It is my pleasure to introduce Patrick Barker, who just received his first Microsoft MVP award (Windows Expert – Consumer) in July 2014. This represents the first time I have ever interviewed a ‘fresh’ MVP. As a young person, I was interested in his responses as one who grew up with computer technology, not typewriters, adding machines and punch cards like me!
1. Patrick, please give us a little background information about you.
I currently reside on Long Island, New York. I live in a mostly quiet suburb with my mother and also take care of her. My mother and I have a very wonderful relationship, so I am very grateful! I left High School in late 2010 and didn’t go to college straight away, as I was relatively unsure at the time as to what I wanted to ‘do’. Here we are now almost 5 years later and I am completely in love with computers, specifically the internals and debugging of the Windows OS. My current major plan that is well in motion is to achieve various required certifications, hopefully find a job so I can further take care of my mother, and go to school to work on my Masters in Computer Science. I will be quite the busy bee, but that is often when I am the happiest. My dream is to become an Escalation Engineer for Microsoft.
2. Since you are young, I am assuming you grew up with technology and the Internet as a part of your life. If so, tell us about some of your earliest devices.
Hilariously enough, given my passion and obsession with computers, I was extremely late to the party. I’ve read numerous interviews in such in which a person so passionately describes their early NT or even pre-NT OS and computer. In my case however, I didn’t receive my first computer (and internet!) until I was around thirteen, and it was a Dell (cannot remember the model) loaded with Windows XP. Unfortunately I was never able to acquire a computer earlier than that mostly due to financial reasons, and also because I grew up in a very old fashioned household. Since I acquired internet at the same time as the computer, I unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) never had to experience Dial-Up or DSL, as the only thing offered around here at the time was Optimum Online’s new cable broadband internet. I still don’t have a smartphone! I really didn’t start getting heavily into computers until Windows 7. I am behind on the times : )
3. How did you come to be awarded as an MVP? Tell us your thoughts when you received the email!
In early 2012 my computer was constantly blue screening and I was sick and tired of the traditional ‘wipe it and walk way’ mentality and method of doing things, so I decided to seek help on how to solve it without an OS reinstall. I first stumbled upon Seven Forums and posted my issue there and patiently waited for a reply! Very soon after I posted the thread, my now good friends ZigZag3143, John Griffith, and John Carrona assisted me. Unfortunately, before I could declare it solved (as I was no longer receiving crashes), my power supply decided to blow up and destroy my entire computer! All of that aside, I was beyond impressed and interested with how they solved my issue. Soon after I built my new computer, I messaged ZigZag3143 and essentially asked him if he would be kind enough to help me learn the absolute basics of debugging, and from then on it was history. I started debugging in late June 2012, but took a personal hiatus shortly after due to personal health reasons. I ended up coming back a full year later, and have since then fallen head over heels in love with debugging.
Across the internet, there are an extremely small number of people who can in-depth debug crash dumps (small, kernel, etc). There are even a small number of people who can properly understand what the –analyze –v means, let alone understanding of assembly, internals, etc. It feels very nice to make such an impact on a very prevalent issue with such a small ‘qualified’ group of volunteers.
Although I myself have spent thousands and thousands of hours reading, researching, and overall debugging, I enjoy it most because of the friends I have made, and the people I help. As much as I love debugging, if you remove the friends and the people I get to help from the equation, it’s not as important to me, and would appear as a chore. I cannot accurately put into words how lovely it is to be able to put a smile on someone’s face by doing something you love and/or have a passion for. I am very much a person who loves to help people, so the fact that I have found something I enjoy, am good at, and can ultimately help people with, has made an unbelievably positive impact on my life.
If it were not for the absolutely wonderful people (and now friends) that gave me the push I needed, I may not be here today answering these interview questions! This is my favorite part about the Microsoft MVP award, above all. I was awarded by Microsoft for doing something I am beyond in love with, for helping people, and making great friends who I work with daily. I cannot ask for anything better, truly. Since I have earned the award, I have made many more friends and discovered many more opportunities.
Getting the email was an unbelievable feeling! It was in my ‘Junk’ folder, and just as I was about to delete it, I saw it was the MVP email. I couldn’t believe it, it was a special moment. I can still say the feeling of being an MVP really hasn’t worn off! It’s truly such an honor to be awarded, and especially to be nominated by those you learned from.
4. Where do you spend most of your time online and what areas of Windows technology particularly interest you?
I am on a few communities, such as: Sysnative, Microsoft Community (Answers & TechNet), and Tech Support Forum. I have a blog and a Twitter, but other than that, I don’t debug anywhere else. I am most interested in Windows Internals, reverse engineering, security, and debugging.
5. Finally, what do you enjoy doing when you are offline?
Exercising is the #1! I am a huge lover of running and exercise in general, and I run every other day in the middle of the night. It’s just myself and the street lights, and I can tell you that it’s the absolute best way to forget about what happened earlier in the day. It’s like being in a trance! I really love night running. Other than exercise, I really enjoy cinema. I have a diverse taste in cinema, but I have a love for older films (50s, 60s), and foreign cinema (specifically French). I also enjoy spending time with my mother and friends.
More MVP interviews can be found here.