Just my type(writer)

From the delightful anachronism category, I present the gift I received from my wife Denise on the recent occasion of my XLVIIIth birthday. It is a Smith Corona manual portable typewriter, recently reconditioned, with a new ribbon.typewriter-786021

In my teen years, my mother — knowing of my desire to be a writer — gave me a Smith Corona Electra 120. It was a pseudo-electric typewriter. I say “pseudo” because it was electric except for the carriage return, which was still manual. But it served me for many years until I purchased my first computer, an Apple IIe with a daisy-wheel printer and the fabled 80-column card (if I had to explain today what an 80-column card did, you wouldn’t be impressed).

This Smith Corona will occupy a functional place of honor near my 1948 Webster’s New International Dictionary Second Edition, Unabridged.

Some may wonder why I wax ecstatic over these anachronisms. Continue reading Just my type(writer)

Brain brain what is brain?

I have been a psychological test subject for the past 22 years.

No, really. But not in the way Cold War thrillers or paranoid medical novels would portray. More along the lines of Flowers for Algernon, without the performance-enhancing operation.

Since the early 1980s, I’ve been a participant in the Seattle Longitudinal Study, a long-term investigation of how mental abilities change as we age. I’ve been tested four times — 1984, 1991, 1998, and most recently (in two sessions of two hours each, plus one non-timed session with lifestyle and personality trait questions) over the past two weeks. Continue reading Brain brain what is brain?

Business cards: consulting years

For a dozen years, I was a marketing consultant and tech industry analyst. I worked with a variety of clients. Sometimes, a short-term project would extend into a long-term interim executive assignment … and with that, would come a business card for a year or so. This is the third of three parts (including media and tech) of how business cards and contact info evolved over 30 years, this one covering the consulting years 1992 to 2004. Continue reading Business cards: consulting years

Business cards: tech years

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, saying you worked in “personal computers” was akin to saying you work in genetics today. It sounded cool, but few folks completely understood it. Personal computers and their software were still not affordable for the masses; these were the days when a copy of PowerPoint, by itself, was $400.

Still, from 1987 through 1992, I moved from covering technology as a broadcaster to promoting it at two different companies. And I was doing so in a field — consumer technology marketing — for which there was no formal training and, in reality, no template as to what worked and what didn’t. It was pretty damned exciting.

This is the second of three parts of a look at how business cards evolved, starting with the media years and continuing through the consulting years — three decades’ worth. Continue reading Business cards: tech years

Business cards: media years

There are few descriptions of a career more sterile than a resume.

Resumes are text. Resumes are written and rewritten. Resumes exist for one purpose only: to help get that next job. They do little to capture the character of a position as it was being held. Yet for many, they’re the only document that bolts one job onto the next in the construction of a working life.

There is another kind of document that can both trace a career path, and help recall feelings a position evoked. It is the business card. Continue reading Business cards: media years

On a clear day, you can SEA forever

As what’s expected to be the busiest travel summer since 2000 gets underway, I am reminded that I travel. A lot.

It’s part of my current position and, quite frankly, also came with the territory of being a consultant for a dozen years: The people you need to see are never where you are. Consider it a corollary of the rule that an expert is someone more than 50 miles from home. (As an aside, I rarely had clients in the Seattle area. As a result, I was mostly known here for being an analyst and media commentator.)

Last September, I hosted the WSA Investment Forum and gave some brief lessons learned by a very frequent traveler. Since then, I’ve outdone myself by simultaneously making Platinum Elite on Northwest Airlines, SPG Platinum at Starwood hotels, and maintaining a decade of MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines.

So it seems time to update my earlier, nearly two-year-old advice to newbie frequent travelers: Continue reading On a clear day, you can SEA forever

Video out x4

Four years ago this week, I walked away from television. It was June 2002 when I left KCPQ-TV Fox Seattle as its part-time technology analyst and commentator, contributing live and taped segments to both the morning and night-time newscasts. I’d done it for four years, the people were great, the parting was amicable, but the station was moving in a direction that didn’t fit my skills or interests.

I’ve earlier recounted my thoughts on the state of TV tech coverage at the time on Lost Remote, and on the state of TV news a year later on Byte Me Online. Now, with four years of perspective behind me, the most telling effect — now that I no longer have to watch TV news — is how little of it I do watch. (And earlier, I was a full-time broadcast news reporter/anchor before a consultant and commentator.)

So, with my rear-view mirror getting a clearer picture, consider these Three Tips for Better News Consumption: Continue reading Video out x4

The noble experiment

For the last several years, I’ve blogged. I’m ending this experiment after much enthusiasm, debate and a hiatus. I didn’t start blogging because I thought it was the best thing to happen to media since Gutenberg, nor am I stopping it now because I think blogging is useless.

I’m stopping because being a good blogger is hard work. Personally, I have time for only one all-consuming hobby after my paying job and family responsibilities. I’m moving on to another form of my favorite avocation so I’m not lying on my deathbed some years hence, wondering, “If only I’d ….”

But I’m leaving blogging — first on the Lost Remote group blog, and then with Byte Me online — with these six Blogging Lessons Learned: Continue reading The noble experiment

Disappearing tech history

The news that Intel has awarded a British man $10,000 for his copy of a 1965 issue of Electronics Magazine — the one that contained Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s musings that later became known as Moore’s Law — brings to the fore a great fallacy of the Internet age. It’s one that I frequently hear espoused by younger colleagues and, occasionally, those my age or older.

The Great Fallacy: That because of the digital Library at Alexandria that the Internet represents, there’s no longer a need to keep an extensive archive of one’s own.

However, as any observer of the Web can tell you, the shelves of the Internet are constantly morphing. Web sites with valuable reference material for a niche audience may, at some point, take down those archival pages in a re-design, or put them behind a password-protected wall. Security or confidentiality fears (such as those that occurred after the 9/11 attacks) have led to the removal of academic and scientific treatises.

And many documents have yet to make it to the Web. Continue reading Disappearing tech history

TV tech experts and credibility

Wonder why that tech “expert” on your local TV station never says anything bad about a product? Or why, if you see a satellite news report from a technology trade show, it’s always persistently praising a gaggle of gadgets in three minutes or less?

It may be because the expert was paid — either directly or indirectly — by the manufacturer. It’s a common practice which stations and paid talent rarely disclose to viewers. The Wall Street Journal did a nice job summing up the contradictions and frequently co-dependent relationship between local TV stations and talent this week (subsequently, so did NPR and the Washington Post).

It’s also a regular occurrence in the toy industry, as I noted in a piece last December. Continue reading TV tech experts and credibility

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