Today I have some exciting personal news: starting next month, I'll be a senior writer at CNET covering Google.
CNET has been a part of my life since I was 14, when I used to wake up early on Saturday mornings and watch "CNET Central" on the USA Network. My family had recently acquired a fancy new computer; I hate to brag, but it had a color monitor, Windows 3.1, and a 25 MHz Intel processor that went all the way up to 33 when you hit a button marked "Turbo." (We always hit the button marked "Turbo.") It had a miniscule amount of RAM, and to run "SimCity" I had to exit to DOS and run a batch file that re-loaded the operating system in a way that used less memory. I still loved it like a brother.
The "CNET" show was amazing. The hosts stood inside a palatial studio and told story after story about things that were becoming increasingly important to me: the Internet, "multimedia" hardware, and a little something called Windows 95. They were wizards who had been given early access to the future. I wanted their lives.
Over the next few years computers became more important to me. I installed my first sound card and CD-ROM drive, and with some more tech-savvy friends learned to expand a computer's RAM. (So long, batch files to run "SimCity.") Before I left for college, my Grandma said she would cover the cost of me building my own computer. I drove to Fry's Electronics with my computer-genius friend Ben and loaded a shopping cart with chips and drives. Building that monster was some of the most fun I ever had.
Over the years, CNET remained a trusted friend, giving wise counsel on what other tech stuff I ought to buy. It also built a formidable news operation, going toe to toe with better-staffed outlets to deliver real scoops and sharp analysis. When they invited me to join them, it was one of the more delightful surprises of my time on earth. I can't wait to get started.
In the meantime, I'm grateful to the San Francisco Chronicle for getting me into the tech reporting business in the first place. I had been at 901 Mission for all of about a month when I realized that writing about tech was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That might never have happened had they not asked me to come do it. Suffice to say there is a good chance my first born will be named Ward.
I had actually been having so much fun at the Chronicle that I neglected to schedule a vacation of more than a few days during the past two years. So a month or so ago I asked for the last two weeks of August off, and they graciously said yes. I'll come back to the Chronicle for the week after Labor Day. On Sept. 10, I go to work for CNET.
I can't wait to get started.