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In 2006 I was hired on part-time for Purdue University. My days would consist of mornings on Campus at Purdue doing I.T. support for the Agronomy Department and afternoons, evenings, and weekends doing support and build-outs for NDWave. We were in the mode of dumping everything back into the company to get to a solid sustainable position. I didn’t really want to go back to desktop support, but the benefits and part-time position helped to pay off bills we had accumulated with MTIN. Purdue allowed me to meet Donnie Payne. Donnie is an infectious personality sort of person. Just being around him motivates you to do things. Purdue allowed me to work with Mac OSX Xserves, cutting-edge Linux servers, and special projects. One of the coolest projects I worked on included remote sensor trailers. We had servers, remote reboots, and had to deal with how to get connectivity out in BFE. Several sites had cellular or satellite uplinks. I was able to apply my ISP knowledge to this project.
NDWave exposed us to lots of rockstars in the ISP industry. JohnnyO and his crew helping with removing feedhorns from a tower is something I will never forget. Sitting outside a hotel with him cooking dinner. Guys like Chuck Hogg, who helped the industry in several ways and is just a plain cool cat. The work alone has opened up friendships which were well worth any long days. Guys like Jay Panozzo, who are not directly connected with the WISP industry, but have their parts. Jay owns Midamerica Towers and is a Man among men. Jay sets the bar for the tower professional.
I continued to dedicate time to Purdue and Ndwave until April 2008. One month before Omnicity took over management of the NDWave network I became a full time employee. Omnicity started out good, but quickly went downhill after a year for me. With all the lawsuits in place that is about all I will say about that.
After being separated form Omnicity I continued to keep my head above water with steady consulting from companies I had helped over the past couple of years. Kenny Johnson at Mooreland ISP and Scott Reed at NewWays were two of my best customers. I truly understood what it was like to be the one the buck stops with. When you have a tower outage at 1AM. the customer does not care except they have no Internet. Early morning climbs to repair Aps in the dead of winter were not uncommon. That is part of what it takes. Being a former owner really helped me connect with what these guys are going through.
Things were slow so I was able to re-group some. I did not mess with much technology except when I had to. I took a step back and concentrated on the activities I enjoyed. I stepped up collecting G.I. Joe figures visited more friends, and generally did non-tech related things. This in itself expanded those I call friends. My mind and soul needed that healing. Then a funny thing happened. I started writing this blog, becoming active on mailing lists again, and generally became interested in the technology again. I started gaining more and more consulting clients and working with more and more networks. Ubiquiti was just starting to come on the scene, Mikrotik was a mature platform, and prices were starting to come down on gear. I remember sitting around 3 years ago thinking I needed to step up what I am doing. It took me up until then to realize I had enough experience and stuff running around in my head to be an expert. I have watched so-called experts screw up even the simplest things.
In the past couple of years, things have really blossomed in the Industry and I have had the pleasure of being a part of some of it. When you look back on this there are certain key points where you take leaps and bounds. Once I was able to step back and further enjoy things that next leap up was taken. This allowed me to open new pathways of thinking too. My confidence soared, my shyness subsided, and life got better. I attribute this to those who have influenced my life, and the experiences we have shared.
Stripping wireless gear off a 120 foot tower in Chicago with Mike Hammett is one of my fondest memories. The work was hard and long, but having the comrade in arms with you to do it make up for it. There is a bond that is formed which last a lifetime. Mike is one of those guys you want to see succeed. I am fortunate to have been in a position on a couple of occasions to help him when it would have been a paid for him to hire it out.
This brings us to present day…
Continued in part 5 (the conclusion I promise)
One night I am sitting in my office wondering what is next for MTIN and I get a call from Steve Narducci in Anderson, Indiana. Steve has this idea he wants to start an ISP. I call up one of my good friends Chris Orr. Chris and I had become good friends out of a chance meeting of him stopping by the office for some thermal Paste. I instantly knew Chris was of the same kind of mold I was. Chris had been hanging out at the office and helping with MTIN for sometime now. Chris is the best *NIX engineer I have ever seen. So I call Chris and ask if he wants to make a little money and so something enjoyable. I think it took Chris awhile to realize I don’t let much hold me back and life is all about going for opportunities or creating ones.
Early one Saturday morning in 2006 Chris, Amber, and I head to Anderson Indiana to hang the first Access Points for what would become ndwave.com. We had been prepping for this for months. T1 line had been ordered, servers built, and equipment ordered and delivered. Little did any of us know we were on the verge of something great. Through a small team we were able to grow to over 1,000 customers under 2 years. Working with NDWave was one of the first times I had the complete package. I had the freedom to shape a growing network and the financial backing to do it. I was as unrestricted as I could get. I felt like I had finally arrived into what I was supposed to be doing. We were working hard and long hours, but it was fun. There is an old saying that goes something like “If you find a profession you truly love, you will never have to work another day in your life”.
During this time I really was able to get to Know Rick Harnish. Rick is the Marlon Brando of the the Wireless ISP world. Rick was eager to share what he knew and help everyone around him grow. Having someone like Rick to have conversations with was a huge asset. He was a major pipeline to the innovation and direction other WISPs were going. Plus Rick is just a plain cool guy.
NDWave really established my credibility in the ISP world. I had been looking for that recognition for quite awhile. Folks like Michael Pelsor, & Debbie Seal would be added to the “family”. These are folks who I consider friends to this day. It was like TCTC all over again. We were on the leading edge of this Wireless ISP wave. The technology was becoming easier to use and more affordable. This meant the average person could now afford reliable service delivered via Wireless. We were growing into areas where there was no broadband. It was kind of like the Wild West gold rush. There were weeks NDWave was putting up 3-4 towers. I was getting to work with Mikrotik, Cisco, Tranzeo, and some other manufacturers. Life was good. We had a fiber feed, rack space at a Premier data center, and got to play with other cool toys.
Then Omnicity comes along and things change yet again….
I have been going over the idea of premium content within my blogs. I find myself wanting to write more and more, and writing would help one of my other projects I have going. However, I don’t make any direct money from the blog.
In an effort to provide more regular content, I have come up with the following ideas.
1.I will be implementing a premium posts section of this blog. For the foreseeable future, this will be a free section. All that will be required is you fill out a simple registration. We won’t spam you, but you will have the option to be notified of updates.
2.I will be doing more sponsored posts to keep as much content as possible in the non-premium space. As a result, I am looking for vendors with products they would like reviewed. The idea is if I buy a product with my own money, it’s most likely going to be a premium post. If a vendor or manufacturer wish to send a product to be reviewed this will be a public post.
I am looking for vendors and manufacturers that wish to be regular sponsors. This strategy is open and fluid as things progress.