Who is Ken Nickeson? First let me tell you who I'm not. I'm not a wet-behind-the-ears tech whiz kid so if that's what you are looking for, I suggest you save your time and read no further. What I am is a seasoned computer professional with more than 40 years programming experience. I believe that the person we are today, is a result of the life experiences we have had. In telling you who I am, I would like to share some of my experiences and how they changed me.
I grew up on a dairy farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania that has been in my family for more than 150 years. What did that experience teach me that shapes my thinking today? It taught me about hard work, instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit, and showed me the importance of "making hay when the sun shines" and gave me the "old-fashioned" value that a man is only as good as his word.
After high school, I attended Pennsylvania State University where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Why was my Penn State experience important? Besides being a top university, Penn State took a unique approach to a computer science education. At that time, most computer science curriculums took one of three paths. Some were part of the business school and concentrated on business applications and data processing. Some schools placed computer science in the math department and concentrated on solving complex mathematical calculations. The third possibility was that computer science would be part of the Engineering School and focus on computer hardware technologies. Penn State chose to make computer science its own department. Although the curriculum included courses in business applications and mathematical analysis, the focus of the curriculum was on computer software such as operating system theory, compiler theory and computer graphics. I believe that approach gave me the solid software foundation that has served me well in my long career.
I started my career as a programmer and was part of team developing a power control system for the Power Authority State of New York at Niagara Falls. That system monitored more than 40,000 points (circuit breakers, voltmeters, etc) and was developed using a 16 bit minicomputer with just 16 KB of memory. That's not a typo, just 16 KB of memory. That experience really taught me the need to write tight and efficient code.
My next job was as instructor for GTE Information Systems. I really loved that job. I travelled all over America and the world giving courses on GTE devices. Not only did I get to travel, something that a farm boy had never done, but I also met incredible people, and got the opportunity to see, first-hand, behind the scenes at many of the world's biggest corporations and government installations. After three years at GTE, they decided to leave the peripheral/ minicomputer business so I moved to a small minicomputer manufacturer, Interdata. At Interdata (which during my tenure was purchased by Perkin Elmer Corporation and then was spun off as Concurrent Data Systems), I continued my career as an instructor for another two years. Unfortunately, after two years, I had reached the top of my salary grade and had to leave the training center. I took the in-depth knowledge that I had previously used for instructing and applied it to other areas of Interdata's business. First, I spent 7 months as a consultant to Singer-Link at the Johnson Space Center supporting their efforts in the development of the Space Shuttle Simulators. This was in the late '70s prior to the first shuttle launch so it was extremely exciting to be involved. That time was followed by a year in the home office as a software support specialist. That job taught me to really listen to a customer's software issue then diagnose the problem. After software support, I joined the System Troubleshooter Team. On this team, a pair of engineers, one hardware and one software, would be sent out to resolve system problems that local personnel were unable to resolve. That was like being a firefighter. I could be called out on a moment's notice and sent anywhere in the world and would stay until the problem was solved. That experience really allowed me to hone my diagnostic chops and to hone my customer service skills because by the time I was brought in, the system had been failing for a while and the customers were none too happy, rightfully so. I am pleased to say, I was always able to come home and to leave behind a satisfied customer.
My last project at Interdata was working on a team developing the largest privately-owned computer network in the world. Little did I know at the time that this project would become my career. Although I started the project as an Interdata employee, in 1981 I resigned and became an independent consultant working on the same project for the client . I worked on that project until the network was de-commissioned and replaced 25 years later. At the height of the project, there were more than 75 consultants. I'm proud to say that I was the last man to be let go.. Why do I think that was? Over those 25 years I wore many hats, integration testing, system testing, configuration management, transaction processing coding, operating system maintenance and modifications, system troubleshooting and OS crash analysis. I did it all. Whereas many of my colleagues stuck with one area, each time a need surfaced, I would step up and volunteer. In so doing, I eventually had expertise in all areas of the project and was able to survive until the systems were powered down on January1, 2006.
When my consulting contract was completed, I decided to re-invent myself and focus on web technologies. To achieve that goal, I have read numerous books on the subject as well as completing more than 140 online video courses over the last eight years to learn and keep up with the ever evolving web technologies. Click here to see my web technology skills.
So if you have a computing need and are looking for someone with the following characteristics, please contact me.