Nerds Unplugged 4 Eve

So tomorrow I leave for Nerds Unplugged to spend a weekend disconnected from anything of the computer variety.  Well, besides the iPod… and occasional cell phone call.  But for the most part, “unplugged”.

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be in the business that I am in, talking nerd talk and writing code… I probably would have crapped myself in laughter.  I always say this, but in high school… I paid people to type up my research papers.  I would write them and all, but I HATED computers so much that I would pay some one each time I needed one typed up.

By the age of 19 I finally owned my own computer.  I remember getting it and I couldn’t wait because it had the “internet”.  Little did I know you had to buy the internet and have it hooked up and then you “had” the internet.  I pulled it out of the box, jumped on it and was thinking I would just be on this magical thing called internet.

Obviously… not the case.

When I finally did get online… I didn’t know what to do on it.  Back 8-9 years ago the internet wasn’t what it is today.  I had a dialup connection, so was slower than molasses in winter.  Still, it was internet.

I remember looking up lyrics to music, playing some games… but really and truly, the internet was overrated to me back then.  I did download my first chat program (ICQ) and started chatting with some friends from back home.  That was pretty cool I thought.

A few years later, Napster was the big thing – downloading thousands of songs on dialup was a big deal.  It took time to get those songs and I was proud of my achievements.  I started making music on my computer and getting into digital imaging.  I spent time with Photoshop and fixed pictures that people wanted restored.  I guess it started me on my way to the graphic work I do these days.

After stumbling around and around from job to job – I ended up at a place called Onetravel.com.  I was hired as a “tester” or quality assurance analylist.  Basically I was paid to break the website and report my findings.  I had online skills now from all the music downloads and chatting I did… so breaking stuff was a great way to get my foot in the door with an IT related company.

I found QA to be easy, and I excelled at it fairly quickly.  I learned as much as I could from anyone that would teach me and before long… I was moving up in the world of OneTravel.  In about a year’s time I had an opportunity to do some coding and get my feet wet in a huge rebuild of the hotel portion of the website… which I jumped on.  I met a guy that teached me probably more than anyone in regards to programming & development – Benny CornettHe was funny as hell and he had patience if you were willing to learn and work hard.

I was willing and worked hard.

We spent many long days rebuilding that hotel engine.  I can not tell you how many times we left work at 2-3 in the morning after being there since 8AM.  Day after day.  But finally, we released and it was all worth it. 

I was moved up to a developer position around the same time, something that amazed me because I had never expected to be involved in computers to begin with… and here I was a freakin’ programmer.  But… I had done the work and deserved it.

I moved up rather quickly from that point.  My salary doubled in about a year & a half’s time.  Life was going great.  I met my beautiful wife at OneTravel, as she was a data entry person and we began to see more and more of each other.  I remember one of my co-workers saying to me…

Bruce – “Your dating Mashala huh?”

Me – “Yeah”

Bruce – “Your going to marry that girl, I just know it.”

Me – “Whatever Bruce.”

About 6 months later I had asked her to marry me and we had a date set for 6 months after that.  Guess Bruce was right.  Freakin’ Boston.

So once again, having not even expected to be involved in computers in the first place… just think my suprise that I met my wife from my involvement in computers. 

Met a ton of folks at OneTravel.  A guy named Buster started working for OT as well and he taught me so much about search engines and how all of it worked.  He is probably one of the smartest & most business-minded people you will ever meet.  I would just listen to him and wonder

“How the hell does he know all this crap, he must be just making it up.”

Then I would look it up… sure enough, he was right.  Awesome programmer as well…

Like I said before I knew some Photoshop, but really didn’t start honing in on my skills until I had to use them more and more.  There was a graphics guy at OneTravel that seemed nice enough and started giving me pointers and tips and before long my skillset jumped dramatically.  That graphics guy was Tim, and we are still friends to this day.  As much of us are from OT.  Tim & I discuss everything from politics, health, football and everything else you can think of almost every day on email.  Funny how we all continue to be semi-involved in each others lives from our chance meeting.

OneTravel quickly turned into a disaster.  New people, new bosses… no one listened and it was a big ass-kissing contest that most of us were not really that into.  We had built the foundation and then other folks were taking it and screwing it up.  I was “laid off”, which later meant I was fired and replaced.  And then the mass-exodus started.  Everything eventually got out of there and the company actually sold for a big $ amount.

I bounced around doing computer work for the next couple years, building sites and doing stuff on my own.  Eventually I took up a job at a local web design place… which turned out to be another joke, but pushed me into my current situation.  Funny how crap works like that.  I had went to that place because another OneTravel co-worker was working there, Corey – and he said it was pretty cool.  We both left and went to work for our current employer and the rest is history.

Here I sit.  Several websites under my belt that I have done on my own.  Several companies that I worked for and now I can say I have over 6 years of experience in web development.  I have sold some of my sites now.  Trying to refocus on this one and my current job.  My wife has stood behind all my decisions and let me tell you… trying to find web work in this area we are in… is tough.  She still… stood by.  Lots of people would not have done that.  That’s love people!

Same with my friends.  Buster, Benny, Tim… Corey… Maabadi… all of the OneTravel folks still stay in touch.  In fact, Benny, Buster & myself created Nerds Unplugged and it brings us together each year for a long weekend.  With everyone spread out across Texas these days… it allows us to catch up and relax.

So tomorrow we head down for Nerds Unplugged 4.  What a hell of a ride to get there.  Hope everyone has a safe & enjoyable weekend.  I know I will.

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