I am a Self-Taught Computer Technician

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you, the reader, didn’t already know, I am a self taught computer technician.

I taught myself how to fix computers initially out of necessity, but now soup up old computers as a hobby.

My fascination with computers can be traced back to the late 1980s when I was a toddler.

The first time I ever saw a computer was either in late 1988 or some time in 1989 when I was shopping with my parents at the Sears in Southland Mall (which is located in Bayou Cane/Houma, Louisiana.)

It wasn’t until I was seven years old that I had found out that there was such a thing as home computers.

Some of my classmates had them, but my family didn’t.

We briefly had a home computer in the Summer of 1998 but didn’t permanently have one until the Summer of 2000.

The model my parents purchased as a family computer, looking back was pretty pathetic, even for the late 1990s and early 2000s.

I don’t remember the exact model number, but it was a Gateway Essential

The specs were:
15 GB Hard Drive (later upgraded to 20 GB.)
64 MB of Ram (later upgraded to 192 MB.)
566 MHz Intel Celeron Processor.
DVD ROM Drive (a CD-RW drive was later added.)
56K Dial-Up PCI Slot Modem (an Ethernet card was later added.)
Only 2 USB Ports
PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse Ports
AND
If I remember correctly the graphics (VGA 600X800 at best), sound and game adapter cards were all part of the mother board.
And if those specs were not cruddy enough, it ran Windows 98 Second Edition.

We made due with this computer from July of 2000 until some time in 2008.

Let me say that I didn’t have a car until the Summer of 2006, and was basically home unless at a school function, so my social life, my reading, my writing, my entertainment and my research were all done on this computer. I used it probably more than any other family member.

We didn’t have adequate virus protection and starting in 2003, began subscribing to cable broadband Internet so, this machine was frequently crashing.

When it did, I would fix it. My parents are fiscally conservative, especially when it comes to technology, if you haven’t figured that out already.

They are also pretty ignorant with technology, so I took it upon myself to fix it.

At first, it was with Gateway Technical Support over the phone, where they would walk me through reformatting the computer.

After doing it enough times, I was able to do it without help from tech support.

This was the beginning of me becoming a self-taught computer technician. I mean my source of many good things in my life was dependent on it.

So it is quite possible that had my parents owned a better computer, I may not have needed to teach myself how to fix computers.

I had known about Linux since 2001, while reading about it in a computer magazine in my school library.

I didn’t actually try it until 2005 when a friend gave me a live boot-able copy of Ham Shack Linux, which I would run on that said machine.

The ease and efficiency of Linux definitely caught my interest back then.

There was no need for hardware drivers everything was plug and play.

There was also no need for virus protection!

This also began my hate relationship with Windows that continues to this very day!

In December of 2005 I had purchased a gently used, but ten year old IBM Think Pad 365E, mostly for writing my stories but also for playing old games. I modified it to run MS-DOS 6.22. Had I known about FreeDOS, I would have loaded it on there.

From the help of a computer professor over the phone, I learned how to make partitions and modify boot sequences in the BIOS memory. This was in March of 2006 or so.

I had that laptop until December of 2006 and I wish I could have kept it.

Also around 2005 and 2006, I began to teach myself how to build computers and mix and match parts.

One of these days I am going to build one from scratch.

But in late December of 2006, I purchased a Compaq/HP Laptop which ran Windows XP Media Center Edition and could be upgraded to Windows Vista.

This is the machine that I discovered WiFi on.

However, it could only do 802.11 a and b.

Then it killed on me in 2008. My family’s Gateway also finally killed on us around this time as well.

My Mom bought a Hewlett Packard in early 2009, which ran Windows 7 and was a good machine until it became bogged down with viruses.

Early in 2009, I had purchased an Asus Eee PC 900A netbook.

It has some decent specs for its size and price:
WiFi built in 802.11 b and g.
1.3 Megapixel WebCam
8 GB solid state drive.
1 GB RAM.
USB and Ethernet ports.

I would have it until 2016 and it was one of the best computers I ever owned.

In December of 2010, it was extremely bogged down with viruses, so I finally figured out how to write an .ISO image to a flash drive and modify the boot sequence.

I ended up installing JoliOS 1.2 which served me very well for over a year. I also installed JoliOS 1.2 on my Mom’s Hewlett Packard.

By the way, it was ruined by a power surge following Hurricane Issac in 2012.

I gave my Dad an older Dell to use which a friend had given me.

He had it until 2019

I subsequently used other versions of operating systems, all from the Linux family on that computer.

In 2015, I finally purchased an Android smartphone. This allows me to Google for a solution when I am working on a computer and I come aross a hiccup.

That was a huge milestone, because before, I needed another computer as well as an Internet connection to get a solution when things didn’t go right.

In 2016, I began to put together a kit of tools that I EDC for my computer repair hobby. The featured image on this pages shows what I am carrying as of February 2020. These tools are kept in a special compartment of my EDC backpack.

In 2018, through most of 2019, I had attended a church and fixed the computers of several members.

By this point in my life, I had obtained a reputation as a computer guru.

There are several friends who come to me when they need their computers fixed and usually I am able to do it.

Now as of 2020, I frequently find myself restoring older computers and making them useful again.

This usually entails me taking a Windows computer and reformatting the hard drive or solid state drive with a version of Linux that has modern functionality but runs well on the hardware. Sometimes I will also upgrade the RAM chips or disk drives.

I wish I would have had this knowledge and skill when I was a teenager. I could have made that old Gateway run like a high spec machine, but if it wasn’t for that cruddy old Gateway, I may never have taught myself how to fix computers to begin with.

I hope to fix computers for the rest of my life because it is a fun and useful hobby.

I know I can also bless other who otherwise cannot afford a new computer but will make their machines run like new.

If it wasn’t for me being dependent on several expensive medications, I would try to make a career out of this, because it is something I can do from dawn til dusk or until those medications kick in, then I am dead to the world for twelve to fourteen hours. However, I would be self employed and have to worry about health insurance. We do need some serious reforms in this country and Obamacare doesn’t cut it!

I guess this concludes my piece on how I am indeed a self taught computer technician. I need to take those medications right now, actually.

So, I hope you, the reader, have been informed and entertained.

Thank you for reading!

Back to “Personal Reflections”

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