Personal History

This is a “quick” recap of my thoughts.

My 1st 3D modeling machine was a Quadra 800

What has been up with me some may wonder. Well, a lot. I moved, decided to pivot & am restarting my career. Oh course whenever you do that, you get a ton of recruiters emailing you with jobs from your old profession, that are no longer suitable to you. Thanks to life events, I can’t work the long hours demanded, and besides that — despite my deceptively younger looks — I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Along with that, I realized that I can’t do repairs of small devices anymore. This is somewhat sad. But considering that my iFixit kit has paid itself off at least 10 times over the years, it’s not that bad of an outcome. Another change is my outlook. Before April of this month, my view on life was that I had to clear my plate of everything put in front of me or let it pile up. However looking at my reading list, there are literally over 100 articles I simply bookmarked after the synopsis or intro that I never got back to. Add to that the countless languages (markup or compiled) I’ve looked at learning and we see a truly daunting list. I’ve decided that things will get my attention as they always have: as needed. The one thing I am putting on my plate over and over until I learn it is 3D. This follows my 2 decade old foray into 3D when I bought some, now defunct, program to run on my Quadra 800. It took hours to ray trace a simple render test. However now it is for modeling objects for 3D printing. While you will never hear me call myself a 3D artist, it is one skill I know I can pickup again. My skills are in a constant state of flux. Last year I spent recuperating from yet another person who overestimated their stopping distance and ended up plowing into my car and injuring me. The more things change…

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Clanning Concept Art

For the unwashed, Clan Lord by Delta Tao Software is an archaic, sorely out-of-date Multi-player Online Role-playing Game  (MORPG) that has been running since the late 90s. The single world (server) and small population make it feel like a small town, thus all of the current players have the same goal (job). Thus, like any small group with common goals, it is a bit like a company: You have your people in it who are on the ball because they work well in teams and independently, those that only work in teams because they need direction, those that lead group of people in a direction, those that specialize in a subset of knowledge about the terrain (market or technology) all of whom trade their time and risk profit (experience) to advance, and finally those that just show up to have fun. These flyby ‘fun’ people are equivalent to the people who just show up for a paycheck. In the game, one seemingly minor mistake can lead to the death of the entire group.  This necessitates departing (experience and time loss) which is a bit like working on a project  and having it fail miserable because Joe Paycheck didn’t know or care that you shouldn’t have done X.

Considering the parallels I noticed about the in game group and the group of people you work with  day-to-day, I have found several commonalities that I have taken from work to game and from game to work that have helped me navigate real life teamwork, leadership and relationships.

(Original Circa 2012; Minor Update: 20170502)

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One summer when I was around 4, I told my mom I was bored. I had learned to read the year before, and had read all my picture books within an hour. I had memorized the gist of the story and the better lines. For instance Green Eggs & Ham teaches one options and the moral to take a chance and try something first before you decide you don’t like something. In the end he loves the combo. BTW: why were the eggs green?

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Practice, Practice, Practice

When I am consulting with a client, and navigating on my machine they are absolutely stunned at the speed of me using just the GUI. I have to remind them: I’ve been using GUIs for 30 years — starting from the very first Macintosh, and using various OSes since then (from BeOS to X-windows and back again). Given my use “cross-training” and approximately 40,000+ hours (conservatively) of using practically every type of app, I’d think I would be an expert at efficiently navigating almost any app. As a side effect, I have also gotten very good at spotting good and bad UI. If I don’t know how to do something: I usually know the magic words and the search terms to use. If even I cannot find info quickly, then something about either your apps and/or your documentation is lacking.

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I myself see patterns, causes/effects and hierarchies everywhere. I’ve mentioned how open I am to new ideas, and acknowledged how fluid my relational thinking is. I can take one reference and smash it together with another reference, so when 2 seemingly disparate ideas intersect through a cognitive relational leap, I synthesize a new link at the junction. This starts me thinking about my own mind. Did my R-side push these two things at me? Yes.

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I’m a freelance IT consultant. I So, get asked a lot of questions. Unfortunately, I wish people would ask me what the last article addressed more, but this is about how I handle calling tech support. Clients pay consultants for answers and output, but often the online knowledge bases for larger companies are labyrinths of outdated dead ends and no way to filter as fine grained as advanced/extendable schema database apps can be — I know, I’ve designed a DB that could reduce and search to one text entry and 2–4 clicks. It’s crazy only a few web apps have this — well, kind of.*

I’ve been a fairly successful consultant who gets most of my business by clients referring me to someone who needs my skill set. My years as a support tech taught me how to quickly sync with a mode of communication the client understands to quickly gather symptoms and explained things in concepts they can grasp. In short, I handle clients at various levels — from SoHo end users to local businesses of various sizes.One skill I have from working in many shops is calling tech support…

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sUzi’

sUzi

Long ago, when I was in college, less humble — more of a dick — I partied a lot. I ended up getting in with the guys who set up the industrial room at a club in the early-to-mid 90s. This was a few years after the infamous club newsletter, and after I had moved back to SF.

A friend of mine gave this guy, newly immigrated from Florida, a sticker we used to print up before clubs to hand out. He gave it to him thinking we were friends. What he didn’t know was that a few weeks prior when he had seen us talking on the roof, we almost got into a fist fight. So, it is natural to assume from a distance that we were talking as friends. Words were exchanged, over a perceived insult, but we both remained calm, and Rose, a mutual friend who introduced us, felt bad that we didn’t hit it off.

Flash forward a month or so, after said sticker is given to the Floridian, his friend invites my best friend and I, (unbeknownst to him at the time) back to his buddy’s flat after the club. He thought the stickers were really cool. They simply said: “No, I’m Not in a Band.”

The backstory on that was we always got asked if we were in a band due to our presence and style of dress. We looked like musicians. While both of us could play, at least somewhat competently, neither of us were in a band.

So we show up, and when I walk in, it is like accidentally walking into a lion’s den. Luckily, they gave me a chance. It was a bit stand-offish at first. I ended up getting along with the Floridian and his friend, X. In fact, X became one of my best friends for a while. He, the Floridian and I became a sort of 3 Musketeers in the club scene. Where there was 1 of us, there were must likely the other 2 wandering around the club.

We set up the very industrial room of the club where I almost got into the fight with the Floridian, and we each took a Moniker: Chromer (X), Booster (Floridian) & Jammer (yours truly & archaic slang for “Fucker”). We had grand adventures, but the preceding was all a setup for the real story…

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I just saw the mini post it notes today on ThinkGeek (https://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/supplies/ba1d/). I wish I had thought of a few of those sayings. Oh wait! I did…

An old CDT friend loved these so much he stuck them on his walls.

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After I was hired to be a DTP monkey, I applied and refined my wild layouts, but had to tone them down quite a bit for business documents. (Wired back then was tame compared to my unrefined layout.) Being a bit of a perfectionist that cares about anything I do—whether paid or not—I started studying proper typography: I learned the difference between the hyphen, N-dash and M-dash, what x-height was and how to match serif and non-serif fonts. I studied the art of graphic design, the concepts and research behind the guidelines so I knew when I could break the rules and get away with it. I found traditional reports stuffy and boring. So, when I got the chance, I started refreshing the look of the company documents.

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The unofficial-turned-official club newsletter was directly responsible for me landing my first real job as a DTP monkey. I walked into the interview with my portfolio of club newsletter and stickers I made on my old Mac SE and the Mac IIci my best friend had that were printed on my trusty, 70+ pound LaserWriter II SC with the Canon engine that lasted well over a decade. The guy who interviewed me was a bit skeptical that I made those. I was honest and told him that I didn’t do all the work, and that I had a friend that started the newsletter. I showed him what *** did and what I did — explaining how you could tell our layout and writing styles apart.

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