October 02, 2012, 11:50 AM —
Back in my undergrad days at M.I.T. there was a saying that I heard way too much: Everyone eventually goes Course 6. At M.I.T., the majors - like all the buildings - were (and still are) numbered. Course 1 is Civil Engineering, Course 2 Mechanical Engineering and so on. Course 6 is Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the largest department at the ‘tute. So, the implication was that, even if you were not a Course 6 major, you’d either become one or land up doing that kind of work, eventually.
Whatever, I thought. I wasn’t Course 6; I was course 14 (Economics) and I wanted no part of Course 6. The closest I got to Course 6 was Course 18 (Math) - a multiple of 6 - which, actually, I quite liked. But, Course 6 as a major or a career? No thanks.
Naturally, after getting my B.S. in Course 14, I landed up spending 15 years as a programmer. Touche, nerds!
I mention this all because I’d like to introduce a corollary to that statement, which would apply to everyone (not just M.I.T. students) in today’s world of smartphones, tablets, iPods, digital cameras, etc. Here it is:
Everyone - or at least one person in each household - eventually becomes an IT support specialist.
One of the most important roles I now fill in my family is being the IT support guy, all the way from desktop support to network administration to phone system maintenance. So now, in addition to the tasks that your average suburban dad usually handles like mowing the lawn, getting the oil in the cars changed and grilling lots of meat I now have to do (or worry about) things like:
Network support: We have your standard wireless network via a cable modem and router.
Server administration: We use a Time Machine for Mac backups, an older NAS device for older random junk.