Welcome to IT Work in New Mexico

I’ve been on this ride before. More than once, since 1980. Usually I only realize it when I start recognizing pieces of the landscape: jobs dissolving by the millions, genuine fear in people’s eyes, lots of phony money dematerialized.

On this particular circuit through the theme park, though, some things are different. Usually a few things are, every time around the track. It’s nice to see the changes are positive.

I’m talking about the economy in general and working in IT in particular. To be fair, it’s true I group a lot of things under the heading of IT. As I see it, the work involves a particular skill set that can be applied across a lot of endeavors. I’ve helped track nuclear waste for the DOE, built GIS applications for the State, and supported Unix research networks for the VA, just to name a few. Code and computers and data equals IT.

IT particularly was a whipping boy in the last recession. As if they were taking revenge, companies large and small laid off technical staff, and took a few years realizing that they’d made a mistake.(They made the same mistake in the early 1980s.)

By then enrollment in computer-related studies had tanked. American kids, not clueless in the least, stayed away in droves from the jobs they’d seen fleeing to India. As I write in July of 2009, that trend is showing signs of reversing – some seven-plus years after the 2001 recession sank in.

That’s a heck of a hole, folks.

I for one plan to continue to fill it: by building networks, developing software, running servers and applications, and particularly by helping to educate the smart, motivated people who are entering the field, or rising within it.

If you’re one of them, welcome to IT work in New Mexico. It’ll be nice working with you.

An Introduction

For the most part I am a language-agnositic programmer. I have done extensive development for Win32 environments, Windows CE/GIS handheld applications, and Perl, PHP and Coldfusion powered websites. My current platform of choice going forward is Ruby on Rails, though server considerations will likely keep PHP at the forefront of most projects for now.

Web Applications

My most recent long-term contract in this area was with NewMexicoKids, for the NewMexicoKids.org website. This site, developed in Coldfusion, XHTML, XML and Javascript, utilizes several development frameworks including ModelGlue for database automation and the Dojo Javascript libraries for AJAX elements like fly-out menus. The underlying databases track child care provider licensing and background checks; trainers and training schedules; AimHigh, CYFD Basic Services and Head Start staff, trainer and provider information; and many other areas of the State of New Mexico’s child-centered and educational operations. Registered users number in the hundreds, and traffic runs to the millions of page loads annually.

I was co-developer of the NMHeadStart.org website, likewise a Coldfusion/MySQL/Dojo website, designed for both public and Head Start administrative use. Data-driven functionality includes Head Start program and community resource searches, and program login for uploading text and photographs.

This website, GNorman.org, is a database-driven, PHP-powered site based (in its current incarnation) on the Joomla! framework. It handles user management, article submissions and sharing, link submissions, a bulletin board (recently added), and similar groupware functionality. The site serves on one hand as a course management tool for my classroom teaching, on the other hand as a content management system for my subject-matter articles, and on a third hand as a jobs and networking tool for registered users.

The similar IngridWentzel.com website, which is my wife’s, rides on the same template but centers around her personal training practice.

Past clients and sites include FlySandia.org (a hand-built PHP-driven community for local hang glider pilots, since replaced by a Yahoo group), SandiaMotorSports.com (for our local race track, since redesigned), LisaThomasPayne.com (a subscription-based medical practice consulting site; Lisa has since died), CalciumSprings.com (now under different ownership), and many more.

Desktop Applications

Please contact me using the Contact Me link at top left for details. These projects include the AKDATABASE for tracking nuclear waste, productivity applications and project management applications.

Handheld Applications

Again, please contact me using the Contact Me link at top left for details. My Windows CE and Trimble GIS applications include a City of Albuquerque bus ridership program, and NM Department of Transportation traffic counting operations.

Network and Security Consulting

I provide network engineering, systems and security consulting, primarily to medical environments including the VA Hospital in Albuquerque and Jemez Health and Human Services, as well as to DOE and sensitive environments.

Electronic Medical Records

Currently I am assisting in the evaluation and selection of EMR systems for medical practice clients. I am also working as part of the development team for an EMR system targeting behavioral health practices, EMR-Bear. After several years of supporting research Unix environments for the VA, I am also very interested in collecting the experiences of organizations in implementing EMR. Please contact me using the Contact Me link above.