Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A reflection on almost 30 years in computing

As I approached the age of 40, I began to reflect on the almost 30 years I have been using computers (20 of which have been full-time in the IT industry). I enumerated, in my head, the things I have seen and done in during this time. I'd like to share a few with you.

The following is a chronological timeline of the last 30 years. Hopefully some of you will remember some of this. For the younger crowd, I've provided links so you can learn some history.

1984: Began learning and writing Commodore Basic on the Commodore 64 (C64). This taught me how much I enjoyed solving problems.
1984: I began running a Bulletin Board System (BBS) on the C64. The data rate was a blistering 300 bps. This taught me about system administration, telecommunications, and various aspects of the public switched networks.
1985: My parents installed a dedicated phone line in my room. This allowed me to move off of the main house line and run my BBS 24/7. I never, ever used it for voice. It was always data. That's how much of a nerd I was.
1986: Started using QuantumLink, an online service (like AOL back in the day) for C64 users.
1986: Started using PC Pursuit. This was a service offered over Telenet (No, not Telnet!). It was quite cool.
1991: Got my first Intel-based PC.
1993: Began working as the night mainframe operator at a credit union.
1993: I installed my first Linux distribution on a 486 PC. It was a Slackware distribution on 40+ 3.5" floppy disks.
1993: I first used the NCSA Mosaic application to start "browsing" something called the World Wide Web (WWW). This was on a SunSPARC machine running OpenWindows. NOTE: other X Windows based window managers I've had the pleasure of using include CDE / Motif, Andrew (not technically X Windows), GNOME and others. Prior to the WWW we used Gopher, FTP, Usenet news groups and others for information gathering and sharing.
1994: Wrote my first commercial business application, i.e. I got paid for writing some code.
1995: Started working at a regional Internet Service Provider (ISP) in Pensacola, FL, called The Gulf Coast Internet Company (GCIC). GCIC provided residential and commercial dial-up, Web hosting, ISDN, etc., to customers from Destin, FL to Mobile, AL. I did everything including tech support, system administration, network engineering, Web server configuration, network management, telco management, and programming.
1995: Learned about something called the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which became my focus area for the next five years.
1995: Was first exposed to Java via the HotJava Web Browser.
1995: Learned Perl by writing some applications for GCIC.
1997: Moved to Atlanta to work for a national ISP, MindSpring, in the Network Operations Center (NOC). Four months after starting I moved into a software development role.
2000: Y2K came and went.
2001: First technical book was published.
2001: Hired by three founders to help build one of the first commercially viable Security Information Event Management (SIEM) platforms. I built the log data collection, normalization, store-and-forward and analysis portions of the product.
2005: Second edition of my first book was published.
2005: Worked for an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) company where I helped maintain the core engine and the anti-virus subsystem.
2005: Went to work for SecureWorks, a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP).
2011: Dell Bought SecureWorks and we became Dell SecureWorks.
2012: After working on it off-and-on for 7 years, second technical book was published.
2013: Third technical book will get published (it's in progress).
2013: Invention gets approval to become a US patent; listed as co-inventor.
2014: Who knows? But the beach is definitely calling my name.


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