Page Created: 8/1/2014   Last Modified: 8/2/2023   Last Generated: 11/16/2023
My career for the past 27 years has been in IT Systems, Network, and Security administration, but I have also written a variety of programs in multiple programming languages (and language itself, is fascinating to me).
I was Network+ certified in 2005 and received my Red Hat RHCSA certification in 2013. I also received my General class amateur radio license in 2016.
In 2015, I completed two wonderful MOOC courses on complexity mathematics from the Santa Fe Institute and also gave a presentation at a RogueLike game programming conference at Georgia Tech about a solar-powered electronic game I created, and in 2018, I completed the first prototype of my two-year robotic radio project called TrillSat.
My personal web site, greatfractal.com, that first went online on August 1st, 2014, and was also self-programmed, is a culmination of much of this. It uses a content-management system that I designed from scratch to assist me in efficiently managing and publishing my projects. I don't use social media but did use a Twitter account twitter.com/leedjavaherian for 9 years to report site outages until they forced users to login with an account just to view the page↗, so I moved that page to an off-site host and generate the status page myself.
I don't plan to use the status page for anything other than site outages since I have my own blog. I don't use GitHub either, as all of my source code is self-hosted here. I created an account on Hackaday.io in 2018 for the purpose of entering TrillSat into the 2018 Hackaday prize competition, along with a YouTube page to publish the demonstration videos↗, but my most recent project updates are at greatfractal.com/TrillSat.html.
In my earliest IT jobs, I administered Novell Netware 4 and 5 systems running NDS, then later began administering Windows NT and 2000 server and Active Directory. I've administered e-mail systems such as Exchange and Lotus Notes (although Notes is more than just e-mail), and have also administered IIS. I was once, reluctantly, a security administrator for an SAP R/3 ERP system and have performed security auditing for SOX compliance. I've worked my share of computer help desks, and I've done network administration as well, administering switches, routers and firewalls, installing video-on-demand and videoconferencing equipment, wiring CAT5 through walls and ceilings, testing with an old Microtest PentaScanner, crimping connectors and using a punch-down tool. Those were the good old days...
But those were my day jobs, and at home I experimented with Linux. My first distro was Slackware in the mid 1990's, but when Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog came out in 2005, I decided that Linux on the desktop was the future of computing and switched all of my home systems and desktops to Linux. I still have the original free CDs that Canonical mailed me. My current favorite distros are Void Linux and Arch Linux (with its excellent wiki), and then Ubuntu (and, of course, Debian, the foundation for Ubuntu). Each distro uses a different package manager, but Void is free of systemd (using runit instead) and directly supports the Raspberry Pi series, including ARMv6 (for the Pi 0/1), AArch64, musl, and even my old 32-bit i686 Atom N270 netbook, things that are important to me.
I haven't used Windows in my personal life for many years and only use it if required in the workplace. I have never owned an Apple product other than an iMac that one of my friends gave me (on which I installed a PowerPC version of Linux). I own a Google Pixel 5a smartphone, de-googled and using F-Droid as my app repository, and do most of my desktop computing and 3D printing on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 2 GB RAM running Fluxbox on ARMv8 Arch Linux ARM.
I've never purchased a PC or Apple desktop for my personal use. I have assembled every PC-compatible desktop that I have ever owned since my old Amiga 500 days at the CPU and circuit board level. My first "PC" was a Packard Bell 386 compatible that one of my friend's mothers gave me. Once I disassembled it and learned how they were constructed, I went to the store and bought a large, thick volume of Computer Shopper magazine, and ordered the motherboard, CPU, RAM, case, and cards from mail-order suppliers. It was so easy I wondered why anyone bought a pre-assembled PC, as I could customize the hardware to my specifications. I would read about new chips and benchmarks at tomshardware.com and later anandtech.com. Over the years, I must have built one hundred PC's for myself, family and friends, and at some of my workplaces. My PC technician skills are a given, which I what I assumed would be the case for any of my IT co-workers.
But in the workplace, I found that this trait is rare, that many of my IT co-workers did not have the same broad knowledge or enthusiasm. Some people were programmers (a.k.a. "developers"), some were database administrators, some were hardware technicians, some were network technicians, some were security specialists, some were system administrators.
I was none of these things. I was all of these things.
I grew up during the 8-bit era trying to learn everything I could about "the computer", not some aspects, but ALL aspects. And when I encountered something I didn't like, I found that it was usually because I felt that someone was doing it the wrong way, that there was a better way...
The fields of computing have become as separated and specialized as the fields of business or academia in society. Something becomes lost when people specialize. We lose grasp of the entity as a whole.
The beauty of Linux is that you can do just about anything you can dream up. The software can be configured to do anything. The limitations are not in the software, but in our mind. This is a wonderful freedom that I never had when using proprietary software that was restricted by cost, licensing, or vendor lock-in. It returned me to the academic idealism that I had in my youth.
Around 20 years ago, while at work running a datacenter of rack-mounted Windows servers, at home I would have a room full of those ugly white PC towers. I even used to build my own OpenBSD-based firewalls and NAT gateways before they could be easily purchased (or before dd-wrt came on the scene).
I decided to get my RHCSA certification on my own in 2013 and in recent years have transitioned into a career of programming and administering Linux in the workplace.
But in my personal life, I have scaled back and gone minimalistic, got rid of those noisy, power-hungry towers. I still keep an old Intel Core i3-550 with an Nvidia GTX 750 Ti GPU around for heavy processing tasks (and have experimented with OpenCL GPGPU programming), but I replaced the others with the tiny, cool and silent RaspberryPi computers. They are still doing fancy things, but in a different and more cost-effective way. And I'm going even smaller now, working on the ESP8266 and the even smaller tiny AVR.
I have a B.A. in Communication, with an emphasis in Mass Media, but did about 6 years of undergraduate work, have the credit equivalent of a minor in mathematics.
My first major was Computer Engineering, then I switched to English, then to Communication, then back to Computer Science, and then I got disillusioned with academia and called it quits.
But because of the work of people in the free software, open-hardware, amateur radio and maker-movement communities, my disillusionment with academia has been reduced to certain parts of it, as there are those wonderful individuals that still strive for that ideal and keep the standards high. Over the last 18 years, I finally understood the immense power of Web 2.0 and NoSQL which led me to eventually become proficient in technologies such as Foswiki and taught me a new language of thinking that I could use to later create my own technologies. My past Lotus Notes administration experience translated well into Foswiki. I haven't been able to quite yet see how Web 3.0, or how Tim Berners-Lee's Semantic Web will form. It is very possibly already here, but I cannot yet see it. The widespread use of robots and AI is sneaking up on us, and one day we might suddenly find ourselves in a very different world.
When I was studying communication in 1991, we knew something like the World Wide Web would form, but we didn't know exactly how or when, or what type of network it would use, and it formed faster than all of us expected.
I've been a runner my whole life, running middle-distance track (800m, 1500m, 1600m, mile run) and cross-country (5K, 8K, 10K) in high school and college. Now I run for health, self-discipline, and for fun. I still run occasional races in the area to keep pushing that envelope, but moreover, I enjoy watching people of all ages, abilities, and walks of life run in the event. For a moment in time, everyone is your friend, your comrade coming home from a great battle. Running has been invaluable to my adult life.
I also enjoy flying discs, yo-yos, weight-lifting, swimming, bicycling, and tennis. I like seeing movies, musicians, speakers, the performing arts, Japanese anime, playing the old Dreamcast SoulCalibur (the greatest fighting game ever made), and occasionally playing the MMORPG and RogueLike.
Like other people my age or older, I've been alive long enough to see patterns repeat themselves. But I'm also tempered by my knowledge of science, complex systems, computing and information to realize that coincidence can easily be confused with complexity. And if we truly understood this complexity, we might also understand the unknown. In other words, the world is already providing us with the answers, it's not that we don't have enough information, but that we have too much, and don't know which is meaningful.
This is one of the motivations for my interests, projects, research, and self-study. When I look at or experience something, my internal filter is usually on, so I when I see unusual connections, or something unexplained, I wonder where it fits in my mind's categorization system. In social environments, I may not catch the joke right away if I haven't turned the filter off, but I may instead have made a surprising connection in the meantime. Puns are therefore easy for me. Wit, however, is difficult, which I tend to counter with Logic. Tact, is another matter entirely, and has to be practiced. Lecturing someone on some esoteric, abstract concept like I'm doing right now--easy schmeezy.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. There is only so much energy in each of us. Our physiology is an engine, and we each distribute our chemical fuel in different ways. But modern physics tells us that there is a relationship between energy and information, and that the physical world may reside inside the informational one, not the other way around. So no matter how skilled any of us are in anything, we're all bounded by physics in the same way, like a dove in a cage↗.
Bridging the Arts and the Sciences is therefore the key to truth, which requires communication between different types of thinkers all around the world. We, the people alive today, are lucky to live in an age of enlightenment. There are a lot of people before us to thank for this. Thank you, whoever you were.