Matthew R. Baker About Small
Yours truly visiting Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.

Thanks for stopping by my corner of the Internet.

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I am an avid reader, ardent writer, aspiring entrepreneur, armchair philosopher, part-time traveler, lifelong musician, greenhorn genealogist, linguist at leisure, first-born son, older brother, good friend, and computer guy… in no particular order.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and a Certificate of Localization and Translation in German, both from the University of Texas at Arlington. My day job is in engineering at a defense contractor in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I sometimes build websites on weekends and often write books by night.

Speaking of writing, I’ve self-published a how-to book called How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t, available now on Amazon. If you’re not very computer-savvy, I guarantee that this book will help you out. Why not give it a look?

…Oh, you want to read more? Well, let’s start from the beginning.

Growing Up

I was born in Arlington, Texas to two loving, hard-working parents. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing airplanes and building LEGOs with my dad, dancing to Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” in the living room with my mom, and pushing my little brother around on a toy truck.

My dad worked for an aerospace and defense company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and he took our family to airshows every year. I developed an appreciation for aircraft and all things aviation very early on; by preschool, I could identify all Boeing airliners and many fighter jets. To this day, I still like going to airshows and always feel excited when I’m on an airplane.

My mom was an accomplished pianist in her youth and I think I inherited her musical genes. She enrolled me and my brother in piano lessons as kids, but we eventually got tired of playing classical music and church hymns. So, we migrated to “cooler” instruments: I picked up guitar and my brother picked up the drum sticks. We spent our junior high and high school years playing classic rock songs together, and even played a few gigs.

Three years old
Happy and well-dressed at age three. But don't cuff your pants like that, gentlemen. I was too young to know better.

Education

One of my clearest early memories is from when I was four years old. Mom picked me up from preschool and I told her, unprovoked, “Mom, I want to learn how to read.” I had been “reading” the picture books in my preschool classroom, and I wanted to know what the words on the pages meant.

So, Mom started teaching me how to read at home, which lead full-on homeschooling. That lasted through eighth grade, when my parents determined that they could not teach me the more advanced math and science topics—and therefore enrolled me in public high school.

All-Region Jazz Band 2013
All-Region Jazz Band 2013. Who let that kid bring a heavy-metal guitar to a jazz concert?

I entered the public school system in ninth grade and acclimated fairly well. I auditioned to play guitar in the jazz band, and made the first band all four years. The last two years I made the second All-Region Jazz Band, even though I didn’t think I was all that good. (When it came to sight-reading, I learned how to “fake it till you make it,” but I also learned that’s not the best life philosophy.)

In my junior year, two friends and I designed a website about the ARPANET for a school project called National History Day. Our teacher thought it was so good that she entered it in the local NHD competition. We won, to our surprise, and then competed it against websites designed by students state-wide at the University of Texas in Austin. To our surprise again, we won at the state level and received an all-expenses-paid trip to compete nationally at the University of Maryland. Although we didn’t win nationally, we had a great time and learned a lot throughout the project. [Hyperlink to website somewhere in here.]

I graduated number five in the Class of 2014 and received a scholarship to my hometown school, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). There, I studied information systems, business, and language localization and translation. I completed my studies one semester early, graduating summa cum laude in UTA’s Class of 2017 (Fall) with a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and a Certificate of Localization and Translation in German (more or less a minor in German).

Work History

My work history is pretty atypical. I started my first “real job” during high school by working for my guitar instructor as a music transcriptionist. I converted sheet music into guitar tablature and simplified songs so beginner students could learn them easier. The pay wasn’t much, but it was enough for a high-school student, and I got to work from home at any time I chose. Talk about a dream job.

Right before high-school graduation, a friend from church hired me to manage a learning management system for his company, ClayKelley.com. He gave me the job title of Client Support Guru (no joke) and placed me in charge of the system, which served over five-hundred users across the nation. My day-to-day tasks included responding to help-desk questions, troubleshooting system issues, and reviewing new course content as we expanded the curriculum.

I also performed dozens of odd jobs: setting up for seminars and greeting attendees, dropping my boss off at the airport, repairing computers and electronics—even proofreading articles he wrote for industry magazines. I cut my teeth in web design and learned quite a bit about marketing, sales, and interpersonal skills—more than I ever learned in college, and for which I am forever grateful. And, I did much of the technical work from home or school, whenever I wanted. Talk about another dream job.

Now, after college, I work as an engineer for a defense contractor in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. (The apple doesn’t far from the tree, eh?) That’s about all I think I can say about that.

Hobbies

When I’m not working or planning world domination, I like to do some things that help me unwind and bring me joy.

I’ve been an avid reader since I learned how at age four. My homeschooling curriculum exposed me to a plethora of books, and much of my learning in those years came from reading, whether textbooks or novels. Now, I read somewhere between fifty and one-hundred books per year, and the books I read span genres from classic literature to history to self-improvement to DIY.

Music has been part of my life since a very early age. I’ve always played stringed instruments, starting with the piano and now primarily guitar and bass guitar. I’ve played guitar for ten years now and about four years ago started seriously playing bass. I enjoy picking up my Effo Clasica 60 classical guitar and playing “Classical Gas” just as much as I enjoy picking up my Fender Jazz Bass and playing “Tom Sawyer”. For me, music is the best de-stressor.

I also enjoy traveling near and far (the best places are new places), hiking, and just being outside. Sometimes I watch movies. Occasionally I build and repair things, like guitars and computers. And every once in a while I’ll take a stab at learning the basics of a new language.

An evening in the studio with my brother, Drummer Dan.
An evening in the studio with my brother, Drummer Dan. | Photo: John Valentine
How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don't, available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.
Over a decade of IT troubleshooting experience distilled for your benefit.

Adventures in Entrepreneurship

If you couldn’t tell from the content of this page, I like to write.

I wrote my first work, a novella, when I was nine years old, and I’ve been experimenting with words ever since. During my senior year of high school, I wrote and self-published a full-length sci-fi novel called Eyes of Steel, and it sold relatively well among friends and family. I’ve tried to hone the craft since then, and am planning to write and self-publish a new novel in 2020. Stay tuned….

Outside of fiction, I wrote and self-published How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t, available on Amazon. I distilled a decade’s worth of experience as everyone’s tech support guru into 150 pages’ worth of information. My goal is to equip everyday users like you with the skills and mindset you need to solve your own computer problems. Please visit my book page to read more about How Computers Work will help you!

I also design and maintain websites for individuals and small businesses. I built this website you’re viewing right now from scratch, as I do with all websites. Part of my design philosophy is to build clean, unique, and speedy sites that are attractive and easy to navigate.

We live in an age when anyone can “design” a website, templates are a dime a dozen, and other companies use a copy-and-paste approach that results in cloned sites. Not only that, there are plenty of companies out there hawking quick SEO solutions, when SEO is anything but quick.

I believe that every person and every business is unique, and therefore every website should be unique, too. I also believe that good design is an equal balance of science and art, a balance that I believe most DIY websites and mass-production design companies fail to strike. I take pride in providing my expertise to individuals and small business owners who want an authentic online presence.

If you are interested in contracting me for web design, SEO, or online marketing services, please contact me for a quote.

The End?

Well, you’ve reached the bottom of this page, but that’s hardly all, folks. Why not browse around the site some more, read some of my blog posts, or check out my book?

Feel free to get in touch via the Contact page. I respond to every message and look forward to receiving yours.

The Meteor Crater outside Winslow, Arizona.
Standing on the rim of the mile-wide meteor crater outside Winslow, AZ.