About Dan Wadleigh

Dan Wadleigh - Windows Systems Administrator

Dan Wadleigh

Hi, welcome to the website!  I’m Dan Wadleigh an IT Professional with experience as a Windows Systems Administrator, enthusiasm for systems development, and interest in just about all technology. I am not a “ninja”, “guru” or self-proclaimed “expert”. I simply have worked in IT for years helping companies successfully operate while running and building their business.

Catching the IT Bug Early

Commodore 64

Commodore 64

My interest for all things IT stretches back to the days of the Commodore 64, with early attempts at programming in BASIC.  I really did try to program that address book so I could have a place to store all of my favorite baseball players addresses.  Wasn’t that everyone’s approach to autograph collecting?  (Thank you Brooks Robinson for signing and returning that first request.)  Growing up the son of an IBM computer programmer, I was introduced to the command line interface of DOS early, as well as exposed to OS/2 Warp.

Programmer by Training

IBM PS/2 with Windows 3.1

IBM PS/2

In my last year of high school, with green text computer terminal screens and 5 1/4″ floppy disks, I was introduced to computer programming via the Pascal language.  Off to college I got my very first computer – the IBM PS/2 with Windows 3.0 installed! Through a series of courses, at several institutions sandwiched around a US Marine Corps enlistment, I was trained in the halls of academia in Pascal (further), C, C++, Assembly and Visual Basic 6.  And I loved every single programming assignment!

The Internet and IT

HTML Goodies website tutorials

HTML Goodies

It was also during this latter time at college that I discovered internet programming.  A few Yahoo! searches for HTML tutorials (you do remember the days before Google right?), a couple of purchases at the student bookstore, and a lot of “View Source” / Notepad copy-and-paste reverse engineering of websites and I was hooked.  Some basic Photoshop skills and I submitted and (briefly) could claim the UMaine Sports website home design as my own.

So, what exactly did all of this programming have to do with becoming a SysAdmin?  Well, I didn’t just want to develop sites, I also thought it would be “fun” to try and build my own web server.  Because “everyone” knew web servers were all run  on Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP (LAMP) machines.  But, before I could convert my Sony Vaio desktop into a full blown Red Hat Linux-Apache web server with a Dynamic DNS service on my residential ISP, I left school and got my first job.

Uncle Sam’s Motivated Children

USMC - Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima

I left school for a season and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  To this day I consider it one of the greatest honors of my life to have worn the uniform and have the privilege of being called a Marine – “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”  I had the privilege of serving with and under some of the finest men.  I got to travel the world and appreciate people even more, as well as the honor of being selected to visit Iwo Jima and watching the sun rise from atop Mount Suribachi.

US Marines - The Few. The Proud.

USMC: Once, Always

It was during this time where I learned how to be a disciplined follower executing the leaders orders trusting their judgement and experience.  And then taking on the challenge of becoming a diligent leader worth following.  I wholeheartedly believe it was these experiences that have enabled me to fill my role within any team well.  Willing to do my best to support the appointed leader yet unafraid to step up and step in when called upon.  Systems administration can throw some tough challenges at a person and my training as a Marine has equipped me to calmly and clearly handle any issues.

Becoming an IT “Pro”

Windows 98

Windows 98

My experience with networking began after my enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps completed and return to college.  My first job out of school was as an Information Systems Support professional providing frontline support on an 150 client network for a private school and church (read: limited funds, MacGyver IT skills required).  It was the absolute best way to dive into IT, on a full-time staff of 2 with a network of Windows 98 machines (I won’t mention the one Windows ME box).

Mastering Windows 2000 Server with Mark Minasi

Win2K Server-Minasi

I really packed a years worth of PC/Network tech experience into 6 months and received my first real exposure to network administration.  Things in the Microsoft world really improved as Windows XP rolled out, and additionally, I was getting introduced to Windows & Exchange Server 2000, backups, ghosting, ERD‘s(!), the instructional brilliance of Mark Minasi and the value of good customer service.

Teaching Tech, the Web & Physics

Physics is phun!

Physics is phun!

We left the West Coast and headed back East where I received a teaching position at a startup … private school, no Silicon Valley ventures!  Did I mention the MacGyver IT skills really paid off as I had to build a student computer lab out of 100% donated machines.  I had the privilege of sharing my passion for computers through a series of classes in computing concepts including HTML programming, and even taught a little Biology, Chemistry and Physics while I was at it.

Engineers Run Networks Too

MSDN

MSDN

So, with a desire to be near my wife’s family we headed west to the Rocky Mountain region.  Still passionate about programming I applied as a jr web developer PHP/MySQL (ASP.NET was just coming to the forefront) with a software development company.  And at the conclusion of the interview was offered work as a contractor for a newly created Windows Systems Engineer position!  Isn’t that how most sysadmins get their start?

TechNet

TechNet

It was also with the promise that I’d be trained in professional programming practices.  Anyone with any experience in systems administration knows it demands your fullest attention, especially in the early learning stages.  And while they made good on their offer to train me in programming, I had to decline knowing my responsibilities were with the network.  Thus began the sysadmin journey and where the roads of TechNet and MSDN diverged (mostly).

Why Maine Systems Guide?

Registered Maine Guide

Wikipedia Definition: Maine Guides are individuals certified to accompany travelers on a number of outdoor activities in the wilderness of the State of Maine.

In short, they are the experts that help people navigate the Maine wilderness: hunting, fishing etc. (Note: not to be confused with the Indians minor league baseball team of the 80′s I saw play called the Maine Guides.)

Maine Systems GuideMaine Systems Guide

Dan’s Definition: IT Professional helping businesses navigate their computer systems providing IT services best practices.

Note: the Blue Lobster is real with estimates of one in every 2 million. It’s representative of my professional goal: “provide stand out, 1 in a million service.”

 … the Rest of the Story

I worked for the software company for a couple of years before moving on to other contract work.  And eventually heading back east where I worked for 3 1/2+ years administering the Windows network and systems on a multi-site, multi-national WAN in a fairly complex manufacturing environment.  It was challenging professionally and a pleasure personally.  And in my time back in CO I’ve been able to help implement IT best practices to a small yet highly successful business.

1/2 Water + 1/2 Air = FULL

1/2 Water + 1/2 Air = FULL

It typifies what I’ve come to enjoy about IT – the opportunities.  The opportunities to learn and be challenged technically are always available with each new hardware and software advance, the opportunities to grow professionally in business and management skills are always available to those who want to develop, and the opportunities to grow personally through daily interactions with department and company teams are available with every support request.  Looking forward to the many opportunities coming!

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