OK, So I don't have a self portrait yet. Tight budget and other important stuff like car insurance and kid's braces take precedence over photo development.
Born January 9, 1961 in Springfield Illinois to Harold Wayne and Carol Jean Laswell. I have to admit it but I do have a sister Lisa Anne but we won't discuss her unusual ways here. Let's just say I think she inherited my Mom's family side of the joyful craziness. I believe she may of passed it on to my kids but time will tell whether or not I can influence them myself.
I like to say I was born in Illinois and raised in Michigan. I
spent what I feel were my formative years (7-14) in Mason MI just south
capital Lansing. I had fun at school and Boy Scouts. It seems just
time I was to get my First Class badge they changed the rules and I had
re-earn my Tenderfoot and Second class badges again. I never got past
Class again because I was having too much fun camping and
canoeing in the great outdoors and helping the troop perform community
In the Bicentennial year Dad got a job working for the USDA and we moved the the Nation's capital. I felt it was cool to be near the country's roots during it's 200th birthday.
High School: Glenelg High School. Graduated in the top Fifth of the class and excelled in Band, Choir and Math.
Vocational Tech School: I spent 2 summers and half each day of my Senior year at Howard Vo-Tech where I studied Data Processing. It all started when I was looking toward another boring summer. The summer school program offered to introduce me to keypunching which I felt could land me a good job. This is where I was first introduced to RPG and Cobol.
Junior College: I started taking classes at Howard Community College in my Junior year in High School to persue my love of Computer Programming. It was tough re-learning Cobol in a structured programming fashion but in the end I believe it helped my career. At the end of my senior High School year I was informed that I had been granted a scholarship to HCC. One semester project I took on was to write an 8085 emulator in Fortran. I started it after revisiting my old faithful 8080 bug book I purchased while I was in High School. Another project was a simple calculus differential program. It recognized algebra expressions and expanded them into differentials and attempted to reduce the expressions to something more manageable. I based it on my first 2 semesters of Calculus. I was a little intimidated by the teacher in my first day of full time college when he stated that the pre-requisites for the course was his pre-calc course at the college. I listened to his description of the course and finally felt that the pre-testing during admission had placed me in the Calculus course correctly. I graduated HCC with an AA in Computer Science. I wanted to take the Data Processing course because it didn't require the 2 semesters of Accounting and other courses not directly related to programming but my counselors said it wouldn't transfer fully to a 4-Year college like the Computer Science degree would.
4-Year College: University of Maryland Baltimore Campus was closest to home and had a good Information Systems program. I was influenced at Vo-Tech to persue a Data Processing degree instead of Computer Science because "DP majors earn more money." My love was Computer Science because of programming so every elective I was allowed I took a CompSci course. In the end I graduated with a BS in Information Systems with a certificate in Operations Research. Operations Research was a byproduct since it was only 2 more courses over my already full math regime.
Howard County Library: I started working as a Page putting books back on the shelves soon after I recieved my driver's license. A library was perfect for one like me who loved to read.
Montgomery General Hospital: Started in 79 after graduating High School. I worked in House Keeping cleaning floors, offices, Operating Rooms and beds. This job paid for my books at HCC and my first semester at UMBC. I kept a position at MGH working weekends till after I was married in 83.
Social Security Administration: I landed this job while attending UMBC which I started in 1981. My official title was "Peripheral Equipment Operator" but it was the ultimate paper pusher job. I literaly took stacks of paper from the rows of printers and delivered (pushed) them to other areas in the building. Towards the end of my career at SSA I got to work in the bursting room. It was a room surrounded with sound deadening tiles and held decolators and bursting machines. The 6 part decolater could separate up to 6 parts of paper at a time. When it jammed you had to stop it quick or your job would take twice as long to complete. The bursting machines separated forms and when things worked right you could keep 2 running at a time. This was where I got my most experience with different types of computer equipment: Offline and online Printers, Tape Drives, Bursting Equipment and disk drives. The second half of my career at SSA was spent in the New Computer Center. This building was built around computers. It had a room full of batteries on the bottom floor for the UPS. Above that there was 1 floor for consoles and printers, 1 floor for tape drives, 1 floor for CPU's and disk drives and 1 floor for computer programmers. Working the midnight to 8:00 shift I could work a full work week and attend college during the day. It made those 12 noon classes tough but I made it. Working that shift I was able to get a couple special commendations because I would work during snow storms when the building was officially closed.
Hasson, Wilkerson and Associates: Tom Hasson consulted for the firm my mom worked for. She was able to get me a job interview which started me as a Computer Programmer of IBM's midrange series. I first got re-aquainted with RPG on H&W's small IBM System 34 then was moved to Greenspring Dairy where I converted programs to run on Greenspring's System 38. While at Greenspring Dairy I became re-aquainted with my keypunch background and learned little programming tricks in helping data entry clerks do their jobs quicker and more accurately. I also refined my understanding of tape drives and tape file formats. One project I was proud of was to take a disk to tape dump from a DEC system and recover the data to be read by the System 38.
Filterite/Memtec America Corp/US Filter/Vivendi: While at H&W I started getting calls from the dreaded head hunters. I refused their offers until I got at least a year and half under my belt. My first interview was with Filterite who offered to double my original salary which I jumped at and never looked back. My first project was to rewrite the order entry application. After spending a week or two in the Customer Service department I began to roll code for the System 38. I was the first in the MIS department to get a PC XT and was soon helping accountants with their spreadsheets and writing simple basic programs to help other areas of production. Filterite, a part of Brunswick's Technetic division was sold to Memtec after Brunswick decided they wanted to focus on their recreation divisions. The change of hands promised some new blood in managment and fresh cash to fuel the business. Mike Glynn soon became the president and pushed the company on to new Research and Development which has helped Memtec America grow ever since. As PC's became more prevalent through out the corporation I was called on more and more to help users in other departments with their computers. A network was introduced and soon spread throughout the growing number of buildings in Timonium. About that time we converted to an IBM AS/400. After a couple conversion projects from MAPICS to BPCS my job functions began to turn from strictly "mainframe" programming to PC regulation and maintenance. Now besides experience in AS/400 programming, Security and administration I have aquired experience in working with Windows NT Servers and TCP/IP Networks and routers. When Memtec started beating US Filter at the bidding table US Filter decided to aquire Memtec. They really wanted the Memcor side of the business for their Water Technology group. The Filterite side I stayed with was just extra cash generating assets. About a year later Vivendi from France bought US Filter to get the US business. Since then I have learned a lot more about working inside very large multi-site corporations and having to deal with connecting LANs to larger WANs.
As technology has evolved I have become more and more involved with our Lotus notes installation. I have grown into the Notes Administration side of things and have even been able to take some Notes Administration and programming courses. I have kept up with things by being able to attend the occasional LotusSphere convention.
Another technology I have grown into is Web site administration. Because of the TCP/IP background I get to handle internal DNS servers and converse with ISP's who host external DNS names for us. I have become familiar with firewall, authentication and VPN technologies also as they are thrust upon me. I have even supported the hosting of web sites and a little web programming.
Pall Corp:In November 01 Vivendi announced that they were going to carry thru with their plans to sell off the non-environmental elements it got when buying US Filter. That included Filterite who doesn't neccesarily restrict itself to water purification. We used to consider PALL a competitor but they didn't think so. After the dust settled they closed all the sales offices and some were offerred jobs with PALL distributors. Filterite has all but disappeared but the hard workers are still in the trenches trying to improve the bottom line. Things are different with Pall. Responsibilities are more centralized so my Notes Administration and network know how is dwindling. I'm learning more about Cisco products but being centrally managed I'm just an extra set of eyes and fingers. I was able to put together some older routers and upgrade our local WAN links to all Cisco products so if I need help from Corporate they don't have to work with old Motorola equipment.
Another era began with MAPICS. Yes again. By 2004 we were told that we had to come into the Corporate Standard of using MAPICS and it would be centralized inan offsite system. We began the conversion back to MAPICS while we were also trying to use up our USF vacation. My boss couldn't/wouldn't use his vacation and decided to retire after the conversion before he lost his vacation time. He retired just before Sarbanes and Oxley (SOX) really messed things up. Mind you, we ran a pretty tight IT shop but SOX was a programmer's worst nightmare. The PC side of the SOX audit was easy, a hassle, but we made it through. Yes the PC guys had to deal with SOX because accountants used the servers so the servers were accessed and protected had to be audited for SOX compliance. The nice thing about being managed by a corporate office is they then have the responsibility for things they manage. The extra procedures developed were no hassle and essentially gave more structure to our responsiblities. The AS/400 side of the shop fared worse. We aren't just programmers. When you run a shop of 4 people or less everyone is operations. In a traditional sense of business Programmers/Developers should not have access to the Live side of the business. They get to play in the sandbox all day. But Computer Operations do have access to the live side of the business. They help run the business. That is where we got hurt the most. Now our operations job got a lot harder because we have to go into the closet, change hats then come back out as operators. Once we finish we are back into the Programmer role. We also have to document everything we do and get every piece of paper signed then filed away for the auditors. Programmers write code, documentation is useless code that never gets executed.
Photography: I purchased a Minolta 35mm SLR and have always loved to take pictures when time and money permits. I still have the SLR but it hasn't work reliably since I dropped it a dozen feet or so. Now I own a Sony DSC S50 and hope to be putting more pictures on the website as time and space permit.
Model Railroad: I started playing with N-Scale model trains and always dreamed of a large layout but never got that far.
Computers: I purchased my first computer, a TI 99/4a Home computer late in my college career. I promised myself after getting my 4 year degree I would never go back to college until I had a word processor. My TI served me well during my 2 post-graduate courses on networks. It got me into online services and computer games. In 1992 I was able to purchase a PC compatible. It was a 386 clone that I purchased for just over $2000. Later it was upgraded to a 486/DX4-100 with a 3D PCI video card. It acutally ran MS Flight Simulator reasonably. In an effort to squeeze another frame per second I tried a BIOS upgrade. It failed and I had to purchase a Pentium 166/MMX motherboard and processor. This has served me quite well. The kids games encourage me to upgrade a component almost every year. It currently has a 40x CD-ROM, 40Gb hard drive and 128Mb of memory. To feed my growing Linux fascination I purchased a $100 used Compaq Prolinea and have upgraded it with a hard drive and a CD-RW for backup. In the ever quest for speed I purchased the components to put together a 3rd computer for the house. It was a 1.2Ghz Athalon Thunderbird with 256Mb of memory. Next as my network of computers began to grow the old P166 was too slow for the kids so I upgraded my Athalon to an XP2700 with 1Gb of memory and gave the 1.2Ghz system to the kids. My mother-in-law couldn't stand her 800Mhz Celeron so it was reformated and became the son's computer while the daughter took the thunderbird. A year later the son needed more to support for his growing fascination with PC games so we put together an XP2800 for him. I'm going to need another hub for the network soon.
Flight Simulator: As soon as I got my 1.2Ghz computer together I started looking for MS Flight Simulator 2000 but it had pulled off the shelves because of 9/11/01 concerns and the pending release of FS2002. When I finally found a site I could pre-order FS2002 it was mine. I have since joined a Virtual Airline. See the menu bar for more info on that hobby of mine. The XP2700 had all the memory and fast video card to handle FS2002. After a hard disk crash late in 2004 I decided it was time to upgrade to FS2004. The hardware could still handle it.
Genealogy: After I got my computer I was always looking for something to organize with it. I became interested in tracing my family after attending a couple family reunions. Since then I have been given a copy of PAF (Personal Ancestral File) and some pretty heavy research by a couple uncles. I hope to one day improve my father in law's simple family list to the same level of my uncle's professional looking research. I'm getting more aquainted with all the resources available on the web and have added a few ancestors every year. The latest tool is a Palm Pilot running GEDPALM to take my database with me where ever I visit (cemetaries, libraries and Genealogy Society meetings). Hopefully with the resurrection of my family website I can post some simple trees here.
Last updated 7/22/02