Meet GeekNation’s Tech Expert Andrew Solmssen

By August 24, 2012
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Hello GeekNation, I’m Andrew.

Art by Paige Weldon

The people that run this fine establishment have asked me to write a little ditty for them once a week on the delights and drags that make my nerd brain light up like I was bidding quatloos on a thrall. This has delighted me, and I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself.

I’m an IT guy from way back. I’ve tickled keyboards that talked to TRS-80s, Apple ][+s, and even a Vaxen or two. My Slashdot ID is 9448. I’ve copied that floppy, downloaded that program, and even written one or two. Along the way, I’ve kept PC XTs, ATs and 386s up and running, managed a Netware 286 network, bridged Appletalk to TCP/IP on a Kinetics FastPath so my Mac Pluses could talk to a Sun 3/60, and built a Slackware Linux box to be my first webserver. Somewhere after that I learned to love and/or loathe Windows 3.1, Windows NT, Windows 95 and 98 and ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, Windows Server 2003, 2008 and now 2012. I’ve built more PCs than I can count, and paid $800 for a 30MB hard drive and $150 for a 3TB hard drive. I’ve dealt with the 680×0 to PowerPC transition, the PowerPC to Intel transition, and the Jobs to Cook transition. I’ve been so in love with Apple I bled six colors, and so annoyed by them that I built a Hackintosh laptop rather than deal.

I’ve heard a hard disk that’s spinning its last spin, the Zip drive Click of Death, and the whine of a fan that’s not cooling anything. I’ve formatted C: and realized that the backup I thought was OK was not. I’ve seen a guy type rm -rf *>o instead of rm -rf *.o by accident and heard his keening cry as all his source code vanished. I’ve watched viruses eat up a hard drive, and taken great joy in rooting out a rootkit. I’ve kicked script kiddies out of machines and taught teenagers FORTH.

I’ve Napstered, Gnutella’d, Scoured, alt.binaried, ftped and torrented. Hell, I even gophered. I’ve opened ports and closed them, httpd’ed, apache’d, and squided. I’ve still got the first 2400bps modem I ever bought, learned how to make ISDN go, hooked up a CSU/DSU or two, and pulled bits through a 56K frame relay. Now if I’m getting less than 10Mb/s I get impatient. I Friendstered, MySpaced, and even tried to Color. Now I Tweet and Facebook, signed up for app.net, and read the tent.io spec.

I’ve cleaned backscatter spam out of Exchange mail queues like leaves out of a gutter. I’ve learned how to read a traceroute like a map and how to smell a router that’s about to go south. I like my mail in a server I can touch, and my domain’s MX record has pointed to my living room since 1995. Started with a Red Hat 2.0 machine, learned imap and pine at its command line. I’ve built sendmail.cf files, prayed to the non-existent gods of M4 that they would compile, and discovered the joys of postfix. Now it all runs on a virtual machine that lives with 8 other VM instances on my home virtualization server, a complete corporate cloud and clients in one little MicroATX box.

I lined up for the first Pilot 1000 and can still do 20 words a minute in Graffiti. I’ve gone from Palm V to Moto Droid and Newton to iPad. I fell in love with mobile data in the days of CDPD and GPRS. I’ve OmniSkyed, Ricocheted, GPRSed, EDGEed, 1xRTTed, EV-DOed, HSPA’d, WiMaxed and LTE’d. I’ve adored Nokias, Treos, PalmPCs and iPaqs. My daily carry is a Blackberry 9930, an iPhone 4S, a Galaxy Nexus, and an iPad. Not Woz levels yet, but I saw his 50lbs of tech backpack laid out online and said, “I get it.”

So I hope we’ll be pals, you and I. I’m @solmssen on Twitter if you want to get in touch, and I look forward to hearing from you what matters in your tech life you’d like me to discuss. Thanks for coming aboard.

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Andrew Solmssen

About me: I am a nerd. I nerd it up currently as an independent computer consultant and stand-up comic, but my nerd history is long. I started by typing in BASIC programs on a TRS-80, progressed to Apple IIs and then PCs and Macs. My first internet transaction was downloading the "Canonical Collection of Light-Bulb Jokes" from an FTP site on a line-printing terminal at the University of Maryland in 1984. My CompuServe ID was 73300,13, and my Slashdot user id is 9448. I still have some Apple DOS 3.3 disks somewhere, and the first USR Courier 2400bps modem I ever owned. I have been to three different Fry's in one day. I can build a new PC in an hour from stuff I have around the house. I started by administrating a Novell 2.15c network and now do Windows, Mac, and Unix. I'm not a comic book geek, or a Star Wars guy, or even a D&D guy, although I can speak those languages. Nerd, that's me. Visit me at www.bitboy.com, facebook.com/solmssen, and twitter.com/solmssen/