Who Is The Wizard

Around the web I'm known mostly as the Wiz. It's short for Wizard as you might have already gathered from this place. Some people think it has to do with being a whiz with computers or perhaps, because I currently live in Kanas, something about The Wizard Of Oz.

Actually it has its roots in my early involvement in role-playing games on bulletin board systems (BBS) long before the public Internet existed. Although I now work extensively with WordPress (WP), in both single user and multi-site configurations, installing websites and designing themes, in the past I worked with computers and networks and I've been hanging out around the Internet since before it was public; in fact almost longer than I sometimes care to think about.

punchcardsMy very first real experience with computers was a high school Math trip to Waterloo University, in Ontario, Canada, where I got to write my first computer program. It was on punch cards (remember those?) using the venerable, and quite unforgiving, Fortran programming language. The process didn't impress me much and I really had little, if any, interest in pursuing a career involving any kind of computers.

Fortunately, and it's one of those things that I may never understand why, my father insisted that I take typing class in high school. "You'll need it," he offered to my questioning.

I've often wondered if my father wasn't a time traveler, but that's another story. So I took typing and was one of two guys in a class with 28 others, all girls. Thanks, dad! I went on to ignore computers in university. Between school and real life, however, things tend to change.

I've been in business for most of my life. My very first efforts included the usual kid things like paper route (St. Catharines Standard, Star Weekly, and TV Guide) and baby sitting, but in my early teens I ran a green house, successfully producing vegetables to sell in the neighborhood. Later, while still in high school, I started an antiques business traveling across the country on weekends and in the summer to about a dozen shows a year. Later I would develope and manage my own antique shows featuring dozens of established antique dealers.
Almost a dozen years later, in 1979, and with several different successful businesses (and a couple not so successful) under my belt, I began working professionally with computers for the first time when I partnered with a long-time friend to set up the database support operation for Heart Lake Distributors. Lee and I were years ahead of our time trying to make a brand spanking new 8-bit Commodore Business Machines Model 8032 do things for us it just wasn't built to do! The just released dual 1.2 meg. double floppy drives (about the size of a bread box) gave us very little room to maneuver.

I bought my own first computer, a Commodore 128, not long afterwards, and actually purchased the exact same 8032 several years later. I still have both, in working condition, here with me today.

My first exposure to the Internet was while working for Motorola. As a military industrial complex provider and a member of CITP (Canadian Industrial Tempest Program) we were connected to ARPAnet, the foundation of the original Internet. I had the wonderful experience of communicating at 110 bits per second. A typical report document could take hours to transfer. Most often you would start the process just before leaving for the evening and find it completed when you got back to work in the morning. And we knew, of course, the Internet was going to be really something... some day!

But it wasn't until 1989 when I decided to get really serious about computing. It was before the Internet was fully public -- we scrounged connections through universities and companies like Motorola. It was, in fact, before the World Wide Web had even been invented. With a powerful (for the time) 1200 baud modem for my Commodore 128 I was ready to get online. It was a long distance call to the closest TimeNet portal, an hourly fee for TimeNet, and an hourly rate for connection to Quantum-Link, the precursor to America On Line (AOL) -- in all about $32.00 an hour to connect. I knew there had to be a better way.

I purchased a new PC clone complete with a 30 megabyte hard drive (wow - all that space!), and a screaming fast 2400 baud modem. I was ready to get my own online service going.

I started my first e-commerce venture on that computer, with a $20.00 annual subscription from John Peatson, which eventually led me to create my own multi-line bulletin board system (BBS) - AMBASSADOR BOARD, where keen individuals using names like Maverick, Marauder, and Shoka (the games meister!), stalked the virtual world. Then, partnering in an Internet Service Provider (ISP) company - Headwaters Network, and eventually owning my own ISP - Hurontario Net, I ventured onto the real Internet. Along the way I had to figure out this whole web/HTML thing in order to create a few of my own websites. Installing BSD Unix servers, managing databases, IPs, and mail systems, was just what you had to do to make it all work. There was no "out of the box" back then.

I had no formal training in HTML. Of course there wasn't any available at that point. My very first outside commercial website job was coding the first public access site for the Royal Bank of Canada. I still have a couple of the story boards their advertising agency produced to show what the site should look like. Have things ever changed!

Over the years I have created hundreds of websites and thousands of web pages but, until recently, much like the shoemaker who's children have no shoes, all but two of those many websites were for others. This site, originally created in 2010, and updated in 2011, is actually only the third I have created just for me.

The first two websites I created for myself, made in 1996 and 2002 respectively, and shown in screen capture images below, are now in the past, relegated to back-up CDs somewhere in a dusty box. This site, which replaces them and contains some of their content, continues the Wizard's story.



It is always interesting, and most often fun, to create a new website and, I suspect, this one will be no different. Learning the ins and outs of a new content management system in the process makes it a little more involved but it continues to show me the exquisite power and flexibility of the WordPress system. And now, sharing that information with you, makes it even better. Nice!

Today, thousands of web pages later, I am involved in several on-line enterprises, working with my wife in our own operations and joint-venturing with several other entrepreneurs, including Dan Therrell (Blue Mullet Web Services and Zfish) in Fairhope, Alabama, and Tim Mooney (Tim Mooney Aerial Photography) in Sydney, Australia, with whom I collaborate on e-commerce solutions, web design projects and, most especially these days, WordPress (both stand-alone and multi-site) design, installation and consulting.
The Wiz referenced in Michael Miller's book Tricks of The eBay Masters
With my wife, Lora, I've been an eBay Power Seller, though we don't do as much with eBay anymore. I was referenced in Michael Miller’s book: Tricks of the eBay Masters, Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing, and I provide training courses, tutorials, individual help, and mentoring, across a wide spectrum of business, web design and online selling fields.

And now, through this site, I'd like to apply my experience and training to your online needs. Join with me and many others and break through the barriers of web technology and move forward online today! CLICK HERE to register now.

Rev. Stephen B. Henry, PhD.
Hutchinson, Kansas. July 2011.