Lucky me!

When I go to the Houston Chronicle site to update The HelpLine Blog and I see that banner pictured above it’s like seeing my name in lights.

I was just browsing through the archives of my column and was amazed to realize I have been writing for the paper for almost 6 years now.

What an amazing experience the whole technology explosion has been for me. From my humble beginnings as a sales dweeb in the computer department at Best Buy over 11 years ago to working in the IT department of a huge software company today.

Along the way I have gotten to do cool things and meet amazing people.

When I was the operations manager at Neosoft many moons ago was when I first encountered technology columnist Dwight Silverman. Dwight was the original HelpLine columnist for the Houston Chronicle.

Technology Bytes was still in it’s infancy and Dwight was an early adopter of residential ISDN. I had many opportunities to sit on the phone and go over the configuration of his Pipeline 25 whenever his Internet connection would drop. Over a short time we developed a rapport and he even wrote a very nice article about the radio show for the Chronicle which gave us a much needed push in listenership back in those formative years.

I moved on from Neosoft in 1999 but did not lose touch with Dwight. He guest hosted on the show every now and then and in 2000 he informed me that he was getting promoted at the newspaper and would be giving up the HelpLine column.

The story on how I came to take over the column varies depending on whether you talk to me or talk to Dwight.

My recollection is that Dwight didn’t even offer me the opportunity to apply for the position. When I suggested the idea to him I seem to recall him dismissing it rather out of hand, citing my lack of journalism credentials. In my mind I pushed the issue and was granted the opportunity to write a test column to be reviewed by his editor and they would consider my application. It was none-too-encouraging, but my desire to be a media-whore was strong.

I took the time to find the original e-mail exchange. This is the response I sent to Dwight when he announced his moving on to other things at the Chronicle:

To: Dwight Silverman
From: JLee
Subject: Re: The times, they are a’changin’ (was Re: Tech Bytes)
Cc:
Bcc:
X-Eudora-Signature:

Wow….big changes!

Maybe I should apply as your replacement…

At 09:26 PM 08/21/2000 -0500, you wrote:

Jay –

You may be interested in this note I’m sending out to my sources…

Effective Monday, Aug. 28, I will no longer be covering business technology for the Houston Chronicle. Instead, I am taking on the job of Web Development Editor for HoustonChronicle.com, the newspaper’s Web site….*snip*

And this was his reply:

To: “Dwight Silverman”
From: JLee
Subject: Re: The times, they are a’changin’ (was Re: Tech Bytes)
Cc:
Bcc:
X-Eudora-Signature:

Ha! Maybe you should! Got a journalism degree?

At any rate, I applied and Dwight ended up helping me quite a bit with my first efforts at writing the column. In the end the position was offered to me and I accepted.

Things have evolved over the years. The HelpLine column is now an almost daily blog and remains a weekly feature in the business section of the paper on Tuesdays. It used to be Wednesdays, same as the radio show which made Wednesday Jay Lee Day for awhile, or so I dubbed it when Andrea declared that nothing important or entertaining happened on Wednesdays.

Now Dwight is a regular on the program and we’re going stronger than ever as the show approaches it’s 11th anniversary in June.

I just love being a geek and getting to do what I do.

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