Technology

Since I was about 10 years of age, I've had a deep fascination with technology. Here was a device that at its core was very simple. It takes in data, manipulates the data, and then displays the results. It was a whole new world.

The beginning of the journey

I was lucky to have started my journey of learning and using technology during the 8=bit era. My family's first 8-bit device was a Mattel Intellivision. This was our first introduction to video games and the adventures you could have with them. We had a pretty decent collection of games, but the two games that I spent most of my playing on were Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (later "Cloudy Mountain" was added to the title) and Tron: Deadly Discs. I also invested some time into mastering Auto Racing but never could get the hang of the controls for that game.

About four to five years later, my parents decided that the future for us was going to include computers in some capacity and they felt that having a home computer would give us a leg up on preparing for the future. With that intention, a few years later they bought an Atari 800 8-bit computer, an 810 floppy disc drive, and a 9-pin C.Itoh dot matrix printer. My father and I were members of a user group dedicated to the ATARI computers: Riverside Users Group of Atari Computers (RUGAC).

During my senior year of high school, my parents decided to retire the Atari computers and bought their first MS-DOS computer. It was a Packard Bell system, featuring an Intel 80286 16MHz 16 bit CPU, 65 MB hard drive, EGA graphics, and MS-DOS v3.3. This purchase allowed me to do my homework from my Advanced Placement Computer Science high school class, and started me down the path of working with Intel x86 based computers.

Hello World (Wide Web)

After having spent three years at Chaffey Community College in Alta Loma, CA, I decided I was ready to transfer to the next school: California State University of San Bernardino (CSUSB). At Chaffey, in spite of majoring in "Information Computer Systems" (the only thing they had similar to computer science), the school only had labs with Intel x86 workstations. At CSUSB, I was exposed to a whole new world of technology.

It was in the labs at CSUSB that I learned about the UNIX operating system and the Internet (way before it was the norm). Two of my classes that first semester I was lucky to be in two of the Computer Science department labs. One was the "SGI" lab, filled with Silicon Graphics Indigo workstations (which ran the IRIX OS) and the other was the "Sun" lab, filled with Sun workstations running Sun OS (Solaris OS). These two platforms used versions of this computer operating system called UNIX.

These labs also featured some great areas that to me were unknown. These works stations were completely networked, local to the room and to this thing we were told was the "Internet". My fellow students and I were quite intrigued with this "Internet" thing. We learned to how to access resources through many services of the Internet, like FTP and WWW (World Wide Web). Little did I know then how much of a influence on my life that the WWW would have.

It was the power of UNIX and the Internet that about five years later to try to emulate that experience with my home computer. That journey led me to try a little known computer operating system called Linux. I built my first "PC" computer in the late 1990s and used it to learn how to install and use Linux. My first Linux distribution was Slackware v3.1 (also known as Slackware '96) and then later tried Red Hat 5. That would lead to trying any Linux distribution that I could get, just to see how it worked and compared to the others I had used. To this day, I still do the same exploration: I am always trying a new Linux distribution, to explore and learn from.

I guess you could say that Linux, like IRIX and Solaris before it, were my gateway to learning more about other operating systems. I tried notable systems like the BSD family (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, & NetBSD), Solaris x86, and even bought an old SGI machine to get some time in with the IRIX OS again. The system that really appealed to me was a lesser known system. It was called the BeOS. It was a computer operating system that was decades ahead of what was currently available. I maintained a strictly BeOS desktop computer for many years and it was my primary system in my off time. It wasn't until Be Inc. had to close its doors that and development of the operating system waned. I continued to use for a few years after that point, but the lack of a full featured WWW browser like Firefox left the system unable to do a lot of what I doing then.

I still have a glimmer of hope for BeOS. This is an open source project that is developing a BeOS work-a-like built on top of Linux. It is called Haiku OS and I will occasionally download the current release and give it a shot as a virtual machine (VM). The progress the Haiku OS team is making is amazing and I hope someday it will reach the state that I can make it part of my arsenal of technology tools.

Speaking out

One of the fascinating facets of the Internet was the ability to self publish your own "home page". Any person with a few bucks (or sometimes free if you were willing to put up with an ad or two) could create their own web page and publish it to the World Wide Web. I started out with a personal web page for my university course work, but as Internet expanded and was reaching into homes, I saw the opportunity to share information about me and my passions.

Armed with a great enthusiasm for sharing, I created a personal web site. My first domain name was tunacan.net, a web site that I used to establish myself as a web site designer. With this domain, created a few VW related web sites, that when teamed with my active participation on the VW message boards, gained a following. One of the web site, Type 4: Secrets Revealed, was actually featured in print twice: once in a VW club from New Zealand and as a one page article in a British VW magazine called Total VW.

Around 2005 or so, I had been hearing about a web site called MySpace and it was deemed a social network. Curiosity got the best of me and I signed up. MySpace began my exploration of social networks that were to follow. A few years later, I joined Facebook and subsequently many more networks.

In the decade and half since that first foray into social networking, I've looked at many different networks. I'm always trying new networks and analyzing their strengthes and weaknesses. If you asked me "Which one is your favorite?", I would have to say it was Google+. It provided so many great ways to manage your experience and there were some great people using it. Sadly though it just didn't catch on and Google+ was closed down in April 2019.

You will currently find me on these major social networks:

Age of Google

I wish I could say I was quick to join the Google Chromebook and G-Suite (Google Apps) scene, but I have to admit that it took me a few years to dip my toes into it. During my time working on my Bachelor's Degree, I decide to invest in a Chromebook so that I could see what it was like to use one. If the reviews and marketing were anywhere close to being true, it seemed like the Chromebook would be a good device that I could use for doing my coursework with. It would be a lightweight, long lasting and inexpensive device to do research, write assignments, and tend to my class forums. So in 2014, I bought my first Chromebook, a Hewlett-Packard Chromebook 14. Did it live up to the hype? It did. I found myself using it way more than I was my work issued MacBook Pro or my Windows 7 Professional dual Xeon Hewlett-Packard workstation. I was a certified Chromebook fan!

So it should come as no surprise that when my work got our first cart of Chromebooks, I was very intrigued. I quickly saw some differences between the school Chromebooks and my personal Chromebook. These differences were because they were enrolled in the district's Google Apps domain for device management. When I moved to Wyoming, our school district director of technology asked me to look into the details of Chromebooks and their potential use in the district. It was that moment I became our school district's "Google guy". Now I am responsible for our Google infrastructure and almost 5,000 Chromebooks. It has been a challenge but I've found it very interesting and enjoyable.

In June 2020, the school district facilitated my professional development and I completed Amplified IT's "G Suite Amplified Admin Certification". I found the training very useful and comprehensive; it was very obvious that our instructor knew the G Suite ecosystem. The training allowed me to introduce some new refinements to our G Suite domain.

Video games

The last video game console I had played a lot was the Mattel Intellivision that my family bought in the early 1980s. With the move to home computers, I moved my gaming to those platforms, from ATARI 8-bit computers, to MS-DOS and finally Windows. The game selection was great for those platforms, but as the systems got more complex, running a game on a computer started to get more troublesome. In particular video cards were very capable but sometimes the driver software left Windows unstable. That frustration led me to consider to give the video game consoles a look.

My jump back into the game console occurred when Nintendo lowered its price for the GameCube system to $99. Nintendo had a great catalog (and franchises) of games and with that price, I decided to give the console a shot. I found that I really liked the console and the games. Since it was towards the end of the GameCube's lifetime (the Wii would be launched a couple of years later), I was able to amass a nice collection of GameCube games for a rather modest investment.

Since my experience with Nintendo was so positive, I ended becoming a Nintendo fan-boy. I followed the GameCube up with a Wii, Switch, and many of the DS variations. Each platform is a great place to find good games to keep me entertained.