Considering that most of us spend at least 40 hours a week on "a job", one's life and work are closely mingled. Some people are defined by their work or choice of career. Some people are just making a living. Some people center their social life around people at work.
I have worked a wide variety of jobs and companies. This page is devoted to the influence of work on my life. Mainly the good things.
I've been enthralled with the idea of business startups since college. I really don't remember why. I started collecting books about startups and business about that time and I still do. Perhaps I had read about garage startups like Hewlett-Packard. I did have a subscription to Byte magazine, and the press in general was going crazy about that new personal computer thing.
Another factor may have been some early experiences. In elementary school, the teacher suggested I run the class book sales. I collected orders, distributed the copies, and got free books. Very cool. Later I substituted for another kid distributing door-hanger ad packages. I didn't start any businesses, but I did start a club in Junior High School.
I entitled this page "Startups" for a very good reason. I've started several businesses and been part of some startups. My startups are basically new businesses that have not made money yet. In almost all cases, they never made a profit and don't exist any more. The general definition is any startup business in their first five or six years.
During my early years with Boeing, I had started the Commodore phase of my personal computer hobby. Starting with the VIC-20, very primitive by today's standards. There was a VIC-20 club at Wichita State that was extremely low key. I wanted more people, more information, and better meetings, so I took over the group and organized for size.
The group grew, got regular bylaws and elections, regular officers and a board of directors, and became the Commodore Users Group of Wichita (CUGW). I published the newsletter and all the officers worked hard on our part-time, unpaid occupation that helped support our hobby. I met a lot of great people. We had two meetings a month and grew to about 550 members.
Not exactly a business startup, but similar in some ways.
Two of the members of the computer club, Ed Lippert and (? memory fault), started the company to build memory cards for the Commodore VIC-20. Ed wanted to use a VIC-20 to drive video boards at hotels to display event information, but the VIC-20 did not have enough built-in memory for the job. I helped them assemble the first shipment of memory cards in Ed's basement. I was not a member of the company, just helping out.
Eventually, Cardco grew and got investment from one of the Carney brothers (founders of Pizza Hut). The took over a building in downtown Wichita. The investors eventually decided to close down the company and Ed went on to found C-Limited. Although I could not be involved in the company, it was very inspirational to see an actual "garage" startup get that far.
This short Wikipedia article really neglects the Cardco story. They did do some work in printers in the late stage of the firm. Cardco
During the early days of the Commodore Amiga, Don Woods approached me to help his new company, Woodsoftware, produce a "data base" product for that computer. He said he had permission from an author of a PET computer database to adapt that software to the new platform. Roger (? memory fault) had also been pursuaded to join the venture to adapt the PET software to the Commodore 64. Don's wife would be treasurer and things would be great.
I joined the company without any paperwork in a very loose business arrangement. Since I was employed full time at Boeing, it was easy to treat it as a hobby that might get serious later. I did a lot of work to expand the capability and performance of the software on a machine that could use new fangled floppy disks for storage instead of cassette tapes. I also wrote the user manual for the software. This did not seem unusual at the time, since I was already doing side gigs programming a Wang computer at a local civil engineering firm, improving their pipe network simulation system and creating a gas utility billing program for the owner's wife (she owned a gas company for a small Kansas town). Those arrangements were basically COD, and I figured the Woodsoftare venture was a bit better.
Don also picked up my expenses to attend the second Commodore Amiga Developer Conference in Monteray, California. That was a small conference and a real blast meeting many of the folks that created the Amiga and its operation system.
Roger and I had many questions as things progressed. We got very stubborn about that as we started delivering my product. There was no visibility on the company books. We asked about the licensing of the PET software, and Don admitted he did not have permission to use that software. Things fell apart quickly. Don's home situation was also built on quicksand. He had built their home on his in-laws land. For some reason, soon after the company tanked, the in-laws threw Don's family out of their house.
When I was laid off from Gulfstream Aviation, I tried to drum up some software business. I had a cheap IBM PC and Commodore Amiga. I had bad naming skills and marketing skills, so WalTech never sold any software or services in the months between my aerospace career and my real software career.
I also tried another venture between careers. I had written a lot of newsletters over the years, so I tried creating a scientific/technical specialty newsletter for Amiga users. The machine was quite popular at the time, especially in the scientific/technical community. The niche publication covered software and techniques that the normal computer magazines didn't. Scientific Amigan had been profitable for several months when my Amiga computer broke (after Commodore Computers also went broke), suddenly stopping that business right there.
After my adventures with employment at Lennox International, I tried consulting and contracting on my own. I actually managed to find several gigs during the recession of 2002 (following the Internet crash and the Twin Towers attack). However, in the Dallas market this kind of business was bottom feeding, dealing with people that tended to screw over contractors on billing. I dropped that for the safety of working for contracting firms and direct hire.
After moving to East Tennessee, I pursued contracting jobs and software services/products under WANDL LLC. While some work was obtained through this entity, it really did not work out very well. So that was dissolved.
One of the promising products spawned from WANDL LLC, The Venuuz was a website that indexed meeting and event venues. While you can go to several popular website and find restaurants, it is really quite difficult to find meeting and event venues in a location. Even restaurant listings in those services rarely list the restaurant meeting rooms or capacities. This product seemed like a sure winner. I had marketing and revenue all set up, then the project ran out of funds. This project taught me to improve software development forecasts and resource planning.
About 5 years ago, I became more interested in the news media. I had written for the magazine at college, had several articles published in national magazines, and written an enormous number of newsletters over the years. The news media has always fascinated me.
But lately, it seems the news media industry is going through a lot of transformations. Big name publications are going away or going sideways. There are a lot of experiments in the news media business using the Internet and Internet technology. It is turning into the Wild West, in some ways like the early days of personal computers. All sorts of random things are tried out, there is all sorts of failure, and some new things are succeeding.
So now I am putting together a video podcast on the news media business. It is time that somebody covered this situation, and the regular news media is too busy surviving to do that. Maybe people will show up to check out my podcast, maybe not. It should be the real change of pace I need after working on software so many decades. I expect to update this section soon with a link to the podcasts.