This is a picture of me at the Heavenly Valley ski area. I'm in the Snake Pit which is off the Mott Canyon chair on the Nevada side. It's quite steep and you can see a lot of Nevada from there. Here's a map. I think the Mott Canyon chair is simply the best chair at Heavenly. It's too bad there isn't more terrain which is worth skiing there as they have one of the best views of Lake Tahoe. If you are an intermediate skier though, Heavenly will do fine by you.
As for me, my 4 favorite resorts in the Lake Tahoe area are Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley. They all have plenty of steep terrain, which is what I like to ski. I'm not into bumps or speed runs (well, speed is fun occasionally), but I love a good secluded steep run. Wagonwheel Bowl off the Wall at Kirkwood is great, as is Fuller's Folly and the East Face at Sugar Bowl. Scott Chute, Gentian Gully, the Palisades and Our Father are all awesome runs at Alpine Meadows while 75 Chute is my single favorite run at Squaw.
I was born in LA in 1960, but my folks escaped to Seattle in 1965 and I grew up there in a variety of suburbs. We actually spent a few years in Spokane where mom and stepdad worked at KJRB which was the AM station of the time.
Basically, I'm your typical computer nerd who's got a life, which hopefully removes me from the typical category. I was into computers, math and physics in high school, when I wasn't reading science fiction and going to see Star Wars.
I attribute some of my appreciation of math to my ninth grade algebra teacher, Mrs. Gay Nixon. Yes, that Nixon. She was Richard's brother Edward's wife. I took her class during the 1974-75 school year, so it wasn't the best of times for the Nixon family as President Nixon had resigned on August 9, 1974, just before school started. Nevertheless, she recognized that I was extremely bored with the speed of the class and instead of getting me in trouble for talking, as other teachers did, she stuck me in the back of the classroom with another kid and told us to simply stay ahead of the class. We took the tests when they did, but we didn't have to do or turn in homework. I'll never forget her for that.
She also taught me to play guitar and I'm sure she'd be disappointed to hear that I didn't stay with it. I gave my guitar to my brother and he's still playing it. I spend my time creating software instead.
It was actually tenth grade when I first got my hands on a computer. I think it was my teachers' way of locking me in a closet. I had two math classes that year, with Mr. Hilton and Mr. Robinson, a pair of teachers who taught me that you can have fun and get work done, which is a philosophy that I heartily embrace. There were also two other guys that taught me a lot, aside from Mr. Whitaker, the teacher who owned and built the IMSAI 8080 we were using. They were Chuck Strauss and Bill van Gundy. Chuck really helped, since he was the one who gave me a lift over to Mr. Whitaker's all summer in his green Shelby Cobra GT Mustang. That was a fun car.
Chuck wrote in 8080 assembler. One of the first programs he showed me was a simple beast that always printed out "syntax error". Its catch was that it was unescapeable. It trapped out the error conditions so that you couldn't exit it. Typical high school hacker stuff. We'd have called it kewl if we were born later.
The computer itself is pretty retro these days. It had a CRT mounted on an open rack above a TTY with its massive keyboard and a paper tape punch/reader for storage. The punch output an inch wide yellow paper tape with up to nine holes across it. You then rolled that up and kept it safe so that it didn't get too mangled to be read back in. When you wanted to load it, you would feed one end in the reader and it would not-so gently pull the tape in as you unwound it. It was an error prone ordeal, although once you got the hang of it, it wasn't too bad. The occasional tape break was easily fixed with some cellophane tape and a pencil to repunch the holes, but mangled tape (if you sat or stepped on a roll) was ugly. I still have one of my larger programs here.
Well, I changed schools and lost those boys, but luckily Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, WA had an HP 9830A desktop computer. It had a 32 character LED display, a thermal printer, a single pen flat bed plotter, a built in cassette tape drive, BASIC in ROM, and a whopping 4K of RAM. I wrote a lot of code for that machine. My crowning achievement was a Star Trek game, complete with LED graphics and 7 overlaid memory modules to overcome the 4K limitation. We played that Star Trek game a lot.
I've missed all my high school reunions, but there's only one person I really wanted to see again, and he was in the class after mine. His name is Jim Knibb, otherwise known as Obi-Wan Knibbi. We were goofy kids. I never saw him after I graduated. If you know him, point him my way. (Someone actually did, man this net thing is great!) I managed to stay in touch with most of the rest of my high school friends. I did lose one of my best Junior High friends though. Bob Lindenfeltser. What a name. We were good friends until one of those unexplainable arguments over nothing in particular caused us to stop talking. Then I moved and that was the last I saw of him too. I hate that part of life.
After high school I went to Bellevue Community College for a year before going to Western Washington University for my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. I know it's a cliche, but college really did hold the high and low points of my life. It was a great time in my life, and if you are in school, I recommend enjoying it to your fullest.
One of the things I really enjoyed in school was writing games. We had a brand new VAX 11/780 which actually had interactive terminals. Trust me, this was a big deal compared to the card punches used with the IBM 360 which was getting slower and slower as more students used it. The VAX was underused though, so I learned Pascal and started programming it. We scoured the OS manuals and found out how to do fancy IO (the infamous $QIOW call). That was the start of a series of character graphics games like VAXMAN (which had teachers addicted to it), CHESS (which allowed you to play networked games like speed chess and Kriegspiel and work on checkmate puzzles) and WAR (a great two player combat game).
I graduated in 1983 and started working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, CA on April 2, 1984. I was hired by the National Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center (later renamed the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center or NERSC) as a technical support consultant for the center's 5000 physicist users. I explained things like round off error and vectorization and other important supercomputer topics to physicists who thought that a computer should know that 1.0 - 3.0 * (1.0 / 3.0) is really zero. After all, their calculator knows that it is, why can't a $20 million Cray running FORTRAN realize it?
It was there at the NERSC that I learned about Macintosh. We were strictly a PC shop when I went in. There weren't even any clones around. However, Princeton bought a ton of Macs and wanted us to start supporting them. Since I had bought a 512 of my own, I told the boss that if he would buy me a Macintosh, I would get them off of his case. He did, I did and everyone was happy.
NERSC was a great place to work. I got to learn everything I could and I was jacked into the Net in a big way. I got involved in the Info-Mac Digest as a moderator about 1986 or so. Around this time I also began organizing a netter's dinner at MacWorld San Francisco. That ran for 26 years before MacWorld succumbed to the Internet and died. I have been making friends via the net since the beginning.
The lab got kind of dull though. Government work is seldom stressful, which could be considered a good thing, but I was having motivational trouble. In addition, the computer center was going towards X-Windows and UNIX since Cray released their UNICOS operating system. Since I wanted to program the Macintosh, I left NERSC early in 1992 for Apple Computer.
I started contracting at Apple on a 6 month contract in Developer Technical Support (DTS) as the Apple Events Registrar just as Apple released System 7.0. I knew immediately that this was going to be fun as I was in on the ground floor of Apple Events usage. System 7 had 2 really useful new features in it. The most immediately useful was File Sharing, but the thing that was going to take some ramping up to be even more useful was IAC (Inter-Application Communication) and I was getting paid to learn it. At the end of my contract, Apple hired me on full time and transfered me from DTS to the AppleScript development team as they were finishing up AppleScript 1.0. I wrote a little code, tested AppleScript and the Scripting Addition API and explained to developers how to write scriptable apps. That wasn't quite enough though. Apple laid me off after a year and a half in the great purge of 1993. Don't feel too bad though. I got new home machines and a large severence check out of the deal. I also got a new job in under six days.
I was hired almost immediately by Storm Technology who were working on a scriptable photo publishing program called PhotoFlash which Apple bought the rights to and published. They even included PhotoFlash with their QuickTake cameras because I wrote the QuickTake scripting addition which allowed you to automate the QuickTake cameras and do automatic downloads, which it did not do itself.
I spent a year and a half at Storm doing several versions of PhotoFlash and other projects before deciding to return to Apple to work on OpenDoc. Unfortunately, Apple canceled the OpenDoc project and laid my entire team off after the NeXT takeover, so I got another generous layoff package. This time I took three months off before looking for work, which I found in Seattle at Adobe. I spent 8 years working on InDesign and InCopy, Adobe's layout and editorial tools which are part of the Creative Suite. After leaving Adobe, I moved back to California, into the Sierra foothills where I did remote InDesign plug-in work for a few companies. It was very nice working from home, as I've really gotten to know and spend time with my wife and kids, which wasn't happening when I lived at the office.
However, the economic crash of 2010 put an end to that, and I had to go looking for work again. I found a few brief consulting gigs before getting a wonderful gig in downtown SF with a little software security company called Arxan. We've moved a few times, but we ended up with an epic view of the entire bay area from the 27th floor of one of the most northern buildings in the city. My window looked out on the Golden Gate bridge somedays. On the other days it looked at fog.
So, that's my professional career. It leaves out a lot, particularly about my so called life. As you could see from the picture way back up there, I'm an avid skier. I can't quite be classified a ski bum since I have a job and I live in an urban area instead of in my car in the parking lot of a ski area. I also happen to be a devoted husband and father. My wife Cary and I have a darling little sweetheart named Jordan as well as a not-so-little boy named Jared. They're sweet little rugrats, despite Jordan's uncertainty about Santa here at age 3. Jordan was born in 1992 while Jared was born in 2000, so you should be able to figure out how old they are now.
Unfortunately, in 2016 tragedy struck and Cary fell ill and was diagnosed, post mortem, with skin cancer. I never realized "till death do us part" was going to be so soon. Additionally, Arxan started to slide financially in 2018 and I bailed just prior to a massive layoff. I am now searching for my next adventure.
Well, that's some of the highlights of my life as it relates to computers. I'm sorry about the length, but if you made this far you definately deserve some sort of award.
Oh yeah, I live in Moss Beach these days, right next to the Half Moon Bay airport.
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And don't forget, MacOS Rules!
Created on Mon, May 18, 1998 and last modified on Mon, Mar 12, 2018.