About Me.

Basic Info

Where do I begin?

Originally I come from the Carlisle, PA area, in the Harrisburg region. It's an area rich in history with historical markers and a few monuments dating from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War eras. Militarily, It's home to the U.S. Army War College and the Carlisle Barracks. Education-wise it's where Dickinson College sits, has been since I think before the War of 1812. It's also home to some of the larger car shows on the East Coast. Like any area it has had its good times and its bad times. When I left, there was a bumper crop of warehouses growing up, many semis and not enough roads for them all.

College-era wise, I went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the small town of Indiana, PA. Took five years, but then again I had two minors, Math and Communications Media to go along with my B.S. in Computer Science. COBOL wasn't my favorite language, I'll say that much. The Computer Graphics course with OpenGL and VRML kept my interest far more. .NET and PHP wasn't offered at IUP when I went, probably because .NET v1.0 didn't come out until I was about to graduate, and thus all my Comp Sci training was pretty much legacy and not a whole lot of GUI programming. Didn't stop me from doing a small shareware game (Phoenix Stones) in VB6 and embedded DirectX 7. Our first games always have a special place in our hearts, no matter how non-competitive in the marketplace they may be... Oh well. May resurrect that someday. Haven't decided. So many puzzle games out there these days though.

Speaking of courses taken in college, I also took six semesters overall of Japanese, so have some familiarity with the language. I do want to spend more time and refresh my skills with it, and hope to start doing that soon. One of my classmates I think even went into freelance translation with it. I also have four years of French from High School and needed a couple credits to keep me full-time one semester so a semester's worth of Spanish it was for me. Would like to learn Chinese and Russian at some point too. Maybe Sanskrit. Languages fascinate me for some reason. Maybe German too.

After college, I returned to Carlisle for awhile. Worked for awhile in a few jobs, couple odd ones here and there, and some computing on the side. Did a little eBay, did a little CafePress (still doing that last one), and did some PC repair shop action too. Then I got in with the PA Game Commission doing ASP.NET and VB.NET development. Spent about four years there, and didn't see a whole lot of action. Saw some cool stuff there though, like a juvenile bald eagle, and a peregrine falcon that decided to park on the tree outside the break room. Ultimately I decided that staying in Pennsylvania wasn't for me, and left the PGC behind.

As could be expected, in the end, I finally decided to pick up stakes and headed out West.

These days I'm in the Mount Vernon, WA area north of Seattle. It's larger than Carlisle, PA population-wise, and as I've recently seen it gets crazy here with the tulip festivals. Seems to be a college here in this town too, Skagit Valley College. It's smaller than Western Washington University up in Bellingham, WA. Way smaller than University of Washington down in Seattle.

Work - A Four-Letter Word

After college I did a good deal of working odd jobs. You know, Wal-Mart, data entry somewhere, one of the warehouses, whatever it took to get by. Graduated practically right after the Dot-Bomb, didn't help. Tried a few things that didn't go anywhere (the shareware game being one) but hey, gave it a shot.

After a few years I got into a PC repair shop doing some web design. Didn't pay much, but it was something I felt I was good at, and a few clients liked my work. Also served as a webmaster for a Final Fantasy XI Linkshell (Square-Enix's version of a Guild), which I ran using Joomla. It's not up anymore, but I can bring it online if anyone ever wants to see it. Did a second PC repair stint for an ISP in Enola, PA as well, and a little bit of web work there. Wound up joining up right before a slow period for PC repair and web design there too, so that didn't last too long.

Soon after all of that, I wound up at the Pennsylvania Game Commission. As I said above, SQL Server, ASP.NET and VB.NET work. No C#, but I knew enough VB.NET to get the job. I came up with a few creative solutions (like a web app to convert .ico files into .pngs, and another one to combine two .pngs to make one. Stuff to help me make interfaces for the web applications I was delivering). Can't talk about everything there as there was internal government agency stuff, but I did come up with some cool stuff. Four years later though, I got out. Decided public sector life wasn't for a free spirit like me.

These days I do consulting for improvGroup here in Mount Vernon. It's been fun working with more up-to-date technolgies on a regular basis again, and I get to meet some good people while doing the consulting thing. Freelancing's fun, though sometimes I miss some of the interpersonal opportunities of a larger office. Working in a home office has its perks though.

For Fun

Growing up I was an avid gamer, and still like to throw down controllers or keyboards or cards or dice on occassion. These days haven't been doing a lot of gaming as I've been working on a lot of programming projects, both for improvGroup and for myself personally. I do like to do some creative design work when the chance hits, as can be seen at my DracoTal site (which connects to CafePress as that's who prints my goods. Print-on-demand, good for my wallet and great for finding some cool clothes). I do like to read on occasion, but haven't had as much of a chance to do so lately either.

I have played some MMO's in the past (sorry!), among them Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars: The Old Republic and World of Warcraft. Also got into Diablo III These days I don't do a whole lot of playing on any of them anymore. Spending my time honing my skills.

Used to play a good deal of Magic: the Gathering... I remember many older sets. Got in around Revised Edition and Fallen Empires (I suppose I could have gotten in a little earlier in The Dark...) Stopped playing regularly around the Champions of Kamigawa, though I have sporadically played off and on since then. Kamigawa block and WoTC's penchant for printing more cards that exile (effectively remove from the game) completely screwed with my playstyle, which involved heavy graveyard recursion, and which I didn't appreciate. Which has saved me money in the long run.

Programming-wise I do like to figure out some newer technologies that I couldn't really work with too much while at the PGC as there wasn't a demand for it there. Lately I've been experimenting with Durandal, Knockout, Bootstrap and more jQuery. I do have a GitHub account (user name: nodeomega) where I put some code.

As far as topics of study, I do like to read up on astronomy, astrology, science and technology, and ancient civilizations. Haven't watched a whole lot of Ancient Aliens, but that's another fascinating topic too.

I used to enjoy watching Adult Swim (especially Metalocalypse, Family Guy and American Dad), but lately the quality isn't there. So really no point. The live-action thing just isn't working for me and there's only so much Squidbillies one can watch before the brain turns into a squid. I could probably write better stuff than what's on now. Check that: definitely could.

Speaking of, I do like to do some screenwriting and general writing from time to time too. I have entered a few screenwriting contests. Still waiting on a big Hollywood check. I'll need to come up with more writing before that happens I think, but a guy can dream, right? I fully intend to make NodeOmega something awesome. I'm thinking webcomics, graphic novels, maybe even animation when I get things going. That's the direction I'd like to end up in. Web development keeps my interest enough and I like doing some of the occassional graphical work that comes my way. So we'll see where the path of life goes.