Welcome to Help

This is one of those posts where I am reviewing my work experience, chewing on it and describing it in some detail, to give myself material to distill down to a better employment section that incorporates “skills.” There may be more preamble/backstory to this one than any other, despite its relative insignificance beyond continuity.

I knew XTreme Computing wouldn’t be forever, for various reasons. I was not making enough catering primarily to our one big client, yet I was not in a position to take on anything particularly demanding, given the contingent demands of being on-call at all times to the big client, needing to respond fairly promptly, and potentially being engaged for many hours at a stretch , even many hours on multiple days, when something significant came up. I wanted something of my own, distinct from the business that included de jure if seldom de facto partners. Loyal to a fault, I was not yet ready to walk away for a job, and was uncertain I wanted that rather than continued self-employment. On the other hand, I was ambivalent about continuing to be nothing but self-employed.

I mark the start as 2006, because that year I bought a Blackberry in service both of my business idea, and in support of the existing clients, as there was much e-mail support involved. However, by 2005 I had it in mind. Ultimately the name I settled on was “Welcome to Help,” which had potential beyond mere tech support, and had helpful, friendly connotations. The idea was to do computer support and repair for home users, a market XTreme did not serve, and vary small businesses. The idea was interstitial work of short duration to fit with my availability to the large client, and any other relatively large clients we had or might get.

I envisioned having a portable device, something like a tablet or small laptop, that would be online from anywhere, completely mobile. I imagined finishing with one small client, checking the device, being able to go right to another client if there was a request, or being able to answer e-mail from the large client on the road. I imagined being able to go online to research a problem from anywhere, even in the presence of a dead computer in someone’s home. Nimble, responsive, portable, it seemed great. Trouble was, a Blackberry was the closest affordable thing I could get at the time I pulled the trigger on the idea.

Alas, I am not a salesman, and having mixed feelings about the idea didn’t help. I was able to be convincing with existing XTreme prospects a couple times, but drumming up work enthusiastically and copiously? Not so much.

That said, I have done odds and ends of work that could be called by the name of that business, or could be called “freelance work.” I am not sure whether the first of it happened in 2006, but from 2007 through this year, I have done bits of tech work. That includes keeping the web site of XTreme’s largest client updated, but as me, since there is no more XTreme Computing. That means in one way or another I have worked with that law firm every year from 1998 through 2013. Hadn’t thought about it that way.

In 2008, possibly starting in 2007, I signed up for the OnForce marketplace, garnering some projects through that. On my existing resume, I listed each of those as an item under the freelance work.

That was ultimately affected by personal constraints that squelched my ability to offer responsive, dynamic services more generally. I became the stay-at-home spouse. Sufficiently remunerative traditional employment might have allowed us both to work, or might have encouraged my wife to trade places. However, to accept work for an hour or a day and try to arrange babysitting, that was interesting. At the time, employment was not forthcoming. The economy was crashing, but hey, perhaps my resume needed work, and perhaps I needed to look for different types of work and ensure I had a narrative that made “going out of business” seem less unreasonable than it did to some. But that’s another post, perhaps, if I try reviewing and analyzing my past interview performance and problems.

The sad thing about this particular entry in employment is I can’t discern much by way of skills from describing it. I’ll do so, then try.

As mentioned, I keep a law firm web site updated. I have also worked with WordPress, MySQL, and making shopping cart code work.

I upgraded the card reader at each POS terminal of a warehouse club store. This included troubleshooting a terminal that turned out to be dead for purposes of using the new card reader. This included working with a reluctant store manager, a scheduling error, and exacting remote coordination and support in Arkansas.

I upgraded RAM on machines at a car dealership.

I setup a computer, scanner and label printer at an insurance company.

I cleaned up various malware or sped up bogged down computers.

I got wifi to work on an iPad, despite having never laid hands on one before. Figured out a longstanding DVD player problem for the same person.

Recovered photos from a dead laptop hard drive by accessing it successfully from a Linux CD.

I may be forgetting some specifics. It usually comes down to cleanups, malware, or something like evaluating a salvaged laptop.

I never know what exactly I will run into, but I have seen so much, it’s not difficult to figure things out. That’s the main thing. Adaptability, personability, communication skills, resourcefulness. I’m great at communicating the technical to those who are non-technical, and, in other roles, determining the needs of the non-technical and communicating them to those who are technical.

It was worth thinking about this “job” as part of the process, for completeness, but the description will be modest and unlikely to change from what I wrote already, outside of this post.

This entry was posted in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, Clients, Experience, Jobs, Self-employment. Bookmark the permalink.

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