ArcNet installation.  Don't laugh... it was cheap, durable and was exactly what they needed at the time.  The firm has since gone out of business, and the money they saved by NOT using Token-Ring or Ethernet in the old, expensive days (an Ethernet adapter was $500 back then; ArcNet was $79) probably kept them in business a little longer than they would have otherwise.
  • Left Buffalo, worked for a while for a truly awful consulting company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania founded by two brothers who had been former IBM midrange salesmen.  Their mantra seemed to be, "we don't care if you actually do anything useful for the client as long as you bill for it and wear a white shirt like us."  They've seen disappeared, and good riddance.  Crooks.
  • Was unemployed, but not long enough to learn to play banjo on my porch properly.
  • Took The Job From Hell #1 in early 1991, doing network and CAD system architectures for a Sun and Novell reseller in the Baltimore area.  They ended up laying nearly everybody off; last I heard one of the founders was running a Christmas tree farm.
  • Took The Job From Hell #2 right after that in early 1992, with a company in Baltimore that made those venetian-blinds-overnight you see advertised.  The system they used to manage it had been built by a guy named Bob Arning (search engine bait, Bob!) essentially from the ground up, originally on an Apple II, and later on a system that ran UCSD p-code, and finally on Macintoshes.  Thing is, Bob wrote everything himself.  The interface.  The database.  The database engine behind it.  The networking scheme underneath it.  The printing routines.  The maintenance utilities.   It was magnificent and incredibly fragile, and I got the hell out of there because it was also essentially unmaintainable by anyone who was not Bob Arning.  That company has since gone out of business.
  • Spent two years as a consultant to the federal government, where I first laid hands on Notes in late 1992.  This was OS/2-based Notes, though I think they then came out with a Windows client.  And, if you recall, a Windows server.
  • After that, I said the hell with consulting and have been a full-time Fed ever since.  That was 1994, so this summer it'll be 12 years.  I've been the primary force behind Domino all these years, seeing it through some hard times made harder by the inane Microsoftism around this place.

There you go.

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