And so far, nothing in my life turned out as I'd imagined; I never thought I'd be earning big bucks (well, compared to what I earned in Washington, anyway!) designing semiconductors, living in Paradise (again, compared to Washington, although that's not saying a whole bunch), driving around in a sports car (please, drive safe-ly!) and owning (I use the term loosely :) a cat. And now, I've just turned 30 and I never really imagined I'd still be single at this age.
Why mention that? Well, I was talking with some friends and they said my old personal page read more like a 'personals' ad and I said it really wasn't, it was just history and background and the section that read like a 'personals' ad was mostly a joke, as evidenced by the fact that it's never worked as a personal ad since there's never been any response in several years. They said that just because it doesn't work doesn't mean it isn't one. I suppose that's true, however, I could point out that I'd have to be pretty stupid to leave up a 'personals' ad for almost three years that didn't work if that was the intent! (And they said, "Yes, and your point is what, exactly?" :) Well, I guess the point is it was time to update the page anyway, I never really liked it all that much.
But back to my first thought; it's strange how things happen. I grew up in the small town of Issaquah, about 30 miles East of Seattle in Washington. I was always a little nerdier than most kids (okay, a LOT nerdier) the thick glasses I wore since almost kindergarten didn't help and the fact I was fairly color blind (technically red-green color deficient) didn't help either. Most kids just thought I was weird making the skies purple and the grass brown and the people olive green during art classes. That's just the way things look to me. But I didn't get into personal computers until I was 10 years old. This is primarily because the first personal computer (the Altair) wasn't even invented until I was 9 years old! Anyway, strangely enough, I didn't get into computers because I loved technology. No, weirdly enough, I got into computers after I saw my first Apple ][ and discovered it could make colored dots on the TV screen!! I was enthralled! I wanted to make colored dots on the TV screen, too! So, I took the basic manual home overnight and read it about 5 times and went back the next day and typed in my program to make colored dots dance on the screen and sure enough, it worked. By the time I was 13, I was coding in assembly language (with the mini-assembler, barely better than machine language) to make fancy high-resolution high-speed graphics on the TV screen. I kept hacking, and suffice to say I did my share of boot code tracing and playing with the phone company before I turned 18. But I also got my first programming job when I was 13 (writing library book check-out software) and taught my junior high school teachers how to do the things they taught in their computer classes (note: I did NOT teach the class, the teacher would come to me the day before and ask how to do >blank< and I'd teach them and then they'd teach the class :) Also taught one of those teacher inservice training seminars on how to use computers when I was in high school which to most students meant a day off from school. For me I got to teach a class to teachers. Kinda fun. :) But in case you think all I did was doof around with computers, you would be horribly wrong. Computers themselves weren't all that interesting to me. How they were constructed was fascinating in itself, (and if you ever get a chance, go find a schematic of Woz's original Apple ][ and you will be truly amazed at the artistry of his design) but programming was just a necessary means to some end. I spent far more time in other activities, such as the math team (I was captain our senior year and we came in 4th in state), knowledge bowl team (due to weird scoring, we were robbed! We beat one of the teams that went to the finals), positive attitude club (kind of like a booster club, made posters and did advertising for high school events), Key Club (community service club sponsored by Kiwanis. I was a charter member at our school and a founding officer), chemistry olympiad (I was a semi-finalist, top 140 of the nation :) and more stuff which I can't remember because it was so long ago.
The summer between high school and college, I got a job doing programming and some odds and ends of hardware design for a then very small company on Mercer Island (Applied Precision, Inc.- today they make probe card equipment, additionally) that made motion control equipment. In my spare time I designed and built a scanner out of a bar code reading element, some op amps, a ADC and some wet noodles. I put the bar code reader and electronics in a printer cartridge and scanned the head across a page and read the bits into my trusty Apple ][ through the paddle port. There I wrote the dithering algorithms that translated the 256 grey shades into black and white dots for the screen display. When I got to college, my dormmates were asking me, "why are you in college?" when they saw what I'd built over the summer. But I had a lot to learn, of course. But for the most part, my activities and such seemed a lot like an extension of high school. Oh, sure the classes were harder and more engineering for sure but the community service clubs I worked with and the honor societies (Physics, Engineering and Jesuit) and the fact that I had enough scholarships to not worry about money made it not feel much like something different, just progression. In fact, everything up to this point seemed to be a gradual progression. Life didn't start taking funny turns until after I got out of undergraduate school.
The first thing that happened was that I spent an afternoon chatting with somebody from Seattle Silicon (now Cascade Design Automation) and they turned around and gave me a job offer to design analog cell generators for ASICs. The reason they hired me out of school to do that was because their cell generating programs were getting so very complicated that the circuit designers couldn't understand the code and the programmers couldn't understand the circuit designs. They needed somebody who could understand both. So I spent the most fantastic two weeks there using workstations, learning about Integrated Circuit design and then they announced they'd run out of venture capitalist financing money and had to lay off 40% of the company. This included me, of course. This was good, though, because otherwise I never would have decided I really wanted to get into semiconductor design. So, I decided I'd save up money, get another job, of course, and go back to school to get a masters and study IC design. During the time I was working and saving money, I started dating a girl I knew for a long time in Washington but had recently moved to California to go to school (that's a long story (as if this isn't long enough!!)). Anyway, she got me thinking, "hey, there's really no opportunity here for semiconductor design, maybe I should join her and move to California, too!" And so, because of her I considered something I had never though of doing and I made the decision to move to Silicon Valley. We broke up sometime thereafter and before I left Washington but I had already planned to go so I went and entered school at Stanford to get my masters. Right before leaving Washington, I biked from Seattle to Portland in the 1992 STP. That's over 200 miles and frankly, I was pretty beat afterward. (Note: I biked the STP on Saturday and Sunday and then on Monday I took the bus back. I was way too beat to do much at work, anyway, so I always have wondered whether I should have taken that day off as a vacation day or as sick leave.) I also started my own company, Video Innovations, but I never really got past playing with all the nifty video and office equipment I bought to ever get any work done.
The die being cast, I came to California in the Fall of 1992 and entered
Stanford. I didn't do much but study for the ensuing year. My Masters of
Science in Electrical Engineering was conferred in Fall of 1993, and I
went through the graduation ceremonies in June of 1994. Since the Fall
of 1993, I have been working at a local carnival painting faces and twisting
balloons into small animals. No, just kidding, I would never do something
as cruel as stuffing a balloon into a small animal. Actually, I worked
at Hewlett Packard in Palo Alto on RAM circuits and generators, up until
August of 1995 (Chances are if you have a recent HP Laser or Inkjet printer,
you are using one of the RAMs I've worked on).
After that, I went to work for Sony Microelectonics designing analog video circuitry. You know the Sony Playstation? Well, I worked on the replacement to the CXA1645 (CXA2075) which provides the video output for that machine as well as the Sega Genesis. After working there for about a year, I decided I wanted my life to take a different direction so I went back to HP to work on Analog Circuit generation. Again, one of the strongest motivations (although there were certainly others) for this move was the fact that the long hours I'd worked had often come between me and my girlfriend and I came to the realization that no job was worth that. If I couldn't be free to take care of my loved ones when and how I needed to, no amount of money could compensate me for the time lost. And so, of course, we broke up a short time after I switched jobs.
Well, nothing ever quite turns out the way I expect. Still haven't managed to work on much in the way of analog circuit generation. I did, however, get promoted to management at Hewlett Packard and so I've started my own project team to build standard cell application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) libraries in a more automated fasion than has been previously possible.
So what am I doing these days? Well, I said I was living in paradise
and with the fantastic weather here I rollerblade, run, bike, swim, play
table and regular tennis, and study martial arts. (I currently study Shotokan
Karate, but I used to study Taekwondo). I play other things, too. I like
to hike and camp, (and I spent many years doing just that in Washington
as I was earning my Eagle Scout rank as a Boy Scout). and you can read
about some of the places I've been in my "Things I've written" section
on my homepage's main page.
I studied Mandarin Chinese for about a year but long hours at Sony put an end to that. (As an aside, I had studied Spanish for three years back in high school, too).
I like watching movies (who doesn't?) and of course have lots of audio, video and computer equipment which goes without saying, doesn't it? I rather enjoy Kung Fu movies and Japanese animation, but I like all types, really. I dabble with origami, astronomy, music (I played the clarinet for 5 years and the alto saxophone for three, plus I've DJ'd over a dozen dances for clubs and wedding receptions), photography, from time to time, and you name it. I STILL haven't finished my SR-71 Blackbird model rocket (all it needs is a coat of black paint) and Minnie rarely uses the nice cat climber I rebuilt for her. Minnie adopted me in February of 1994 (by meowing a lot and affixing herself to my leg with her claws as I was trying to walk to my apartment) and well, I suppose I like having her around, although my official position is she's still a pain in the leg. I have also worked on cars for many years and do my own auto work and wind up fixing all kinds of things. I'm a decent artist, at least with pencil sketches and I prefer to work in black and white, due to the aforementioned fact that I'm fairly color-blind. I hope to start a new section on my webpages of my art, however, this requires that I actually DO some new ones sometime, since every drawing I made previously I gave away and I never kept any copies (I didn't have a way to capture the grey scale, an ordinary photocopy looked terrible!). Now, of course, since I have a scanner that can copy grey scale, I haven't made any serious drawings. The drawings are tremendously time consuming and as soon as I do one and post it, you'll see why that is!
So, this is the section that my friends were talking about, mainly:
For those women out there who have read Scott Adams' (author of Dilbert) informative article on the New Sex Symbols of the 90's I could point out that I've been programming since I was 10, and currently am responsible for programming, UNIX system administration and semiconductor design. It's hard to imagine any more evolution potential than that, unless I had a third arm and a spare brain. Plus, I'm still single, if you don't count my jealous kitty. Anyway, it hasn't helped me so far (maybe I'd better look into that extra arm thing). People tell me I have a goofy sense of humor and I like to think I'm a pretty nice guy. I even do a good job hiding the fact that I'm a nerd at heart (yeah, right. Well, don't burst my bubble).
Personally, I think this is mainly funny. Now, if I dressed up nice and sat on a street corner with a cardboard sign that said (written in felt tip marker):
And offered to buy dinner for young, intelligent, attractive women with happy personalities, that would be an entirely different story! (Yes, it would be a very weird story, which is why I haven't done it :) I think it makes a really funny mental picture, however, which is a primary motivation for making this site: To give you a good laugh now and then and to provide you with some useful factual information on various topics. I hope you've found that to be the case.