This is not a moan, not by any means. But it is me putting the record straight, with regards to what I can or cannot do.
I'm not a PC expert. I know this will shock some of you, but when my careers officer (a homosexual music teacher called Mr. Vassell) asked what I wanted to do when I left school, I did not say "Fix people's computers." Rather more surprisingly, I told him I wanted to be a graphic designer (see elsewhere on these pages). At the age of 15, I'd got the bug for electronics from my sister's boyfriends Sid and then Chris (not at the same time, I hasten to add). I already knew how to program two languages (Basic and Assembly) by then and I knew that leaving school and getting turned down for art college, I'd end up in nerds heaven doing computer studies. I was right.
BTeC National Diploma in Computer Studies is a really really bad course to do if you want to learn electronics. My mate Ian had gone the right route, and was doing a vocational course meaning every Monday he'd learn how to repair TVs and Videos. Well, that was until we found the pub down the road, in which case we didn't learn anything on a Monday. We, meanwhile, on the Dork's diploma, were learning how to make a database in Pascal, or more importantly, how to use DOS.
Fast forward a few years, and I ended up at Southend College. I wanted to learn how to make and program my own computer systems, and after a meeting with one of the lead tutors we set up a course called Microprocessor Appreciation, which would be part time and at HNC level. It would cover things like the internal architecture of a processor, programming (CoBoL, then C, then assembly, and FORTran), basic interface techniques and presentation skills. All this in a 50 x 12 hour learning strategy.
I came out of college with a distinction (92%) and went full time working in the local arcade (!), before a year later getting my first proper job designing and implementing Dinah, the infamous chip making vending machine. It was whilst doing this that I took what basic knowledge I had of PCs (about the level of most users today) and started to upgrade my own PC at home, learning how to make it play the latest games etc. I progressed up to working for fruit machine companies, and before long I was also building PCs for other people. I still hankered after what I'd learned in college, but if you stand with a sandwich board offering on one side PC repair and the other embedded systems design, more people will want you to remove that "damned virus."
I tell my customers that PCs aren't the only thing I can do.
Above is an example of a simple circuit that has me grinning ear to ear.
(the scourge of my life)
I can (and do) anything that plugs in, except white goods. I can fix my tumble drier, but I'm not happy enough to do it for others. I do mobile phones, security cameras, car stereos, in fact anything with a need for moving electrons from A to B. I can also program an obscenely large amount of languages and processors (about 60 in fact).
Meanwhile, I get another call. "Can you install Autocad for me," or "I need a hand setting up my new PC."
Where did I go wrong?
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