David Levis Discusses RPG Careers
In this episode of iTalk With Tuohy, Paul Tuohy interviews David Levis on RPG careers.
By Paul Tuohy02/01/2018
Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody and welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. So my guest today is David Levis. Hello, David.
David Levis: How are you doing, Paul?
Paul: Okay so David is a programmer who I've had the pleasure of working with over the last couple of months on a project that we share. David is programmer/developer/analyst, and has been known to wash the odd bottle or two.
David: Not so much Bbottle, but there have been a couple of time when I had to wash a car.
Paul: Oh, there was that one. [Laughs] We've been chatting over the last couple of weeks, and there were just a few things that I just thought would be interesting to share with people. So so David can you―let's go back to the beginning. Okay? Way back to the old times. So can you give just maybe a brief outline of what your sort of career has been―like okay first start:. Where did you learn to program?
David: I learned back in Livonia, Mich.,I outside of the Detroit area. My high school offered a Vvoc Eed class that, you know, half the day we were in, you know, working on programming. It was something that had showed some interest around the time the VIC-20ic 20 had come out. I had a couple of friends who were going through a Kmart-Mart and there's this interesting little keyboard sitting out there. You'd tap on it and letters were there, it. It gave a syntax error and numbers. It was okay, and it just intrigued me. So so the high school had offered a programming class, got into that, and it. It was something that took to me naturally and you know I was able to go through so the Vvoc Eed that was offered the next year was on the sSystem/ 34. We learned COBOL and RPG. There was also an Apple IIeIIE that, you know, getting done a little bit earlier, I was able to get into Fortran and Pascal as well.
Paul: Cool. So this would have been back in the mid 80's?
David: Yeah, mid 80's.
Paul: Mid 80's, okay. Okay so I mean it is you young guys coming in on the plat―-okay so after that, okay. Okay so you learned to program and that. Did you immediately get a job as a programmer?
David: My first job was actually as an operator―-
David: Changing paper and, running jobs, stuffing stuff into parcels and shipped the four corners of the U.S., but but it was in that same linen supply company that I, you know, did manage to pick up the occasional thing to modify, going through some of the changes on the 36 [System/36] at that point. You know it required some change and the only programmer in the shop was one of the four owners―-
David: But, you know, he allowed me to get in on some of that. That was interesting to really be you know in a job and doing some of the coding for them.
Paul: Yeah. Okay so between then and now, okay, big jump so over those couple of years, about how many employers would you say you've had?
David: A dozen.
Paul: About a dozen? Okay, so and some of those would have been where you were working in-house in a company, some of those working for software companies.
David: Correct yeah, and, I mean, through the early part of the career, it was most definitely you know you're there for three years and then you're going to get your next pay raise. There is something that interests you a little bit more.
David: I had started work after the linen supply―, I went out to one that was actually close to my house― and it was another 36 shop that we were making modifications to package software. That one was where you were really starting to get into, you know, making code changes, adding pieces to you know the package, but you had to worry about each you know upgrade, how it was going to interact. That was one that it was kind of a forced, you know, three years and then you're out because the FBI raided the shop [Laughs]. There was a bug that the owner was taking advantage and you know doing some insurance fraud and things like that. Fortunately, I wasn't there while the FBI was, but I do know a couple of the people that were still there and they were on the phones, "you wouldn't believe what happened!!"
Paul: Okay so when you look at what you do at the moment,. I mean, what is it you get the best buzz out of? I mean is it the technical stuff or is it the, you know. the companies you end up working with, the end results, the―-?
David: But my biggest thing is definitely being able to go in and, you know, provide some benefit at the end of the day.
David: So you're, you know― whether it be in a software shop where you know you're writing a package that, you know, more than one person is going to get some use out of― out, that's great. But but even those individual― you're going out on something a little bit different than you'd done the last time, but you're still looking at the end result of you're making somebody's job easier. You're making things more efficient. And and you know, I mean right now it's a change. I've been working the last couple of years more database focused and modernizing and some tools that we offer that allow transformation of data easier than everything by hand, and you know now getting to go a little bit above into the end tier. In addition to here's the database changes, now we can also offer you know that data access layer, the service layer―-
David: And have you know the front to back solution.
Paul: So okay. You see because this is one of the reason where I'm different. I like the technical stuff. It's the people I can't stand. [Laughs] Not true!!! Not true for anybody listening, definitely not true. So one of the things you said there is it was about like the learning side of it. So how do you keep up to date?
David: It's an awful lot of reading. You know there's a―-being someone who works remote most of the time, you know, yes, I'm one of those guys in the basement all day.
David: That's where my office is.
Paul: Okay so do you go to conferences? Do you go to user group meetings, anything like that?
David: Never have.
Paul: Never have?
Paul: Just all from―-wow. Okay. We're going to have to get you to the Summit at some stage. We'll have to organize that.
David: Yeah. There were companies, you know, from early on that you know sent people to COMMONommon and to conferences like that. My number never came up. [Laughs]
Paul: Well I don't know, Dave. Maybe they just felt they didn't need to send you.
Paul: So tell me on the technical side then, like just as a programmer and all of that, what' is the stuff at the moment that you get sort of the biggest buzz out of?
David: I mean with, you know, full free recent. You know― prior to that going to you know the more free. You're touching an awful lot of shops that, you know, still have code from the― you know well from when I was a kid in the 80s and things like that― but we still get into, because it is newer for me, you know the end tier, and being able to drive that in a more efficient way.
Paul: Yeah so one of things―-sorry and I mean to ask you this earlier when were talking about―-when we talking about like the number of places you worked and that so have you moved around a lot?
David: I've only really moved once. I grew up in the Detroit area, born right in Detroit. The apartment building next to me was burned down in the riots of '67. Oops. That's how old I was, but I moved you know around in the Detroit area. My whole family had been seven miles from you know the rest of the family―-
David: Until I was that upstart that moved to Colorado.
Paul: Okay. Okay. You've got to excuse my ignorance here. So how far is Colorado from Detroit if you were driving?
Paul: 1300? Oh, okay so it's up the road then basically.
David: Six laps of Ireland. [Laughs]
Paul: Okay well, since you mentioned six laps of Ireland, I think this is [Laughs]―-we're going to another thing because― and it's a pity that actually because it wasn't until after this that we met― but you vacationed in Ireland last year.
David: I did, in. In September. My, my middle daughter graduated from college in May; my. My mom, her family is from Ireland:. Kinneys and Kennys. She has never been so, you know, it was bucket list thing for Mom. We took Mom. Mom took my daughter and, you know, my wife and I went with them.
Paul: So like when you were there, you went with a tour company, yeah?
David: We went with Collette tours, the Shades of Ireland tour. I want some kickback. [Laughs]
Paul: Okay so in Ireland, what was your favorite place? What was the place you remember most?
David: Well that I would remember, it was that castle. [Laughs] There is only one.
Paul: Oh, that one.
David: That one there. We did a nice tour. We started in Dublin. Family got there a day early so we could walk around a little bit and sample some pubs and some offerings of pubs.
David: You know watch my daughter's face and every time she takes a drink, you know, has that "oh, I just bit into lemon." [Laughs] bBut she keeps trying because, you know, that red hair.
Paul: Well as I keep telling people, alcohol is an acquired taste. You just got to practice a lot.
David: A lot.
Paul: So of course the key question here:. Your favorite tipple when you were in Ireland was?
David: Guinness. I'm a beer drinker.
Paul: There you go. The correct answer.
David: I like a Smiethwick’s, but Guinness.
Paul: Yeah, definitely the Guinness.
David: We did the tour and, you know, the tour people there said that there is absolutely no difference wherever you drink, but she' is full of it.
Paul: Yeah. Yeah. There are big differences. So I think that's a good note to leave it on, David.
Paul: So thanks for taking the time to chat with me and I hope when you make your next trip to Ireland, I'll be able to show you the other two bars that you didn't get too.
David: Oh, I only missed two? I was so close.
Paul: Okay everybody. That's it for this iTalk. Tune in again for the next one. Bye for now.
Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years. More →