The Eclectic

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. – William Gibson

Celebrating 10 years working online

Posted by David Leslie on August 5, 2004

It just hit me in class tonight that I’ve been working in the online sector of Information Technology for 10 years.

I got my start working 4pm to 1am for CompuServe in the membership sales department. We would take inbound calls from people interested in joining CompuServe and we would fill their request for information while trying to get them to join the service. We would also pitch them CompuServe’s WinCIM software, books on the service and gift certificates. Here I learned that Z was Zead, what a postal code was and that I had found that my hobby was now my profession thanks to those few months on the phones at Ticketmaster.

When membership sales was outsourced (I got a trip to Denver to train the call center replacing us on how the CompuServe’s Internet services worked out of the deal) I was moved to tech support and started an internship with the new Internet Marketing group. This was a time of almost pure Hell. I was suffering from panic attacks, working under the last Intern who was on my case for not being as techinal as he was then having to take tech calls that I was barley trained to handle. I also played a small roll in the infamous Christmas Eve raid on the CompuServe Munich office. See we were using Open Relay with our Usenet servers and in that relay was every form of porn known to man. German government raid the office, arrested the Felix Somm on site and we in Columbus pulled all of the feeds off the relay. Knowing how popular these were, I gave customer service a list of what Usenet Newsgroups were pulled so that they would know not to bug the Supervisors and me asking what was up. Thing was, the morons sent the list to members, which then make it onto the net. The only saving grace was that I still loved to geek with the newest stuff on the service like the CompuServe CD Magazine. This would help me build up enough momentum to punch out and join the QA team. I also found out that part of my panic attacks were due to a heart rhythm disorder which had the exact same symptoms.

Over the next few years I would work with some really great and smart folks who always outnumbered the handful of major jerks. I learned a lot, bugged the crap out of people with my simpleton ‘ideas’ (I’m still think those shopping bots are going to hit someday) that never made it out of email, testing first products, then channels and finally web pages while surviving the

I had stock options (something no one in my family understood) . I was ‘reviewing’ games with FedEx every week dropping me off games from Microsoft like Crimson Skies and StarLancer a month before they hit the shelves. Free magazines from publishers trying to get us to buy ads where on the shredders all the time. Got to help with to find how to handle the .ART files AOL used.. OK so I gave them an email of someone who knew someone but they still owe me a Zilla doll! Life was good.

Then the TimeWarner deal hit the day my Mom had surgery and my now wife totaled her mini van in a wreck. A few weeks later I got a nice goodie box from TW with Casablanca on DVD and The Matrix on VHS (huh?) plus a Soprano’s t-shirt. The day after the deal closed about a year later, I was told that the company did not have a roll for me.

Two months later I had cashed out my stock (except for 80 shares that, like those bots, are going to be bank someday) landed a gig at OCLC thanks to my boss taking a chance on me and bought a house (something my parents never did).

Now I’m learning about the joys of ISO, had a little guy with the partner, and headed back to school since the whole CompuServe thing was just to get some money so I could get my History degree.

I’ve also grown a ton. My life, like Computing 10 years ago is so different yet still maintains connections to the past that brought it to where it is.


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