I started learning to code as a kid in the late 90’s. I was fascinated with computers and I wanted to make my own computer games. There were no kids coding tutorials or YouTube available then so I used the dial-up Internet in my Dad’s office to search for game programming tutorials on Yahoo! and Excite.com, using up all his printer paper to print out QBasic computer code that I’d take home and type into my old 486 computer.
The first line of code I ever wrote was modifying QBasic code in a game called ‘Gorillas’ to make sure my banana always hit my enemy…
I discovered Linux in 2002 after reading the book ‘Rebel Code’ that I found in the local library. The first Linux distribution I used was Red Hat Linux 7.3, before Red Hat split into RHEL and Fedora Core, that I found on 3 CDs attached to the back of a magazine. I fell in love with the freedom and variety that Linux offered and the ability to change things and make my system my own if I wanted to. I’ve used most of the major Linux distros, distro-hopping from Red Hat and Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, SUSE, Mandrake, PCLinuxOS, Linux Mint, Gentoo, Arch Linux…. I’ve tried my hand at LFS and building my own distribution, and I’ve used all of the BSD’s and OpenSolaris as well.
Being a young boy fascinated with computers, I naturally discovered security and hacking. I would read online tutorials and ezines about cracking software, reverse engineering and phone phreaking, I used to sit up all night reading books like The Art of Assembly Language and Hack Attacks Revealed, and while I can honestly say I’ve never been tempted to the Black Hat or illegal aspects of hacking, I wanted that same in-depth knowledge of the machine and advanced programming skills that the elite hackers had.
I took an unconventional route into my career, never quite fitting in at school, and only ever wanting to be behind a keyboard, writing code or exploring systems. I had to work things out for myself and keep pushing myself in the direction that I wanted to go.
I was hired for my first web development job in 2008 to build and maintain a website for a local “adult entertainment” business. Their website was built in Adobe Flash by a previous developer who they had cut ties with and no one had access to the source code for the existing website, so I rebuilt the site in WordPress to make it easy for the staff to update content.
For the next few years I worked mainly as a freelancer or contractor, building and maintaining websites for clients and small businesses. In 2012, I worked for a small IT service provider in Sydney that developed course enrolment software for schools and colleges. This was my first exposure to “real” Unix servers, mainly FreeBSD and Red Hat Linux.
In 2017, I was hired as a Technical Lead where I was responsible for a team of developers and over 70 high-traffic commercial websites, including managing the entire AWS environment, production Linux servers, and the security and reliability of all the digital assets.
I currently work as a Linux Systems Administrator, responsible for operational support, systems administration and security automation across a fleet of Enterprise Linux servers. Most days I’m usually building and maintaining Linux servers, writing scripts and automations using tools like Python, Bash and Ansible, responding to service tickets and implementing services across the organisation: