This is my story…
As with all good stories, it’s best to start at the beginning to fully understand and get the full story. I won’t start at birth, nor bore you with mundane details, but I do want to give you a bigger picture into my life so you can see who I am and allow you to better gauge if I’m a fit for your company.
This is a long form story, so it will be more detailed than you may be used to, and is really for those that have already seen my resume, and are looking for a more in-depth picture of me.
The Early Years
My first computer was a TRS-80. Yup, good ‘ole “Trash” 80. 16K RAM, cassette disks, and B/W monitor. I was 10 or 11 years old. My first job was to reprogram the Hammurabi program ( probably written in BASIC ).
I grew up with computers. Apple IIe and Commadore 64 are two I remember distinctly. In the 7th grade, I was programming the Apple IIe to do simple games with hi and low res graphics. A major accomplishment at the time.
I didn’t have a computer through my high school years, but that didn’t stop my from making major accomplishments. I was in honors classes all through high school while in Santa Monica, CA, and moved back to Colorado for my final year. For my final year of high school, I moved to Rangely, CO, a town that was built around its oilfield and a coal mine. All of my classes consisted of college classes, except one ( American Government ), and by the time I’d graduated high school, I had accumulated over 45 hours of college credits. My final semester was 30 hours alone, I had a 3.3 GPA that semester, and still held a part time job at the local pizza joint.
Needless to say, I was driven to succeed and explore all avenues of life.
My first PC was a 486DX4, and ran Windows 3.1 / DOS. It was a fancy machine for its day, and was the envy of all my friends. I learned where all the files went, what they were for, and how it all interconnected. I was fascinated by these new devices!
Before I started into college, I worked the oilfields to build up a small bank account, and because I had a strong back, and oilfield work was the norm, I took a summer job as a derrick hand on a work-over rig. It was interesting, and served me well on several occasions through the years to earn some fast money to pay for school and keep me out of trouble.
My early endeavors in college started in pre-med. I was pretty excited to be a doctor. I’d been an EMT through my senior year, so emergency medicine was flowing through my veins. My early coursework was in biology. I changed my major several times because of all the new materials I was learning that would lead me in different directions. I finally settled on computer science, and minored in mathematics. I graduated with over 250 credits because of all the academic interests I had.
During the last two years of school, I worked for a local ISP ( Internet Service Provider ) where I got my first real inside look into how the Internet worked. While 56K modems had just rolled out to the world, I was working with T1 and T3 data lines. We had a mixed bag of Solaris, Linux ( RedHat 5.1) and Windows servers that ran our systems.
I started out on the phones helping clients troubleshoot their Internet connections. It took a lot of patience. In fact, during my first week on the job, I hung up on a customer. I thought I was fired ( and I should have been ), but was severely reprimanded instead. I learned from that mistake, and realized I needed to work 100% harder on my patience and listening skills. Someone saw my mistake for what it was, and was able to look deeper into my talent and potential. I will never forget that moment, and give others the same benefit of mistake because of this.
Because of my renewed dedication to patience and an understanding of business needs, I was soon the go-to guy for business accounts, and customers that have called our tech support lines in anger. I was able to defuse situations, and deliver results quickly.
After six months on the phones, I was promoted to lead tech support, and junior systems administrator. My duties included guiding other support staff to help them address customer concerns, and provide solutions. I also took turns on call to monitor our systems for uptime, and communicate with the T1 providers in the 25 or so towns that we had dialup stations in.
We maintained separate accounts for our Linux and Windows systems, so I learned how to administer group and user accounts for both systems quite early. This is also where I began my experiences of advanced networking protocols and routines.
I look back at this experience as one that few get to experience, right at the birth of the Internet to the masses. And I was there to learn it, share it, and help get our community connected into it
I graduated towards the end of the dotcom boom in December 2000. I was working by February 2001 with an aerospace contractor. I was working with cutting edge technologies and projects that most people can barely dream of. I was a rocket scientist!
The first three months were non-descript as I worked with security to get my security access taken care of. But once I was let loose in the halls and had my own cubicle, I was a new man, with lot’s of ambitions to solve the worlds problems.
I had a lot to learn though. I was just out of college, and thought I new it all. That’s when I found out how little I really knew, and where experience comes to play. I had to ask for help for so many things. I had manual after manual to read. Processes and procedures to learn. New software tools to figure out. Not to mention over 25,000 classes and multiple millions of lines of source code.
And with all good things in life, I put some time on my side, and quickly become known for my debugging skills, love of solving problems, and in general a great connoisseur of knowledge.
It took about a year to get comfortable with all the new tools, files and processes. Which I find out later is about average for new hires on this project.
During my time, I was assigned a few different areas. Orbital dynamics, time, and equation processing were the three primary subject matter areas that I become most familiar with.
Time happened by accident when I found a bug in leap seconds while testing an equation processing test script.
Let me back you up for a moment. Time is an essential component that is used by just about every single area of a satellite. So if it’s not working right, everyone would have bad results. It is supposed to be one of the most stable components in a satellite. So for anyone to suggest that there is a bug in the time units is asking for trouble.
But when I a new leap second was added that year, I added it to our list of leap seconds to test, and everything broke. Badly. So explaining this to my IPT lead was no easy task, and I made sure to know my facts clearly before even attempting to present.
But sure enough – time was broken, and at a very deep level. It took a small team of us to put our heads together and fix it at the root level, test it and redeploy to the rest of the project. It took about 3 weeks to get it delivered. And another 3 weeks for the entire project to re-run tests, and re-calibrate results based on the minor differences that our changes made.
Even though there was a 6 week delay, I was commended for stepping forward and fixing it before it went upwards to final delivery where it would have been found eventually and had a much larger negative impact.
The equation processing tests that I was running at the time I found the leap second time difference, was a much broader change that was needed for our project to capture the requirements we needed to get our bonuses for the project. Multiple millions of dollars were on the line, and we were short about 10 requirements for the upcoming delivery to meet this bonus.
There were 7 requirements in our equation processing units that could be recaptured if it was rewritten from scratch. Our equation processing was our own in house language used to process telemetry streams that come down from the satellite, and contain vital information on the state of the satellite like temperatures and voltages.
Our language was written using Lexx and Yacc, but those tools were outdated and couldn’t be used to write our language we needed. So I researched the Flex and Bison open source counterparts, coordinated with legal on licencing, and got to work.
It was a lengthy process to write up a new language, and test and validate, but after 4-5 months, we had it done, tested and delivered. A happy day for the team for sure!
But the happiness of the team faded shortly after, as we lost a large chunk of our team to layoffs. About 100 friends and team mates were forced to look for work at a time when the market was getting tough. And another layoff was looming in the distance.
At this point, my wife and I had just had our 3rd & 4th children ( twins ), and we decided that a move back to Grand Junction, CO would be a better place to raise the kids. So we packed up, said good bye to some great friends, and started the next phase of our lives – self employment.
this section coming soon
As of May 2013, I’m no longer taking on any more freelancing opportunities, and am looking for full-time employment.
As a freelancer, it became too easy to spend more time taking care of family duties, and not enough time on client work, so after a series of conversations, it was decided that a return to a software engineering position with a large firm was best for our family.