My name is Matt Hannan. I am a husband, father, brother, son, and uncle. By day, I’m a data networker in a financial services data center in Boston, MA, and by night I’m a genealogist in Greenville, RI (by lots of days, too). My interests are woodworking, genealogy and DNA, learning the Irish language and trying to become a web developer.
I have been involved with computers since my father built a Sinclair ZX81 from a HeathKit. I started programming it on the first day. We then had a steady increase in computing power in the house, including a RadioShack TRS80. I did a fair bit of programming on that beast. Eventually, my father started bringing home a work computer. This was a far cry from the laptops of today, but rather a Compaq Portable. Two 5.25″ floppy drives! Not being the easiest piece of gear to move back and forth, we had that machine in the house for a few years as I recall. Eventually, though, it was time for us to get our own PC. My father purchased an IBM PCjr. I loved that computer. Learned BASIC on it, ventured out of the house via a 1200 baud modem onto the local Bulletin Board Systems, connected to a very early “online mall” called CompuServe, and phreaked a bit like all the other geeks my age. I even brought that computer to college with me and connected it to the Computer Science Department’s mainframe from my dorm room…in order to submit my PASCAL homework. NO ONE was doing that at that point in time. I still have that PCjr. It may have been kind of joke at the time, but some of the features were way ahead of their time. I was also working full-time as a Computer Operator at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. Old, big iron. One of the programmers had a IBM PC. Everything else was mainframe.
After I left college, I also left the geek life. But it seemed that every job I had always managed to find a way to saddle me with “care and feeding of the computer” duties. From dishwasher in a local restaurant (I am probably the only dishwasher that ever had to backup the restaurant’s hard drive (yes, singular) on a weekly basis) to a lab tech in a paint factory (I was tasked with entering stack emission numbers into a PARADOX database) to the assistant manager of an Army-Navy store (built an inventory system in Excel 95). At about this time, I felt the Call of the Geek and, at my father’s urging, built my first PC. My iPhone is far more powerful than that computer was, but it taught me enough to get hired as a PC tech at a small firm in Providence, RI. From there I built a data networking career in Corporate America. While on-the-job teaching myself Cisco networking, I also taught myself how to use Red Hat Linux. I ran a web server out of my apartment for about a decade, but now I use a hosting service.