Sunday, September 20, 2020

Person of the Week

Jon Claude Haines: Zooming In


The work-from-home revolution (and just generally function-from-home revolution) is familiar territory for Jon Claude Haines, a Chester tech specialist who’s sharing his expertise to help local organizations stay connected. Photo courtesy of Jon Claude Haines

The work-from-home revolution (and just generally function-from-home revolution) is familiar territory for Jon Claude Haines, a Chester tech specialist who’s sharing his expertise to help local organizations stay connected. (Photo courtesy of Jon Claude Haines )

A rocket zooms into the sky; a Nascar driver zooms around the Daytona 500 track; and now everybody else can Zoom to meet with colleagues.

That’s where Jon Claude Haines comes in. Jon Claude, a computer expert who lives in Chester, has been helping several local nonprofit groups use Zoom to connect electronically for meetings.

So far, he has set up meetings to allow an addiction service in Madison to hold group sessions, as well as for several French classes usually held at the now-closed Ivoryton Library, and a weekly electronic reunion for members of the New Horizons Band of the Community Music School in Centerbrook. (The band cannot play music because Zoom allows only one person at a time to talk, but at least members keep contact through weekly talk sessions about practice tactics and online lesson sites.)

The band meetings have had a special benefit for Jon Claude. He played the tenor saxophone in high school and now thinks he himself would like to join the group.

Zoom, conceived as a computer site to facilitate business meetings, has taken on new life as the most popular way for people of all ages to connect with families, school classes from elementary- to university-level, and even religious services.

Still, the connections haven’t been without problems. Some Zoom meetings have invaded by uninvited and unwanted participants whose goal is to disrupt the sessions. Added security, along with using the proper settings, can help groups avoid that problem.

“That’s why you need someone who can set things up correctly,” Jon Claude says. “I can make sense of tech for people who are not techies.”

Jon Claude, who grew up in Westhampton, Long Island, became fascinated by computers in his early teens. “I was the kind of kid who was in the audio-visual club, the technology club,” he recalls.

He remembers the days of the earliest home processors, some of which disappeared long ago, among them RadioShack’s long-gone TRS 80, and the Atari series of home computers.

After high school, Jon Claude served four years in the Navy, and upon his return, cycled through the jobs that often signal a person in search of a career. He was a waiter, a bartender, and an office temporary, working as a typist transcribing material from Dictaphone machines.

“It was fine. I learned all about working in offices,” he says.

By the 1990s, he was working for companies setting up websites, but exuberance in the form of the stock market’s valuation of computer-based businesses ended when what was known as the bubble collapsed in 1999 and early 2000.

“There were so many start-up companies, they were making web sites but they had no idea how to monetize them,” Jon Claude remembers.

Instead of setting up many websites, Jon Claude found computer work with one employer, and ultimately branched out on his own creating business websites, initially in the medical field.

He was still working in Manhattan on 9/11, a day he, like many others, will never forget. To return to his home in Astoria, Queens from midtown Manhattan, he had to walk over the Queensboro Bridge at 59th Street.

“It was just crazy. There were thousands of people walking over the bridge,” he recalls.

Still, Jon Claude and a friend had fortified themselves for the trip.

“We had a bunch of Guinnesses before we started,” he admits.

Originally, Jon Claude had called his business Woodland Technologies, but when he and his wife Caitlin, who grew up in East Haddam, moved to Chester some six years ago, he renamed it Sea Robin Tech. The sea robin, he explains, is a fish that people often catch when they are out for porgy or bass.

“It’s a funny fish. It croaks at you,” Jon Claude says.

He thought people in this area would be familiar with sea robins, but now he jokes about the name change.

“It was Woodland and I changed it and now here I am in the woods,” he says.

Jon Claude says though people often throw sea robin back, the firm-fleshed tail makes good eating. He describes it in a classic phrase: “It tastes like chicken.”

Jon Claude, who likes to cook, uses the sea robin in what he describes as a “Korean type” fish stew with squid and shrimp. Cooking, in general, is hobby for him and his favorites range from pho, the traditional Vietnamese soup, to roast duck.

“I’ve always cooked for family and friends,” he says. As for what that does to the waistline, he adds, “We’ve always been big men in my family.”

As Jon Claude looks to the future, he thinks that one of the results of the current pandemic will be that many more people will continue to work at home even after the crisis is over.

“I think a large percentage of people will continue to work remotely,” he says. “I think a lot of people like it better than working in an office 9 to 5. And you don’t have to get dressed up and you get a lot of things done.”

He says, in response to what has become a popular question, that he does not work in pajama bottoms—”But sometimes in shorts and a T-shirt,” he admits.

He will be ready with computer advice whenever that is necessary. “I just want everyone’s computer to work,” he says.

Rita Christopher is the Senior Correspondent for Zip06. Email Rita at

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