Marilyn Moir Coughran Now living in Colorado

Overview of Marilyn Moir Coughran’s technical background
(by Marilyn Moir Coughran)

I’ve continuously used computers ever since age 19 (and you know how old I am now – the same as YOU, right?). So, maybe I got a good head start on most of you. I should be able to answer any questions you may have.

Here’s my “brief” bio (don’t ask for the long one):

After working as a computer programmer (the newer term is “Software Engineer”) and business systems analyst for five or six years, I changed my focus from “doing” to teaching. (Teachers with computer knowledge and teaching skills were needed back then in the mid-1960s.) I was then about age 25, and already had been teaching part-time nights for three years; I knew I’d like to do it full-time.

So, since the mid-1960s, as a college teacher of several different computer-related subjects, I’d sent email over the Internet long before the general public even knew that the Internet, email, or computers existed. Only some “techie” people who worked in government agencies, some huge corporations, and some colleges/universities knew anything about computers back in the early and mid-1960s.

During those years in Seattle, I taught over 8,000 people to become computer programmers (SEs) and systems analysts. I loved teaching and the college environment, but finally got tired of the WA weather that caused my sinus problems (due to evergreen tree allergies), so, in mid-1979, I moved to southern CA.

Good-bye, Professor Coughran . . . Hello, independent contractor

In CA, I studied TV production and direction and scriptwriting; I wanted to write movies. Instead, I returned to the high tech corporate world in late 1980 where I worked as an independent contractor for various software houses – first in San Diego (for ten years), then in Dallas (for 7 years), then back in Seattle (for 3 years), and then in western Colorado (3 years) up until mid-2000.

Over those 23 years working for high tech international corporations headquartered in various states, my wide variety of corporate assignments included software design, technical writing, multimedia development, testing software for bugs, creation of databases, web sites, graphics art, multimedia and online Help systems, and corporate training – among others.

In my corporate training capacity, one USA software house sent me to various locations across the country to train its client companies’ employees (who were government physicists, systems engineers, university instructors and students, and data processing personnel) in graphics software languages needed for their specific applications.

I always liked assignments that required travel to interesting places. That travel started back in the mid-1970s, when I was still teaching in Seattle. One summer-assignment corporate client sent me to Guam to train government employees there. Later, in the late-1990s, an international client sent me to Bulgaria where my assignment involved gathering materials and reading engineering specs written by Bulgarian SEs who didn’t understand correct English – in preparation for my writing of technical user manuals (in correct English), creation of online Help systems, and development of sales materials in various media.

“Have laptop, will travel.”

I loved the challenge of the most difficult assignments, and paid travel to new places was great. I liked “camping out” – at the Sheraton, Hilton, or Mariott “campgrounds.” The clip art graphic at the left reminds me of the hotel I stayed at in Guam. (I didn’t have a laptop until the mid-1990s, so, at first, it was “Have suitcase, will travel.”)

As an independent contractor to international corporations, I enjoyed working weird hours in jeans and T-shirts from my home offices, which I did for most of my corporate clients since mid-1980. (Of course, I dressed in the usual “corporate business suit” when at client sites.)

The “frosting on the cake” part of my assignments were the creation of technical illustrations, graphics, and other multimedia tasks related to my technical writing or my education/marketing/sales work for the corporate world. Since the late 1980s, I did a lot of “pioneering” work in multimedia, computer graphics art, and animations that enhanced my corporate assignments. That was the “fun” stuff. I also liked creating unique databases and GUIs for clients.

I also enjoyed lecturing and putting on seminars (about software, computer graphics, and other computer-related things) at corporate offices, libraries, schools, colleges, and other places. And, I did a lot of one-on-one personal computer consulting over the years; still do, as time permits – both in person and via email.

In the early 1990s, I learned that creating web sites was a great outlet for using my technical, artistic, teaching, and communication skills all wrapped up in one product. Since then, I’ve created many web sites for individuals, small businesses, huge corporations, city government, and non-profit organizations. I don’t use templates or “web editor” products (like Dreamweaver, FrontPage, and others) that “generate” the HTML code because I like “clean” HTML code and even the best web editor software (Dreamweaver) creates “kludgy” code. So, like many professional experienced webmasters, I still prefer to code in straight HTML, JavaScript, (and other programming languages, if needed) to create uniquely designed sites with clean HTML code that takes less disk space (than sites “generated” by web editor software) and is easier to correct/modify.

About mid-2000, I retired from high-tech corporate work to (finally) write fiction. I’d wanted to write novels since age 8 and finally decided that it was about time to do “MY” thing. (No, I haven’t become a best-selling novelist YET; will let you know when THAT happy event happens.) I have several novels in various stages of writing or editing, but it’s slow-w-w going because finding any free time to “do my own thing” is difficult.

So, considering my “techie” background, I can most likely answer any questions you may have – if you still have them AFTER reading the techie info I’ve already written for readers of this web site. (Before sending me email with questions, please FIRST read all the “informative” sections of this web site – such as the info included in other pages of this “IMPORTANT STUFF” section or in the “TECHNICAL TIPS” section or some other section.)

“Once a Teacher/Lecturer/Coach . . . always a Teacher/Lecturer/Coach. Just give me an audience (or one student) and your TLC is on the way.”

(That’s quite a change from the quiet, shy girl I was at BHS, huh?)

Marilyn