Walking Softly

Walking Softly

by Dave Curtis on 05/05/2013

in Working SEO

dave-drivewayI actually went to college to learn network engineering and have been a full time professional in that field, computers, web, SEO, web video, photography, routers and subnets, binary and hexadecimal, compiling and decompiling, packaging and deploying and a little bit of PHP and CSS for over 13 years now. But that was after nearly fifteen years of  actually using the things starting back in the days of the Commodore 64 and TI99-4A. The longer I’m in this business the more pronounced 2 things become. The first is my amazement of the seriousness of people who want to engage me in conversation and impress me with memorized lists or model numbers, CPU speeds and a lot of other crap. The second is my disbelief at when clients stand behind me offering suggestions and analysis of what problems really are and ho to solve them (and can I please go to their homes and hook up their Uninterrupted Power Supply because that’s too hard for them.) 😀

Back around 2002 when I was a network administrator at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum I used to review a few hundred applicant resume/cover letters a month, choose the best, and train a few dozen interns a few times a year who were just graduating from various computer schools in Manhattan. And as we have a lot of weekend media events on the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier and attached Pier, the job meant paid weekends at time and a half almost every Friday evening, and all day Saturdays and Sundays. Not bad for an intern’s first pop right out of school.

One guy was a programmer. I told him I wanted him to sit down and program Microsoft Word from scratch. After I assured him he’d heard me right he proceeded to sit at the keyboard and (with a very insecure look on his face) slowly peck away. After my partner and I laughed our asses off I apologized and took him on as an intern. I don’t know why he put up with that but he did, so I always treated him with regard and sought out his input after that.

A second guy came in, and his test was to check out a Computer and install Windows on it. Day one. No luck… My partner finally gave him a clue: “Does it have a power supply in it?” The prospective intern put in a power supply. …a few more hours… My partner again: “Does it have a video card in it?” (Turning red, the prospective intern puts in video card)… Again. Another hour goes by and finally… “Does it have any RAM inside?” The day was over. We both were having a ball watching this guy shifting from foot to foot, pretending to think and wanted to see how far this we could take this, so we told him we would see him in the morning, and thank you for coming, you’re doing fine. After all, he’s only an intern, we don’t want to crush his ego – we want to give him a chance to gain experience so he can become useful and get a job, even if it’s only helpdesk directing calls to the people who actually know how to do the work.

The next day it started again. Turning it over and upside down, right-side up again, open the CD drawer and put the Windows XP installation disk inside… So this time I asked the question: Does it have a hard drive?

The intern looked up quizzically and without saying a word (the whole time he was there he never said a word) he headed for the door as casually as a guy who’d left his lunch bag in the other room and never came back. I seriously thought he had just remembered he had to use the bathroom for a minute when he left, otherwise I’d have called him back and had him sit there as an intern and study his books some more. Whatever would help the most.

It’s too bad he left. He was fun.

One thing about interns that astounded me was the way they acted sitting around our office before we’d either be sending them out to the various offices on the ship to work on minor desktop problems or help us run CAT5 to expand our network to reach up onto the flight deck or to the booths set up on the pier or the wireless extenders use POE (power over ethernet) repeaters to increase the range of the credit card taking tablets so people from the ships ticket sales could sell them to the thousands of people on line waiting to get in and make things run more efficiently, etc…

One thing about these interns was listening to them sitting around in a circle telling old war stories about the things they had done. You would swear by listening to them bullshit that they had years of experience. They must have picked this stuff up from their instructors in school. Then we’d take them out and our first crimp job they’d all gather round and pull out their little notbooks and pens: “orange-white, orange, green-white, blue, blue-white, green, brown-white, brown” …and so the days went.

So now that I own my own company I deal with a lot of people who try to explain things to me about computers, about networks and servers, about websites and SEO, and mind you, they’re all total geniuses – no schooling in any of it, no experience, no talent, but they know all of this “shit” and and want to instruct me on how to do my job… And you know what? Sometimes I let them just to see the looks on their faces. As a consultant I believe in walking softly and in giving a piece of advice calmly a few times if it wasn’t heard clearly enough the first time. Or as my partner might have said “Is that a square peg you’re trying to pound into that round hole?”

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