Man, I always have a hard time writing this sort of thing. But I find that when I go to someone else’s site, one of the first things I look at is information about the person doing the site, so I guess I’d better get it done.
If you’re looking for just the facts, ma’am, Dave History and Dave’s Resume are probably okay places to start. Neither goes into a lot of personal detail though. If you’re looking for something more personal, that’s what this page is supposed to give you. Drop me a line if it doesn’t do the trick, if you can suggest a link I oughta add in here, or if you’re sure I’ve got a date wrong. I tried pretty hard to verify what happened which year, but there’s some fuzziness…
I found a useful trick for trying to get this done in Jason Kottke’s Bio where he lists each year he’s been alive, and tries to fill in one memory from each year. I don’t know how it’ll work for me, but let’s find out, eh? I suspect it’ll end up being pretty long as I remember when various events in my life were and jot ’em down here for posterity.
I was born. I don’t remember a whole lot of details. Must have been the drugs.
- 1968 - Head Start in the New School
Not a lot of memories, but I do remember going into Pinewood Elementary in Monticello for Head Start while they were still doing construction on part of the school.
- 1969 - Kindergarden - Parents divorce - Changing shools
1969 was a busy year. I started kindergarden in Monticello in the brand new school they’d just built. Just about the time I got settled in, my mom moved us down to Brooklyn Center, and I got to start fresh in a second school.
- 1970 - Watching the Moonwalk
The only clear memory I have from 1970 is sitting at the babysitter’s house watching men walk on the moon. Unless that was in 1971. But it was on relatively live TV in the afternoon, and everyone wanted to be an astronaut.
- 1971 - Pumpkins
For Halloween this year, we brought back a few pumpkins from the farm (whose farm? Maybe Uncle Ray’s?). I gave one to Leah, one of the first crush-gals. She was a real cutie in a second-grade kind of way.
- 1972 - I wasn’t too bright sometimes…
One morning while waiting at the bus stop, we were taking a big rock and dropping it on smaller rocks, making them even smaller yet. One of them was cool looking, and I tried to save it, grabbing for it with my left (writing) hand. The big rock mashed my left index finger between the big and little rocks. Wore a splint for weeks and got to watch the nail turn black and fall off.
This was also the year when a bunch of us were playing with matches behind the apartment garage and when caught, we dumped the tin can with the fire down a gopher hole. Apparently it caught a tree root on fire, which (according to the caretaker) nearly burned down the garage.
- 1973 - Living with Dad
In the summer of 1973 I quit living with my mom and moved in with my Dad. He’d straightened up his act and was getting married, so everyone figured I’d be better off living in the country and having two parents around, rather than just one. I was consulted, but I don’t think I had much of a chance to actually figure out what any of it meant, other than that I’d be on the farm rather than in town.
- 1974 - Painting
I spent the summer of 1974 working for my dad, helping him paint things. He was working as a painting contractor, doing mostly barns, and it wasn’t a bad way to earn some extra money over the summer. I mostly scraped, taped and painted windows and doors. Little stuff that a kid could do without having to climb way the hell up on a ladder. And detail work that would slow down someone getting paid more than fifty cents an hour.
- 1975 - Gang Biking to School
There was a group of about eight of us who lived within a mile or so of each other who would bike together the five or six miles in to school once in a while. Hwy 39, the road that went to town had a good amount of truck traffic on it, and by riding faster when a truck was coming and ducking in close behind it, you could get a bit of a draft behind it and get to town in a bigger hurry. Which of course meant more time screwing around waiting for school to start.
- 1976 - Move to Fergus Falls
Leaving behind Scott, Mike, Steve and Lonnie, some of the few friends from grade school who made an impression. Was this the summer my cousin Karen stayed with us to watch over me during the days? I think it was. My brother Peter was born in June of 1976, too.
- 1977 - Boy Scouts
This was my first summer of Boy Scout Camp. There were a lot of things I didn’t especially like, but overall, I think it was fun. Most of the things I didn’t like were the forced-participation do something stupid in front of the whole camp things that counsellors at scout camp seem to think build character. There were also the inevitable swimming things I had to get through, and I still had so little body fat that I didn’t float very well. Combine that with allergies that made it hard to breathe through my nose, and it was little surprise I’d usually finish whatever swimming thing they had schduled for us by laying on the beach trying to catch my breath.
- 1978 - Off to Prep School
Leaving behind my friends Dave and Peter, Dave’s sister Julie (crush-girl #1), Kari (crush-girl #2, who gave me her phone number and I never called. Bad me.) and a very few other folks. I remember when my parents were dropping me off at SJP, my step-mom was crying and that got me teared-up, but I was really looking forward to being away from home. This was the year at SJP when they were redoing the dorms, putting in actual rooms, but we were the last freshman class to live in the cubicles. It’s something to remember.
- 1979 - Loud Noises
Claude and Tree and I spent the spring of our Freshman year experimenting with things that made loud noises in the dorms at SJP. More than once we got everyone’s attention. For some reason, I was the only one of the three of us to survive four years at the school.
- 1980 - Washing dishes - To Austria
The year of driver’s training. Got my permit and a job washing dishes at Haugen’s Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant over the summer to add some money to the coffers. I’d get to drive in with Dad or Jackie (my step-mom), work for a 6-8 hour shift, and then home again. I managed to get my license like two or three days before it was time to leave for school in Austria (with stops along the way). Had my first "real" beer (one I bought for myself in a pub) in London when we arrived there. First hard liquor once we were settled in Melk. First puking out the window later that fall.
- 1981 - Travelling - Ice Cream Summer
At Ski Week, I fell off a mogul and wrenched my knee. Six weeks in a cast. Partway through that, I slipped on the wet steps in the Stift, and sprained the ankle on my other leg. The doctor wanted to cast that too, which would’ve put me in a wheelchair. I settled for an ace bandage and a lot of aspirin.
Lots of traveling in the spring. In Yugoslavia, I ate some locally-caught fish and got the equivalent of Montezuma’s Revenge. Everyone else laughed until they ate the local food in Athens and got sick, by which time I was feeling fine. Got my camera stolen in Amsterdam. Heineken brewery tour and then the Van Gogh museum was a highlight there.
I spent the summer working at the restaurant again. I wasn’t a new guy anymore, and had just spent nine months in Europe, so I had plenty of stories to tell in the break room.
- 1982 - Off to college
When 1982 started, I’d applied to a few top colleges, but hadn’t been accepted to any. I later found out that my guidance counsellor hadn’t sent in the recommendations on time, which knocked me out of contention. In any case, I didn’t follow up as much as I should have, and when the school year ended, I still hadn’t been accepted anywhere, so it was time to apply to the U of M. Got in there with no problem, and found a guy who needed a roommate, and I was in.
- 1983 - My first real job
After spending the first quarter of school taking some dead-end student jobs, and rapidly running out of money, I decided to get more serious about looking for a job. I kept bugging Neil Lincoln, who I’d met the previous year during a computer camp, and he got me a job at CDC. Within six months ETA had been spun out, and I went with, being one of the first thirty or so employees.
- 1984 - Citadels, Ghostwheel
In the fall of 1984 I moved into Cedar Square West with Gunga-Sam. He was on some computer bulletin boards called Citadels, and within a pretty short time I got hooked. When he got tired of me using his Apple IIe as a terminal, I sprung for the first portable computer I actually owned, a TRS-80 Model 100. We had a few "Land of the Scary Dinosaurs" parties. Ghostwheel came up about this time.
- 1985 - Eagan - Moving into 717
Early in 1985, I decided that Cedar Square West was too expensive, especially since Mike was moving out to live with his girlfriend. I moved out to a friend’s place in Eagan to house-sit for him while he spent six months working in Greece. It was a nice place, and I had the use of his pretty nice car, but it was way too suburban for me. When the time was up, I moved in with my friend Bob at 717 14th Ave SE and a tradition was born.
- 1986 - A tradition begins
The classic 717 lineup. Me, Bob and Karl. Physics geeks all of us, though I was probably the least serious of the lot. Karl’s big chunk of steel (our blackboard) appeared this year. First friday barbecue. First Saturday Poker.
- 1987 - Dad dies - The schedule
My dad died in 1987. It took a while to deal with that.
During the years at 717 we developed quite a schedule. Sunday was Inventory Reduction Night at Lindsay’s, Monday was William’s Pub, Tuesday was Big 10 for cheap pitchers of 3.2 beer, Wednesday was William’s again, Thursday was Lindsay’s, Friday was a "bring your own meat" barbecue in our backyard, and Saturday was poker in our kitchen. As the various specials at the bars changed, so did our schedule, but the Friday BBQ and Saturday poker was a fixture at 717 for much of the time I lived there.
- 1988 - Honeywell. Ugh.
After about four years at ETA, things started to go south. The original OS that we were planning on shipping wasn’t going anywhere, and a crash program to get Unix working was started. That was all well and good, but I ended up being a QA type guy in charge of regression testing the C compiler and writing scripts to automate the process. It wasn’t very interesting work, and I started to look around for something else to do.
Early in 1988 I found my escape from ETA. I moved to Honeywell, working as an intern in the SIP group (signal and image processing). The work wasn’t that interesting, since we were developing device drivers for the image processing hardware on VxWorks. But this was my first exposure to the Internet, since we had a pretty good connection at Honeywell. I can actually find one of my posts from this time that survived. By the end of the year, I’d had enough of it, though. We were working on a project that would spot enemy tanks via a number of video sensors, and it was really a pretty cool project, but I wasn’t getting to work on any of the interesting bits, and since Honeywell tied intern pay to your progress in college (and I wasn’t making any progress), I decided to leave around the end of the year.
- 1989 - The year of the big orange bus
In January of 1989, I’d had enough of working for Honeywell, and given the dysfunction I’d seen in the computer companies around, I decided I’d had enough of computers for a while. I went and applied for a job driving school bus for Ryder. Passing the various tests was no problem, and I was driving kids around in no time. It was a real welcome break from computers, but the hours suck. You wake up around 5 in the morning so you can report by 5:45 for your morning route, drive until about 9:30, take a break for an hour or so, head out for the noon-time kindergarden route, then another break for an hour before the afternoon routes start. A few hours of that, another break, and an activity route and you’re done after 6pm. Home by 6:30pm and do it all over again.
And the kids are a real mixed bag. High school kids were the easiest to deal with. In the morning, they’re still basically asleep, and just want quiet. In the afternoon, they just want to get home so they can start their social life. I heard that junior high kids were the worst, but never drove any of them. Grade school kids were the worst I had to deal with. There are plenty who’ve already had time to develop seriously bad attitudes, and they’re nearly impossible to discipline because if you get ’em kicked off the bus, they don’t have any other way to get to school and will just stay home. But there were some great kids who made it worthwhile. It’s kind of spooky to realize that even the kindergarden kids I was driving have graduated from high school by now.
- 1990 - Start at LaserMaster
In summer of 1990, I’d had enough of driving schoolbus. Actually, it was more a case of summer break meaning not enough income, so I had to find a job. I got hired at LM in Tech Support, which was a good/bad move. The good part was that it was a path into Mac programming. The bad part was that since I was moving off a base salary of a TS person, I was always underpaid at LM.
- 1991 - Into R&D at LM
After just six months in Tech Support at LaserMaster, I’d had enough, and got transferred into R&D. I was definitely the junior guy on the team, but it was a move back into programming, and we still had a big enough team that I could learn from plenty of other folks.
- 1992 - wintermute moves to Shawn
Fran quit running Wintermute and Shawn took over. The biggest effect we saw was that Shawn finished the upgrade to fast modems so nobody got stuck on a slow modem. But I’m reminded that 7 of the 11 modems were already 2400 baud when Shawn took over.
- 1993 - Layoffs at LM
I’d settled into LM R&D and was doing some real programming, both on the Mac, and on the Unix systems we had around. It was a good thing I was getting better, since there were fewer people around to do the work. But because I administered our Mac server, I got to find out about layoffs before just about anyone else did. There’s some cool things about the hassle of administering a server.
- 1994 - first web page
This was the year when I noticed the web. A few of us took our Sun server that had basically been sitting idle and started running a web server on it. We weren’t doing anything especially neat, but we did put some pages up, and serve them to R&D. It was a new thing to play with, and while the web wasn’t all that neat yet, there was some promise.
- 1995 - Off to Apple
It’s not every day you get a job offer that sounds as good as getting a chance to work at Apple, especially in Developer Support. Back in 1995 DTS was one of the few places within Apple that seemed to be in good shape. While I was driving out to California, I heard on the radio that Jerry Garcia had died.
Goin’ down the road, feelin’ bad.I spent that night in Salt Lake City, and got drunk off pretty expensive room service booze. At Apple, Engineering wasn’t so healthy, but I figured they’d get things sorted out soon enough. Another bit of misguided optimism in my life. But if I hadn’t gone to Apple, I wouldn’t have found one of my best friends, and had her turn into quite a bit more than a friend.
- 1996 - Back to Minnesota
I’d had quite enough of California. It didn’t help that my rent was going up by about twenty percent, there was no real pay-raise in sight at Apple (they offered four percent), and my girlfriend was emotionally involved with someone else and it didn’t seem like a very healthy thing for her (and by extension for me). The year had started out pretty well, but by summer, I’d had enough and bolted back to Minnesota and went back to work for LaserMaster.
- 1997 - I Start Dave’s Picks
Early in 1997, we managed to get a new internal webserver up and running and some of us in R&D tried using it to document all the code we were writing. ToddL & I got the LM lexicon online. In August, I left LaserMaster to start at WAM!NET. It seemed like a pretty good opportunity, since the company had big plans and it sounded like they were going to grow like gangbusters, do an IPO, and make everyone rich. Since I kept a pretty close eye on news that affected our company, and didn’t want to be the guy who always sent out the annoying emails, I started doing Dave’s Picks on an internal server. Over time I started adding things that weren’t related directly to WAM!NET, and those are the oldest entries that survive.
- 1998 - Start PCI
While still at WAM!NET, I took on some outside contract work. There was enough of it that it made sense to start a business for tax reasons, so I incorporated Polaschek Computing, Inc. It was a part-time venture at best, but I managed to do some good work for clients and got my feet wet while still having the security of a full-time job.
- 1999 - Laid off from WAM!NET
This was a fairly big year for me. In January, I got laid off from WAM!NET. The timing was great, as I’d just gotten entirely debt free, and the severance package gave me enough to keep me going while I turned PCI into a full-time gig. That meant some changes in my personal life, since I wasn’t going in to the office every day. In fact, most of my work was being done with folks outside of Minnesota, so the fact that I’d wake up before six in the morning made my work conditions pretty fun. I’d have a big percentage of my day’s work done before the folks I was working with on the west coast even checked their email in the morning.
- 2000 - PCI makes money
Polaschek Computing was making enough money to keep me alive (and then some). Things seemed to be going pretty well, and I even brought on some part-time help. That maybe wasn’t the best idea, since PCI is still tied too publicly to the skills I have, which means that there’s not a lot of work I can have someone else do. And companies seem to expect that all work done by Polaschek Computing will be done with me, which doesn’t help matters.
- 2001 - Start Better Nerds - whither the Mac?
I attended WWDC in 2001. It may have been my last. Apple’s talk of Mac OS X was all well and good, but the actual OS still didn’t feel ready for prime-time. CarbonLib was making progress, but was still incomplete, which was pretty much the story for printing, too. Since printing on Mac OS was my specialty, I figured I could stick with work on classic Mac OS for now, and worry about X later. By fall, I’d decided I probably wasn’t going to be a Mac programmer much longer, so it was time to learn something new. With that in mind, I started Better Nerds, focusing on web development and learning SQL and PHP to do most of the work.
I spent the first couple months of the year looking back and trying to figure out what had happened in my life. This page was the result. Mac programming is still the big focus of my work-life. One gal I’d been pursuing for a couple years decided that we were never going to be more than friends. Bummage. Mac OS X almost becomes useful. The Better Nerds server gets co-located (more bandwidth!). PCI is up to four employees (all part-time, including me).
Went to WWDC and MacHack. The big news of the year was that I bought a house in December.
I settle into the new house. Still behind on updating this page. First year I missed MacHack in a long time.
More settling into the house. Went to WWDC. Lost two employees. Just after Thanksgiving I started contracting at a big software company. MacHack was officially pronounced dead.
Went full-time at the big software company and went to WWDC on their dime. Still kept the doors of Better Nerds open, but I quit looking for new work, and started planning to shut things down.
Another year at the big company. Continued work on the house. Plan to shut down Better Nerds and Polaschek Computing, Inc. at the end of the year so I won’t have to file paperwork for either of them in 2008.