If you've already looked at my education page, you might
have noticed a curious lack of formal computer training. Apart from one forgettable
course in BASIC, I picked up all my computer knowledge on the job or just playing around.
Computer Related Jobs
- Technology Training Specialist, Command Data,
Inc June 1999-present
Command Data produces software and hardware control solutions for
the construction materials industry. That means, basically, that
we make software and hardware that allow concrete companies to produce
consistent quantities of concrete (which, as it turns out, is LOT
more complicated than you might think).
My job is to train our customers on our control software. It
covers everything from concrete dispatch, to invoicing to receivables,
to inventory...you get the idea. A lot of stuff. I still
travel, but not nearly as much as I did when I worked on the SSA
The thing that makes this job so interesting is that I'm in a position
to design classes from the ground up.
- Trainer, SSA Project, CompUSA
Basic LAN User (BLU) Trainer
July 1997--June 1999
Social Security Administration is upgrading their systems nationwide from old dumb
terminals (insert your favorite government bureaucracy joke here) to WinNT
workstations, and CompUSA got the training contract. I traveled
site to site, bringing computer enlightenment wherever I go. My training
repertoire includes Windows NT, Word 95/97, CC:Mail/Exchange, mainframe emulation, and a
CD-ROM reference package.
Were it not for the inherent problems in working for CompUSA (if you've
ever been in one, you understand), I would have enjoyed seeing the
project through to its completion. But I finally got tired of
nonstop travel and the utter lack of support from above, and finally went and
found a better job.
Site Lan Coordinator (SLC) Trainer
All SSA employees receive the standard BLU training; in addition, a few people from each
office receive advanced training so that they will be able to administer their networks.
Training topics here include User Administration, File Server Maintenance, Software
Configuration, IWS/LAN Communications, and Troubleshooting
Disability Determination Services (DDS)
DDS sites are state-run, and they have their own computer systems in addition to the
standard SSA build.
- Computer Lab Operator, Center for Academic Computing, The Pennsylvania State
My first year in the Penn State PhD program, I didn't have an assistantship.
Fortunately, I was able to avoid waiting tables or tending bar by finding this job.
It wasn't as challenging as working at the Alabama computer labs, but I was able to
expand my computer skills. The labs had IBMs, Macs, and mainframe backbones; the
combination kept me on my toes. It was here that I was first snared by the internet,
or, to be more precise, by rec.sport.football. college. Penn State has labs all over
campus, but most of my shifts were in the library, which made doing research for my
courses fairly convenient.
My responsibilities included:
- Working in combination PC/Mac/Mainframe labs
- Performing routine hardware maintenance
- Distributing and collecting startup disks
- Assisting students with hardware and software problems
- Student Consultant, Systems Support Services, College of Commerce & Business
Administration, The University of Alabama 1984-1986
This was back in the days when computers were just becoming an integral part of the
business classroom. The business school's computer lab was just getting off the
ground, and we were running it. We taught the students how to use DOS, Lotus 1-2-3,
Word 2.0 (that's right, campers, version 2.0), DBase II . . . we were pretty
much starting from scratch. I started out working more as an office manager than a
consultant, but when we got a permanent secretary I shifted over to consulting.
I had to teach myself how to use the software, then pass that knowledge on to the
students. Most memorable exchange: "Why won't this printer work?"
"Because you haven't turned it on."
My responsibilities included:
- Preparing/teaching introductory computer lessons for students
- Preparing/teaching introductory word processing classes for the C&BA secretarial
- Writing/designing an introductory PC/DOS manual for beginning users
- Providing software and hardware support for faculty and students
- Evaluating word processing software for lab use
Games, are, of course, the real reason we invented the computer in the first place.
I thought the jones would be in good shape when I got my 5 gig hard drive; now, of
course, I have to get a 3D card for the ultimate in carnage. Because, let's face it,
nothing makes a good game like kick-ass explosions. And of course, when it comes
down to basic stress reduction, nothing kicks ass like Duke Nukem 3D.
Yeah, Quake II has better graphics, but Duke has attitude. For a truly
sublime experience, turn off the game's music and put Wagner's "Ride of the
Valkyries" in your CD-ROM. I've got you smell of napalm in the morning right
here, buddy. For a more bizarre ride, put in the music from A Charlie Brown
The major combat
playing these days is Longbow Gold. It's easily one of the best attack
helicopter sim on the market (I have Longbow 2, but I really need to get that 3D card
before diving into that one). I've gotten to the point where I'm flying with all the
realism toggles on except the collective (that'll come next month (of course, I've been
saying this for months, now . . .)), and I'm just now working the enemy skill level into
the Expert range. Needless to say, I'm getting shot down a lot. Still there's
nothing like the thrill of seeing smoke columns ahead and knowing that those particular
SAM /AA sites won't be giving me anymore grief (It is, course, right about this time that
I get lit up by the site to my right that I overlooked and my gunner calls out,
"Evasive action . . .NOW!" The rest is silence). Check out my review
of the game at Gamespot.
Of course, air combat simulators don't work all that well on laptops; so
when I'm on the road, there's nothing like the classics. I'm talking
Civilization II, I'm talking world conquest, the smell of napalm in the
morning, and that dull sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you
realize that those damn Spaniards have four armored units bearing down on a
town garrisoned by two archers.
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