Questions & Answers

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always had a love for technology, and truly enjoy learning new information and passing my knowledge to others to solve problems.

What do you truly enjoy working on?

I enjoy writing scripts to automate processes, because it produces consistent results  and saves time in the long run. I get a great sense of accomplishment whenever I use one of my scripts.  I’ve honed my toolset to include logging and error checking to maximize the success rate when a script is deployed to hundreds of machines, and to identify the cause when it doesn’t achieve the desired results.  I have also developed a collection of scripts that run from my workstation and reach out to the networked systems for results.  This gives real time results, apart from the delayed results that SCCM provides.  When time is critical, or a lot of machines are causing user issues, this can be a real asset.

Where does your experience come from?

I set my foundation by attending many certified Microsoft courses, as well as courses from other vendors. Because I was a trainer, I needed to learn the material at the deepest level so I could present it in a classroom and online.  I have always have a thirst for knowledge, and thrive when I am passing information along to others, including customers and coworkers.

Have you worked with servers much?

Yes, I have used, supported, and provided training for Windows servers from the early days of Windows, and ever since. Although my job roles often indicate desktop responsibility, they have always had some crossover into the server realm.  I always have servers at my house, which allows me to try out new ideas and technologies.
I began using Virtual Servers early on, and continue using both VMWare and Hyper-V virtualization to get the most bang for the buck with servers.  At one time, I was an online trainer, using VMWare systems as lab machines for students across the Internet.  I also implemented virtual machines at a mortgage company, providing remote access for offshore employees.

What are you working on right now?

I am enhancing SortKing, which is a digital photo utility for moving files from a camera or SIM card to folders which are named for the date stamp on the photos. This organizes photos based on when the picture was taken so they can easily be found.

I am also adding features to MUSCE, which is my home grown multi-threaded engine for running AutoIt, VBScript, WMI, LDAP and PowerShell scripts against whatever systems are in the input list.  Most recently, I added  a feature to pull the list of systems from an SCCM collection, and I plan to also pull from an SCCM deployment list.  I might add an Active Directory container as well to round out the feature, but I’m not sure if that will really be useful to me in the long run.

MUSCE is really interesting and powerful, because in a few minutes I can write a script (using AutoIt, VBScript or PowerShell) and immediately run the script in a robust, logged, multithreaded engine with immediate results.  The results are instantly available in an Excel spreadsheet, which the managers love.  I suppose that some day I might release it for public use, but that has a lot of baggage, so right now it’s my personal secret weapon. I can literally be given a question about installed software, hardware, registry values, etc. , and provide a spreadsheet with the real-time results from 1000 machines within 30 minutes.

What tools do you use?

I use Camtasia for creating videos, and Notepad++ for editing script files and web pages. I script using AutoIt, which is ideal for small utility programs.  I also use VBA in Excel for highly portable utilities.  WMIExplorer is great for peering into the WMI  namespaces.  There’s also Process Explorer for viewing running processes and killing tasks, Windows Grep for searching through files.  And of course SSMS for SQL, SCCM for system management,  and the various MMC snap-ins for Active Directory, group policy, computer management, IIS, and all that Microsoft stuff.

Can you describe a recent VB project?

A smart Excel spreadsheet for performing LDAP queries.  Let me explain.  One of my roles was to request certain internal services to be enabled for our external customers. A tedious part was to verify the services were provisioned.  We would have to open a JSON test page, populate the various fields, and submit them one-by-one.
Because I was restricted from using other scripting languages, I chose to use VBA and Excel.  The script went through a worksheet of names and passwords, and used a web connection and JSON to make a request and validate the results.  It would go through hundreds of tests in minutes, and save the results in another page of the workbook.  Compare this to a single test taking several minutes using the manual method, and you can understand the value of the script.

Do you know about web site management?

I’ve been developing and hosting websites for many years. I understand the entire process, including DNS registration and hosting, and hosting the sites on Windows Servers.  The custom application I developed for my Webcastia company was entirely web-based, and my recent position at Iron Mountain was in support of a .Net application that ran on customer’s servers.

What about SQL databases?

I’ve worked with SQL in many forms, including Microsoft SQL and MySQL.  The databases have served as the backend to the web applications, so I’ve performed the basic backup/restore processes, and written many SQL queries.

Do you know about optimization?

Yes. Any operating system will have bottlenecks, and I know how to use performance monitoring utilities to locate the cause of slow performance and recommend changes to streamline a system.

It sounds like you’ve done a lot – is there anything else to include?

I’ve done my share of virus removal, data recovery and the other types O.S. issues that you see when you work on thousands of desktops and servers. I’ve also worked with hardware, and rewired the wiring closets where the routers are running.
The list could get really long, but we don’t have all day, so let’s just say there’s a lot that I’m leaving out.  Broadly, I have customer service, presentation, and technical skills.

What is your biggest challenge in finding a new opportunity?

I think the biggest challenge is to craft a resume that truly reflects my advanced capabilities, while targeting the work I want to do and including the right buzzwords for the search engines to find. Because I’ve been in the same industry for so long, and so many changes have come about, I’ve seen a lot, and accomplished a lot.  Unfortunately, the industry wants to hire based on job titles or specific technologies.  It’s a challenge to reach someone who recognizes the need for a skilled generalist to take care of the variety of issues that many positions encounter.

Technologies change so rapidly that it’s tough to stay absolutely up-to-the minute current with every technology that I find interesting.  Given a chance, I will learn what’s needed is a short time, and become more productive than expected.

Here’s an example: I’ve worked a lot in desktop support, so recruiters often contact me when a desktop support opportunity comes around.  But if the position is for someone with less experience, I take a pass while waiting for a more advanced opening.  When an advanced opening comes around, the title can vary – it’s almost never “desktop support” – but landing the position can give me an opportunity to truly excel at an advanced level.  Once in place, I can manage servers and networks, create technical documentation and videos, and hold training sessions that would be beyond the capabilities of a less experienced “desktop” technician.

A phrase that I’ve said more than once is “I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.”  What I mean is, once people find out what I can do, they come up with so many tasks that it’s overwhelming.  For that reason, I sometimes have to be careful not to take on too much once I’m established in a position.

What programming languages have you used?

OK, now I need to think way back.  I’ll break it down into a couple of categories, although of course there has been some overlap.

Hobby: Basic, Assembly, GraForth, Pascal (Turbo, BCSD), Borland Framework, C

School: Fortran, Cobol, microcode, Smalltalk

Professional:  Novell Login Script, DBase, FoxPro, MySQL, MS-SQL, Batch, VBA, VBscript, Perl, JavaScript, Powershell, AutoIT