Debra Littlejohn Shinder has lived a somewhat interesting (at least to her) life and she's always had plenty to say about it. The biggest frustration of her life is the fact that it's gone by so quickly and is way too short to do and be everything that she'd like.
As a child, she aspired to be an artist for a time, because she loved to draw pictures and make up stories about them. Later, around junior high school (yes, she's so old that it wasn't called middle school back then), she thought about being a doctor or a research scientist when she became fascinated with the idea of bio-engineering, and started a (not very good) novel about recombinant DNA monsters long before Dean Koontz and other best-selling authors tackled the subject.
In high school, her aspirations turned to journalism, and she was editor of the school newspaper and literary magazine. In college, her love of words blossomed into an ability to speak them as well as write them, and her experience on the debate team led her to think about getting into politics. For a while, she considered becoming an attorney. Around the same time, she discovered computers, first in the form of the IBM and Wang word processors, and discovered that she loved playing with them. She still has her ancient Commodore VIC-20, C-64 and original IBM PC (with giant 10 MB hard disk) in a box in the garage.
Marriage and the birth of her daughter sent Deb's life off in a whole different direction, but she never stopped creating new worlds with words. For a while, she even aspired to be a songwriter (and named her son Kris after one of her favorites), and she still has a file drawer full of original song lyrics - some of which are awful, whereas a few (she thinks) are actually pretty good.
Despite the challenges of being a mom to her two great kids, Deb has managed to live many of her career dreams, at least for a while. One of her first jobs, as a short time, was as a professional photographer, back in the days when the top of the line Nikon didn't even have a built-in light meter. She soon found that there was more (or at least more stable) money to be made in the legal field, and spent several years as a paralegal - which cured her of the idea of someday going to law school.
Following in the footsteps of her dad, who retired from the City of Dallas with 32 years of service, she moved on to public administration, and was City Secretary, Personnel Director and assistant city administrator for a couple of small towns in Texas. In those positions, she learned how local government works and saw things that needed changing, and she ran for City Council in her hometown. She served two years as an elected official, was appointed Public Safety Commissioner and was exposed to - and fell in love with - law enforcement.
She then made the surprising decision (to her family and friends) to go to the police academy, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. Her (soon to be ex) husband wasn't thrilled with the idea of being married to a cop, and she found herself raising her kids (with a huge amount of help from her own mom and dad) as a single mother.
Although she worked patrol for a while, Deb realized her real talent in the L.E. field was teaching others, and spent the next five years doing just that. She was employed as a training coordinator and instructor at the North Central Texas Regional Police Academy in Arlington, and taught at the Criminal Justice Training Center at Eastfield College. Then her life took another unexpected detour.
She moved to Little Rock, AR in 1995 when she married her husband, Dr. Thomas Shinder, whom she had met online. That's when she started to get really serious about her computer hobby. Tom was tired of practicing medicine and Deb was getting burned out on police work, so together they turned their love of computers and technology into a dual mid-life career change, and studied together to earn their MCSEs.
It was the right decision at the right time. They started doing web design and network consulting for small businesses and municipalities, and soon were teaching network engineering classes at Eastfield College, Deb's old "stomping ground". They still teach part-time on occasion and have written five books together and contributed to over thirty others. Deb has written two books on her own, "Computer Networking Essentials" for Cisco Press and "Scene of the Cybercrime" (www.sceneofthecybercrime.com) for Syngress Publishing. Tom went on to become the ISA Server guru and "head perpetrator" of www.isaserver.org, but had to give up the site when he became a full-time Microsoft employee in 2009. Deb took over his duties there, along with writing articles and blogging for Windowsecurity.com and WindowsNetworking.com, all of which are sponsored by TechGenix.
For ten years, Deb was editor of the popular WinXPNews (www.winxpnews.com), and later VistaNews (www.vistanews.com) and then Win7News (www.win7news.net) for Sunbelt Software. She has been an editor and writer for the Windows Server Security journal (www.elementk.com), a writer for TechRepublic, CNET and various other tech publications. She currently writes GFI's PatchCentral blog and contributes articles to their Talk Tech To Me blog. Deb has done contract work for Microsoft, Intel, HP and other hardware and software companies.
She has been named an MVP (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft for eleven years in a row. Deb also contracts to provide whitepapers, Web content, product documentation and marketing material for a number of other large and small software and hardware companies, and both Deb and Tom have been invited to speak at technical conferences all over the country. Deb has combined her police and computer expertise to teach and write about computer forensics, and she's fascinated by cryptography and currently specializes in network security technologies and issues. She still keeps a finger in the law enforcement "pie," serving as a board member (and former chair) of the Criminal Justice Training Advisory board at Eastfield College and on the editorial board of the Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, and she stays involved in a number of international law enforcement groups.
In addition to her government, police and computer experience, Deb has written fiction, poetry and songs, has delivered 12 babies and assisted at over 30 other births as a midwife's assistant, and loves to read and learn about new things. Some of her interests include Russian history (especially the Romanov period), submarine warfare and Naval operations, home theater, digital photography, bird watching and gourmet cooking (especially Italian).
Deb is the luckiest person she knows. She's never won the lottery (yet), but in addition to being born to the best parents in the world and marrying the greatest guy in the world, she was lucky enough to give birth to the two most fantastic kids in the world. Her daughter has been in the U.S. Navy since 1997, and is currently stationed in San Diego after stints in Afghanistan and Diego Garcia. Her son is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas and has traveled around the country and overseas, teaching chess and working as a chess analyst and "second" to Hikaru Nakamura, the U.S. Chess Champion.
Deb is a political conservative on fiscal and Constitutional issues and a libertarian on most social issues. She enjoys lively debate and regularly annoys both Democrats and Republicans with her views. Deb and Tom live in their dream house overlooking Lake Ray Hubbard east of Dallas, Texas and enjoy traveling to Europe, the Caribbean and their new favorite home-away-from-home, Alaska.