This is the part where I am supposed to tell you about myself
and about joeware I guess.
Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly
self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a
penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen-year old French prostitute named
Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make
outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse
chestnuts of being lazy... the sort of general malaise that only the genius
possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical... summers in Rangoon,
luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent, I was
placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds... pretty standard, really. At the
age of twelve, I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoastrian
named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a
shorn scrotum... it's breathtaking, I suggest you try it......
Oh wait, that isn't me...
I am a guy who likes to solve problems. It just so happens
solving computer problems happens to be a lucrative business so that
is where I focus my efforts. I believe my Aunt Linda helped direct
me in this way; she was a model who one day decided to go work for
Sperry Univac as an instructor. She did very well there and
encouraged me to learn the mysteries of computers by talking to me
like I was an adult when I was about 12 and giving me big thick cool
techno manuals for the COBOL Batch compilers and how to properly
punch the punch cards to load the programs.
The first computer I actually got to play with in an unfettered way was a Commodore Pet with cassette tape storage that was at my middle school library when I was in 7th grade. I was amazed at how you could type a few simple lines and have your name scrolling down the screen or across it in various patterns depending on whether you used a semi-colon or a comma to terminate the line. I spent a lot of time playing with that machine, saving and loading those little "joe is cool" programs onto cassette even though it was quicker just to retype the program from scratch. My family was not able to afford a computer for home at that point so I satisfied myself with sitting in the library when I could set aside the time.
My playing progressed from the Pet, to the TRS-80, to the Atari 800, to the Apple II, to PDP-11/45's and PDP-11/70's and PDP-11/84's running RSTS/E, DEC VAXes and Micro-VAXes, a brief stint with IBM PC's (8088's), to Sun SPARCstation's. I realized that the computer seemed more alive or magical if it was one that was connected to other computers to allow communication between people and those were the systems I really enjoyed. Additionally I realized I had the most fun writing system level software, software designed to make doing things on the systems easier. I think I got this bent because one of my first real jobs was a weekend computer operator running PDP-11/70's and DEC VAXes and it bothered me that many of the processes were manual when they could so obviously (to me) be automated, why not let the computer do the work while I sleep?
I went away to university which was fun but I tended to debate with my computer instructors a lot. They didn't seem to understand how useful computers could really be and had an annoying tendency to tell me programs I handed in for assignments wouldn't work when they hadn't even tried them. Let me set the record straight in that I never handed in an assignment that did not work as the assignment required it and usually better. The programs simply did not follow the standard ways of doing things. This love/hate relationship with university lasted a couple of years until I ran out of money (my lucrative operator job moved to Ohio and moving to Ohio was not something I wanted to do) and I left school.
I spent a few years doing independent consultant type work but grew to hate that and left the field entirely. This was about the time that 286's ruled the land and everything was still pretty much DOS based or some *NIX blend. While I had played with *NIX on SPARCstation's at university and was even the administrator for a couple of labs for a bit, I never really liked it like I liked the DEC multi-user systems. I think it was because the main *NIX admins were a generally scary bunch who thought they were a bunch of Wizards with knowledge that you could only get by asking God directly. A lot of that was true as God (the main *NIX admin) had all the good books and text files as well as the best ASCII Art.
Several years later I was working in one of my many varied jobs which at that time was a Big Ticket Electronics Salesman for Montgomery Ward when I saw the new line of PC's come in with Windows 3.11 on them. These caught my attention and I saw that computers could again be good. I also got tastes of OS/2 (tastes like chicken) and later Windows 95. These provided impetus to get focused on computers again.
Eventually I ended up getting a job at Ford Credit World Headquarters as a desktop hopper, i.e. Office Automation PC support guy. While this didn't fit my real background it did fit my most recent "real" experience of helping customers make their computers work the way they expected them to when they bought them from me at Montgomery Wards. I spent several months solving lots and lots of trouble tickets (the hard ones, not the password resets) and actually learning the miracle we call networks pretty well mostly by using a network monitor on a Token Ring network watching clear text packets zipping around. Eventually I was pulled out of my desktop hopper job and told I was being promoted to being a planning analyst. I was now on the hook to design new systems and work out the kinks in the old systems that I was always bitching about the poor design of... It was in this capacity that I started playing with Windows NT 4 and decided never again would I play with Windows 95 or its cousins. Windows NT was designed from the ground up to network with other PC's and interact with multiple users, and started having the concept of security, this OS just felt right. Win9x was Windows 3.11 to me with a little better networking stuff tacked onto it and the best part of Windows 3.11 was DOS. Windows NT was built around the network, it was the network, I saw that it wasn't half bad. After a few years I graduated from running/planning things at the Financial Division and got a job running/planning things at the Corporate level for Ford Motor Company, particularly around Active Directory and corporate authentication and identity management but also involved in nearly all large scale Windows related projects like Messaging, etc. This was a considerable jump with lots of new good problems for me to solve. I did that at the Corporate level for about 5 years and finally said adios to Ford.
After leaving Ford I was convinced by an old Manager to come help him out. He was the head of the North America Messaging Services Tower of Hewlett-Packard in charge of various collaboration packages and End User Experience "things". He had me around as an expert-in-residence type position and worked with new technology, answered misc questions from any of his engineers in the many teams he had reporting to him and I spent some time getting dropped into "hot" accounts where little seemed to be going right and I had to try and figure out what was wrong. This was primarily centered around Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange but lots of other fun stuff cropped up as well.
Unfortunately my manager's "empire" was disassembled and I was moved to one of the more focused teams he used to own reporting to a new manager who primarily does AD and Identity Management Ops work for some of our trade customers. For the most part I didn't do Ops work, I was the "answer" guy who tried to figure things out. The last year I was with that group I ended up as the technical lead for one of the delivery teams for a large (75k users) dedicated trade account.
Alas change is constant and along those lines we bought a large IT services company (EDS) and of course that meant another series of re-orgs again and I was moved to the Global Information Security group in the Identity & Data Security Engineering group. Right away I was tossed onto a project to try and figure out the go forward strategy for our company and the company we purchased for Services work as well as consolidate our various Active Directory environments together. I did that for awhile and then when the company decided they had too many people and my manager needed to chop some heads, mine looked good to him because I was low man on the totem pole and I didn't really work on the stuff that he felt was important or relevant to his group. That was actually true, I worked on the stuff the company as a whole felt was important but that didn't fit the group oddly enough. I happened to have been moved into a group I had learned, that hated Microsoft and tried to ignore the existence of Active Directory, ADFS, etc and was basically hiding with two other guys who had the misfortune to understand the criticality of Microsoft software but being stuck on that team. So one day my manager's manager called me and let me know I had been laid off. It was my manager's manager because my manager was laid off a couple of hours before I was because he was deemed as unnecessary because the work his group did (which was entirely broken up eventually) really wasn't all that relevant to the overall company and its goals and direction. I will let you noodle over that one for a bit, I know I did for quite some time...
With the help of many friends who were outraged (that made me feel very good to see/hear that reaction) at my release and one particular friend I will call Guido who organized the outrage and channeled it into actionable emails I was eventually contacted by a group that actually worked on Active Directory deployments and I was brought in to be an Active Directory Engineer/Architect so that appeared to be a much better home for me.
I spent a couple of years working in that group and came to realize that I had more fun solving the really hard technical problems that our Operations and Ops Escalation folks had to tackle versus the documents and diagrams and quality management paperwork and seemingly random statistics we were measured on and associated with engineering. So I started working towards finding a new place to go to within the company. It took a lot of work but I finally got myself transferred and am very excited to tackle the new challenges under a manager that I never worked for, but did work with for some time. In one short week I start that new position which is taking me back to my roots as it is in America's Wintel Delivery Operations. I expect to be handling difficult escalations and hopefully working through how we delivery support and finding better ways and tools to do so.
Outside of all of that "real work" stuff
I am a technical reviewer for O'Reilly publishing having TR'ed
several of their Windows books and I have also done some TR work for
Addison-Wesley. I wrote a chapter about Exchange 2003 for the
O'Reilly book Windows Server 2003
Cookbook and that chapter was copied in great part to the
Active Directory Cookbook 2nd Edition.
I also updated the 2nd Edition of O'Reilly's
Active Directory to the 3rd Edition
which involved correcting a lot of incorrect material as well as
adding a bunch of new material including a chapter on Active
Directory Application Mode (ADAM) which was subsequently reworked
and put into the Active Directory
Cookbook 2nd Edition as well. Following that I was the primary reviewer
for Active Directory Fourth Edition and the Active Directory
Cookbook 3rd Edition.The writing took a lot of my time
and while it may appear to be glamorous and lucrative... it isn't.
:) I am certainly proud of my book but quite honestly, O'Reilly does
much better in the profit area on the books than the authors. I
haven't even gotten close to being reimbursed for my time I spent on
the book let alone making a profit. My next step in the authoring
world will be to self-publish something.
I field a lot of questions from people asking about the various *nix OSes. Like Linux or *BSD or MAC OS, etc. I think those operating systems are fine and run one or more at home for fun and have helped people with them in business. I think there are cases where they are not only better than Windows but infinitely better like for instance what Google has done. Additionally, the www.joeware.net site runs on either a BSD or Linux package (my provider is always changing things up) but that isn't a specific choice. I chose my web hosting based on cost and admin interface, not what they were running the websites on. If I had a problem with the *nix OSes, I wouldn't use them. I was working on UNIX well before working on Windows and didn't toss out my VI manual I picked up in 1988 until 2005 or so. That being said, I think Microsoft is doing a lot of right things and have more impetus and power to do more right things than many in the *nix-centric world want to admit. Also, quite frankly, the overzealous nature of many of the *nix people (bigots/zealots/what-not) really pushes me away from that community. Operating Systems are not religion. They are a tool to accomplish a goal. I think the issue is that some people give up the religion of a god but need to find something else to believe in with overwhelming faith to give them an excuse to attack others so they mistakenly chose an OS.
I think in the business world however, it will be very difficult to topple Microsoft with the Open Source solutions, especially anything with GNU licensing. GNU licensing scares the crap out of big business with intellectual property at stake and I don't agree that it encourages freedom. It forces you to give up something you worked hard on because someone else chose to share what they did. The fact that they chose to share shouldn't require you to do the same. You should share because you want to, not because you don't have the freedom not to. I will use GNU software but as of right now, I will not extend it no matter what great ideas I think I could offer. Anyway, if the toppling of Microsoft OSes in the business world should ever occur, I will simply move to the new great business OS and work on that. This is about computers as tools, not religion.
To be continued...