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Jock Murphy 7 March 2008

Jock Murphy

Software Engineer, Photographer, Writer, Raconteur, Knower of Things

Originally born in San Francisco and grew up near the heart of the Castro.  Became obsessed with the idea of learning to program computers at the age of 13.  Utterly failed, but kept at it until it made sense.  Bought a Sinclair ZX80 in 1980 (assembled from kit), and never looked back.  Never managed to graduate high school or college (though attended both).  Worked in the Valley long enough to realized it was designed to make a small number of people rich, and a large number of people churn from job to job ever one to three years.  

Moved to the Northwest at the age of 27.  Eventually became something of a name in the world of multimedia — at a time when multimedia was thought to be something of an end unto itself.  Developed a multimedia authoring system used for CBT (Computer Based Training) and presentation.  Has gotten swirled up into entrepreneurial ventures more than once with varying levels of success.  In 2001, while on a sabbatical, Founded, developed, and ran the site — a site dedicated to turn based gaming (chess, checkers, and other board type games).  Was an active part of the management of the site for two years before deciding to sell majority control.  

In 2002 fearing that burnout was not that far away, decided to take up photography in the naive thought that it would be a good “hobby.”  Eventually finding a passion (nee obsession) worthy of a slash and a capital letter in the self description.  Going from Software Engineer to Software Engineer/Photographer.  Creative endeavors continued with the writing of the novel “Redemption Song.”

Married, Homeowner, shares said home with three cats and three dogs. Occasionally fosters animals for the Hillsboro shelter.  Is decidedly NOT a saint.

All more or less summed up with the immortal statement: He’s just this guy, you know?

What are you up to?

I am recovering from a House worth medical mystery.  I am writing my second novel.  I am working on a personal site for tracking location (  I am working on a venture I can’t speak about, but like all things one can’t talk about is mindboggly cool.  I hold a day job with a Portland software company.  And hopefully I am up to no good…

What are you into?

I am into politics; five dollar words; science fiction; great writing; films; film-making; making the 50s sound cooler by calling it “mid-century;” the eradication of unnecessary quotation marks; tv; podcasts; good media of any kind; big ideas; irrational exuberance; animal rights and rescue; Star Trek more than Star Wars (and Firefly more than either of those); the base and the highbrow (and if at the same time, so much the better); the idea that there are only two kinds of music: that which I like, and that which I don’t, and that everything else is just for organization; the idea that the thought of a shared nostalgia is gone.

What do you like most about Portland?

I believe that Portland combines the important parts of a large iconic city (such as San Francisco, where I grew up), with a more reasonable pace of life and focus on play as well as work.  I love its seedy past and its turn toward respectability.  It is a place with noir written all over it.

What marks a good professional?

I think that someone who calls themselves a professional with a capital P (and not just in the legal distinction) is someone who cares passionately about the field they are in.  They believe in continually improving their skills.  They believe in improving the profession.  And that they believe that they can’t be a professional without being a person as well.  You might not be able to stop thinking about it, but you are willing to find the balance point between the two.

Who are your heros?

Allen Turing, Donald Knuth, Dick Cavett, Stephen Fry, Douglas Adams.


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