6 min read
My parents got divorced in the late 90s. My father spent some amount of time living with his sister before getting his own apartment in Burbank, California. Me and my younger brother would visit him every other weekend, often being picked up Friday afternoon from school and being whisked away to his place for the next few days. A few things happened because of this.
I've talked a little bit about certain aspects of my nerdiness a lot. My love of comic books, including the trips on my way home from middle school to buy Fantastic Four and Iron Man every month for almost a decade and the early acceptance of Matt Wagner's Grendel into my soul, but one aspect I don't think I've touched on that much is my love of technology.
That started earlier than 1998, though. That started six or more years prior when the Callahan family got their first computer. It was a black and white Macintosh, which my Father primarily used to play a golf simulator. A couple years after that, though, we got a computer running Windows 95. This led to a few things.
A neighbor (Who I was somehow related to?) gave me and my brothers a copy of the newly released video game Stonekeep, which came in a tombstone-style box along with a very detailed strategy game. This game, along with the first Diablo game, consumed every waking hour of my time. It also made me interested in video games in a way my younger years playing Atari, NES, and SNES never did and I started making "point and click" games using Microsoft Power Point. More "interactive stories" than legitimate video games, these were usually hundreds of slides (In at least one of the completed "games" that number was around 1400 slides...) that let the user choose which branch of the story they wanted to follow (Some, of course, led to unhappy and early ends for the player!). I don't recommend anyone try to make anything like this in Power Point. In fact, I don't recommend anyone use Power Point for anything.
Then my parents divorced. I spent weekends and summers in Burbank. My father's neighbor there was also a nerd. Infinitely smarter than me, he got me started in learning actual programming, in a language that was obsolete even then but easy to learn. My father also got a cable package with hundreds of channels.
I almost exclusively watched TechTV. All the way to its end. I watched The Screen Savers. Extended Play. Big Thinkers. Unscrewed.
TechTV was bought and became G4TechTV. Then it was just G4. The Screen Savers became Attack of the Show, which I would sometimes catch a random episode of over the years. I don't have any glaring hatred for that show, it was on for quite a long time and was seemingly very popular. The thing was... it wasn't The Screen Savers. It didn't really seem to be about technology much at all. It didn't satisfy anything that a fan of TechTV would want, so I looked elsewhere.
Then Revision3 was born from TechTVs death and I watched The Broken and Systm. I watched Infected (later Internet Superstar) and Web Drifter. DiggNation. InDigital (Which was actually somehow my first exposure to Wil Wheaton...). Totally Rad Show (and Geekdrome?!).
In fact, some random person ran a Shoutcast stream back in like 04 that played nothing but speed runs of video games along with those few Broken episodes, and that is how I first saw those. Then I saw Leo Laporte was continuing the TechTV tradition on his own and I started listening to This Week in Tech and Security Now and other shows. Soon after that I would find DLTV, Cranky Geeks, and a dozen other online video shows being done by people I knew from TechTV talking about technology, its impact and influence, and how to understand it.
The Screen Savers, for anyone who might not have been fortunate enough to see it, was basically a technology themed variety show that had two hosts, Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton, and a wide range of contributors and cohosts and an even wider range of segments. They took live calls (video calls, even, with callers from their "Net Cam Network") for tech support, they did interviews, hardware/DIY segments, and talked about new software and gadgets.
It was a show that could take a broad and complicated topic and boil it down into something that could be understood by everyone without ever making them feel like they were being talked down to, instead it celebrated you for being interested in it at all. It was a show that really wanted you to be involved and part of the culture, whoever you happened to be.
In 2005 Leo Laporte founded TWiT.tv, which has a 24/7 live stream where over 20 shows are recorded live and reruns are shown when the studio is not live. I watch a handful of shows religiously (This Week in Law, All About Android, This Week in Google, Tech News Today, Windows Weekly, This Week in Tech, Know How...) and his call-in radio show that he does Saturday and Sunday mornings has been a staple of my coffee/non-dayjob work routine for years.
So when he announced earlier today, on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of his TWiT company, that a new show on his network would be a spiritual successor, both in variety-style format and open-arms inclusion into the culture and understanding of technology, I got very emotional because of the realization at the scope of influence TechTV and the many, many personalities involved have had on me these last almost twenty years (Note: I am currently 28 years old).
While my dayjob is of the lowest and most demeaning "tech support" roles available, I do get the opportunity to talk to regular people about technology - whether that is a new tablet or laptop they want or about their current devices - and answer questions and explain general computing concepts to customers in a way that they can understand (and show them that it is not out of their reach as they often assume). While the majority of my dayjob consists of a black tunnel of endless despair, every so often I actually get to help some people in a small but meaningful way and while my interest in technology started before The Screen Savers, it certainly wouldn't be what it is today without it. Outside of the dayjob, aside from the 4 issues of my comic series I have self published with some decent successes, I just acquired my second freelance web design client and that is very exciting to me.
Originally from 04/20/15