I was born on a cold night in November, somewhere in south western British Columbia, Canada. In my youth I was a geek to be sure, but not in a computer way. I discovered computers sometime in the mid-80's. There was a computing dry spell until grade 11, where I joined up with the Computer Science class, programming with Turbo Pascal on a macintosh. I did ok at that, but had to get help from my friend Fred for some things. Around that time I also got a "real" computer. A smokin' 386DX-25, with a whopping 2 megs of RAM. This box, whose original keyboard sits attached to the computer beside me, eventually grew up (partly by need and partly by natural evolution.
That computer eventually was upgraded, and upgraded, and upgraded, and last I remember, was a 486DX4-100, with an ungody 16+megs of RAM, and a zippy 2x CDROM, and other nifty bits.
When I was hurtling headlong towards high school graduation from school district 42, I was asked "so what now?" Like any teen, I had no clue what I was going to do, but I going to college/university right after school seemed reasonable enough. Gave me more time to slack off before having to worry about the "real world".
I applied to two post-secondary educational facilities. One was a creative writing program at SFU, the other was a Computer Information Systems course at UCFV in nearby Abbotsford. I figured at the time that I could proofread (as far as flow, my speiling still sucks), and knew what sounded good in a story, so I figured that I could handle creative writing. A while later I got a nasty letter from SFU saying that I hadn't sent a needed form. A letter back saying basically "yes I did" was sent. However, by the time a letter coming back with an acceptance to the SFU program, I had been accepted into the CIS program.
School was much like high school, except that the society wasn't like that of a prison. I even got the occasional creative thing done as well. Probably the best thing I did was sign up to the co-op program. My first (and only) co-op job was with the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. Here I did tech support for REALTORs and had many fun experiences.
The one good thing that came from all of this was my introduction to UNIX. The accounting computer at the FVREB ran UNIX, however, they weren't all that anxious to let me play with it. My manager at the time said (this was 1994 or so) mentioned that he'd heard about some free UNIX, linux or something...
It was love at first sight. All the power of the command line, combined with the multi-tasking ability that I'd found in DESQview under MS-DOS. I fiddled with this at home, hopelessly pissing my dad off, as I changed operating systems and boot loaders on the family computer on a daily or weekly basis. At the board I never got the chance to really use it well ("We don't use linux here," I was told).
In early 1998, nearing graduation I saw a note on a piller at school talking about the Fraser Valley Linux User Group, a group for talking about, and discussing, Linux. Almost late for my first meeting (and as I found out later, the group's second), it was good. The two guys who were running it seemed to belong to some sort of company that did something with Linux. Jokingly I sent them an email after the meeting asking if they were looking for a linux geek. Things came to pass, and I put in my resignation to the FVREB after almost 4 years of working there on and off.
The Real World
Not long after that I began working at Netmaster Networking Inc. as a perl programmer. I did many interesting things while there. A couple of years after working in the boss's basement, we moved into an office. A while after that we converted our name and focus. Merilus was born.
While this was happening, I graduated with a bachelors of science in Computer Information Systems. A happy day. I'm also lucky enough to still run with some of my good friends from school.
Close to four years after starting with Netmaster the company here I am, looking for work, laid off due to money problems. More I doubt I can get into.
And now, a bit of personal history.
My nickname, Arcterex was originally created while I was on the Mindlink ISP, getting fed up that "alan" and "ajb" were already taken on the IRC channels. As a climber I like and use products made locally by Arc'Teryx, a climbing goods manufacturer based out of Vancouver. They create things that keep me alive, such as harnesses and slings, and are recognized world wide.
I bastardized the name (not on purpose, lets just say I have "creative spelling" sometimes), and have yet to have a problem with someone else taking my name. It's also close enough to the original to be recognized by other climbers.
All things UF
At some point in my life I came across a rather funny little comic and became friends with the wanker who draws it. Through this, I managed to get a lovely deal on hosting, and have a server sitting in New West. Along the way, I created various sites for userfriendly fans, including UFies.org, peer 2 peer personals, and have again, occasionally been creative. Others were written, but aren't around now, due to bad things.
I read (Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Tennyson, computer books), listen to music (Country, with a sprinkling of U2, Sarah MacLachlan, Tom Petty, Enya, Leahy, and many others... I'm a little bit rock, a little bit country), work out at the gym (not much change yet sadly), sleep, and consume vast amounts of Earl Grey Tea and water. I'm too poor to be an alcholic, but a pint o' Guiness with my friends every once and a while is nice.