Ian's Blog

Five Things

with 3 comments

I won’t be shy about it. This blog chain mail thing is definitely dumb. 🙂     By participating, I fear I’m waiving my rights to disdainfully chide my mother when she forwards a dire warning about the kidney-theft epidemic. But when the guy who signs your paychecks tags you, well, that’s a different matter entirely. And hey, talking about yourself is easy. So for those of you who don’t know me personally, (and even some who do) here’s some things you might not know about me:

  • One summer in high school I sailed from Long Island to Detroit with my dad and brother. It took around 8 weeks, I think. We had moved from New York the previous summer, and we were bringing the boat with us a year late. It’s a 1977 Ranger 33, which my dad restored beautifully, but it’s just about the smallest boat you’d consider taking such a long trip on. There were quite a few (mis)adventures. Back then, the boat didn’t have radar or GPS, so fog was scary whether we were in the Atlantic circumnavigating Nova Scotia or dodging gigantic tankers, sailing against the current in the St. Lawrence seaway. One stormy night my brother and I puked over the side 7 times, cumulatively. Good times. It’s one of those adventures that seems fantastic in hindsight!
  • I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane near Jackson, MI with my college roommate one spring. It was a great experience. People are usually surprised to hear that you don’t perceive the ground rushing toward you. We jumped from 12,000 feet, and at that distance it’s so far away you can’t really tell you’re accelerating toward your death. It’s more like sticking your head out a car window. I didn’t get nervous at all, actually, until after the parachute opened. At that point everything slows down enough that you have time to look down at your dangling feet and ponder the fact that you’re 5,000 feet from sweet terra firma.
  • Long ago I auditioned for and was accepted to The American Boychoir. I didn’t attend, mostly because going from public schools in St. Paul, MN to a highfalutin boarding school in Princeton, NJ was terrifying. Plus I was a little too old, too close to puberty, at which point you’re no good to them.
  • In high school I ran a BBS in the 313 area code. (That directory is from 1987, but it lasted through my time: the early 90’s.) I paid for the phone line and various upgrades out of my Arby’s paycheck. It ran T.A.G. 2.6, which was written in Pascal by some Detroit-area hobbyists. I wrote a handful of door programs for it, first in Pascal and eventually in C. I credit landing my first computer-related job, in part, to the fact that during the interview we discovered that the interviewer frequented my BBS.
  • In 1996, working as a summer intern, I wrote one of the first browser-based home banking systems. It had all the same features I use today at chase.com, and had cutting-edge HTML features, like frames! In those days, we installed servers at banks that included direct dial-in access because internet access was relatively scarce and direct dial-in was theoretically more secure. My employer’s primary product was audio banking systems, (“Press 1 to hear your account balance…”) and they’d been doing that for decades. Sadly, they only half-heartedly entered the newfangled internet market and lost to companies like Digital Insight. That was as close as I got to the .com mania in Detroit.

Because I’m late to the party, and in an (admittedly lame) act of protest against these sorts of things, I’m not tagging anyone.

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Written by Ian Olsen

January 8, 2007 at 11:35 am

Posted in SourceGear Blogs

3 Responses

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  1. I don’t think I ever really fell for the stolen kidney e-mail! Nor did I sucker for the one about the dude who asks women to do a perfume-smell test in parking lots and kidnaps them after they’ve passed out. Scary thing is—a dude really asked me to do a perfume smell test in a parking lot once. (I passed.)

    Ian's mom

    January 8, 2007 at 6:44 pm

  2. Awesome — I ran a BBS in 217. (Maximus! Whoo!)

    And I, too, worked for a guy who frequented my BBS. We eventually started an ISP together, which is still (just barely) alive and kicking.

    Ed Thomson

    January 14, 2007 at 4:17 pm

  3. To clarify, when jumping out of an airplane, you’ll only feel acceleration for a couple of seconds until your body reaches terminal velocity… about 90 miles per hour for an average human. After that, there should be no sense of acceleration although you will feel 90 mph worth of wind. Upon parachute deployment, you’ll obviously feel massive deceleration. This will be followed quickly by a punctuated death characterized by a cartoon-like “splat.”

    Peter Waitzman

    January 24, 2007 at 5:35 pm


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