A Day in the Life of Marc Hoffman, IT Manager
10 January, 2017
Our second guest in our "Day in the Life" series is Marc Hoffman. Marc is the IT manager at Morris Printing Group in Nebraska.
Marc, what do you do on a typical day?
Comb the spam filters for false positives and if any are found, report them as such and then forward the email on to the intended recipient.
Check backup/replication systems to ensure proper operation.
Take tech call from users.
Check VPN/remote access logs.
Check logs from our log aggregation system.
Investigate any warnings that may have gone off overnight.
Split duties with my coworker.
What was your background? How did you get involved with where you are now?
I was, strangely enough, a fine art major with an emphasis in painting (I love to see people’s faces when I tell them that). Early in my childhood, I liked to draw. I also loved computers, and my first “computer” was an Atari 2600 gaming console. I graduated to a Commodore 64 when I received one as a gift. I soon found out that this was going to be an expensive hobby. I started my own lawn care business, which led to the purchase of a Commodore 128. Shortly after the 128 came out, Commodore acquired the rights and intellectual property of the Amiga company. At the time, the Amiga was the best graphics computer out there. It was a pre-emptive multitasking machine able to display a whopping 4096 colors on screen at once, and could do this with as little as 256K or RAM. At that point, my lawn care business grew so that I could afford the $1500 for the Amiga 1000. I even got in on a free 13” monitor promotion Commodore was putting on at the time! Being that the Amiga was such a great graphics computer, my love of art and technology started to mix. I used paint software as well as 3D modeling/ray tracing software to create pieces of art. I eventually purchased two more Amigas, the A3000 and A4000. I wrote articles for an Amiga-central magazine dealing with 3D graphics and 2D paint.
After Commodore Business Machines decided to commit suicide, I began to look at virtualization (called emulation back in the day). On my Amiga, I ran a freeware Macintosh emulation environment called ShapeShifter. The Mac’s artistic software was quite impressive, and so I started to migrate more and more toward the Mac OS and purchased my first Mac, a clone from the now defunct PowerComputing. From that point, my interest in virtualization began to really ramp up as I used both Insignia Solutions' Softwindows Microsoft Windows environment for the Mac, as well as the then groundbreaking VirtualPC from Connectix (since purchased by Microsoft to form the basis for Hyper-V).
I earned an undergraduate degree in art. Not finding much in terms of employment (they don’t call them starving artists for nothing), I took a job at an internet service provider taking tech calls from customers. Emulation and virtualization helped immensely as I could pull up the then cutting edge Windows 98, while still running Windows 95, all on my PowerComputer Mac Clone. Because of virtualization, I had the chance to learn about other operating systems.
This takes me to my current position as Computer Operations Manager at Morris Printing Group. I’ve seen things evolve greatly over the past 16 years, from the transition from Mac OS “Classic” to Mac OS X to the skipping of Windows Vista and sitting on Windows 7 (I’m still not sold on Windows 10).
What is your favorite part of your job? (And why?)
I love being able to see something that can be made better, and making it so. I love working with virtualization. Strangely enough, I love working with disaster recovery. I like the “thrill of security” instead of the thrill of “living on the edge." If something really goes wrong, having a plan of action to correct the problem makes sleeping at night easier.
What is your least favorite? (And why?)
Interpersonal conflicts, hands down.
What was the most embarrassing or funny thing to happen at work?
When I started this position, I made a mistake in the public DNS settings on one of our websites. This prevented users from being able to access this site. The changes took 24 hours to reverse.
What is your strongest quality?
I have a very strong work ethic.
What are you most proud of?
My relationship with my wife. We are hoping to build on our family through adoption.
How has your job changed since you started? How do you see it changing in the future?
I think the biggest change that I’ve seen is the move from physical servers to virtual servers. I see this trend continuing.
Quick, there is a fire? What do you grab before you run out of the building?
If it’s like it is now (December), I grab my coat! Other than that, our backups are stored offsite so I don’t need to worry about them. Oh! I would also need my iPhone :-)
How do you spend your free time, if any?
Over the past five years, I’ve found a love of running and working out. My typical workout is around 2 hours and involves mostly cardio training. I do this 3-4 times a week.
I like to spend time with my wife. We both like to shop (window shopping or otherwise), and I value my weekends and evenings with her greatly.
What skill would you most wish to have?
I would like to be more organized.
If you won the lottery, what would you do?
I would call my financial planner!
Many thanks to Marc for being our second guest. We plan on showcasing someone each month. Do you know an IT person we should hear from? Let us know!
JG Heithcock is GM at Retrospect and has eighteen years experience in the storage and backup industry.