Back in 2003 a neighbour of mine needed some help with his Internet connection. Something to do with the wiring or a DSL filter, I don't exactly remember. We talked, I had a look and after helping him out with that he had some different problem with his son's computer. I think his son was trying to install a DVD-ROM drive. The details aren't that important, I've helped out a lot of people over a lot of years since I started messing around with building and programming computers as a kid.
Like so many other geeks, my love affair started with a crush on a Commodore Vic 20. I saved my allowance up and bought it in second grade. Used. If you're not familiar with it, it was basically a keyboard with a slot for cartridges and a couple ports for other peripherals. You'd plug it in to the TV, turn it on and get a prompt that said "READY". Then you could start writing programs in BASIC. I didn't get much beyond the classic:
10 ? "ROB IS COOL"
20 GOTO 10
By the time I finished my first degree, though, I'd been through two Commodores, the venerable Amiga 500 and was on my second IBM PC-compatible - a 486 I'd bought and upgraded on my own. Throughout the time I was in school I played games and programmed on these machines, one after another, seeing programming and hacking really as part of playing. I never produced a lot of code, just bits and pieces that got a job done for me. Remember that the genration I'm from is one where software was a one-way process. Somebody built it and we used it. Getting the source code and sending back changes wasn't realistic for most of us. So I developd a little bit of software for a lot of different systems and I did it because I enjoyed it. Along the way I developed a reputation for myself as a computer geek - people came to me and friends of mine to get computer problems fixed.
Anyhow, getting back to the present, or the recent past as it were, my neighbour needed a little help and I was more than willing to get into the guts of a computer newer than mine.
"Rob, can you help my son fix this? I can pay you."
"Don't worry about it, let's have a look and see what's going on."
I think I get it from my dad, he was a mechanic his whole life and worked in a garage for his father. He just liked fixing things. His business never really grew, it was just enough to keep us all fed and reasonably healthy. The work was the reason he did it, that was his interest. My interests are all about computer technology, networking, and the sorts of things that make the Internet great. So when my neighbour offered to pay me I dismissed it without thinking.
Later on that day I came back to the idea that the kinds of things I like to do are the kinds of things that other people need help with. More importantl, I can do more of the things I like to do if I get paid to do it. That was the notion that Late Night PC Service was born from.
The name comes from the fact that I can be a real night-owl and I wanted something unique and memorable. The thing is, while Late Night was created for the purpose of fixing computers, the second thing I needed was a website. The website started out as just a business card sort of site. The kind that just tells visitors where I am and how to get in touch.
Building this, my first site, gave me some personal connection with the ways that building a website is like programming. Programming is one of my great strengths so that's my analogy. Others see a website like a canvas to draw on and that can be a valid view as well. I found quickly that my artistic ability isn't that great so I rely on others for most of the artwork. The kind of work that I handle personally best is on the server side. The server side work is the back end that does the heavy lifting to bring all the content to users.