Let us start with who he is not. Pat Norton or Patrick Norton to his mother, is not the previous Host of TechTV, that is this Patrick Norton. This Patrick Norton, despite an interest in technology, is much less famous than that other guy. Patrick Norton is also not this Patrick Norton who I found while googling my name. I am sure that there are more Patrick Nortons out there, it is a pretty popular Irish name, but they are not me either. Besides I think I am way more rugged looking that either of these guys.
I work at Kohl’s Department Stores as a Macintosh Technician / Technology Analyst. It is a largely fulfilling job but it certainly has its moments. I enjoy fixing problems and playing with all of the nice hardware we have. I provide end user support, write scripts, manage servers and server applications like Jamf Software’s Casper Suite, Extensis Universal Type Server, Open Directory, Asset Tracking Database, and a few more that are currently slipping my mind.
We have a great team, we get a long very well and have a great set of skills between all of the team members. We work very well together and can solve just about any Macintosh related problem we are faced with.
My education was a very circuitous process. I started out at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in BioChemistry. I am not too sure why I chose to do that but it seemed like a great idea at the time. Turned out it was not meant to be. I dropped out after getting a job milking cows. The money was good with the farm work and I liked the freedom I had only working. I had a couple other jobs in there as well such as gas station clerk, package unloader at Wally World (lasted 3 weeks). During this time I took some HVAC classes at the local tech school. They were great fun but not very useful because I did not finish the program. I learned a lot of useful things about HVAC equipment and electricity that I still use today.
I then heard of this guy Darren Luedtke who was working on some renewable energy stuff in Cadott. I hooked up with his company and learned some very valuable less0ns about how not to run a business. Darren had some great ideas but no legitimate business sense. He was also constantly hiding from the Cops for what I believe to be child support. This company was in big trouble but had such great ideas that I chose to ignore the warning signs and work for stock options and a place to live. We moved to Cadott, into a trailer in the woods, with no plumbing but we had electricity. My folks hated this part in my life, in hindsight, they saw something I did not. I was more interested in what Magna-Motor could become than what it was. During this time Darren ended up in Jail. The company was in big trouble, I have a feeling that a large number of investors in Magna-Motor lost a lot of money, I just got an education in running a business the wrong way. I think it was a good trade.
We decided that we liked Cadott but had to get away from the situation we were in, living on the land of someone who was an investor of Magna-motor, with the help of my folks, we bought a new mobile home and moved down the road a bit. I went back to school at University of Phoenix Online. Easy to do even in the middle of no where. Eau Claire would not take me back into the business program because of my failed semester at the tech college, ultimately their loss. I finished my BS in Business Administration in less than two years. Lacking any decent job prospects, we sold the home back to the people we bought it from for a big loss and moved back to Milwaukee. Where I got a job loading packages at UPS. Nice job, better fitness program. I lost a ton of weight and made some money.
I tried to take a job with a sales company but it was selling phone service. No cold calls here. We walked door to door. I worked two weeks at that, quit and they never paid me a dime because I was training. Not the career I wanted. Next was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I was hired as a Pre-Press Area Technologist. I worked there for 5 years and loved the job. I did a little bit of everything there. Some computer support for Mac’s and PC’s, looked after some servers, wrote some scripts and looked after the newspaper until it printed every night. It was a great second shift job, I learned a lot while I worked there. Mostly knowledge that can only be gained through experience. Some of the people that I supported had worked in the Newspaper industry for 40+ years. They new all about change and what happens to a company when the industry starts to die. I learned great life lessons from the time I spent talking to them. In fact I still speak with a few of them because they are customers of mine, I fix their computers.
During my time at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I began a Master’s Program in Computer Information Technology at Regis University. The classes focused primarily on Oracle Databases and Java Programming. I learned a lot until I started a practicum program that was supposed to include finishing my Thesis. This did not work out well, little support and bad luck followed me through the program until the Thesis Advisor left the university. I ended up getting this other guy who was a total jerk and told me he could not work with me because I had to keep emailing his superiors so he would get back to me. After him I get the head of the department. Her and I can never get anything done, I am not sure if it is my lack of understanding on how thesis programs work or her lack of interest in me. I left the University to go back to the the University of Phoenix for an MIS degree and lost 33 credits in the process.
Seeing the newspaper industry hovering on the edge of the abyss and wanting to use my new degree, I took a job in Mac Support at Kohl’s Department Stores corporate headquarters. This was a good fit for me. I grew as the department did. When I started we supported 300 clients in Marketing only. We implemented new solutions such as a Web Based help desk, Casper Suite for software deployment and asset tracking. Our numbers continued to climb and we hired more techs. Now with over 1000 sheep in our flock we have a lot of new departments to support. It has been an exciting ride to expand my knowledge of enterprise level support and services.
I completed my MIS degree in June 2012, Then went back and finished my MS in Software Engineering at Regis. My team was absorbed into IS at Kohl’s and I got promoted to Technology Analyst. In Late 2012, we moved up north to Iron River, WI. I kept my job with Kohl’s and now telecommute, which is the most amazing way to work. I am so productive without the distractions of office life. Posted on this blog are many of the fun things we have done since we moved up north.
I have a form of ADD when it comes to personal interests. It seems that they change regularly as I obtain skills, and then move on to something totally different to occupy my time. I enjoy electronics and from this blog you can see that I have built a few. I also enjoy self sufficiency related hobbies. I collect skills such as gardening, welding, and carpentry for the time that I may need to make something. I guess you could say that I am a maker, I would rather make something than buy it if I can. This desire does not always make my life easier because I have a trail of failed or incomplete projects that follow me around until they are complete or I completely give up. I would not consider these to be failures but more learning experiences. I was not lucky enough to have people in my early life who shared my interests in woodsman-ship, fabrication, and mechanical things. I struggled through those things on my own, picking up what I could from friends or the internet. It was a tough way to learn but in the end it taught me appreciate the internet and how information is shared there.
I enjoy hunting and being outdoors immensely. Fishing, hiking and walking my dogs bring me tremendous pleasure. Sometimes I lack the motivation to enjoy them as often as I like but when I am dreaming of what to do anything outdoors is likely to top the list.
I own a few different businesses that I have started on my own or with partners. Some have been successful others not so much. in 2003 I designed my first website for a friend. That was the launchpad to many others and now I pretty much only do small business sites and really prefer the CMS like Joomla because they allow people to manage their own sites. Samserv Web Design is my web design and graphic design firm.
Firepoppers Firepistons was a joint venture between myself and a machinist friend. We made a sold quite a few before they just stopped selling. There are many reasons for this. One being the lack of effort we put into promoting the business but we were both very busy and the orders were getting harder and harder to fill because of time constraints on both of us. That machinist went on to start Powder Keg Racing and I designed the site. This business is pretty much defunct at this time but perhaps it will be given new life after I graduate from school.
Some how in my quest to do a little bit of everything, I purchased a vinyl plotter and started to make window signs. That expanded with word of mouth and I was soon putting graphics on vehicles as well. This business is an extension of Samserv Web Design.
Samserv also fixes computers for quite a few clients on a regular basis as well as building the occasional system. In the past year, I have been developing a lot of CMS sites and providing training to users to manage their own sites. I prefer this model to the traditional web design relationship, where a client has to call me to request changes. CMS’s make it so easy for clients to manage their own sites, I want to encourage it. Most business owners know nothing about CMS or web design so I have been training them to manage their sites. I enjoy this and the business is expanding. It is possible that I may begin to offer in-home training for other computer related tasks such as learning to use iPhoto or Garageband. I need to determine if people would be interested in this or not, but I think the market is there.