More About Greg....
About Greg Chapman
Like Dian, I got started in all this by accident.
I had been an avid user of an Amiga computer. The interface on the Amiga was easy to use and one could move gradually into a more powerful way of computing without having cryptic commands thrust upon you immediately. It's power over the Macintosh, the leading GUI interfaced PC of the day, was a command line shell. It took quite a while before I was comfortable working in the shell, but I did learn it!
In an effort to learn something more and do it affordably, I joined a BBS (Bulletin Board System). BBS systems were kept alive by hobbyists and allowed people like you and I a chance to dial up someone else's computer and communicate with thousands of other people. Prior to the Internet opening to public use, BBS system operators joined together in systematic exchanges that allowed people to communicate with each other worldwide. FIDO Net was probably the most popular and was probably the birthplace of community assistance in the computer world through Echoes. An Echo in this context is similar in function to an Internet newsgroup.
I didn't get involved with these Echoes until I gave up the superior Amiga for a PC, just like the rest of the world. I gave $800 for a used AMD 386-40 with 4 megs RAM and a whopping 105 megs of space running Windows 3.1. The experience of learning the complexities, shortcomings and the resultant workarounds was incredibly frustrating for someone as spoiled as I! FIDO Net had, at the time, a Windows Echo and I started reading this Echo (more than 500 messages daily!) just in the hopes that the user manuals might start making sense to me. Wonder of wonders, things did begin to click and soon I was surprised to realize that folks in this Echo were starting to treat ME as an authority on Microsoft Windows!! Even scarier, I was enjoying it!
It really wouldn't be fair to have all this written down for the world to see and not mention one more source of patient, competent help; Mr. Bill Walker, operator of North Valley Digital. He went to great lengths to improve my knowledge and help form in my mind the principles of professionalism.
At the time all this was happening, I had been an employee of a contractor to the U.S. Air Force for about 6 years. I had started out as a test technician involved in testing landing gear components for certification and use on USAF aircraft and had moved on to working at a Live Fire test facility studying vulnerability and survivability of flight systems. My education wasn't glamorous. I was a college drop-out, but was also a quick study. I once read a quote from Ben Franklin that I feel describes me pretty well, even in a negative sense:
"Experience keeps a dear school, but a fool will learn in no other."
So, there I was, self-taught, hard-headed and hanging on the idea that there was no way I was going to allow an eight-hundred-dollar-hunka-junk to beat me!
Thanks to BBSes, SysOps, FIDO Net, Microsoft and the growth of the PC, I have had the opportunity to learn a new profession and try to return the favor to the community that made it all possible for me!
In late 1995, I was honored to receive an invitation to the Microsoft MVP program. Many of the folks I had followed and admired as the most knowledgeable in their fields were in this group. I count myself extremely lucky in sharing the spotlight with these sharp professionals in their own computing communities.
Since those days, things have changed quite a bit. I now spend my days as a System Engineer. I get to chase obscure problems, design software solutions and advise software designers, as well as cure problems for software users in all sorts of computing environments...not to mention managing a stack of inspiring servers with lots of flashing lights! There's never a dull moment!