There’s a meme going around that I thought I’d take my turn at answering.

Better late than never I suppose, Work always seems to have a way of getting in the way of posts like this!

It all started with a CAT3 cable

It all started on a dark night in the middle 90’s, I was enrolled in college sitting in my dorm room trying to connect my brand spanking new Pentium 133mhz computer to our college network so I could partake in what was at that time a huge LAN group playing Warcraft/Diablo/Duke Nukem.  The problem was no one on the campus apparently knew how to connect to the network, yes it was a smallish campus.  The only piece of guidance that could be found was in the welcome doc.  “Network connectivity can be established in the bookstore”  after contacting the bookstore and procuring the required 10baseT network card (~175$) they basically said, take this wire and plug it in the wall, everything else will work automatically.  Well, even today we know things rarely work that easily.   The cable that was sold to me by the bookstore was a regular phone cable because apparently the bookstore managers didn’t know any better, it wasn’t their fault though since the public campus network was less than a year old at that point.  Somehow I spent enough time trying to get the correct table that I was lucky enough to get hooked up with the “campus nerd” who happened to live in the dorm 1 floor above me.  He set me straight, told me where to get the required cable and handed me a scribbled list with the required connection info.  Many late nights and much tinkering later I was successfully connected.  Being the natural tinkerer I shortly figured out all about the network and what it took to get win 3.1 and 95 connected.  Shortly, I became the “campus nerd” and when it was apparent to me that I was naturally inclined with computers, and not so much with coursework I wasnt inerested in, I quickly gave up school and began bartering computer work.

Then there was a book

A short while later I had landed a job as an all around network guy.  I was doing everything and anything for a relatively small business.  One day my boss proudly announced we were going to be getting a new server with a Database (SQL 6.5)!  Apparently we had outgrown our existing business systems and the decision had been made to install what was essentially a combined financial/payroll system.  A few short months later, in the middle of a payroll processing cycle our SQL server decided to do what SQL 6.5 did quite often, it got corrupted.  Since I had a grand total of 4 months experience in SQL a consultant was called in and she fixed our problem.  More importantly she brought with her a copy of the latest and greatest SQL book and as luck would have it, she left it behind.  For the next 6 months I studied that book inside and out.  A “database geek” was born

Finally, a chance meeting

In 2004 I was attending my first precon (given by Kimberly Tripp) at my first PASS Summit when I was looking for some lunch and happened to sit with 2 guys, Pat Wright and Tom Larock that are to this day two of my closest PASS friends.  There is little doubt that the experience of meeting these 2 and attending the volunteer “roundup” lead by Wayne Snyder has had a profound impact on my career (this blog is a testament to that impact).  A “volunteer geek” was born.  Being a volunteer for PASS and participating in the SQL Server community has taken my skills up at least 2 notches, for that I am thankful.

These are the technical moments of my life that led me here, since I’m nearly the last one to answer this, I thought id go ahead and tag my friend Pat Wright since I noticed he hadn’t answered yet.  Otherwise, I have enjoyed reading everyone else’s paths to a very similar outcome!

Photo Courtesy of Darren Hester