Roger DeReu has been working with computers since December, 1984. During this time he has written software programs that literally revolutionized the small businesses that used them. When networking first became affordable with hardware and software from a company called Artisoft (Lantastic), he quickly became a “Go To” guy in the market where he worked.
He has worked as a technology consultant for hire both on his own and briefly for a larger entity; has worked in a small AS400 midrange computing data center for a local conglomerate and for the past 15 years or so has been consultant to the SMB (small & medium business) market installing and maintaining business solutions such as Microsoft Small Business Server and holds the certification of Microsoft Small Business Specialist.
The Free Computer Consultant is often asked about his past. Where did he go to school? What is his degree in? But what those really want to know is: To whom do I write a check for how much so that my son Johnny can be a computer consultant and make the money you make?
The answer, I’m afraid, is not what they want to hear.
Math was always my strong suit, patience my weak suit. After graduating high school a semester early, 2nd in a class of a little over 250 students, math award in hand, I went to community college and finished the Associates Degree I had started the summer before.
Moving on to a local College where credits were much more expensive, I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Business. If that degree were valuable to own, I would eBay it, but it isn’t. The IBM PC, at around $4000, was just making its debut. A single programming course in Basic, mainframe no less, was the only computer experience I had. Fighting for lab time to complete the simple programming tasks took all the fun out what otherwise was a boring class with a boring old lady teacher. She certainly was no computer consultant.
In December of 1984, my life changed.
My brother’s father-in-law worked in the data center at a local implement manufacturer where they consume a lot of green paint. He had opened a computer store on the side and was pestering my brother to buy a personal computer for our family business. He did. Thus began my saga.
That computer actually came with printed manuals! I pored over them, one a book on MS-Dos, the other on programming in Basic. My brother, being an outside kind of guy, soon left the project in my hands. I wrote, and rewrote, software for the business.
Ever since then I have had no such thing as free time. Computer books, computer magazines, buy stuff, try it, fix it, break it. You just don’t get anywhere in this business unless you eat, sleep, breath, talk, think and even dream computers. I once worked with a very nice guy who turned on his PC at 8am and turned it off at 5pm. Competent, but no genius there.
You will fall behind if you’re not constantly keeping up.
Does the internet make it easier for a computer consultant? Yes, it makes it much easier to find out how far you are falling behind! When I started doing consulting for clients in the late ’80’s (that’s 1980’s Smart Alec) most every PC in small business was a standalone computer, networking didn’t become affordable until a year or so later. At that time we called it “sneaker net”.
Things were fairly simple then. MS-Dos was the operating system, no fancy graphics, no internet. Viruses were passed via floppy disk, the 5 1/4 inch variety. It wasn’t that hard to be very knowledgeable in everything related to a company’s computing needs.
Fast forward to the mid ’90’s. Networks, internet, high end graphics and graphical operating systems prone to crashing. Multi-tasking. Email. All of a sudden there were experts in very narrow fields. And they were busy. How to keep up? More reading. Training too, but that’s very expensive.
These days I have to be content knowing a lot about a lot. Specializing here and there. But definitely not knowing everything about everything.
The key is to know what you don’t know, when you don’t know it and who to call who does know!
(Sound a little like Donald Rumsfeld here?) I’m sure you get the idea. Henry Ford reportedly had a set of buttons on his desk, each summoning a different expert. He knew which button to push to get the answer he needed on anything.
I’m no Henry Ford, but for my clients, I’m their high priced computer guy who takes good care of them. For you, I’m your Free Computer Consultant! You too can support the Free Computer Consultant and this amazing website.