Howdy my friend!
HotUnix has been my Internet domain since 1999 and my license plate since 2003 (I am a big fan of FreeBSD and open source Unix tools). And it means much more...
I (bgk) had always studied materials science and never received formal education or training in computer-related studies, except one graduate-level course in Computing Algorithms in the mid eighties in China. However I was thrilled by time-sharing and multi-tasking on PDP-11, for electron microscopic imaging and simulation, and became a part-time PDP-11 administrator as a "reward" after I spent a full summer month looking and fighting for its missing printer at the Beijing airport customs and other bureaucracies. I realized this old concept of time-sharing has now turned into Cloud Computing thanks to the Internet.
My fascination with Remote Digital Communications dates back to the early nineties when I went to the US for PhD studies in materials science. I was totally taken by the then evolving Internet and had so much fun exploring (sometimes exploiting) the Bitnet, RS/6000, Unix-to-Unix talk, inter-campus NFS, USENET, etc. The newsgroups got me addicted, especially the one and only one in Chinese, Alt.Chinese.Text, as I once loved writing as a child. The addiction turned into months of sleep-deprived nights spent on computer/internet while waiting for annealed material samples to slowly cool down in the vacuum chamber. It eventually got me in DEEP health trouble, leading to schizophrenia of unknown type (Internet was new and language was foreign, to diagnosing doctors) followed by bipolar (I don't remember exactly) depression. Thanks to the support from family, doctors and my professor (!...) in particular, I managed to graduate and tried to carry on. However my life had become a roller coaster and my career path changed forever.
I was fortunate enough to be able to pursue what I loved after moving to Canada in 1997, and to be exposed to and inspired by some early-Internet talents, in addition to the technologies available to me. These people include tfreak, Robert T. Morris, John Sidgmore, and my genius professor who coded for everything, just to name a few. The first ISP (Internet Service Provider) I used in Canada was GlobalServe Communications, one of the best at the time. Their shell, uucp and irc services offered me a lot of comfort, and one night at 2am I went to pick up my customer diskettes and saw their servers and racks...soon I became their employee doing tech support.
Not only did I learn finishing each customer on the phone (some were grandparents) within 8 minutes and to their satisfaction (I called this my paid English language training!), but I also picked up system admin, shell scripting and CGI (encouraged by tfreak's 16-year-old pal). I created my own converter in Unix shell between Hex, Decimal and Octal (with help from a GE employee on Usenet). I then wrote a web-based chatroom completely in shell and CGI, just for the fun of it. Eventually I overcame the dread of installing FreeBSD with a dialup connection after I quit this first job in 1998 (thanks to the help of Mr. Pastircak, another immigrant friend).
More excitement was awaiting me around Canadian Thanksgiving 1998 - I started the dream tech job with UUNET, or Unix-to-Unix Network, the world's first commercial ISP providing the global Internet backbone, and I caught the last golden days of the dotcom boom. I was part of Network Ops and had the unrivaled opportunity to learn all the Internetworking secrets and how-to's...plus the once-in-a-lifetime experience with privileged access (# prompt) on the international backbone Cisco routers. We set up and operated true Internet VPNs, across countries and continents. Every tool and product was on Unix, including the graphic ones! SSH tunneling and port forwarding, and document revision control (co -l and ci -u), were all amazing and exciting...
This dream job also healed me mentally to a large extent, and paved my way to the next level of career growth in future years into consulting, client service and cyber security, both in private and public sectors. I always feel lucky I made this practical (albeit difficult) choice of switching directions while I was trying to recover my life staring into my computer screen...
Thanks for reading and, feel free to browse around to see what I am up to. Your comments and feedback are always welcome!