Kenneth Folsom

When was the first time you saw/used a computer and what kind of computer was it?
It was old. Radio Shack of some sort. It had a cassette tape player for a disk drive. We were playing a game of Star Trek where you were fighting on a 10 x 10 grid of dots. The spaceship was a # it fired torpedos * at Klingons but I can’t remember what they were.
When was the first time you actually owned a computer and where/how did you get it?
High School graduation present in 1988 my parents bought me. Zenith Easy PC3 with an NEC processor that emulated an 8088 processor but at 7 ghz vs 4. It had a brand new LOW density 3.5″ floppy at 720K and a 10MB hard drive. You could buy a modular add on to increase ram to 640K and add a modem 2400.
How have computers and technology changed your life?
Got a history degree but used computers in my job. That got me into AOL Tech Support. It’s been an IT career since that.
What did you not see coming?
Virtual Machines. I showed up to a new job and they said launch your virtual machines and I said “A What?” Now we have Lambda’s and containers. Office Applications in a browser. Not surprising when you think about google sheets, but still, they did what? Err okay.
What do you expect from future technology?
People living in virtual worlds vs this one. See the book or movie, Ready Player One
Tell me of a time when technology screwed up your day?
Microsoft Project, I was new at it and inserted something in the wrong spot and my dates got pushed out without me realizing it. These were dates I had vendors then commit to. Then I realized I was a week late on 10 vendors. I have not used Project since.
Tell me of a time when technology saved the day?
Working at AOL and recruiting beta testers in the hundreds of thousands for AOL 6.0. coming off a bad 5.0 release. We had to not only process applications quickly, but then keep them on the latest software. We used the product on its self in two ways. Offline email would download the applications via emails to where we could process them with scripts into Excel. To keep everyone on the same version the product had modal and non modal window capability. For testers that would not upgrade, we forced a modal window to them with a warning and two buttons, one to proceed and one to upgrade. When they still wouldn’t upgrade we removed the proceed button and replaced it with sign off. That really moved the needle. (Note: Part of being a beta tester was you would keep a released version installed that was never blocked) We made our goal of 400K, 500K and finally 600K of daily sessions and enabled the company to find the bugs that only happened 1 in 10,000 attempts and release 6.0 with a much higher quality than 5.0. The team won an award for their efforts.
Comments?
It’s been a hell of a ride.
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