Keith Albright from the Mind of Root podcast started a SysAdmin/Scripting Meme and called me out this week to answer the questions. I had to really think about them for awhile as some of it takes me back a few years. it’s a little fuzzy but I will do the best I can to answer them.
How old were you when you started using computers?
I was somewhat fascinated with the concept of computers as depicted in science fiction films when I was a kid and looked forward to a future when I could have and use one myself. I grew up watching movies such as Colossus: The Forbin Project, 2001: a Space Odyssey and TV shows such as Lost in Space and Star Trek, all of which featured computers with artificial intelligence. I thought the Batman series in the ’60s was cool because he had a computer in the Bat Cave that somehow seemed to know everything. Some of my favorite movies and TV shows were enjoyable for the technology factor alone.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that computers were made affordable and easily accessible to the public, but as soon as I could afford it I purchased one. That was in 1982.
What was your first machine?
My very first real computer was a Commodore Pet 2001. I couldn’t afford a new one, so I purchased it used for around $300. It had a built-in 9 in. display, cassette tape drive and a little chicklet keyboard. The computer had a whopping 8k of memory which consisted of a set of static RAM chips socketed to a mainboard that blew frequently. I found a supplier for chips and replaced them as necessary. The computer was a course in computer repair. The first thing I learned about it was ESD.
What was the first real script you wrote?
My Commodore PET required knowledge of BASIC and I had to learn it in order to write my own programs. I recall writing a simple database script to catalog stuff. I also recall Hello World and a couple of other exercises but I don’t remember which was actually the first. When I purchased a Commodore VIC 20 and later a Commodore 64 I wrote a few other BASIC programs for myself but by that time there was so much software available for the 64 I didn’t need to do much scripting and only used BASIC to fix bugs in existing programs.
What scripting languages have you used?
I dabbled in Commodore Basic, some batch file scripts in MS-DOS, a little PHP (not a guru but I can tweak existing code) but I am not a programmer and have little patience for it. There are so many useful free scripts out there now that I can usually find what I need and tweak it instead of writing it myself.
What was your first professional sysadmin gig?
I ran my own computer business for nearly eleven years and act as SysAdmin to a few of my business clients. My first paid job as an outsource Admin was for a pain management clinic and the first thing I had to do was clean their network and all their backup media of virii. It was a massive infection. The second thing I had to do was bring them into license compliance and then build a new server, new workstations and the latest version of their medical software. Then I completely rebuilt their network.
If you knew then what you know now, would you have started in IT?
Good question. I would probably still be doing something related to IT but I would have done a lot of things differently and I probably would have stayed more focused on the web and media related aspects of IT instead of working with hardware and small business networks. To be honest, I would rather research, write and talk about IT and emerging new technologies than stare at a file server all day.
If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new sysadmins, what would it be?
Listen to everyone, especially end users. Keep an open mind and research everything before making decisions. Never assume anything and always assume the worst. Keep your ear close to the ground. Stay alert to new trends, techniques and technologies and think of ways you can utilize their potential in your network.
And finally, whatever you do, don’t cut the red wire.
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had scripting?
I never really had fun scripting. It is just something I do when I have to do it. Well, I did have some fun with Hello World. It was a chore after that.
Who am I calling out?
All listeners and members of The Force Field!
You can hear the Mind of Root podcast on The TechPodcast Network . It is also available in the Media Center here at TheForceField.Net.