About Chuq and this Site

It's all about me

How to contact me or connect on Social Media

There are plenty of ways we can stay connected. Here are the places you can find me out on the internet:

If you need to send me paper mail, you can do so at:

Chuq Von Rospach
2784 Homestead Road #210
Santa Clara, CA 95051

If you need to call me you need to email me for my phone number. You may or may not get it (hint: I strongly prefer email).

About Chuq Von Rospach

This is the site of Chuq Von Rospach. I moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s and have been working for high technology companies since I arrived. Some of the things I’ve been involved in over year years include being the Developer Relations Community Manager for Palm during the WebOS reboot attempt and as the Developer Community Manager and Social Media specialist for Cisco’s DevNet developer portal. Other companies I’ve worked for include Infoblox, Sun Microsystems and various startups. I also spent 17 years at Apple in various roles, joining to help found the A/UX technical support group and spending my last decade building and managing a number of email systems for them.

Most of my computer work has involved community — even going back to the 1980s before we called it that — because I’ve always been interested in what computers could do for people and how it could enable people to interact and communicate. I discovered the early USENET and got involved in trying to organize and manage its growth.

My background in high tech is technical: I discovered computers in college and fell in love with them. Along the way I’ve been a system administrator, in technical support, a full-time coder, a MySQL DBA, a sendmail geek, a technical writer and an architect of large and complex systems. I’ve written in Basic, Fortran, Cobol, Perl, PHP, Python, C, Javascript and languages I’ve long forgotten or refuse to remember (like RPG II).

I am currently on sabbatical but after haven taken my long-delayed gap year off, I’m now looking for my next role. Can you use someone like me? Scroll down to where I talk about that in more detail below.

I love photography, especially birds, wildlife and landscapes. You can see my work in the photography section or on my portfolio site.

I’ve been a writer for decades, having published both fiction and non-fiction. Publication credits include stints as contributing editor at Macintosh Horizons Magazine and MacTech Magazine. I was the book reviewer for Amazing Stories Magazine. I’ve done technical reviews for O’Reilly on a few books. Way back in the 1980’s I published one of the first major online SF fanzines called OtherRealms, which was nominated for two Hugo Awards (best fanzine, best fan writer). I’ve been involved in writing online going back to the 1980s, and this site’s blog has content going back to 2001.

My wife and I spent a year as the webmasters for the IHL San Francisco Spiders, designing, building, hosting and operating their web site and managing all of their internet operations. The Spiders only lasted one season; the IHL no longer exists as a league. These are not our fault. Honest.

Our house includes computers, cameras, cats and cockatoos. I have been known to watch curling and enjoy it. Also cricket. We have road-tripped extensively to see minor league baseball and hockey around the western US and Canada.

I support a number of organizations that work on causes I care about, including The Nature Conservancy and Audubon, International Bird Rescue or Marine Mammal Institute. I am doing volunteer for for the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory and Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, where I sit on the Outreach and Social Media committee.

I’m originally from Southern California, born and raised in the shadow of Disneyland (Valencia High School Class of 1976) — and worked for the Mouse for four years primarily driving forklifts and delivering cheese and merchandise around the park. College (CSU Fullerton, aka the Fullerton University Center for Knowledge, as we used to call it at debate tourneys) I took a basic programming class to avoid a math class, discovered computers, and everything changed. I left college as a senior because people kept offering me money to come work with these weird computer things.

I’m at that point in my life and career where I’m thinking about what I might do when I no longer work full-time. The word “retire” has no relevance to me, although my current plan is to work for another five years, give or take, and then put all of my time into volunteer work, this site and my photography.

If for some reason I disappear and you can’t find me, you should look on the Morro Bay, Oregon Coast, Victoria British Columbia, Vancouver and Portland, in that order. See which shop has recently hired a barista wearing a wig and sunglasses.

We all need to remember to slow down and savor the journey.

I do not believe in regrets, grudges or hidden agendas. They create negativity and hold you back from your goals. Learn, let go, move forward. I believe in embracing the positive. You do not want to be the exception to this. It’s hard to get on my list. It’s a lot harder to get off.

Me on the Background Mode Podcast

Want to hear me talk a bit about my days at Apple? I was on this podcast:

So hey! I was a guest on the TMO Background Mode podcast with John Martellaro, and we sat down for about an hour and talked about Apple and other things. I even mentioned the venerable Sun 3-50 workstation. I want to encourage you to wander over to The Mac Observer and take a listen. I had a ball, and I don’t think I sound like a blithering idiot (much).

I’m looking for my next role. How can I help you?

Yes, that’s right: I’m looking for my next role, somewhere in the online/virtual community manager, social media, writer, communicator, solver-of-problems you have type thing. The article I’ve linked to above goes into more detail about what I’m looking for and good at.

Do you have a problem I can solve for you? I’d love to talk to you, drop me a note at chuqvr@gmail.com and we can chat.

I’ve been really enjoying this sabbatical and it’s done me worlds of good, but I’m ready to go and start solving problems for people again…

I would love to find a position that would leverage all of my skills and interests — the photography and writing, the technical bits, the community management bits — into a single situation, but we all know life is never perfect. I am diving back into coding and refreshing my technical skills, but I still would prefer either a developer-centric community manager role or perhaps something in product management with a technical/developer focus.

I’ve got two sets of core strengths: I’m a good writer and creator of content, especially in the online realm. that can be technical, it can be marketing, it can be social. I can produce video, I can produce podcasts, I can produce text.

I am also a community manager and architect and someone who has deep experience in social media. I can do consumer, B2B and especially be the person who works with your technical and developer communities. I can be the public face, the speaker to nerds, the voice of reason, the advocate from the outside users to the inside.

I’ve been a lot of things over the years and spent a lot of time in the high tech industry, starting with coding Fortran and doing SysAdmin work to helping found Apple’s first tech support group (for A/UX, back in ancient history) to Perl and PHP and MySQL DBA geeking to writing and web site design and implementation to what I’ve been the last few years as the person interfacing from inside a company to outside via many communication tools from blogging to Twitter to Youtube to sitting down 1:1 or in a group with developers and talking.

But if I had to explain the one thing I thought I was best at, it would be communication, especially bridging the gaps between inside and outside, and between the nerd technical people and the rest of an organization. It’s less about the tools than the message, and that’s why the last decade of my career has been a slow shift away from the seeing the geeky things as the important part to understanding that it’s the message and how it’s crafted and communicated, and of creating a conversation with the people you’re trying to connect with and impact.

If I know the tools, I can teach you to use them; if I don’t know them, I can learn them (and then teach you to use them). The tools are that: tools, important, but they support what’s important, which is communication. And what I am and want to do is be a communicator, whether it’s managing the blog and social media or writing the marketing copy or being a tech writer for a manual, or doing all of those at once.

And if that means setting up and running a WordPress site (or Slack, or Jive, or Confluence, or vBulletin, or Drupal, or.. or…) or managing a twitter stream or editing video for the Youtube channel or producing a podcast, those are all things I can and am doing today, but they are all supporting tools for what we’re really doing, which is communicating.

I’m a communicator, whether as writer, editor, twitter-er, podcaster or whatever, and I want to do is find a place where that skill is valued as much as, or more than, my ability to manipulate the tools that allow me to communicate.

Seems simple, but in Silicon Valley this can be more difficult than you might think, because the geeky types fall in love with tools, and they end up being the important thing, while the message gets lost along the way.

If you need it, I can create and manage the tools we need to do the communication you need, but I don’t have to: if you have people who already do that, that’s awesome. Or if we need to find them and build a team, that’s awesome.

Much of my career has centered around communicating to the geek community and I like that, but I’ve also done a lot of work into the consumer and enterprise areas, and those would be great, too. And one of the things I’ve been considering the last few months is whether now is the time to take a step back, make a big pivot, and shift into a new kind of role or into a new industry, or even step into a non-profit or NGO situation, especially since those are things where I feel there are ways to make a big difference in the right environment.

How can I improve your company and make a difference using my skills as a communicator, and my technical background to enable that?

What am I looking for? Good product to support, good company to work for, but more importantly, good people to work with and an interesting challenge to sink my teeth into. I prefer the core Silicon Valley area (draw a circle around Cupertino) but also remote or part time remote would be a nice plus I’d happily consider.

And if that sounds interesting, you can see my resume, or find me through LinkedIn. Or drop me an email at chuqvr@gmail.com and I’ll buy the coffee so we can sit down and talk.

Here is where I bribe you

This is where all of you come into the picture: I’d like your ideas and advice. I’d like your help finding the right position with the right people at the right company. I’ll note upfront that I’ll pay a finders fee of some really nice wine from Cakebread Cellars to whoever connects me to wherever I end up (or some equivalent thank you if you’d prefer something else). So if you know of a position you think I’d be good in, let me know, let the hiring manager know, forward my linkedin, help me make the contact. I’ll be much appreciative, and you’ll have some nice wine to drink for dinner.

I honestly think the best outcome of this upcoming search is to end up in a role I hadn’t considered doing, at a company I didn’t think to pursue, with a group of people I can both mentor on my strengths and learn from on my weaknesses, doing something that’ll make a difference to the people it impacts. That’s not something I think I can do alone, so I’d like your help to find it.

To figure out where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve were. If you don’t, you run the risk of circling back and revisiting places you’d rather not be. But to explain where I’ve been, I also have to revisit some of those areas, and to be honest, I don’t want to — I’m shaped by my past, but my past isn’t something I really enjoy wandering in, so you’ll have to excuse me if I skip stuff and give short shrift to other.

For instance, high school. I was two people in high school —

There was a public me, who was involved in, well, pretty damn much everything; athletics (I played what I could, I managed what I couldn’t, and I more or less lived in the gyms, and graduated with three varsity basketball, two varsity football and one or two varsity baseball letters, all as manager. I also swam, did some water polo (including goalie), wrestled a little, racquetball, and bike racing. Of these, the only ones I was remotely good at were racquetball and my cycling, which ended when I wracked my knees in a crash. After that, I slowed down significantly, becoming, well, a bit of a slug, something I’m today trying to fix, slowly by surely), drama (some acting, more tech), speech and debate (almost going to state finals once), school journalism (sports editor, duh), photography — even in high school I dabbled in lots of stuff, because I was interested in lots of stuff, a habit that continues today (but which is a double-edged banana, since if you play with too many toys, you never get good enough with any toy to master it.

But there was a private me as well, which few saw (including my parent, who were amazed when I leveled with them a few years ago, and I’m not sure they really believe me) — high school was a brutally unhappy time that led to three suicide attempts, two of them serious; it was a time when I learned to manipulate the jock culture to skate through school, leaving me completely unready for a college environment I couldn’t manipulate, and, of course, girls, a subject I flunked horribly and which it took me a long time to finally get my act together on. Compound that with having very close friends killed in auto accidents both my sophomore and junior year (both alcohol related, of course). Given that I was intermittently suicidal for two and a half years and depressed when I wasn’t — you get the idea that high school really sucked (and mom was surprised when I tried to bail on graduation…. I lost that fight). I can honestly say that it’s because of three teachers who figured it out and cared, and a couple of dear friends who also figured it out and intervened — that I’m here at all. About a decade ago, I went back and tracked them all down to say thank you, and was able to find all but one — the girl who was (platonically) key to keeping me sane enough to stay alive until I found myself again. To her, I’m eternally grateful, wherever she is. (if I were a christian who believed that my god intervenes in mundane affairs and all life is controlled by that being, I’d declare her to be an angel. But I’m not, and I believe in being responsible for my own actions, even the stupid ones, and not relying on letting someone else take the responsibility or blame, she’s instead a very caring person who’s debt I’ll never repay, no matter how much I pay forward against the balance….)

So you’ll excuse me if I leave my high school days where they belong, dead and buried — other than to say it left me with a strong interest in exploring everything, a strong belief the special people can make a big difference, a huge debt (my life!) I’ve tried to pay forward in reward to people who did the same to me, an ability to study organizations and figure out how to take advantage of the politics of them, a love of sports and the whole jock environment and bad knees…

I entered college in 1977, completely unprepared. I wandered looking for a reason to be there, finally ended up in theater, joined the debate team. Did badly at everything. Then in 1978, looking for an easy way to avoid math — I found a class in something called “introduction to basic programming”. Love at first sight, to put it mildly. It also led to me being kicked out of school for bad grades, so I ended up at a 2 year to get things back under control, but I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, and life finally had a purpose.

Around then I discovered there was a group of people who were using the school systems to (gasp) communicate, not just use them for homework. The main computer was a CDC Cyber, and it connected all of the campuses of the CSU system. Someone had written an e-mail program in APL, there was actually a real-time chat system called (amazingly) $talk, and someone else had written (in fortran!) a program where you could leave messages for others to read and reply to called the Latrine Wall (what do you want to do? #1(read) or #2(write)?) I had no clue at the time, and neither did any of the people doing this, but they’d independently invented the BBS system. Over time, I took over running the Latrine wall, and added new versions for other topics (my primary interest being SF), then rewrote the code so a single program could (gasp) handle different topics from a single program (um, it was 1978. I was writing in fortran. CDC fortran, on a Cyber with 6 bit bytes and 60 bit words, and lower case too 12 bits… and I’m doing text hacking…)

The CSU group topped out about 200-250 people. Over time, it developed a strong, if distributed culture. There were parties, there were romances. There were fights. We wasted an enormous amount of time in chat and e-mail and on the boards. The admins wanted us dead, but had trouble keeping up with us (after a while, they gave up). And then I got introduced to the Arpanet, and SF-Lovers.

My first e-mail address was chuqui@mit-ai.arpa. You weren’t just talking around the state — my god, there were even thousands of folks out there. Absolute heaven.

By this point, I’d figured out enough about my head to actually be able to date without self-destructing (or wishing I would). The first woman I ever got truly serious about I met over $talk, taking her out after she’d flunked a final and needed to be distracted — I was at CSU Fullerton (aka the Fullerton University Center of Knowledge, as we called it until our debate coaches noticed…), she was at CSU Long Beach, and she got dragged to Disneyland (where I was working at the time…). I mention that only because I just got a card from her and her husband, and they’re about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary — he was a close friend of mine, and I stepped out of the picture to let them figure all of this out. I’m thrilled to know it was the right decision, too — and the synchronicity of it is that he, unless he’s changed jobs without me knowing it, designs rides for Disney… (Jon and Karyn, congrats!)

My first professional programming job was in 1979, programming fortran on a data general Nova. By late 1980, I was working full time with computers, had quit Disney (1976-1980), left school (with 60 units left for a BSCS, 45 of them general ed), and had firmly entrenched computers in my life…

In early 1980, although through the computers, I met the woman who’d become my first wife, a marriage which lasted four years and proved mostly that (a) we’d married the wrong person, (b) I wasn’t nearly emotionally ready to be married, and (c) slow engagements are a damn good thing. We moved from the LA area to the San Francisco bay area in 1982, and divorced in 1984. And that’s all I plan on saying about my first wife, since she was a good person, simply the wrong one, and despite that, she was the person who finally helped me grow up and be able to deal with life for real. We parted, if not friends, friendly, and I believe in letting her enjoy her life without being reminded of my continued existance… (we have, actually, talked a few times, but don’t try to keep in touch. Why should we?)

During this time I’d switched to the Arpanet (later known as this beast called the Internet), discovered Usenet (I’m honestly not sure when, but by January 1983, I’d already attached my then-company’s minicomputer to it via uucp), and on usenet in the comics groups, I met the person who would become my second (and final) wife — Laurie, who happened to be at Purdue at the time. When she graduated, she took the bold step of moving west, waited patiently for me to get my head together enough to try it again, and we were married in 1987, so we’re a few years behind Jon and Karyn, but chasing them…

Even then, computer (and long distance) romances were unusual — our life once made the Washington post in a feature, and again somewhere else I no longer remember. Now, of course, this stuff is almost routine, but back then, people thought we were crazy, but Laurie and I had something most relationships didn’t to build on — we talked, no, communicated. A lot. About everything. Enough to piss off more than one uucp admin around the country for running up their phone bills (people who know today’s internet only won’t understand that. I’ll explain some day) — and it built a strong enough relationship to make it all work (it didn’t help that on our first meeting, we were rather taken with each other as well, when I roadtripped through Purdue on a weekend during a business trip..)

And since then, life’s been pretty damn good. Laurie helped me finish the job of getting my life together, and it’s sometimes been interesting, sometimes stressful, but it’s never once been something I’ve had second thoughts about.

And hopefully, this gives a little glimpse into why I’m me — the sports interest that led to hockeyfanz.com (although how an LA bike and beach bum ended up a hockey fan is another story…), the interest in computers and more specifically the net, my committment to paying forward into the net and making it a better place, of trying to be there for people when they need me, of finding causes that deserve a piece of me and finding a way of giving it.

I’m now at the point in my life where almost half of it has been attached to the Internet in its various forms, and I’ll make no bones of the fact that the net has always been a significant part of my life (sometimes, the primary focus). And while more than once I’ve been told to get a life, those folks don’t have a clue. I have one, a pretty damn good one (and a better one than I had back when I was desperately trying to be normal…) — virtual communities really aren’t virtual. They’re just enabled differently. And getting a life has nothing to do with computers. computers don’t have lives — people do. Or don’t. And whether a person has a life has nothing to do with whether they’re on a computer or not…

And I wouldn’t have it any other way…

Some (hopefully short) notes on things I’m interested in, or involved with, so if you seem we walking down the street, you can walk up and say “compadre! I’m involved in that, too!” (or run off and look for a hiding place, if you prefer…)

With computers and the net (can they even be separated any more?), my main interest is in working with and building communities (on-line communities aren’t virtual, they’re just enabled differently…)– which is something I’ve been doing going back to about 1979, although it wasn’t until three or four years ago I put a name on it. Although I’ve been involved in USENET and mailing lists for most of that time, USENET is dead (although the body is so big and decentralized there’s no brain to recognize the body is rotting), and I’ve come to the realization that mailing lists suck as a community tool — it’s just that until the last couple of years, there weren’t any alternatives, or they sucked even worse. Those tools are just now maturing, and I’m now starting to investigate them seriously. The biggest problem (and it’s NOT a problem, really) is that people are conditioned to and comfortable with lists, and they tend to think they work at this stuff. If they’re happy, I don’t plan on screwing it up but I think over time, most of the community aspects of mailing lists will move to other formats, primarily on the web.

Laurie and I have no kids (by choice), but instead, have our birds and cats. Currently we’re blessed with three canaries, two cockatiels and Tatiana, an umbrella cockatoo (practically speaking, a four year old with an air horn and a claw hammer…). We’re currently working on adopting in a pair of rescued cockatiels, and that should happen in the next week or so.

One of our cats is a feral rescue, the other adopted out of the local humane society. One is an extremely reserved, intelligent cat, the other is a brainless, golden-retriever-esque bundle of happy energy. I’ve never been a cat person — never — and I’ve always, always wanted a dog in the house (but free time and logistics have always gotten in the way). I now have one, too, but it’s stuck inside the body of a tiny calico cat…

The cockatoo is our kid — as I like to joke, we name our vet as “pediatrician” on our tax forms. Cockatoos are highly social, intelligent animals with a definite personality, a strong intellect and a stubborn personality. Developmentally, they ARE about the same as a three or four year old. Old enough to get in amazing trouble, almost old enough to know they shouldn’t, but more than willing to do it anyway. And unlike many birds that are kept as pets, cockatoos (who’s nickname is “love sponge”) are very demanding of your time. Just like, oh, a 3-4 year old…

The cats live in the back of the house, the birds in the front, and they mix only under supervision, cages notwithstanding. One of our cats has learned that the birds are offlimits, but the retriever-cat hasn’t figured it out yet.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten involved in astronomy, since a friend has access to the telescope on Fremont Peak. A year ago we bought our first telescope, which we’ve only had time to use about four times, but now that some of the worst of the tech development is winding down, I hope that’ll change for the better.

When I hit 40 and decided middle age wasn’t all that bad (I had my midlife crisis at 25, in all honesty, and it’s been gravy since…), I’ve started rediscovering things I did earlier in life that had fallen by the wayside. I bought a bike, and have used it sparingly. I’ve been slowly building a woodshop in the garage 9at least the parts there’s room for tools in). I’ve been getting involved in gardening again fairly seriously, and dabbling with my needlepoint again. And Laurie’s been trying to teach me to identify birds when we birdwatch, but I’m pretty rotten at it still.

Even though I no longer write SF, I still read some, but I’m pretty disgusted with the field and the quality of writing. Much of my reading has shifted to other areas, including mysteries, but in all honesty I read very little fiction any more. Instead, I’ve started reading a lot more history and non-fiction, and have gotten rather interested in Roman Britain and World War II military history, especially naval warfare, double-especially submarine warfare. Why? Hell if I know… but it’s fascinating stuff.

And I’m a science and tech nut — part of my training to be a science fiction writer, I browse what’s happening in the sciences with the enthusiasm of an omnivore in a spring meadow… I’m not trying to be an expert in anything, but I enjoy learning and studying pretty much everything…

I have been writing almost since I learned to read, and I have been blessed to be able to write professionally both in fiction and non-fiction. My earliest professional writing involved technical writing for Sun Microsystems but I’ve written about a wide variety of topics over the years, including a stint as a reviewer of Science Fiction and Fantasy for Amazing Stories, as a Contributing Editor for Macintosh Horizons and NetProfessional Magazine. My most recent published piece was in Birdwatcher’s Digest and I’ve also written for the Guardian. I’ve written extensively on many topics including Photography, Science Fiction Criticism, Ice Hockey, Apple Computer, High Technology, Silicon Valley and many other topics.

I’m a published fiction writer and a former member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. I ran SFWA’s Nebula Awards for a decade, and was the first recipient of their Distinguished Service Award. I’m currently retired from fiction writing but I keep threatening to start again. You can find out more and see some of the fiction I’ve put online over on my Fiction page.

In the 1980’s I published a magazine about science fiction and fantasy called OtherRealms, and the archives are online. It lasted 32 issues and was nominated for two Hugos (the World Science Fiction Achievement Awards) in 1989 for Best Fanzine and Best Fan Writer. I lost, but I’m proud to have finished ahead of No Award. I was a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America for many years and managed the Nebula Awards for them for a decade.

This site collects some of my writing, including most of my published fiction. It covers a wide array of topics because I’m interested in a wide array of things, but some of the topics I’ve written about most frequently include high tech and computers (especially about Apple and their platforms), Birds and Birdwatching, and about Sports and the business of Sports, especially hockey and baseball.

I am available for freelance writing assignments although currently I’m not actively soliciting them. If you think I’m the right person for an article I’d love to hear your idea. I’ve been considering becoming more active in freelance writing again, but haven’t yet decided to hang out my shingle formally.

Things I’ve done that you haven’t

Just for fun, here are a few things I’ve done in my life that you probably haven’t…

  • Assisted as an anesthesiologist to a vet while spaying dogs and cats.
  • Bodysurfed storm waves big enough the surfers stayed on the beach.
  • Seen the planet Pluto through a telescope.
  • Played a talking deer on television.
  • Rode a bicycle 100 miles non-stop. In the rain. voluntarily.
  • Got paid to write Science Fiction. (but not a lot)
  • Was once the fourth largest USENET site on the net.
  • Finished ahead of No Award for the best fan writer Hugo.
  • Ate lunch on the deck of the pirate ship in Pirates of the Caribbean which is firing on the fort (the pirates aren’t wearing any pants), and watched sunrise from the top of the Matterhorn in the park where Tinkerbell landed.
  • Refereed a high school basketball game — with broken glasses.

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