I’m going to start this by saying I’m sorry. Why? Well, Tony can tell you that I’ve been putting this off for the last couple of weeks, and it’s mainly because I grew up in a culture where your resume had to fit in one page, or else it would be ignored in a job interview. I guess this would be the first time that I have to write about myself, and I just want to apologize in advance if you find it either too boring or simply too odd.
So let’s start with the basics, my full name is Jaime Alonso Rivera Rodriguez, I’m 33 years old, and even though I was born in a very cool town called La Ceiba, Honduras, I currently live in the much bigger – San Pedro Sula. La Ceiba was one of those cities that grew too fast and then stalled, and that growth was due to the sponsorship of a fruit company you all know as Dole. That’s the reason why we have very good bilingual schools, and yeah, for all of you that constantly ask, that’s how I learned English. It’s also the Honduran party capital, so you can imagine where I spent most of my teenage nights.
Up to just a couple of years ago, I was a guy that worked in airlines and had gadgets as a hobby, but now that I do gadgets for a living, I’ve shifted my hobby to fitness. I’m a big fan of coffee, hamburgers, beer, and a good steak. I guess that since I love to eat a lot, I’d rather burn myself running or at the gym, than having to go on a diet. Married, three kids between the ages of 13 and 3, and I also actively serve in Church since I was 15 or so.
In a nutshell, the one characteristic that has been constant throughout my life, is change, irony intended. I was born to very young parents, so that didn’t last long, and then I was raised by my maternal Grandparents since I was around five years old. I wasn’t the most social of children, and I hated sports, so if you remember a kid that everybody would make fun of in school, well, that was me! Funny, since when I became a teenager, the tables flipped dramatically. I then became the guy who was part of the group that would be in charge of determining the nickname by which you’d be mocked until you graduated, so having me as your friend was your smartest choice.
My first decade was relatively comfortable since my father had some decent wealth, and that allowed me to study at the school that I did. It also allowed me to travel a lot, since my family is quite big, and scattered all over Latin America and the United States. Sadly, he went bankrupt when I was around 11, and that required me to have the oddest of jobs since I was 12 years old. Today I don’t regret that era one bit, but at first it was tough for me, since hey, all of my friends had money and didn’t need to work. I’ve always been very curious though, so I love that stage because this allowed me to learn about a lot of things. Some of my weekend and summer jobs included working with wood, construction, trucking and hardware stores. That’s the reason why I know what wood was used for a specific piece of furniture, or why the humidity problems of a wall are either construction or paint related.
I’m not ashamed to admit that it took me a decade to finish my Business studies in college. I’ve had to sustain myself fully since I was 17, and to do so I’ve had some crazy jobs that gave me little time to study. I was also in love with what I did, so let’s split this in those eras:
The TACA days
My first awesome job was in an Airline called TACA, which was recently absorbed by a bigger carrier called AVIANCA. I started working there when I was 18 thanks to my English skills, and let’s just say I arrived at the right place, at the right time. I worked there for more than 8 years, and since I was already accustomed to constant changes, this job fit me like a glove. I don’t think I lasted doing the same thing for more than two years, and for me, that was awesome.
Just to give you an idea: I started at the lowest tier, loading luggage over weekends for $5 a day. I then moved to Customer Service just weeks later, so you know, I was the guy that you see at the Airport counter to check you in before you flew. I later became a licensed Flight Dispatcher, which in some countries requires a full 4-year college career, but that I had to figure out in 4 months. In a nutshell, this is learning all the theory a pilot learns, but without the flight experience.
This opened many doors for me, and it required me to travel like crazy all over Latin America. From being an Airport Manager, to an instructor in a ton of things I’d bore you if I named, to being an operations auditor, to even building procedures manuals, it allowed me to grow rapidly. It was also a funny time, since I was always the youngest guy in the room. My last position there was being in charge of the Regional Operations Center when I was 25, so if an airplane got busted, I was the guy in charge of the team that would figure out how to not cancel your flight and leave you hanging, or how to get rid of your flight delay, and I was lucky enough to work with a team that was darn good at it.
I had some great mentors, whom I praise and still thank today. They were nice enough to teach me everything I know, and given the fact that most of these changes happened through mergers or acquisitions, you could say I was lucky enough to learn my fair share of what building an airline from scratch was like. Forgetting things on crazy days at work was common in this job, so that’s why I bought my first Pocket PC, the Compaq iPAQ h3630, and later the HP iPAQ h1940 to help me out.
The UPS days
There’s this famous saying in my country: “Always leave a party before it ends, so that people remember you did.” My gig at TACA garnered me a lot of positive reputation, and when I turned 26, UPS made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, to be their Gateway Manager for the country. That’s why I moved to San Pedro Sula, and I’ve been living here ever since. You could say that this job was less complicated than the one I had, but then again after 8 crazy years, the offer was significant, and I felt I deserved more for less stress.
I’m not sure if you’re a fan of UPS, I know their service is certainly not cheap. I do thank them for teaching me the value of delivering on your promise. TACA was a good airline, but their service wasn’t perfect. UPS wasn’t perfect, but their service was darn good, and you’d be surprised at all we had to do behind the scenes to get that to happen. During my UPS years I also became an instructor in a ton of things, up to the point of being an UPSCO Designee, which meant you were the guy that ensured safe operations wherever you were sent. I got sent to a ton of places, so it was fun. This was the longest lasting role I ever did, but the traveling and the unique challenges of each Gateway compensated for it during a course of almost 7 years.
I was lucky to have 30 awesome people working on my team, so I did have a lot of free time. That made me consider a post I read on a website called Pocketnow.com that said “Want to review products for us?”, since hey, my hobby were gadgets, right?
I landed at Pocketnow.com when I begun searching for help after I had just bricked my HP iPAQ h1940. You may not remember this, but Windows Mobile didn’t allow you to change your default language on any device, and I hated that the Pocket PCs that were sold here all came in Spanish. The forums once taught me to trick the RUU through a Hexadecimal editor (remember this guys) and load an English ROM on my first iPAQ, but something went wrong with the second one, and it was really my fault. Sadly I could never find a fix for the problem, but I did find an awesome community that I learned to love.
I remember after reading the post offering a review gig, I thought I didn’t stand a chance. Still I felt I had nothing to lose to write to some guy named Brandon Miniman. Pocket PC apps cost $30 back then on average, so to get free software was cool enough! That’s how I started in Pocketnow, reviewing apps from Resco, SPB and others. I also became the designated HP reviewer focused on the iPAQ line-up, which I loved. Since I had some scheduling skills that Brandon learned about, he later gave me my first pay roll as a Review Coordinator and my job was to get gadgets and software to reach our goal of providing 3 reviews a week, which I enjoyed a lot.
Back then our website was small, and when Brandon once wrote me about ways to grow, I created this wireframe of a website design that I felt could help. That was our previous Pocketnow 4.0 design, and that changed my roll here to Creative Editor. By the way guys, I was doing all this while still working in UPS since you could say I did have the spare time when compared to my previous job in TACA.
When Brandon told me about the whole YouTube idea, I felt it was crazy, but so was I. I filmed our second YouTube video of SPB Pocket Plus 4.0, and the rest is history. Eventually we kept working on ways to improve our video quality, and one day I had this crazy idea of a weekly news show, which you all later remember as the iReview. I was way over my head, I had no clue how to even edit a damn video, but still, I bought a Mac out of my own money, and the rest is history. Our YouTube channel grew to the point of me quitting UPS and coming full time to Pocketnow as a Multimedia Manager, which is a fancy title that says – I’m the video guy.
That project evolved into Android Revolution and Windows Phone View, and since we saw that there was too much Android news for a weekly show, that spun Pocketnow Daily. The idea was that I would simply do a demo of what I thought would be a good idea, since I personally think I suck in front of the camera, but I ended up doing it since people seemed to like it.
Many of you don’t know this, but I also edit most of our reviews, and most of our feature videos like After The Buzz. I’m also the resident Apple guy, which makes me the Windows Phone hater according to many, since I’m quite direct when I write about the topics that I choose, which do include a lot of Microsoft. Some may say that my writing style is too controversial, but then again, I find nothing conventional about the world of mobile technology anyways.
The bottom line
So yeah, I’m no professional video editor, nor a professional writer, nor was I ever an expert at any of the things that I did. I’ve just been a lucky guy, blessed to be at the right place, at the right time, and who met the right people. I’m just a very curious geek who likes good challenges, and who’s willing to do some crazy and odd things to fight boredom. My biggest burden according to some is that I’m a perfectionist, which even annoys me at times, since I’m usually my toughest critic. Still, as a mentor once told me: “You can’t expect to go from point A to B if you don’t challenge yourself.”
In that endeavor, I feel honored to be given a voice, and to share my thoughts about technology here. I take the time you invest reading an article or watching a video very seriously, and that’s probably why I try very hard to push the bar with the things I write, or the videos I film or edit. Sometimes it involves not sleeping, but it becomes worth the effort when I know how many of you enjoy the stupid speed at which I have to speak on the Daily or make fun of the way I pronounce my name. I do enjoy actively responding to your thoughts in the comments, because I’ve also learned a lot from your opinions. I hope everything has served you as much as a lot of awesome people served me when I got here.
Hopefully I haven’t bored you in this awesome Saturday. I’ve condensed this as much as I can, but as Voltaire would say, I would’ve written a shorter letter if I had more time. Please, share your thoughts in the comments, I do read every one of them, every single time.
Pocketnow Insider isn’t just about video. It’s a collection of posts that offers a glimpse behind the scenes of Pocketnow – and a brief look into the lives of the people behind it. This new recurring text series offers you the opportunity to get to know our editors better, outside the scope of their work here on the site.
A few weeks ago, we learned the background of mystery man Stephen Schenck. Before that we got to know the many faces of Michael Fisher, the busy and exciting life of Adam Z. Lein, the life story of Managing Editor Anton D. Nagy, our own Joe the Android Guy, and the self-proclaimed “uneventful life” of Taylor Martin.