The Great Escape …

How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.”

Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

Well, I have hinted at this change for some time now and the time has come to officially make my announcement. To truly understand the impact this change has on my life you need to have an idea of my history with technology … or you can skip right to the news. 😉

My love and passion for technology started at the ripe old age of 13 years old. I would disassemble electronics and put them back together and many times with some kind of an upgrade … or completely destroyed because I did something stupid … err, I mean learned something valuable.

This desire to learn more about technology kept growing until I was introduced to computers. That is, if you could even call them that in comparison to their modern descendants. I started off by teaching myself BASIC as provided by several different platforms like Atari, Apple, Commodore and Microsoft. They all had some differences that had to be overcome to make code even somewhat “portable”. By the time I made it to high school the technology courses were only centered around application development in BASIC and COBOL but we were also allowed to play with other languages in our down time … FORTRAN, PASCAL, and a few others.

While most of the other students worked on just the assignments and many of them struggled with that, there were 2 of us that took the education to levels not seen before by the school district. For both years the 2 of us completed all assignments in record time which left us ample time to explore and learn on our own. It was during our 2nd year that we were taught COBOL. That language was only slightly more of a challenge than the others I had already learned. The biggest difference was that we couldn’t create games to waste time. Our instructor and the vocational counselors noticed that the 2 of us had more free time than the other students. Our instructor was told to process all of the work that we had already produced, grade it, and release us to the counselors. We were just as confused as you are reading this. We had no idea what kind of issues we were facing. Did they not believe that the work was our own? Did they think that we worked together to produce the code? So many thoughts and fears ran through our minds. Finally, one day it happened, grading was complete, and we were released. We reluctantly walked into their office to find out what was going on. “Hey fellas, we have a software project we would like you to develop for us.” I am sorry, can you say that again please? Sure enough they had a project for us. They wanted an application written in BASIC that the school district could use to calculate staff raises and promotions based on a ton of criteria, and it was all weighted. It took us about 3 months to complete the task and it is my understanding that some variation of that same code is still in use to this day.

Sometime in the early 90’s I made a decision to start trying to get into technology in some capacity and forge a career for myself. After every IT related shop in our area rejected me for a no cost internship I decided, along with a friend, that we would open up a business as a parts vendor. That really didn’t net much in ways of profit, but it opened many doors for me and let me meet people that I would otherwise have no exposure to.

Those connections led to securing my first real IT related position. It was about as profitable as my own venture but it connected me to even more people in the business world. That was likely the most boring position of my career. I mean who wants to sell crappy old used IBM PS/2’s for a living? But, it paid the bills and helped me land my next position.

Gradually over the years I progressed from development to sales to TV/VCR/PC tech to bench tech to sysadmin and beyond. I have supported as many as 100 client businesses with a combined total of about 4,000 users with nothing more than a single intern helper.

In 2010 I made a change from doing reactive work to a more proactive approach. I purchased an RMM and learned it’s scripting language so that I could support my current client base with absolutely no outside help. After a year of that I decided it was time to hire some employees to handle the on-site hands-on tickets so that I could move to the mountains and work remotely. Ultimately, in many ways, I was able to automate most of what I need to address on a daily basis.

Over the course of my years of being an independent contractor and maintaining a client base large enough to support my lifestyle I have watched my physical and mental health decline. That feeling of being trapped in my career and position was becoming overwhelming and burn-out was an absolute reality. After a massive ransomware campaign in 2016 I knew it was time for me to make a change or I was literally going to work myself into the grave.

That was the point that I started looking into what other industries I felt I could get into and enjoy. When I lost my son in 2019 I also lost my way because I was so clouded with grief and depression. I mean, how do you focus on a career when you feel as though your life is falling apart. 10/10, I do not recommend losing a child in any fashion. Anyhow, towards mid-summer 2021 I started being introduced to the whole DevOps methodology and culture and was intrigued enough to start a deep dive into the technologies and see how they relate to what I do and how they could benefit my career and the clients I service.

After 6 months of turmoil in my primary client’s environment with massive turn over in positions from top to bottom that includes several CEOs in rapid succession, I decided it was time to “put my nose to the grindstone” and learn all that I can to have a base understanding of as much of DevOps as I could. In my blog post The Journey Begins I detail a bit about that and even have a technical demo that alludes to my news.

Hard work pays off!!!

So, after 30 years of working the front lines and supporting thousands of consumers and business users of all fashions I am pleased to announce that I have escaped the front lines!!! I have accepted a position with a company called AustinCSI as a Cloud and Automation Consultant.

I look forward to working with a vast array of clients over an even larger array of projects that will further solidify my place in these environments and to cement my knowledge and skill base.

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