Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How we arrived at where we are.

I can only hazard a guess at some recent moments of nostalgia might have lead to this topic, but while wondering about a topic it appeared and flooded out.

Ask anyone who knows me personally and one thing they can probably tell you is that I am somewhat proud of my education, or rather the method by which I was educated. Now, granted, I've met countless others with degrees in technology, and I respect them deeply. I even hold a cousin in very high regard because of his own diligence and a keener mind than I he's been able to exceed my degree and garner a much more detailed understanding in communications and networking. But one thing has always set in the back of my throat, irritating me.

I chose my program, I could have tried for any number of things but I selected one particular program for a variety of reasons, but one in particular. That one prime reason was that through it I would start out at the base of things and learn everything leading up to where we are. Many Computer technicians learn some basic principles in their early classes and move on to accepted current principles, and there is nothing wrong with that, at least at a rudimentary level. However, by learning rudimentary electrical and building up to electronics and then computers I found left me with a profound understanding of things I found many colleagues lacking. For example, I have heard many a instructor proclaim; just roughly figure out what general thing is bad, i.e.- motherboard, hard drive etc, and just swap it out. While this tactic many save time, it doesn't really let you know what precisely failed or how to fix it with stuff on hand. One example of this is while engaged in a class we only had at our disposal junk parts and computers scrounged from old classes and donations. At one point a valued power supply died. Just replacing it with a new one was out of the question, so myself and a fellow student endeavored to find another solution. We managed to isolate a fuse in the power supply's crowbar circuit as my instructor referred to it and was able to solder it out and replace it with another properly rated fuse. The previous fuse had simply failed due to age. And after some careful soldering (too much heat would destroy the new fuse, very touchy) we had the power supply fixed and working. In some professions getting something back up and running no matter what is better than waiting for a new part.

After graduating I found myself more comfortable, and more determined to fix older equipment and re-purpose it. To appreciate what I had and save whatever I could. I've met others with higher end degrees, even those with similar degrees who couldn't even tell me how a PC boots. I am often flabbergasted by such simple theories some technicians are ignorant of. How do they plan on troubleshooting a problem I often wondered only to discover later on the job they don't. Too many go on to find employment as part swapping drones. I myself was even chastised on some jobs for mentioning that we actually repair equipment, or at the very least be able to tell a customer what failed and why. But I guess I fell in love with an outdated practice. Like having a teacher set something before you each day with a new challenge, like; See if you can make it run knoppix off the hard drive and dual boot xp.

It saddens me greatly that as I graduated I was among the last to do so from my program. But I take pride in what many instructors from the higher end programs said of us; "I wish more of our students were trained like you guys." Sadly I guess we no longer need to know how we made it to where we are, only what buttons we should push and what not to.