This is me.

Photo of Dan Dick

Daniel J. Dick

I work on computers.

I take pictures.

I play and sing music.  Sort of.

I wear glasses, and sometimes wear suits.  Sometimes I don’t.

And sometimes I sit at our dining room table with a pot of coffee next to me.  Or at a computer desk, or in an easy chair or at a coffee shop.

So why is a 62 year old professionally trained and experienced computer geek posing as a social misfit doing creative writing on a page that should be designed to draw business?


Perhaps it’s because many true computer geeks are creatives living in a world of cookie cutters.

IT managers are often like bakers demanding cutters not necessarily of a specific size and shape, but those with a specific serial number on the side.  Cutters made on a specific date.  Cutters that had been used a specific number of times.  These bakers have no interest in collecting other shapes and sizes along the way.  These bakers refuse to compete with other bakers who can make unique cookies to fit any occasion.

I have always been different.  At 19, I wanted to major in Acoustics.  Since there was no such major at the local junior college and I wanted to save money, I was told to major in Architecture.  I studied drafting, basic engineering calculations, materials, calculus, physics, a few computer courses and engineering statics.  During that time I hacked into some tutorials that helped me learn Physics and Basic programming, and I developed enough skill to obtain my first programming job and worked my way through school.

After transferring to Fresno State, I was told to major in Electrical Engineering where I completed engineering dynamics and some circuit theory courses.  But I also found I was very close to completing two minors–one in mathematics and one in physics.  But my talents in computers and mathematics shined as I competed in the math competition two years in a row taking first place one year and second place the other year.

I obtained my first programming job by applying at Data Consultants or DCI which was led by two Bills, a Bill Putnam and a Bill Pardini.  They sat me down at a Wang computer and gave me a test assignment that was perhaps designed to be somewhat impossible or unreasonable, though I did not know it at the time.  The test was to create a program that would engineer an irregular high wooden arch for a cathedral or church via finite element analysis.  Apparently, my determination to complete it correctly and completely impressed them and I was chosen for their project which was to work with Bill Pardini to develop an automobile leasing and financing system.

And for the following years, I developed accounting systems, farm irrigation systems, order entry systems, and eventually went to work for the local school district’s data processing center as a mainframe programmer.  When the IBM PC first came out, I was chosen to work on a new substitute teacher assigning system that would pull data in from the mainframe about substitute teachers and vacancies that morning and enable staff to assign teachers quickly each morning.  Again, this was something new which had not been done before.

After a few years, a friend told me about a brand new operating system called Unix.  I bought a book on Unix and read it cover to cover the same day and took on a volunteer job at the V.A. with UCSF’s medical school.  I was then hired as a “clerk” to develop C programs on both a PC and on a Unix system for brain research.  Again, a unique kind of work.  A PhD student had attempted to develop a program for handwriting analysis, but unfortunately it was clear he did not have a talent or skill for software development at all.  But I could see what he was trying to do and completed his work for him while he focused on teaching an image processing course.  I applaud him for his creativity and for communicating what needed to be done regardless, and in the end, the psychologist and neurologist we were working with were able to make advances in their research.

From there I went to work at Fresno State as they were starting their new  – to be continued…