Geek training, now with actual geek tools.

College is awesome, if for no other reason than while I’m not being paid, I’ve still got plenty to keep me occupied during a day. And now, the stuff I have to keep me occupied just became a whole lot more relevant. I’ve been taking this program for pretty much exactly a year, now, but the thing about this program is it’s taken that long just to get to the parts most people who go through it are more likely to use once they’ve found someone who’ll pay them. Not necessarily by choice, but definitely by design–there’s just that much actual background material that needs covered before you get there. You can’t, for example, throw up a web server on a Linux machine if you don’t know how to make Linux do your tellings. Well, you can, but I’m not supporting you. So the first year and change was pretty much this is how you make the things go. Now comes what I like to think of as play time.

The entire reason for me taking this course is to put the skills I already have on paper. I’ve done the Linux administration thing. I’ve done the website maintenance thing. I’ve done the hosting thing. But that’s been a thing I do when I can find both the free time and the spare money–both of which have rather recently come into some shortish supply. So the first half of the program was spent largely covering ground I’ve already covered on my own time and fighting with the occasional professor for reasons far too well known to anyone who’s done the college thing from the perspective of someone with a disability. It’s been fun, but not quite what I signed up for. From this semester onward, though, it gets interesting–and, very likely, significantly easier if you’re me, considering the difference between me and a certified geek is, well, not much.

For instance, one of the courses I’m taking this year is rather self-explanatorily called PC Troubleshooting. Essentially, while there’s a relatively small theory component to the course (there’s only one two-hour lecture a week), the entire point of that course is you walk into the lab, the professor hands you a computer, and your task is to 1: find out what’s wrong with it and 2: fix the damn thing. While all the while being very thankful your professor isn’t quite mean enough to make you nearly relive one of the stereotypical tech support experiences in the process. If you’ve been reading for half as long as the site’s been online, 1: congratulations–I’m impressed, and 2: you probably know on some level this used to be that thing I’d get paid to do, only not in the hands-on sense quite so much–I’d do the finding out what was broken, but then I’d usually be sending someone else with the parts to fix the broken (call center work has its advantages). So this has the potential to be very similar, minus the paycheck.

In another instance, this semester’s Linux course has a component that will involve you setting up and configuring web and email services. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an expert in the area, but I’ve rolled my own in both cases. I’ve also handed a large portion of that rolling to legitimate hosting software when I’ve needed to–see also: 4:00 AM phone calls because person A needs a new email address. I’ll probably learn something, but I’m expecting this to largely just be that thing I’ll do while half awake and walk off with a decent enough grade to matter. Which means I can give just a little more attention to that component of the program that requires I be able to do the same thing on a Windows server. Because, you know, Windows is precisely what I’d want running my business resources.

We’ve sat through the geek training. And while I’ve discovered not for the first time I suck at the theory portion (this is why me and school weren’t on speaking terms for several years), it’s the practical aspect that will probably concern an employer more than anything else–and I’ve got that covered. Now, we get the actual geek tools. And this, right here, is exactly what I came for. Now, about plans for summer…

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