I am James Linden, a hard-core computer geek with multiple virtual personality disorder.
I am a web developer, database administrator, data scientist, linux system administrator, maker, hacker, and military history buff.
I dabble in pretty much any form of electronics and/or computer technology I can get my hands on.
I prefer to read schematics, blueprints, and code, and science-fiction from time to time. I also like to read textbooks on various subjects.
I am the founder and head geek of Digital Dock, a web development and technology infrastructure automation company based in the United States and Canada.
For more about my professional skills, background, and interests, see my skill tree.
I was born on at 2:10 AM in the Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, California, USA. My dad was serving in the US Air Force at the time, so, technically, I'm a military brat, but his enlistment was over before I was old enough to have memories of it.
According to family legend, I was known to take things apart from a very early age, something that probably started me off with the "shit disturber" label. It didn't take too long for everyone to figure out that I got a knack for electronics and mechanics from dad and some decent academic prowess from mom. As far as I know, neither one of them draws, which probably explains my complete lack of any ability in that category.
I started my tool collection around the age of 7 (a Stanley screwdriver set and a little red toolbox as I recall). More than likely, I had already "acquired" a few tools from my dad well before that.
Around this time, I had some major trouble with my ears -- I have a permanently perforated eardrum in my right ear. Memories of that few months of time is really blurry to me. All I can remember is a lot of pain, and getting in trouble at school for not listening to the teachers -- until my parents figured out something was wrong.
I gave myself my first soldering iron burn around the age of 9 -- at the same time I was thrust into the world of of live-audio production and recording, helping dad with four major live conferences each year (from Apr '88 to Dec '94) and a few smaller events. This included building custom snake cables, roadie boxes, troubleshooting equipment issues, live mixing, cassette duplication, and various other things.
Around 10, I wrote my first BASIC code and started going to jobs with dad, running cable, installing audio/video equipment, phone systems, paging systems, background audio systems, PA systems, and the later, the original 18" RCA satellite TV system. It started out that I was the "cable rat", since I was so small, I could get into crawlspaces and attics that my dad could never dream of fitting into. Over time, I picked up the knowledge to do many parts of the job solo. I also had a constant supply of used electronics (TVs, amplifiers, phone systems, radios, etc) to play with, from the gear we replaced on the job.
I passed the license exam and received my Amateur Radio callsign, KB5UMQ, at the age of 12. As of November 2012, my callsign is N6NRD.
Somewhere between that and high school, I worked with various friends of dad's, picking up the basics of indoor plumbing, leech-field sewage systems, small engine maintenance/repair, animal husbandry, horticulture, house lifting, concrete work, demolition, and various other odd skills. Mashed in there, I picked up a few BBQ techniques ("The Texas Way") from dad and his boss at various cookouts, etc.
During my high school years, I was working hayfields and learning the equipment mechanics, mostly with Freightliner trucks and New Holland, Ford, and Case farm equipment, in the middle of nowhere California. My only real access to tech was installing / fixing CB equipment. The upside was that during those three years, I learned metal fabrication, MiG and arc welding, and use of an acetylene/oxygen torch. During the off-season, I spent my time framing, roofing, hanging drywall and learning the basics of the EIFS (aka "new stucco") external finishing system for buildings.
A few months before graduation from high school, I had an accident at work. While hooking up a chain to a truck, my right knee was pinched between a backhoe bucket and the truck bumper. I was lucky in the positioning of the backhoe bucket -- it hit the side of the knee joint, so it didn't break the bones, just ripped some muscles and tendons, etc. I spent some time on crutches and medications, and I have chronic pain to this day -- particularly when the weather is wet and/or cold.
After high school, I got back into tech, running cable, catching up on the first few years of the Web, learning HTML, etc. It wasn't long before I was doing the odd consulting job, around whatever regular job I was working at the time.
By the time I was 20, I was doing only consulting work, building websites, and the odd cabling or install job, having started my own company. Around the same time, I met my future wife, while fixing her computer.
Between 2001 and 2008, I took a number of short breaks from tech to help a friend do home renovations for a week or two at a time.
In 2002, I had the opportunity to contribute two sections to Spidering Hacks, titled Advanced wget Techniques and Bargain Hunting with PHP.
On September 3, 2005, my partner of 4 years and I were married.
For a few months in late 2005, I worked with a team of guys to flip a century home -- totally gutted the plaster and lathe walls, knob and tube wiring, lead and soft copper plumbing and re-plumbed, re-wired, and put in drywall. The exterior brick was refinished with EIFS, and the front yard was re-terraced with granite armor stone and flagstone, while the back lawn area was re-landscaped, complete with water feature.
Other Places to Find Me
(aka the Social Network)