Screaming Circuits: Silicon Rainforest


Silicon Rainforest

Yesterday, I was reading post from Guy Kawasaki's blog called "How to Kick Silicon Valley's Butt". It's a pretty relevant article for the Portland, Oregon area, mostly because we seem to violate all of his rules. Despite that, we do have a decent hi-tech community here. We have big players with major operations here - Intel, Tektronix, HP and a few others. We have companies like In Focus, Tektronix, Nike and others that have spread out from here.

Our Universities are decent, but nothing like his example Stanford. We have OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) a leading teaching hospital. Reflective of that, we have a lot of medical related start-ups in the area. Ultimately, I suspect that most of our high-tech success is based on the fact that, though it is a shadow of what it once was, we were lucky enough to have Tektronix start, grow and germinate spin-off's here.

The most important thing we have here is good coffee and good beer. With many subjects, the Portland area has an identity crisis; "we're just like silicon valley" or "Reed is just like Berkley." We try really hard to be hip but just don't quite get it. With beer though, it's a completely different story.

San Francisco, Boston and Seattle all claim to have started the micro-brew revolution. Maybe so, maybe not, but we just don't worry about what the others say. We simply enjoy the best variety of the best beers in the world.

Coffee is a bit like that too. Sure, Starbucks started in Seattle. So did Seattle's Best. Portland may not have invented the Latte, but we have totally made it our own. This community is fueled on coffee like no other. All of the cliches and jokes about having a Starbucks or a competitive house on each corner of the block and one or two in the middle are true here. Even the suburban grocery stores with a Starbucks in the parking lot have a Starbucks inside.

We're also really big into health and fitness here. Like so many others around, I know that the right way to be on top of my game for an important business meeting is to exercise, eat right and get plenty of sleep. You do that and your brain works better, you feel better and you look better.

The problem is, with all that great beer, reality tends to be a bit off from the ideal. The night before, folks here all to frequently find themselves out with a buddy or business associate discussing the next morning's meeting over a few of those great local beers. Sure, I know everone knows they should cut the night short and get some good sleep, but it doesn't happen that way.

Now comes the coffee. I've figured out that no matter how bad off I am, I can drink two lattes before the meeting and one during and I'll act, think and feel on top of my game. With that burst of serious caffeine, which I never have trouble finding, I can compensate for the night before and do a good professional job in my meeting.

Screaming Circuits is a bit like that. In an ideal world, you'll design your board and allocate a month to get it fabbed and built up. In the real world, you don't have that kind of time and you want to spend every minute you have tweaking the design. You do that and we'll be like that caffeine - we'll get your boards assembled in a good professional manner really, really fast.

Duane Benson
Need coffee. More coffee...

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