'20 Tech Things About Me' Facebook Riff

Here is a riff on the Facebook list of 25 random things about me: Following are 20 tech things about me.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 20 tech-related facts about yourself or habits or ideas of yours. At the end, you will tag no one, since you should have forsworn chain letters years ago. However, if you want to share your tech tidbits you can reach me at cs[email protected] or leave a comment below.

1. My first PC was a Sinclair ZX-80 that I hooked up to the family Quasar TV. Later I made friends with a guy who worked at Radio Shack and got to know the Commodore PET. And the TRS-80. We played Titration and an extremely primitive Star Trek game that we loaded from a cassette player.

2. For over 25 years, I've dreamed of a computer that was small enough and powerful enough to be the only device I needed and that I could carry anywhere to use. The Treo 650 came close and my iPhone comes closer. I never dreamed about the monthly fee that would be needed to make my little computer work.

3. I've taken the jump and dumped cable television. I just use cable Internet access and a combination of Netflix Watch Instantly via a Roku box, and Hulu.com and (pretty soon) HD over the air to get entertainment on my TV.

4. Occasionally I go back to Douglas Comer's books on TCP/IP to get an unvarnished explanation of network technology. Radia Perlman's "Interconnections" is also on my bookshelf.

5. I got my first tech job after moving to the "Silicon Prairie" of Madison, Wisc. I couldn't afford out-of-state graduate school tuition. I got a job at a software company during the year I had to wait to establish residency. That one-year detour turned into a now 22-year run with high tech.

6. The most useful hardware tool I've ever owned is also the one I get from the supply closet ... a paperclip. I used it back in my tech support days to have customers test serial cables (insert between pin 2 and 3 to make a circuit, you should be able to see typing from the keyboard on the screen.) I still use it to turn servers on and off.

7. As I continue to dig into virtualization, I am motivated to dig into Linux.

8. I'm writing a "Facebook for the Older User" guide for my relatives and friends who are thinking of social networking. I worry on their behalf about privacy.

9. I spent seven years on the phones doing tech support for a terminal emulation software maker and three years on the road doing installs and training for a database applications firm.

10. RTFM is rude advice. Even so, I still advise reading the manual before calling/e-mailing/posting to a support forum.

11. I loved covering network management platforms even though it's a topic only a mother could love.

12. At home, I've been steadily digitizing my extensive collection of paper files. My commercial-grade duplex scanner has emptied three banker's boxes of files, with a four-drawer file cabinet to go. It turns out the time-consuming part of the job is categorizing the scanned documents.

13. My scanning project has given me a new appreciation of data archiving. I worry about format longevity, media durability (both the media itself and the reader technology) and physical storage survivability. Let's just say I'm on a first-name basis with the bank staff who run the safety deposit vault.

14. I still use a paper calendar to track appointments.

15. As a kid, I spent large amounts of time poring over the family World Books and encyclopedias. Yes, I was a nerd. I wonder if Wikipedia's "featured article" provides a similar experience, and I fear it doesn't.

16. I share my birthday with Nichelle Nichols--Uhura from the original "Star Trek." I consider her character to be the saint of technical troubleshooting.

17.Voice recognition is something that I wish would work. Having worked in the cube next to (then PC Week) analyst Tim Dyck, who did use it, I have first-hand experience with one of the technology's biggest drawbacks--annoying your coworkers. I am trying it at home.

18. Much as I wanted my very expensive watch compass to be a good navigation aid, my $12 Sunnto A-10 was the compass I used to actually navigate for six days in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

19. When eWEEK Labs was in Foster City, I commuted by car. I stopped using my FasTrak toll tag because I didn't like having my vehicle location tracked. But I know my cell phone is just as good a way to track my movements. I'm thinking it's futile to go off the location grid.

20. I'm still amazed at the power of computing technology and I love to see it in action.