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GirlGeek of the Week
January 2000

Tara Bilash

I went to a high school that had great funding for its Computer Science department and almost everyone in the class had their own Apple IIEs to themselves. Computer Science was definitely my favorite (and best) subject. I wrote some great text based adventure games with the beloved Turbo BASIC.

During high school, my family bought a Tandy computer so that my sister and I could type up reports, letters, etc. The first game we ever bought for the computer was Kings Quest 1. I remember how enthralled I was with the AWESOME graphics! (We've come a long way since those little block people and buildings haven't we?) I played nearly every Sierra game that was released after KQ1. Roberta Williams became my idol! Not only did her company create this magnificent empire of games that totally captured my imagination, the most important thing that influenced me was that she was a woman!

Ultimately, games are what got me hooked on computers when I was little. A friend got a Commodore 64 and we spent days playing Frogger and trying to "cook with it and clean with it, and educate the team with it," like the commercial said it would. (Never did manage to get it to do any of those...)

I spent nearly all my evenings and weekends on the computer till 5 a.m. playing with graphics, games, writing programs and just exploring. Being on a computer that much, one definitely picks up things, AND, other people find out that one has "picked up things" and that ONE unknowingly, but graciously, becomes a computer support person to their friends and family. With computers and art being my best subjects in high school, I went on to a four year career as a desktop publisher during which I had the opportunity to use the latest Macintosh & PC hardware/software.

When did you first discover your love and/or obsession with computers and technology?

One morning, back in 1982, my 4th grade teacher announced, "Class, I have a special surprise for you." The school janitor rolled a big portable desk with a big TV-like thing on it to the back of our classroom. After plugging it in the teacher asked all of us to gather around and she showed us how to use the big TV-like thing. "This is a computer," she said, "everyone say, 'COM-PU-TER". It was a big ol' (but of course at that time, NEW) Apple computer with the most wonderful, green, monochrome monitor.

Every class in the school got the computer once a week for either a morning or an afternoon and if you had finished all your assignments, you could go on the computer and play a couple of math or spelling games. Amazingly, *wink wink*, I was usually the first person to finish my assignments, therefore, the first to use the computer! I fell in love with it right away. Once, I got really brave and hit "X" to exit the games menu (we were told NEVER hit X) and explored my options at the DOS prompt. I didn't get very far but I knew I wanted to learn everything I could to see what else this big TV-like thing with a little apple on it could do

How do you earn a living?

To support my obsession with computers, hockey and Xena: Warrior Princess (oh yeah, and for food and a roof over my head) I am presently an office manager and the "unofficial" computer technical support for a contracting office in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Do you consider yourself a Geek?

Definitely! "Tara" is actually "Geek" encrypted.

What is your favorite Website?

Besides (which I worship!), my faves are: (LaLa's Xena: Warrior Princess Episode Reviews) (Heya Netgyrl!), (the Australian Xena Information Page) and SLAM! which keeps me up-to-date on what's happening in the new, professional Women's National Hockey League (HOORAYYY!) here in Canada...

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend a lot of time on the computer surfing, writing and creating. My friends will tell you that I don't work and actually watch Xena 24 hours a day, but that's simply not true. Yes, I am the biggest Xena fan in the universe, but besides Xena and computers, my other obsession is hockey. I've been a goaltender for 13 years and play in the local Senior Women's hockey league. I am also an Assistant Coach for both an Atom Girls Team (age 9/10) and a Midget B Girls Team (age 15/17). I'm a pretty busy person, but I ALWAYS make time at the end of the day to spend with my beloved GirlGeeks!


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