Where are They Now? Life After IT

by Randy Hollowell, IT Services

Except for maybe the occasional discussion about the proper use of social media, or what should or should not be stored in email, IT and politics don’t often collide. Unless you are Miami alum and former employee John Kinne.

John worked at Miami from the early 1970’s to December 2009. “I started as an undergraduate teaching PL/1, FORMAC, and FORTRAN programming to other undergraduate physics and math majors,” he says. “Of course, the course was offered under a professor’s name.”profile of John Kinne

Following his undergraduate experience, John continued at Miami as a physics graduate student, and then as a full-time employee. “I was hired by the university’s Academic Computer Services in 1977 to help faculty use the mainframe housed at the University of Cincinnati. In those days, almost all computer work was done on punched cards.”

Eventually, Miami decided to build its own computer environment on the Oxford campus. “I assisted Chris Allison with building the Miami system,” he says. “We built it on IBM computers in downtown Cincinnati while IBM planned and built the actual hardware in Hoyt Hall on the Oxford campus.”

As most major projects do, setting up that initial computing environment had its own set of issues. “Since IBM was using their computers for their own purposes during the first and second shift, we did our work third shift. Our work could not be done remotely,” he added.

John smiles broadly as he thinks back over his time spent employed at Miami. “I had an incredible IT career! I was, and am, a generalist – I got to do a little bit of everything,” he remembers fondly. “I had a soldering gun, Volt Ohm Meter and access to an oscilloscope for tasks that involved hardware repair.”

One incident, in particular, stands out to John. “Once after a lightning strike, a modem carrying significant traffic to U.C. (in the days before the internet) stopped working. We had a repair contract, but the service man was on the other side of the state. A bit of diagnostics and a quick trip to Radio Shack, which had a large stock of electronic components in those days, allowed a quick repair and return to service.” A quick fix that would even make MacGyver proud I am sure.

Not only was the work John engaged in varied, but it was worthwhile. “I made extensions to IBM’s and Microsoft’s operating systems in Assembly/Machine Language, and I programmed in many high-level languages. I even taught several of these at Miami.”

As you can imagine, setting up a completely new computing environment took time, and John was able to leverage his various skills in a variety of IT areas. “I began management with a small team dedicated to supporting several mainframes, was eventually responsible for central computer operations, network services and select core services such as email and file sharing.” John ended his Miami career as the Director of Enterprise Systems.

Besides the regular work associated with a job in IT, John also got the chance to be involved in some very interesting projects. “During my career I got to work with many folks throughout the University; helping with such disparate endeavors as academic instruction (e.g. a Spanish professor working on teaching languages using punch cards in 1978!), research (e.g. an English professor analyzing the works of an English nobleman), preparing for an Avian Flu epidemic, and building the command center at the university’s police station.”

John Kinne in a blue suit, wearing a name tag and talking John has worked on several political campaigns, and as he notes, “Some have been successful.” For example, John is currently a re-elected Oxford Township Trustee. Last November he also ran for a State Senate spot for the 4th District but was defeated by the incumbent candidate. At the time, he said he was running because he wanted to make Ohio a better place, especially for kids. “Working together, we can better the lives of children by improving education, healthcare, and security.”

Away from Miami John has worked in a variety of industries, including as a magazine editor and journalist. “I also worked for a handful of Fortune 500 companies. Most of this work was done remotely – there was little point in going to the office as my teams were distributed around the world in such places as India, Argentina, England, Germany, and many U.S. states. Much of this work involved optimizing global infrastructure operations.”

Although John is currently out of the IT business, he still stays busy with his work for the township, and other endeavors. “I am working on my tree farm, and I am focused in my hobbies.” These include photography (in particular astrophotography), playing guitar, and every once in a while trekking west to climb a few mountains.

Education has always been very important to John. It was a big part of his political platform and remains a big part of his life. “My wife Bobbi and I teach English as a second language and I have recently taught several computer courses in Spanish.”

All in a day's work for this new age, Renaissance man.