Shayne Johnston

Shayne was a late starter when it came to computers. It wasn’t until the 80’s when his parents purchased a TRS80 for him. Shayne spent many hours playing with coding basic programs and playing games like “Frogger”. While it was a good computer for its time and it initially got a workout, interest in it eventually died down.

Shayne’s father needed something he could use that would help him with his work, so the TRS80 was replaced by a Commodore 128D and a dot matrix printer. By this time Shayne had other interests, like sport and hanging out with friends. However, he was always there to help his father whenever he got stuck, which was a lot. Til this day Shayne is the IT guy for his parent, his sister and brother, as well as their families.

It wasn’t until high school that computers were reintroduced into Shayne’s life in a more formal, structured way. Shayne has a physical disability (Spina Bifida) and as a result, his academic future was mapped out to better equip him for a career around administration. This meant he had to focus on subjects that included computing. Back then the school used “Micro Bee” computers, not a GUI within cooee.

Shayne did what he had to do to pass the subjects at high school, but he was no Rhode Scholar. Sport and later playing the drums were more important than belting on a keyboard. The most important thing for Shayne during this time was to fit in. So he took on whatever was the “cool” thing to do at the time that his disability would allow.

Shayne achieved quite a bit through sport, mainly as a swimmer, wheelchair basketball player and field event athlete. He was selected in numerous WA state teams, taking him to most Australian capital cities to compete at national level. He was also fortunate to be selected in an Australian team on 2 occasions. In 1988 Shayne went to Tennessee as part of an invited Australian team to compete at the American Junior Nationals in swimming and field events. The trip did also include a demonstration game of wheelchair basketball against a local team in Los Angeles, where Australia was beaten.

The second Australian team Shayne was selected in was in 1994. The team competed at the FESPIC games, kind of like the Commonwealth games for the disabled, in Beijing China. He competed in field events only this time. The highlights of this trip included meeting Dawn Fraser and Peter Brock. Both of them were part of the team as mentors since the team comprised of many athletes that had never travelled overseas before. The trip also included a visit to the Great Wall of China and other famous tourist destinations. Unfortunately Shayne made the mistake of having the photos developed in the hotel and most of his photos, including the negatives went missing.

Shayne realised that his sporting career would not last forever and back then lucrative sponsorship deals were not heard of. His foray into music as a drummer was more of a hobby than a career, so a major change of focus was on the horizon. It was at this time Shayne rekindled his interest in computers and technology in general. The first PC Shayne purchased with his own money was a 386 running Windows 3.1. Back then it was a great improvement on the TRS80, Commodore 128D and the “Micro Bee’s” Shayne had used before.

On the odd occasion Shayne’s father would take him to work at the airport. His father was a catering manager for Ansett Airlines. Shayne also has a keen interest in aviation and liked watching the planes on these trips to the airport. Once in a while Shayne’s dad would ask him to help with entering data into the computer system. Nothing out of the ordinary usually happened, apart from this one time. One day, Shayne managed to get into a higher menu level and he wasn’t sure how he got in, let alone how he would get out. At one point the computer appeared to be unresponsive, although, it was actually working, just slowly. However, this gave Shayne the impression that the “Escape” key wasn’t working. So when you don’t have the option to escape, what do you do? Shayne hit “Delete”, a few times, which appeared to be doing something. He managed to delete flight details, passenger lists and other associated information that an airline would find useful.

It turned out that security was not a big deal back then and Shayne’s father had access to other areas outside catering. Luckily backups were a big deal and eventually it was all restored. However, this took a couple of days and a significant amount of money. Like with most computer related mishaps, this highlighted areas of concern around security, in particular, as well as other processes. As a result measures were introduced to prevent such a disaster happening again. Who knows, perhaps, this was the beginning of the end for Ansett.

You would think that the incident with Ansett would have discouraged Shayne from a career with computers. But, if anything, it ignited something inside him to really make a go of it. By this time Shayne had nearly finished high school. However, he did not do well enough to progress in to university. So the only option was to get a job, traineeship or something similar that he liked and could do physically. Thanks to the Spina Bifida association, Shayne managed to get a job in a Telstra call centre. It was a start and Shayne was still living at home so the shift rates allowed him to pursue his passion of technology.

About a year later, Shayne was promoted from the directories call centre to MobileNet. He managed to land his first job that was related to technology, mobile phones. While climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t on Shayne’s agenda, getting to know the technology was. Within a short time Shayne had tackled such roles as Customer Service Rep, Subject Matter Expert and Relief Team Leader. He also assisted with training and mentoring new staff. Telstra MobileNet was sponsoring the Perth Wildcats national basketball team during Shayne’s time with them. Because of Shayne’s vast experience with both customers and the technology, he was asked to attend every home game in the VIP room, offering the use of a company phone to all the dignitaries. It was at this time he met Kerry Stokes, who he was destined to cross paths with again later in life.

After about 6 years with MobileNet an opportunity to join Telstra’s IT department was offered to Shayne. He could finally stop working weekends and public holidays, yet still be earning similar money. The other benefit was that he could also work closer with computers, networking and other emerging technologies. During his time with the Telstra IT department, Shayne also became a Microsoft Certified Professional. While it did not have the perks of Mobilenet, like going to every basketball home game, Shayne thoroughly enjoyed the work. Right up until most of the staff, including Shayne, were made redundant in 2005.

The next couple of years saw Shayne work short stints at companies like HP, Office Solutions and even a short period back with Telstra MobileNet. In 2007 Shayne worked with WesTrac in their IT department. WesTrac are a Caterpillar dealership in Western Australia that is owned by Kerry Stokes, hence the earlier comment about crossing paths with Kerry in the future. The majority of Shayne’s time with WesTrac was providing staff with helpdesk and desktop support. In 2011 Shayne was offered the position of iSeires/AS400 Administrator. Looking after an IBM “green screen” environment was new to Shayne, having spent most of his career with Microsoft Windows, but he enjoyed the challenge.

Shayne started studying a Bachelor of IT online through Open Universities Australia. It looks like he was smart enough for university all along. Although, in hindsight, Shayne should have put the effort in at high school so he could have attended university along with his friends. However, things were different back then. The Internet was in its infancy and the degrees would have been vastly different.

Shayne also enjoys keeping on top of all the tech news by listening to a number of technology based podcasts and reading numerous articles on the subject. While he is frustrated by the American slant, he really enjoys listening to a number of shows on the TWiT Network, run by Leo Laporte. In fact, Leo is somewhat of an inspiration to Shayne and he had the opportunity to have a quick chat with him via Skype while interviewing Chad “OMG” Johnson.

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