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Expert Computer Consulting - 184 Eaglecrest Drive, Matthews, NC 28104 (704) 882-7551 or (704) 609-1970
June 18, 2004
Who am I, anyway?

As a newcomer to the Charlotte area, it is an important question, and one that I will try to answer here!

Before moving to Charlotte, I was the founder, proprietor, and then CEO of DMCC Computers; which was the Washington DC area's oldest and largest independent computer service firm. My company occupied a 7,000 square foot retail location, employed 20 people, and performed over 100,000 service events in it's 18 years of existence.

Throughout that time, every service that proved too difficult for my technicians to handle filtered up to me. In solving those problems, I developed hundreds of procedures and techniques designed to ensure that clients data was not at risk, as well as facilitating thorough problem solution.

What experience do I have?

Over 35 years in electronics and computers: My father was in computers when I was born and I began working with Fortran in the mid 60's. In 1968 I built a primitive computer which won third place in the Washington regional science fair. My knowledge of electronics extends to the analysis of both analog and digital circuitry; from ttl logic to servo followers to high voltage or high current devices, including the electromechanicals being driven. I can design from scratch or find the flaw in an existing circuit and provide a solution.

Over 30 years in retail, wholesale, or service management: In 1972 and 3, I managed 5 shoe stores and doubled the business in each. In 1976, I was employed as the day manager of a hundred room hotel. From 1977 on, it has been as the service manager for several computer stores and from 1982 on as the CEO of DMCC Computers. For those of you who have been there, I don't need to add that this experience includes business organization skills, process development skills, knowledge of human resource needs, employee management requirements, marketing, budgeting, accounting, payroll, and all the myriad of other details that come with the title.

Over 26 years experience in teaching technology: Most of the almost 200 technicians I employed at DMCC were trained by me and most of them became profitable in less than 90 days. I can teach people how to fix computers, printers, monitors, or do networking and data recovery that have little or no prior experience. I can teach users how to understand and use their computers more effectively. I have given classes at several schools to show children how a computer is put together and how it works.

It is almost impossible to be convincing without tooting my own horn, as it were. I have some qualms with that; but the truth of the matter is that the task at hand is to convince you, the reader, that my services would be valuable to you.

The short answer is that I am an extremely intelligent individual with a very good work ethic, more computer and other knowledge than anybody else you are likely to meet, and have the ability to identify, locate, and solve almost any problem you may have.

The reason I make those claims is rooted in three, to my mind, important facts.

Two of those were my parents who ensured that I got a good education, instilling in me a good work ethic and morals in the process. Perhaps, most important is that they also taught me how to learn.

The third, which I believe to be of genetic origin, is an innate ability to categorize, store, and retrieve a staggering volume of information and minutiae. Every new fact that I assimilate or problem that I solve gets stored away, indexed with it's associated item or subject, and is quickly retrieved when needed.

As example, when I worked at Arlington Electronics in 1974, which occupied about 25,000 square feet and had tens of thousands of inventory items, I could tell people where the item was they were looking for, even when it was in the wrong place and all I had done was to have noticed it walking by. Even ten years later, I, more than once, called them to purchase a part and had to tell them where it was.

My computer skills include the ability to find any data that is possible to be recovered, or is desired as evidence, to make systems' work that are so complex that I know Microsoft couldn't, to find off-the-shelf solutions to dramatically lower the costs of custom configurations, to engineer and build prototype solutions for applications where some custom hardware is unavoidable, and to make the resultant systems be usable.

As the founder and then CEO of Digital Microcomputer Concepts for 18 years, not only have I seen well in excess of 100,000 computer problems of every nature, but have also dealt with the issues of having 20+ employees, a 7,000 square foot retail store, and all of the aspects inherent in the position. Leasing, advertising, insurance, inventory, personel, and consumer issues were but a few of the items I had to deal with.

My father was in computers before I was born and ,according to my mother, my first spanking was for taking the, then very expensive, stereo apart so that it would not go back together. I don't remember that incident, but I do remember sticking a safety pin into a wall outlet when I was about three and getting blown clean off my father's workbench.

Regardless, I have spent my entire life building, fixing, or improving things that have ranged from electronics to jewelry and appliances to grandfather clocks.

I first began working in depth with electronics while in the fifth grade. In 1965 I received my first regional science fair award for a presentation explaining fundamental electronic components and for a program written in Fortran, demonstrated on a "portable" ASR-33 teletype. In 1966, I received a second award for constructing a binary computer consisting of knife switches, lamps, juice cans, paper clips, and miles of wire.

Returning to the field in 1974 as a wholesale parts salesman, I eventually took charge of the company's growing business in integrated circuits. Rapid growth in computer components following the advent of the Intel 8080 in 1975 led to the availability of S-100 "bare board" computer components for which the parts could then be purchased and the board assembled.

Unfortunately, as I discoverred while pursuing the completion of my first computer, the "standard" S-100 bus wasn't standard and my carefully chosen CPU, memory, video, and I/O boards didn't work together ! A friend gave me a broken Eico oscilloscope, which I repaired, and with it's help I was able to find the problems and engineer solutions. After that it was only a matter of writing a BIOS in assembly language, buying and building an Eprom burner to put that BIOS into a chip, and then , finally and almost a year later, I had a computer that would work.

You may ask yourself why I consider the tale of my first computer to be worth the mention; but there were lessons learned and subjects that had to be mastered for which there is no substitute available today. The ability to read schematics, understand the timing requirements of the various chips and subsystems, analyze current loading or gating problems, find the flaws causing failure, and then correct them, as well as the need to write assembly language programs for testing or to make them function, are all skills that have been lost since the advent of the IBM PC in 1982.

They are, however, skills deriven from knowledge that every technician or integrator still needs to know today, yet most don't because they have never had the opportunity to learn. Talking about I/O, interrupts, and DMA channels is one thing; what is learned in stopping the computer dead in it's tracks to single-step the machine or tracing a timing problem using an oscilloscope is a much deeper understanding of exactly what is going on. Computers have not fundamentally changed since 1975, they have just gotten cheaper and much faster.

In early 1977, I was hired by Computers Plus, a small company in Alexandria, for the purpose of starting a computer parts business as a new venture within their company. As it turned out, there was no way to make that idea be successful due to a lack of capital for inventory and marketing.

There was; however, an entire room full of broken computers in every conceivable state of disrepair and that is where a career was born.

Understand that, in those days, there was no factory warranty, even Apple required component level repairs and nobody had a repaired exchange program to swap out bad boards. Component level repair, meaning locate and desolder the bad part(s), was the standard method for all repair.

It should also be noted that a "Word Processor" was $25,000 dollars if purchased from Lanier or Wang, about $20,000 if it was made by Imsai or Cromemco, and about $15,000 if one purchased kits. Law firms, in particular, desperately need the technology, but many would still elect to buy the kits, thereby supplying me with a steady stream of new challenges.

So, often I was brought assembled kits, and the task became exactly that which I had resolved on my own system; namely, that I must first repair the assembly defects, then to correct the engineering problems and to finally write a BIOS that would make the clients computer work.

In May of 1978, Computers Plus was recommended as the best place to get computer service by the Washington Post and I was the only "technician" in their shop. That same year, I was factory certified by Apple, Imsai, Cromemco, and Dynabyte.

By 1979, a new demand arose for data recovery. Diskettes would get physically damaged, the most popular accounting software had a nasty habit of eating all of the data while closing the month, and the first successful computer with a hard disk drive liked to eat the boot record while it was turning off. Luckily for most, it was possible to recover their data by modifying programs that were already available. and I was able to engineer a solution that prevented the Vector Graphics computer from writing to the hard disk after the user hit the power switch.


This page is a work in progress and will be added to soon.

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All of this is a work in progress and I will be adding more in the future.

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