Not to be confused by the pizza joint known for bad, sub-standard pizza, of course.
I’ve had an interesting string of luck since I decided to start looking for a computing job instead of carrying on with the diploma in CST. I’d applied for a couple positions and hadn’t gotten any interviews; one of the troubles with not having a whole lot of work experience in the computer industry. Well, at least that which amounted to a computer industry in Red Deer at the time.
I’d been toying around with IBM’s OS/2 about this time, and I happened across an advertisement that the store I’d just purchased my OS/2 Warp software at had just placed in the local paper. They were looking for someone to work as their store computer technician. It was a small store, with a staff of 4 or 5 people, and they had an interesting niche in the local area; they weren’t completely a DOS and Windows shop. Okay, so they’d started out as an Amiga dealer, so right off the start they were suspicious of Microsoft. As a former Amiga user, and an OS/2 user, this would be an interesting place to pick up some information.
There’s also the really big plus. They had just signed a deal with one of the first small handful of real commercial Internet providers in the province, and were about to begin offering local internet access. I’d had a unix shell account in Calgary with the Calgary Unix Users’ Group (CUUG) that started me down the slippery slope to my unix future. I interviewed for the job and got it.
Not only did I get the chance to increase my knowledge of PCs and hardware, I was able to take on responsibility for the local dialup system for Superb Internet in Red Deer. The only real downside here is that the pay was criminal; which really isn’t that unusual for computer techs with no real experience. We set up some of the first internet kiosks in the area in a couple local bars and restaurants, and were lucky enough to setup some of the local schools and the college with nice internet labs. Of course, I was the lucky guy that got to set all these up; everything was starting to come together, but I wouldn’t know how well until a number of years later.
Things were starting to go badly at the store; and something wasn’t right. We were losing money hand over fist. There were a lot of computers being sold, at good profit margins, but something just wasn’t working.
Word of the trouble had gotten up to the boys at Alberta Supernet in Edmonton, and their people had informally offered me a position in the event that anything happened to close down the store. When the boss decided it was time to close down, I called up the guys in Edmonton, and within the week I was working in Edmonton doing tech support and learning more and more. I lived in Edmonton through the week, crashing at a co-worker’s place (in the closet – it was big for a closet, but a closet nonetheless) and went back to Red Deer on the weekends.
It wasn’t that I wanted to stay at my parents’ place on the weekends, but I just didn’t fancy the idea of sticking around in Edmonton with people I barely knew. Nothing about that city was the slightest bit appealing to me. After a couple months doing the commute back and forth, I was assured that there was a job available for me for the immediate future, and I made the move there, finding a good apartment in an older building with only 6 apartments. A great find, a block from The Sugarbowl on 124th – at the time one of the best little coffee shops in the city as far as I was concerned.
A number of months after I’d made the move, the whole dial-up fight in the province began to take it’s toll. Supernet sold off a number of their Points of Presence and sold everything else to Cyberion Internet out of Vancouver. The Calgary office closed, and I was the lucky token layoff from Edmonton.
Of course, the boss had the gall to leave town for Vancouver to be at the head office when one of his marketing drones had the bad luck to have to give me the news. I think there was an feeling that I’d take it badly and kill the poor guy that was to break it to me; there were two of them there, and they both looked rather uncomfortable.
To be honest, it was the best thing for me; I was just avoiding looking for work up to this point. I’d had rather good luck to this point, and the payoff from Supernet wasn’t too bad, so I took my time, looked for work on occasion; working some contracts for locals, and for a couple people out of the States. Barely enough to buy cigarettes and pay the rent, really, but I was just being lazy.
I’d poke through the newsgroups online on the off chance that a non-recruiter ad would pop up, and damn if the dream job didn’t rear its head in there one day. It wasn’t professionally written, and was hunting for me exactly; I had exactly everything that was asked for, and it sounded too good to be true. I was afraid that it’d end up being some kind of scam.
Sent off my resume via email and started the negotiations. This guy was going to pay an insane amount of money, in US$ to me for working from my own home. I could smoke all day, and go to work in my underwear. Amazing. A place by the name of Superb Internet, run by some kid in a basement in Vancouver, BC. Servers hosted in Annapolis Maryland.
It was a decent enough job to start out with, since I set the daily work atmosphere myself, and I could work to my own schedule to a large degree. I never spoke to my boss on the phone, and didn’t meet him for quite some time after the fact. The cheques were good, and all was well.
The whole episode of Superb Internet and it’s less than superb treatment of staff and clients alike is a story way too long for this post. It’s likely a perfect example of bad management, employee exploitation and technical incompetence, and I’m sure I’ll expound on it, even though nearly a year and a half after leaving them, it still makes me angry with how cheated I feel.
Suffice it to say that I moved to Vancouver in the course of a weekend off, and carried on working remotely. That’s the beauty of telecommuting – you can do things like move cross-country with little or no worries about down-time. I moved to be near a girl; a girl I’m marrying later this year; roughly 3 1/2 years after having moved in together.
Left Superb Internet (the day I left is a story in itself) and moved on to a dot-com failure in the making named Globalmedia Inc. They later changed their name to ‘globalmedia.com’ well after it was chic to put ‘.com’ in your corporate name. They streamed music on the net and tried to be an even-pricier version of Amazon with a really awful commerce backend and a non-existent fulfillment system. There I was actually a programmer officially for the first time, and it was mostly a good experience.
I’ll save the latest job for the next posting, but now I’m happy, settled, and managing a good team of people over at a mostly-marketing company that is anything but a pure IPO stock play like so many companies in the area. RewardStream Inc. – http://www.rewardstream.com