I am 59 years old. After 28 years in an untitled position over a 25-user Novell/NT network system in a southeastern sheet metal shop, I am now a full time author and a part-time PC repair tech working our of my home.Being self-taught, I do not have any documented Novell or NT skills. Yet the work I performed involved installing and configuring servers, setting up security procedures, running cable, installing and configuring workstations, customizing a mismatch of software to fit into a versatile environment, and much more. I also wrote custom applications to integrate with sales and accounting software that ran in RPG on an AS400 mainframe. To the mainframe crowd I was a computer hacker but to our management and engineering personnel I was the entire in-house computer service center.A personal pleasure in solving puzzles led me into computer programming. Back in the early 1980s, desktop systems were just taking off. In many companies, existing talent from other areas of the shop manned the PC department. For me, this opened doors into the job of my choice.I would not change much concerning my computer work, but if I could start over again gaining an official education would be my primary concern.Programming and network management stir my mind and heart. There is great joy in the sense of accomplishment that comes from releasing folks from the mountains of hand-created paperwork that hinder a society that lacks computer access. Now days I suppose, it is more a matter of releasing them from inefficient software, virus attacks, and buggy hardware.Perhaps you wonder why I retired to the life of a writer rather than continuing in a field that challenges my intellect, motivates me to continue learning, and enables me to help people in the process. It falls back to my lack of an official education. In the early 1980s, ability sometimes exceeded the power of a certification or a degree. In fact, both Novell and Microsoft were just beginning to introduce their MCE and NCA and MCSE certification programs. At the time, I had gainful and rewarding employment. I thought myself too busy to take any classes and too capable to worry about certifications. The industry moved into a new phrase of skill recognition. I continued to perform without concern for what a future in computer networking might demand.It began in 1979 with a Tandy TRS-80 desktop system. At the time, I was sidelining as a writer. This moved me to look into the prospects of a computer as an authoring and editing tool. Around mid-1980, I switched over to an integrated Atari 800XL home computer. It was about that same time that Southeastern Metal Products moved me into the position of Production Control Manager of their 100+ employee shop. Since the inner workings of a computer intrigued me, I began to ponder how I could utilize a computer in the creation of our shop scheduling paperwork. So I wrote a program, sold the company president on the idea, and before long we had our first IBM XT sitting on my desk. From that point, each machine birthed the next and each custom application generated the need for another until suddenly I found myself installing my first Novell server. I later added an NT server and several tape, CD, and software backup procedures.My entire career in computer programming and computer networking involved a multitude of learning sessions. I was smart and counted myself as such. I rejected the AS400 and any attempts to integrate it more deeply into our internal company workings. In so doing, I further distanced myself from the educated crowd. It was a prideful and foolish behavior pattern.It is so strange. The very resistance that limited my education also enabled me to resolve software and hardware complications that the AS400 and the certified crowd deemed hopeless. I learned one important lesson: If a programmer can conceive the logic of a problem, he or she can write code that will activate that logic.In 1998, I opened a computer sales and service shop. I often subcontracted to a customer that held the Crown Service and the Burger King systems repair contract. They paid well, and the pay always covered my travel time as well as my labor time. I remember making a five-hour Sunday run to Asheville, N.C. for them only to discover that the supposed system problem was not what they had scheduled me to correct. They had shipped in an entire new server, but the unit merely needed a $35.00 external modem – a component that was not included with the new system. I had passed an Asheville located Best Buy on the way in and offered to go down and pick one up, but the service contractor insisted that I must use their components. I went back home with full pay. On the following Tuesday, they shipped in a new modem and paid me for a second trip to Asheville. I plugged the modem into the wall and the server. The pay came out to 5.5 hours. What a waste of funds.Just isolating a select software pack that performs all that I need without causing the system to crash can become the frustrating part of computer management. But it certainly does feel good when a plan comes together.I don’t have many regrets, but if I could reach back in time and give myself one single piece of advise concerning Novell, Windows, or anything else computer related, it is this: Go to college, and be sure also to collect as many certifications as your field of expertise provides.