About the Ninja
Growing up with computers
Hi, I’m Joshin Yamada and I’ve had a lifelong love of computers. I feel very fortunate that my father was an electronics enthusiast and he bought our family an Atari 800 computer back in 1979. It’s been an incredible experience to watch the evolution of computers from the earliest machines with 16 KB of ram to modern computers with 16 GB (16,000,000 KB) of ram. I feel that gives me a strong appreciation for what you can do with computers now.
My experiences with the Mac started in 1985 when I visited a friend whose mother had just bought one of the first Macs and I was absolutely transfixed by the crisp black and white graphics as well as the incredible precision of the mouse. I immediately started playing with a graphic design project.
History of consulting
During my college years I got to play off of those early graphic design experiences as I started working at the college newspaper. I was able to learn to use powerful applications like Photoshop, Pagemaker, QuarkXpress, and Illustrator. The newspaper was powered by a network of Macs and I was able to learn about networking principles. I started becoming the go-to fixit person when computer problems would arise during production deadlines at the newspaper.
Having moved from the Chicagoland area to Oregon, I found myself more and more often performing tech support calls over long distance calls to help my parents. My father, who was also an avid photographer, grew interested in digital photography. I was thus able to start teaching him how to use Photoshop to enhance his photography. That time spent working over the phone really taught me try to envision what the client was seeing and what their thought processes were, and I believe it deepened my empathy for computer problem solving. I later went to massage school and it reinforced my belief that it is incredibly easy to fall into the trap of trying to assist people by doing things the way you want, and not by listening to them. That is usually not the optimum way for the client to take in any help.
Why do I call myself the ninja?
MacNinja was not an appellation that I appointed to myself, and it is not one that I would have invented as I am well aware that I am not the athletic type and Ninjas were highly skilled and trained assassins and spies.
I had friends who started calling me that after I was able to help them with their computer problems. It was partially a reference to my Japanese heritage. I was fortunate to spend most of my summers as a child in Japan. Though at times I felt socially isolated because I could not speak Japanese, it taught me a lost about self-reliance. It was during those long, quiet summers that I began to read more and also to start assembling plastic models.