Sharing my knowledge in an info-driven world

My name is Michael Dexter and I’m a software architect.

How did I get here?

Growing up I knew one thing: I wanted to be fortunate enough to go to work everyday and do something I was excited and passionate about. I also wanted to prove that it could be done without a college degree.

I did not know then what I was going to do in life so I let it take its course. In doing so, I grew up wearing many hats, learning many things and meeting many people. I can honestly say I have enjoyed my life. I do have college courses under my belt, but to this day, still no college degree.

At age 12 I got a paper route. At 15 I worked at a supermarket. I spent several years in the auto industry; lot attendant, detailing, parts and sales and I even ran a limo company for a couple years too.

In 1997 I got my first computer and everything changed. It was a Fujitsu laptop with a 56k modem and AOL for internet. Can you hear the dial tones?

It was soon after that I decided I needed to get into computers so I signed up at a local college evening program and took a course in PC Service and Support. This is where it all began.

The course taught me all I needed to know about hardware and operating systems.

I have always been a work-with-my-hands kind of guy so taking apart hardware and putting it back together came easily for me. What really interested me was learning DOS commands for building and repairing a hard drive and installing an operating system. At the time the internet was on fire and the phrase “you’ve got mail” was all you ever heard. I was also fortunate to be friends with a guy who knew a lot about computers so hanging out with him really accelerated my learning of advanced techniques. I look back at these early days and remember them fondly.

The following year I took another course, this time on Windows NT Administration. This class had several modules and for many of the modules I had the same instructor.  By the third module I had become friends with the instructor. One evening after class the instructor asked me if I had heard of a company called Rational Software.  At the time I did not know what Rational Software was. The instructor went on to say they had been offered a job with the company in technical support. The instructor asked me if they should take the job.  I said yes, why not? The offer seemed good and the company appeared interesting.

A month later, the instructor and I were talking and I was asked if I also wanted to join Rational Software.  I was told the company was great and the instructor really liked the people there. I said yes and went through the interview process. It was not long after that I received an offer in the mail.  I had been working as a temp at a hardware company called Compaq at the time so the decision to accept this offer for full-time employment from Rational Software was a no-brainer for me.

The next day I went to the office of the hardware company and gave my boss the standard two-week notice. A few days later, my boss’s boss called me into a meeting where an offer to hire me full-time was presented.

So there I was with two offers in hand. One for a software company and one with a hardware company.  The offer with the hardware company was $16,000 more. You can imagine being 27 years old and thinking about the decision I had to make.  As I sat there in my room one night, the choice became clear to me. I asked myself which would survive in a down economy. I decided software would still sell.

I did not choose to go with the money and 15 years later I’m glad I made that choice.

A little more about my background:

I was born and raised in a small town 30 miles west of Boston known as Hudson.

I graduated in 1991 at Hudson High School and attended one year of college the following year at, Mount Wachusett C.C. where I studied Criminal Justice. My decision to leave college and enter the work world was my own. Although a career in criminal justice was appealing to me, I found greater interest learning a technology based skill and being around people.

When I am not at work I enjoy time with friends and family.  I love to take long drives through the country, go Jeeping off-road, go to the beach and just relax at home or at a friends house. My favorite genre of music is country and I am a dedicated Johnny Cash fan.

I have owned six Jeeps and have been Jeepin’ for 20 years. I once took a 3-week drive and put more than 10,000 miles on the odometer. I met my wife because of my second Jeep.

It was a late evening in July of 2003 and I was heading to the bank to make a deposit. At the end of my street is a stop sign, where I happened to notice a woman putting the soft top on her Jeep. I did not think anything of this until I was on my way back home 45 minutes later and the woman was still putting on her Jeep top. Having owned a Jeep I knew this could be done in five minutes so I stopped to offer to help. That is how I met my wife Linda and my first son Liam who was only 3 years old at the time. Today, we have three children: Liam, Logan and Laryssa and two pets: Cappy the cat and Angel the puppy.

I could fill chapters with the stories of my life but let me take a moment to tell you about my blog. Life has taught me to be kind to others and to never forget where you came from. Along the way, so many have been kind to me and helped me to get where I am today and now I feel it is time to start giving back.

I have been working with Rational Software products, now IBM, since April of 2000.  That is almost 15 years of experience today. I have a lot to share.  I remember those first days and those first years like they were yesterday.  When I ran into someone with good knowledge I never forgot who they were and would rely on them for accurate information.

This field is full of experts but today I launch this blog with the intention of simply sharing what I know, what I have run into, my thoughts and my opinions.

Any topic is open for discussion and I welcome any feedback.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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