This page looks back at some of the computers I have used in the past and how my interest in computing has developed over the years. The images used on page this are examples of computers I used or owned but in most cases not the actual computer I used or owned.
At the age of 7 I used a computer for the first time in my life. The computer (which was an Amstrad) belonged to our school principal and I used it to write a letter at school. From this day I have always had a love of computers, at the age of 7 seeing a device that had so many buttons to press excited me, at that age I also enjoyed using a friends typewriter but not as much as a computer. This same year I went to Health Camp in Roxburgh and remember playing on a Commodore 64, didn't like this computer as much because all the games used a joystick so not so many buttons to press.
After our school principal left in 1987 he took his Amstrad computer with him and the school once again had no computer, this was until the school bought its own computer. The computer was a BBC Master Compact computer, we used this computer mostly to type up our creative writing stories using a programme called Folio. The school computer had a lot of games, I can remember a floppy full of about 30 games. Many of the games were clones of popular games at the time such as Snapper which was a clone of Pac-Man and Hopper, a clone of Frogger.
For Christmas my parents bought my sister and myself an Atari 2600, well not really. This games console was a clone of an Atari 2600, it had 64 built in games, could play Atari cartridges and even looked like the early versions of the 2600 but not with the wood panels found in the original model.
I started Form 1 at Menzies College in Wyndham, the school then had a computer room with 15 BBC Computers all networked to an Econet File Server. The file server was located in the computer room and at the end of the day the last student or teacher out of the room was expected to shut down the file server by switching it off at the wall socket, as well as switch off every computer in the room. Every Tuesday boys in Form 1 and 2 were allowed to use the computer room at lunchtime and I certainly was there every Tuesday. I learnt how to program in BBC basic however the programs I wrote over the next couple of years were very basic, I did manage to write my own menu that loaded programs on the school network.
I used a PC for the first time when my friend Terry was given his own laptop, I can remember playing games in DOS like Test Drive, California Games, Alley Cat, Jones in the Fast Lane and Commander Keen to name a few. Our school also purchased it's first DOS/Windows based PCs, 2 were purchased for the computer room to run as standalone PCs alongside the BBC computers and another 2 went to the library as the library catalogue was computerised using an application called MUSAC. I really wanted my own computer but as I was only 13 a PC was out of my price range instead I bought a Sega Master System with my pocket money.
A year after buying a Sega Master System I now really wanted to move up to a Mega Drive. My mum wouldn't let me spend my money on Mega Drive even if I saved up, she was never really happy about the idea of me buying the Master System in the first place and considered my Atari to be good enough. Since I wasn't allowed a Mega Drive my next idea was to get an Amiga computer. My parents were happy with that idea as I could use an Amiga computer for school work and use my 14" TV as a monitor. My parents actually bought me an Amiga 500 for my 15th birthday, my Amiga 500 was the very last model on display at Dick Smiths and for a very reduced price. My memories of the Amiga were how slow it was to load everything from floppy and trying to play Mortal Kombat switching all 3 floppy disks. I bought a colour dot matrix printer to go with the Amiga, I remember this printer was very noisey and used to take sometimes 20 minutes to print a colour graphic page. That same year my parents bought me a second hand Amiga monitor for Christmas since the picture quality using a TV wasn't that great.
A year after buying the Amiga I had so many problems with the Amiga so I decided it was time to ditch this computer. The problems included my lack of software, a virus infecting almost every disk and the fact Commodore was no longer in business meant getting software was so much harder. So I decided I should sell the Amiga and use the money to buy a PC. Instead of this happening my parents bought their own computer. My parents computer was a 486DX4-100 it had 8MB of RAM, Windows 3.11 and a 4x Speed CD-ROM and 16bit Sound Card. Back then a sound card and CD-ROM were luxury items. My high school also retired the BBC network this year and replaced all computers in the computer room with PCs. The new PCs were connected to a Netware file server, existing standalone PCs in the library and admin block were added to the network. Each computer booted into DOS and loaded the DOS Netware Client, once a user had logged in a copy of Windows 3.11, stored on the file server, would load. Each user could have their own individual Windows configuration such as wallpapers and screensavers a feature not possible on a standalone copy of Windows 3.11.
Form 6 at school and this year I could finally choose Computer Studies as a subject. At Menzies College all Form 1 and 2 students had Computer Studies once a week, in 3rd and 4th Form only once a week for one term and in 6th Form finally available as a Sixth Form Certificate subject. This year I used the Internet for the first time, at school we had the Internet available for use on one PC, and our connection was a 14.4k Dial-up connection and cost the school a toll call to Invercargill every time someone used the Internet. Student access was restricted with the one computer being located in a classroom that was locked most of the time. Our class learnt how to write HTML webpages before most students had actually ever used the Internet. At the end of the year I was top student for my Computer Studies class but the way Sixth Form Certificate grading system worked my grade was only a Grade 5 even though I was getting over 80% in the exams. The reason is Sixth Form Certificate grades were allocated based on students School Certificate grades. An average of 80% should have got me a grade 3 but as there were no grade 3s to allocate I got grade 5. The higher grades were always given to English, Maths and Science first.
Seventh Form at school and this year Computer Studies did not count towards University Entrance or Bursary but since I had no intentions
of going to University I was happy to take this subject. We spent most of our class time playing Doom, even after the school principal banned the
game from the school network. Up until here my plans were when I left school I wanted to get into retail and work at an electronics store
like Dick Smiths or Noel Leemings as I had a real love for electronics such as TVs and obviously computers and I figured I would have made a
good salesman. My computer studies teacher had other ideas he thought I should go to University and do a Computer Science degree. Uni felt too
much out of my league especially since I hadn't picked the right subjects to even get University Entrance so I decided that when I left school
I would go to Polytech and do a Certificate in Business Computing.
At the end of the year I went to the USA and Canada and had a chance to see the Microsoft Campus in Seattle. I visited the Microsoft Museum and remember seeing a row of computers runnning each version of Windows from Windows 1.0 to Windows 95 (the latest at the time). This was my second trip over to the USA and this time I had a chance, on several occasions, to use the Internet. I have to say it was great feeling being able to read news from New Zealand, including our local paper The Southland Times, as when I was overseas New Zealand seemed so far away especially when there was no news on Television or in the papers from New Zealand.
I started studying at Southland Polytechnic in Invercargill doing a Certificate in Business Computing. This year I bought my very own PC, my first computer was a second hand Pentium 75 with 16MB of RAM, 840MB Hard Disc and ran Windows 95. By the end of the year that same PC had almost every component upgraded and was a AMD-K6-2 300 with 64MB RAM, 4GB Hard Disc and Windows 98, still the same computer since it was in the old case and had the same keyboard and monitor. I also started using the Internet regularly this year as we had unlimited Internet access at Polytech back then the network had very little filters in place and chat programs such as IRC were made available to students. The same year I also started using the Internet at home my first modem was a 28.8K modem and the first ISP I used was Southnet who charged $2 an hour to connect to the Internet. Later that year I switched to IHUG who offered flat rate Internet for $45 a month. I changed to Auckland based ISP World-Net in mid 1999 and stayed with this ISP for the next 15 years.
I continued my studies and completed the Certificate in Business Computing and began studying towards a Diploma in Business Computing. I Started working part time at BP since I decided I needed something in my life that wasn't to do with computers. Most of the people in my class only talked about computers all day and had no social lives.
Southland Polytechnic became the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) and I started the year 2000 on track to complete my Diploma in Business Computing. As I was only 7 modules short of completing the course I could only study part time and as such did not qualify for any assistance through Studylink, fortunately as I had a part time job I was able to increase my hours at work and continue to study. I worked 30-40 hours a week at BP working evenings and weekends and studied during the day, this worked fine except when tutors would change the timetable every few weeks and with classes finishing when I was due to start work I ended up missing some classes. I came short of passing the course by 1 paper that paper was a Jade programming paper as a result I didn't complete the course until the end of 2001. During this period I also started building my home network, my original setup consisted of an old computer running Windows NT Server 4.0 which I setup as a domain controller, I also had our internet connection shared through this server, to this day I have continued to run a home network.
2002 started with me asking myself what to do now that I had graduated, in the short term I managed to go full time at BP. I was considering moving to Christchurch to find an IT job up there. I was actually offered a computing job in Queenstown but the problem was finding somewhere to live up there. I found most jobs I applied for I was told that I needed more experience or a degree. I did consider going back to Polytech to do the Bacehlor of IT but the big issue was that I could not afford to give up work to go back and study now that I had moved out of home. In 2003 I went to the Freezing Works as a short term solution to pay off debt and build up savings so I could go back to study however those plans were shelved after being diagnosed with cancer at the end of 2004.
On the 23rd December 2004 I was diagnosed with cancer for the next year this affected almost every aspect of my life. The computer was the best thing
for me to take my mind off the cancer. After starting treatment I was forced to move back in with my parents as I was no longer capable of doing simple
things such as cooking myself a meal or keeping the house tidy. My parents bought themselves a laptop that I could use while in hospital, I found the laptop
was also great at home where I could sit in the lazyboy during the evenings with the laptop and surf the web while watching TV. I still used my desktop
to do tasks that could not be done on the laptop such as playing games.
While going through my treatment my mum started writing a diary from her perpestive, at the time mum even had an idea of putting together something that could be published. My mums idea was a book from a mothers point of view, I then got a similar idea to start writing about my treatment and put it online and the obvious place to publish this was on howden.net.nz. I actually had the diary on this website from the middle of 2005 so readers could follow my treatment as it took place. I got this idea after seeing mum read other peoples cancer diaries and reading Lance Armstrong's book "It's Not About The Bike."
The computer was an excellent tool to help me through my treatment, the doctor who did my surgery even told me to get onto my computer or PlayStation as much as I can after my operation as therapy to get my arm back into action, best advice I have had from any of the doctors. I didn't spend much time researching about my treatment for me using the computer was my escape from the reality of the treatment.
The cancer treatment in 2005 prompted me to make decisions about my future employment, my position at the Meat Works was kept open but due to the nature of the surgery I had it was my doctors recommendation that I did not return there once my treatment was complete. The Oncology Counsellor was going to try and set me up some work experience in the IT department at the hospital but with no luck. The counsellor then wanted to try and get me into accounting something I was not interested in. I ended up returning to the Meat Works initially on light duties and returned to full duties after just a week on the job as I handled the job just fine. The plan was just to finish my first season back at the Meat Works and look at my options during the off season. I approached Workbridge who assist people with disabilities in finding employment, my qualifying disability was the cancer and the fact I have no right colar bone as a result of the cancer. When I first approached Work Bridge in 2006 they weren't much help and suggested I apply for jobs at fast food places. I ended up returning to the Meat Works for another 3 seasons and simply working at BP in the off seasons this combination generally worked quite well for the next 3 years.
This year I finally made a decision to return to study, 8 years after completing my original course. Shorter seasons at the Meat Works meant I was able to study during my off season for the next couple of years. I was able to go straight into the second year of the Bachelor of IT course as many of the first year papers could be crossed credited from my Diploma in Business Computing. The papers I enjoyed the most were the project management papers, not because I liked project management but because I enjoyed being able to do a project for a business or charity. In 2009 my project was to build a website for the Southern Pride Invercargill Lions club and in 2010 I was project lead for a year long project to build a website for a Wellington Radio Station. Other papers I enjoyed doing was a web development paper, networking papers and programming papers.
When I began my course in 2009 I had given thought as to what I would do once I had graduated from my course. I was considering moving north as there are more IT opportunties outside of Southland in
particular if I was to move to Christchurch or Dunedin. In 2011 the Christchurch earthquake put me off moving up there. I was set to graduate from the BIT course this year however then found out many
of the papers I had done 10 years earlier could not be cross credited due to the time since I completed these papers so would need to do almost the entire course to graduate.
The good news is that in April I was offered a job at Gen-i Southland as a Service Desk Engineer. The main condition of accepting this employment was I would need to resign from my course at SIT due to a conflict of interest as I would be providing IT support to SIT. I managed to get this job as a result of dropping in my CV in 2009 requesting to do some work experience, this lead to an interview for a Junior Engineer position in 2010 which I was not successful at applying for but six months later was offered the role as a Service Desk Engineer. As part of my training and developmemt plan, offered by Gen-i, I completed my CompTIA A+ Certification in December.
I completed my CompTIA Server+ Certification in June. In October, for the first time ever, I didn't rush out and buy the next release of Windows, when Microsoft released Windows 8, instead I happily stuck with Windows 7.
In 2013 I continued to work at Gen-i on the Service Desk, over the past 2 years the team had grown and as a result the need for a second tier on the Service Desk was established. So in April I was promoted to a Level 2 Service Desk
Engineer role. My role on the Service Desk changed to becoming a first escalation point for the more complex requests the Service Desk receive and more of a training and mentoring role for new employees.
In June 2013 I completed my CompTIA Network+ Certification. In October 2013 I also continued to use Windows 7 on my PC when Windows 8.1 was released.
Between 2013 and 2017 the company I worked for went through several changes, a name change in 2014 from Gen-i to Spark Digital. This was a nationwide rebrand coinciding with Telecom rebranding as Spark. As the company I worked for was a Spark franchise we decided to end this agreement in 2016 dropping the Spark brand name, we then became Computer Group New Zealand or CGNZ. In 2016 I finally moved from the Service Desk to working onsite as a Service Engineer. In 2017 Computer Group New Zealand was sold to local IT company Focus, I was employed by Focus as a Systems Engineer.
After spending the past 7 years working for an IT company and supporting customers around Southland and New Zealand I decided it was time for a change. I decided I would enjoy working in the IT department for a company as opposed to working for an IT company. I liked the idea that my customers would be my work colleagues, the same people I would have morning tea and Friday drinks with. In December 2018 I began working for H&J Smiths Department Store as a computer technician.