Five things you probably don’t know about me

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
The tagging meme has caught up to me. I've recently been tagged by several people, including Jason Womack, Brendon Connelly (SlackerManager), Katy Whitton, and several others; I've lost track. (sorry).  Here, a little late, is my post in response.

Five things you probably don't know about me.
  • I almost got blown up by terrorists in Mons, Belgium
  • I used to produce championship wrestling videos in Barbados
  • I once got in trouble for "visiting" a computer center uninvited
  • I gave up "playing with computers" to became a professional
  • I have living proof of the power of prayer
I almost got blown up by terrorists in Mons, Belgium
I grew up as an air force brat. When I was young we moved every few years. I lived in Mons, Belgium for several years. I went to the Belgian section of the Ecole Internationale Du SHAPE. My father worked as an advisor for General Alexander Haig, the commander of  SHAPE. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe). General Haig lived in a castle up the street from us. (We did not live in a castle, but in a centuries-old stone house.) I used to ride my bike to school and follow Haig's motorcade in the morning. When I was learning to drive, we used to go out on the back roads so I could practice. These same back roads were used by Mr. Haig and his entourage to get to his office at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers, Europe). One night, I was practicing driving across a bridge just outside of town. The next morning there was a crater where terrorists had blown up the bridge in an attempt to assassinate General Haig. No one was hurt and I don't even know if it made news here in the states. Apparently the explosives had been there for a few days and I had been driving over them the whole time.  

Championship wrestling in Barbados

When I returned to the United States, I got into electronics and video production. This was before I got into computers. I started with a Sony AV-3650 black and white reel-to-reel recording system. As a teenager, I was hired to build a video recording studio for a client in his home. I finally got the courage to ask what the studio was for. He told me he organized championship wrestling events in Barbados and Jamaica. I had wrestled in junior high but had never heard of "championship" wrestling. My client hired me to record and produce the tapes of the events. I got to travel to Barbados every few weeks over the course of a year to record the fights and return to Los Angeles to edit them. (blog)

I once got in trouble for "visiting" a computer center uninvited

Do you remember the scene in War Games where Matthew Brodrick set up his computer to dial a bunch of numbers in succession? It was staged. Acoustic couplers didn't autodial. You had to have a Hayes SmartModem 300 to do that. I still have mine, A friend and I once got caught for "visiting" the Los Angeles Valley College computer center without authorization - we were both 15 and were supposed to be in high school at the time. We had assigned ourselves accounts on the IBM 370/168 mainframe,  and pretended we were students. When we got caught, I assumed we would go to jail for being uninvited. My friend convinced the computer managers that if they would not turn us in and let us keep our time-sharing accounts and, if they agreed to give us lab coats to wear with our names on them - we would return every day after school and work there for free. They agreed and no one told our parents. At age 16 we both took the proficiency exam and dropped out of high school to enroll in the computer science program at LAVC. We also got paying jobs working in the data center. While in the computer science program, I had the opportunity to help teach some of the programming classes - that's where I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching. I'm forever grateful that the people at LAVC allowed me to turn my curiosity into an honest profession.

I gave up "playing with computers" to became a professional

My business career in technology has an interesting story to it. For my 15th birthday, my parents gave me a Texas Instruments TI-59 programmable calculator with printer and mag-stripe reader.  It has a full kilobyte of memory! Through a connection at LAVC, Skybird Aviation in Van Nuys, CA., hired me to write a flight & fuel planning program for their fleet of three Lear jets. They paid me $500 for the program. I had been earning $3.35 an hour working at the LAVC computer center and decided that I really liked being paid to do what I would have done anyway. I sold all of my video production gear and purchased a Heathkit H8 computer kit (instead of a car) and started writing business programs and teaching people to use computers. That business - "The Computer Workshop" - eventually became "Immediate Computer Access" and led to several sole-source contracts to bring personal computers to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB. We used the powerful Zenith Z100 computer because it could run both CP/M and DOS. (This was before the IBM PC) I spent the next 13 years teaching and consulting at Edwards AFB.

I also consulted on computers for the Navy and Marine Corps. I joined the Independent Computer Consultant's Association (ICCA) in 1987, and started designing and deploying cc:Mail enterprise messaging systems for companies around the world. This led to two successful software products for cc:mail: Peloria PagerGate and Peloria MailScout, in 1993. I also started working with Lotus Notes version 2.0 on WFW3.1 and OS/2. It was as a result of my work with these technologies that I was hired to consult for David Allen, Russell Bishop, and Sally McGhee (Bishop) at the Productivity Development Group (PDG) in Santa Barbara. It was as a result of working with David Allen that I made the startling and life-changing discovery - that  technology was not the end, it was the means. I began to take my work in consulting, an action management system that I developed in FoxBase for the Navy, and experiences from several other action-oriented projects to start thinking about what would become my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes. I resigned as CTO of Peloria in 1996 and moved my offices home in 1997, where I have been working ever since. I shifted my consulting practice to focus on eProductivity and personal knowledge [management] tools at the end of the last century. When I grow up, I plan to focus on Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) as a tool for personal productivity.

Never underestimate the power of prayer

I became a Christian in my early twenties and I dedicated my business to the Lord in 1990. A few years later, when Kathy and I began praying about starting a family, we discovered that we had each (and independently) thought it would be wonderful to have twins. My wife and I decided to pray for twins, believing that God could do anything if He willed it. God granted our request. We were blessed with healthy identical twin daughters. (Twins do not run in our family; and, identical twins are not hereditary anyway.) There's an incredible testimony, but that's a longer story for another day.  I've taken prayer all the more seriously ever since.

I now tag
Tanny O'Haley, Nick Duffill, Michael Hyatt, Kelly Forrister, and David Allen.

Bonus: For Michael Sampson: I did buy a Mac - In 1985, I purchased an Apple Macintosh 128 computer for desktop publishing. I used it to design my original company logo more than twenty years ago.

Discussion/Comments (3):

Five things you probably don’t know about me


Okay, I've revealed my five things and tagged five others. You can read about it here:

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Posted at 01/25/2007 11:37:12 by Michael Hyatt

Five things you probably don’t know about me

Here are my five things.

Five Things You Might Not Know About Me

Posted at 01/28/2007 12:59:51 by Tanny O'Haley

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