Remembering the King Broadcasting Company Building

IMG_20160719_234858I occasionally drive through South Lake Union to get to Seattle Center, and recently I’ve noticed the demolition of the old King Broadcasting Company building. The new HQ of King 5 is directly opposite the home base corner of Safeco Field, with a shiny sign that seems to be staring at the stadium’s butt. First Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Way has to be the most fascinating intersection in Seattle right now. Within the space of a block you have a major sport franchise, a television broadcaster, Oculus Rift offices, a strip club, and a workspace for independent VR game developers.

But on Dexter in SLU, Amazon’s neighborhood, backhoes are bringing an old institution down. Driving past it yesterday I reflected a bit on what shows I used to watch on NBC and how they all came through this building on their way to my house fifty-five miles away. The A-Team, Saturday Night Live, The Cosby Show, Cheers, Diff’rent Strokes, Miami Vice, the Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Knight Rider. NBC was my favorite among the four channels of television entertainment I had to choose from in the eighties.

I’m also reminded of something that happened to me in that building in the summer of 1983. What follows is a chapter in a memoir I’m calling Nerd in a Time Machine. Continue reading “Remembering the King Broadcasting Company Building”

What’s the First Computer You Ever Used?

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A Hewlett Packard Series 80. This was the first model of computer I ever used.

My dad was a civil engineer, and I was first exposed to computers in his office. The first one I remember using was a Hewlett Packard Series 80. It had a game called “Hunt the Wumpus” and a program that let you print mazes. This was during the period when computers were in use in engineering companies and other businesses but before anybody I knew had a computer in their home.

Around 1984, my dad brought home a Digital computer that he no longer needed at the office. I used this to write horror stories, which I’d store on floppy disks, and which I’d print on our dot matrix printer.

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Mac LC 520. Staring at fractals on this thing was intense, man.

In my second year of college, I got my first personal computer, a Mac LC 520, a thick and burly machine designed for the classroom during the era of Steve Jobs’s exile from Apple. I was excited that it had a color monitor and CD-ROM drive. I spent a lot of time playing with the screen savers and briefly got hooked on the game Myst. It also had a modem, but there were only three or four phone lines into Evergreen’s computer lab and they were always in use, so I was mostly unable to access the Internet.

I remember hearing a student say she was going to go “play Netscape” at the computer lab in the summer of 1995. “What’s Netscape?” I asked. “It’s like the Internet but with pictures and color,” she said.

When my mom first used the term “surfing the Web” I realized that the Internet had changed everything.

Continue reading “What’s the First Computer You Ever Used?”

Announcing Monday Compliment

Compliments. Don’t you love to give them and get them? Mondays. They’re a drag, right? I’m happy to announce a project called Monday Compliment. It’s really simple. If it’s Monday, give somebody a compliment on social media. Use the hashtag #mondaycompliment if you want. Make people feel good on a day of the week that many people dread. There’s really nothing more to it than … Continue reading Announcing Monday Compliment

HTC/T Mobile/710 ESPN/Seattle Mariners Charity Event Spreads Good Cheer, Logos

HTC just hosted the Robinson Cano Home Run Derby for the King County Boys and Girls Club in Occidental Park, right outside HTC’s North American HQ.  It’s always gratifying to see a bunch of kids having fun hitting a ball. Everyone looked to be having a great time on a day of perfect Seattle weather.  What’s more interesting to me is what an event like … Continue reading HTC/T Mobile/710 ESPN/Seattle Mariners Charity Event Spreads Good Cheer, Logos

Big VR VC News at CNDY Factory

I woke up to some news on Facebook that a pretty momentous-sounding meeting went down last night at CNDY Factory between members of the VR Venture Capital Alliance and local VR leaders including Williard Williams, Trond Nilsen, Thomas Le, and Eva Hoerth. Here’s an excerpt of CNDY Factory head honcho Tim Reha’s FB post: We had a fortuitous meeting with Mr. Alvin Wang Graylin, China … Continue reading Big VR VC News at CNDY Factory

I’m Writing About Seattle, LA, and VR Content Production

I would love to hear from anybody producing VR content, particularly in Seattle and Los Angeles. I’d especially love to hear from you if you’re producing VR content of a more cinematic, less game-oriented variety. If you work in LA on VR, let’s talk. Seattle is emerging as the tech capital of Virtual and Augmented Reality. Since I live here, I have a better sense … Continue reading I’m Writing About Seattle, LA, and VR Content Production

HTC Hosting Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano Home Run Derby

This is neat. Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano and HTC, which brought you the Vive, are hosting a fund-raising home run derby called Cano Crush for the Boys and Girls Club of King County this Friday, 11:30-2:00, at Occidental Park. T-Mobile, 710 ESPN, and KIRO are also involved, if you’re a fan of sports media entertainment or phones. I can only hope that the event, in … Continue reading HTC Hosting Seattle Mariner Robinson Cano Home Run Derby

On Real World Violence and Virtual Reality

This is an essay about actual gun violence and first person shooter games. My intent is to provoke discussion that will help make the world less violent. I appreciate thoughtful feedback.

Guns in My Life

I’ve never owned a gun but grew up among guns and hunters in rural Skagit Valley, Washington State. I had ten year-old friends who owned shotguns. Sometimes I’d go over to their houses and shoot at bottles and cans in their fields. My father, knowing that I’d be exposed to guns whether he wanted me to be or not, signed me up for a gun safety class with a local police department in which I learned how to fire a pistol. I proudly displayed the target I’d shot at on my bedroom wall.

My parents, seventies progressives raising their own vegetables and livestock on seven acres of land, didn’t allow me to have real guns or guns as toys. They believed in nonviolence and pacifism. By the time I was in high school I’d embraced these progressive values and participated in protests against the Gulf War.

My maternal grandfather was a veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, a colonel, Distinguished Service Cross recipient, Legion of Valor member, and inductee into the US Army Ordnance Hall of Fame. He knew guns and weaponry to the point that he’d helped design certain mortars during World War II. At some point, maybe when I was ten or so, he showed me a book of photographs taken during the Vietnam war. One image in particular of a pile of bodies shocked me intensely. What I remember most vividly about thisĀ  photo was the dead baby lying on top of the pile. I was horrified to the point of nightmares. My grandfather hoped, in vain, that no one would have to experience what he had. He hated violence. I heard him say hundreds of times that no one hates war more than those who have to fight it. Continue reading “On Real World Violence and Virtual Reality”

Minority Report, Mainstreaming VR, and Other Wednesday Aggregation

Lots to read and view about VR today. Here’s a big wad of chewy VR goodness. This clip featuring Alex McDowell, the Designer of Minority Report, is worth watching. My favorite part was his observation that game engines are game-changers for cinematic VR. He also gets in a dig at comic book adaptations, which I always appreciate. Jason Pace, Executive Director of UW Bothell’s Digital … Continue reading Minority Report, Mainstreaming VR, and Other Wednesday Aggregation