So what has he been up to?

Keeping with the reverse chronological listing approach, as of this update I'm a full-time technical editor with a branch of IBM Japan. Obscenely pleasant work, but I don't want to bore you with all the details of the niceness. Perhaps most important is that I FINALLY have seisha-in status, the term that is usually translated as "lifetime employee", and this is a job that is really worth keeping that long. I still haven't had a bad day at work, and though I'm pretty sure that the way life works there will be some somewhere on the road, but I'm in no hurry to meet them.

Between GOL and this fine job I was mostly teaching part-time at the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics. I like the teaching, but it was very much a dead end job at a dead end English department. Maybe the entire school is a dead end, though I still wish the best to my students. Officially I was part of the general studies section of the School of Engineering, and my classes were officially English classes, though two of the three courses were pretty much focused on using the computers and Microsoft Word.

My main job when this part was first written was as one of the staff teletrogs for GOL as briefly described in their long-ago-unlinked support staff pages. Actually, it was just another part-time gig, and only lasted about two months before I was terminated with some malice--and years later and even after they sold the company to someone else, they are STILL having trouble retaining technical support people. Not sure, but I think the same little twit is still in charge. They actually misspelled my name in the official version they put online, but no one ever got around to fixing it. Anyway, what I REALLY wanted was more like this:

Shannon Jacobs
Shanen of the Jungle This is a rare photo of the elusive Shannon of the Jungle, fearless unarmed hunter of the modem monsters, email gremlins, and various other specters of the Internet. He's also known to summon help from his animal friends. Just for reference, here's Tarzan's version. Yes, if you listen closely you'll notice there is a slight difference, but the reason is that many African animals tend to be slightly hard of hearing, so Tarzan has to try a little harder.

Anyway, my description of the quite interesting work is that people called me with their Internet-related problems, and I got real small, climbed down the phone lines and looked at things to fix their connections or software, including ISDN stuff... Often that meant helping in setting up their software the first time, but sometimes there were other kinds of problems that required traveling to various other virtual places. Mostly I prefer Windows, but towards the end of my stint there I wound up mostly taking care of Mac users. [Usually, the more I work with a computer, the better I like it, but it's never been thus with Macs.]

My dealings with the Internet and its various predecessors actually go back many years, but my first exposure to this 'Modern Internet Age' was actually at a provider called the Internet Access Center. Officially, my job was handling their free 16-line BBS with its Internet email gateway. A very popular system that handled more than 250,000 email messages in its last year, along with a lot of newsgroup traffic. Hard work, but very much a labor of love. But unofficially and in reality, most of my time there was also technical customer support, though their staffing situation was much thinner than GOL's and I had to work much more broadly trying to cover the various gaps, even including working in Japanese much of the time. Good experience, but I never felt like it was going anywhere. About the time I'd finish teaching someone most of what they needed for their part of the work, they'd quit or get fired. Not directly the cause of my decision to leave: at that time I had this plan to start a radical new kind of computer school... But that's another (fantasy) story.