Thursday, September 26, 2013

10 Questions: with David Stein

David M. Stein


Really? Is this necessary? If you read my stupidness, then you already know who I "am". If true, you'll probably close this and go back to reading Facebook.  If you don't, well, congratulations: you finally reached the end of the Internet.  My apologies.

Basic bio stuff:  I'm a semi-quasi-successful IT guy working in southeastern Virginia.  I've worked in the CAD/CAM world building weird applications for weird business processes, and moved on to "mainstream" IT stuff, dealing with Windows, Configuration Manager, SQL Server, a bunch of goofy

The Questions

Dave:  First off: what's with the "M" in your name? Do you feel like it adds distinction, like 'Booker T. Washington' or 'Alfred E. Neumann'?

Dave 2:  Alfred was cool. My first cat was named Alfred. Actually, I use my middle initial to differentiate my books on Amazon from another "David Stein", who sells books about Bondage and S/M stuff. No offense intended towards anyone who likes that stuff, but I got tired of being asked if that was me.  The stuff I write about is nowhere near as interesting as that, I'm sure.

Dave 1:  How would you describe what you do for a living?

Dave 2:  Lucky!

Dave 1:  Why?

Dave 2:  I say 'lucky' because I'm a developer by nature, working in roles as analyst/engineer/administrator, but using developer experiences to automate the shit out of anything I can. 

Dave 1:  Can you name some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Some of my favorite musicians would have to include Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and U2. But I like a wide range of music, from Miles Davis and Stanley Clark, to Bob Dylan, to Eminem, wherever he is now. That's all mostly due to having once been an aspiring musician. 

Dave 1:  Oh yeah? What instrument did you play? And what particular situation can you recall that was funny or interesting from that time?

Dave 2:  I played drums and percussion. I also took piano lessons, so I dabbled a bit.  Some rock, some pop, some traditional Jazz also. I sat in with a country band once also.

I suppose one of my favorite situations would probably have to be when we were playing 'Hot for Teacher' (Van Halen) in a crowded club one night. Our lead guitarist was coming out of the big solo, doing his scale climb, where the drums follow along, going from a 4/4 thing through a 2/3 or 3/4 segment, whatever... And one of my sticks slipped away and nailed him directly in the back of his head. The spotlight was on him too. Perfect hit.  Talk about playing the wrong note at the wrong time.  Sorry, Clint. No hard feelings dude.

Dave 1:  What drew you away from music and into technology and computers?

Dave 2:  It was the early 80's, and I needed a job. Mostly for gas and beer, at the time. So many priorities back then, you know?  Construction didn't pay enough, nor did dish-washing, lawn-care, retail sales, or painting, so I went into Drafting. After a year doing manual drafting, the whole CAD (computer-aided design) thing came along. At first it was mainframes and workstations, then PC's came along, and then Windows and networking. 

While doing the PC CAD thing, I fell in love with AutoCAD and AutoLISP. It was the first time I was exposed to being able to tweak something to do what I really wanted.  I tried that with my dog, but he wouldn't do anything I asked unless I tossed food at him.  AutoLISP led to years of programming, climbing around on Navy ships, more programming, drinking and traveling, and more programming. But also a lot of drinking. It was the early 80's after all. 

Dave 1:  What kinds of things did you do with AutoLISP and AutoCAD back then?

Dave 2:  Shipbuilding has its own unique drafting standards.  Everyone thinks they are drawn the same way as houses and building or machine parts.  But, it involves its own specific way of doing dimensions, callouts, views, notes, references, and materials lists.  Even the sheet border formats are unique.  It got really annoying having to constantly change everything manually, or copy and edit.  So I wrote some utilities and menus to do it the "shipbuilding way", and that led to a new career path for me.

Dave 1:  So... programming did it? How did you end up doing Windows, AD, SQL and SCCM?

Dave 2:  Hoo-boy! How much time do you have?

(Dave 1: I'm not going anywhere. I am you after all, so, uhhh...)

Ok. Well, you asked, so... (Takes a reeeeeally long inhale)... While working at a particularly large shipyard, I was both their AutoCAD operations, and customizing it all to fit shipbuilding needs. It was a lot of work, but it was fun.  One of the guys in the infrastructure team brought donuts in a lot, so I brought jokes and somehow we got along (and I got fatter too). His name was Brett. He was a really cool guy too. Rest his soul. 

Anyhow, he was rolling out SMS 2.0, which was really new at the time, and he asked if I wanted to work with him to knock out two of the biggest hurdles at the same time: a thousand seats of AutoCAD and a new deployment system. 

Long story short: he got me into thinking about expanding my programming and introduced me to thing like WMI, WBEM, SQL, DCOM, VBscript, and larger perspectives as well. 

Dave 1:  You said, his name "was" Brett.  What happened?  Where is he now?

Dave 2:  About six-feet underground.  Long, sad, depressing story for another time.

Dave 1:  How many questions is that now?

Dave 2:  You're asking me?  Or, ugh, you? I mean... never mind. Continue?

Dave 1: Describe your home life.

Dave 2: A hard-working, creative and loving wife, of 25 years. Three crazy daughters, a wacky son, two weird dogs, and a cat that rules the humans around her. Our kids are ages 14 up to 23. All still at home. Still on my cell plan too, which is why I'm always working and still broke. 

Dave 1:  Do you consider yourself to be a good dad?

Dave 2:  You'd have to ask them that question. 

Dave 1:  Ok, moving along. You said you're broke?  How's that? You have quite a few books on Amazon, a fairly decent blog, and a good job, no?

Dave 2:  Yeah, well. It's complicated. I don't make much on book sales actually.  Maybe I should mix in some kinky S&M crap with my computer topics to pump the sales up?  Who knows.

Dave 1:  What aspects of current technology and the tech industry still excite you?  Which of them do you feel have been a disappointment?

Dave 2:  Ooh! Good questions!

On the good: Open source is still relevant, even with billions being spent to silence it all. Social media. Proliferation of cellular coverage. Mobile devices.  Maturing API stacks.  Faster and cheaper hardware.

On the bad: Social media. The misguided strategies of the big players. Over-hyped rushing to the "cloud". Too many web tech standards. Too many colliding acronyms. 

Dave 1:  Wait a minute. You mention "social media" for both good and bad?

Dave 2: Yep. I did. Good for catching up with long-lost friends, schoolmates, teammates, neighbors, and family. Bad for stirring up drama though. 

Dave 1:  Sheesh. Tell me about it. 

Dave 2:  I just did. 

Dave 1:  Oh, yeah right.  What's with your dislike of the "cloud" trend?

Dave 2:  Same as anything else: Everyone runs to it without stopping to ask why.  It's great for some things, like Microsoft Excel is, but when businesses grab it like it's the cure-all for every problem, they run into problems.  Sometimes that "solution" creates more problems than it solves, and it can be difficult to turn around and "go back" as well.

Dave 1:  If you had absolute control of America long enough to pass a short list of irrevocable laws, what would they be?

Dave 2:  (laughs quietly for almost a full minute...) Ok...

1. Free, High-speed internet to every home, apartment, school and business. 

2. Free, high-speed rail service between every city with at least 400,000 citizens. 

3. Bumperstickers which aren't funny would be punishable by public beatings. 

4. Repeating any rumor, as if it's fact, without passing a cross-examination test to prove you read the actual source facts, would be punishable by slow, painful, death.  For instance, when people blabber on "for" or "against" the so-called "Obama-care" bill, or some spending bill, whatever, but none of them actually read the bill itself.  If you haven't RTFM (ok, RTFB), then STFU, or submit to being electrocuted in the crotch for two hours on live TV while being force-fed liquefied used kitty litter.

5. Everyone would be implanted with an internal electric shock collar and everyone else would get a free remote activator.  That could be pretty interesting indeed.

6. I'm still working on number 6.  Next question?

Dave 1:  So, does that mean you're "for" or "against" the HCRA or so-called "Obama-care" bill?

Dave 2:  Next question?

Dave 1:  Last one.  What would be your ideal epitaph?

Dave 2:   (rubs chin and smiles) "I almost made it!" My second choice would be what my brother suggested, which is "I should have cut the green wire."

Dave 1: Ok, folks. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as, ummm, "we" did?  For more info, search Dave out on LinkedIn, 4sysops, MyITForum, and Amazon but watch out for that other David Stein. 

Until we meet again: Love. Peace. Namaste, and all that. 

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