by Esther Schindler

Tag Time: Five Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Jan 29, 20074 mins

There’s been a blogger’s game over the last few months, possibly in response to spammers overwhelming the “trackback” feature of most blogs. In this game, the blogger posts “five things you didn’t know about me,” and then “tags” five other bloggers who—in a benign Ponzi scheme—are thus expected to do the same. And, drat it, I’ve been tagged by Alan Zeichick, so you all have to suffer along.

So here’s five things you probably didn’t know about me (but at least don’t make me look like an idiot):

  1. My startup firm was in the first Arizona Venture Capital Conference, back in 1993, which landed us on the front page of the Arizona Business Journal (they were impressed that none of us seemed to wear socks). Our six-person launch team was described as “stellar,” but we didn’t get funding for our software development tool (which, by the way, is still cool, or it would be if it’d ever get finished). One VC told me, “Borland owns the software development market, and nobody’s ever going to displace them.” Yeah. Right. Think there’s a little life-lesson in this?
  2. I used to own a computer store in Stonington, Maine, which is on an island 45 miles from a traffic light. Fortunately, I got out of that business when I could still (barely) make a living at it. The low point was when a customer came into the store, with a Computer Shopper ad in hand; he asked, “Can you beat this price?” I’d given him three hours of free consulting to help him decide which computer was right for him. In gratitude (since he did buy the laptop mail-order), the customer (an art dealer) gave me a really ugly painting. (I still have it. Maybe it’s worth money. But I’m still too annoyed, 15+ years later, to find out.) The first article for which I was paid was in Computer Shopper. Another life lesson, I suppose, but I’ve never been sure what I was supposed to learn.

  3. Before I was a computer store owner, I was a software developer. One of my achievements (the sort that falls off your résumé) was speeding up the Wang VS FORTRAN compiler, both in compile-time and execution-time, by 30%, as part of a three-person team, in only three months. This was during the time that I worked for Mark Rain, one of the designers of the “Green” language (later called Ada).
  4. My very first career was as a worker-drone in market research. I started as a “coder,” translating open-ended responses into numerical categories (such as 1=”like the taste/tastes good”) that could be keypunched into a computer for analysis. I recall more details of General Foods’ ad campaigns for frozen pudding pops than any human should have to. I eventually became the manager of a market research interviewing service, with a crew of 25 minimum-wage workers stopping shoppers in the Paradise Valley Mall to ask about their coffee consumption. I do still love a good market research survey, and I’ve written more than a few analyst reports on techie topics.
  5. I was once the OS/2 Goddess; if there was a magazine article about IBM’s OS/2 operating system, it probably had my byline. When I moved, two years ago, I gave away or (sigh) threw away what I know absolutely to be the world’s largest collection of OS/2 applications. There were at least 300, including some that never did see the light of day. (And yes, I do still have an OS/2 computer system, though it isn’t turned on very often.)

Now it’s time to tag five other people: Volker Weber, Jeff Duntemann, Sandro Villinger (mostly in German), Karen Schneider, Ron Miller. Whew.