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What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?
At one point, Make It Work technicians were ubiquitous as they cruised to jobs around Santa Barbara in their bright red Mini Coopers. On June 25, however, company founder and CEO Eric Greenspan called it quits after 11 years, citing declining revenue and vanishing customers.
“I don’t regret anything because it was quite a ride, but I’m sorry for the people who got hurt by it (the closing), including my employees, customers, shareholders and my family,” Greenspan told Noozhawk staff writer Alex Kacik, who learned of Make It Work’s death the night before.
Launched in 2001, the computer support company dispatched technicians to homes and small businesses to, in Greenspan’s words, fix “anything that hums, beeps or clicks, from computers to iPods to home theaters.” Although Make It Work started strong, it hid the skids in 2008 and couldn’t get out of the ditch that is the U.S. economy.
Is there a future for home-based computer repair services? TechEase co-founder Evan Asher is dubious. His company has focused on small businesses because of better margins and more demand.
“If I was confident in the residential-based business, we would’ve taken the company in a different direction,” said Asher, who added that TechEase will honor Make It Work customers’ prepaid hourly packages.
Hallie Avolio, sales and marketing director of Latitude 34˚ Technologies, noted the computer industry is changing with more affordable equipment.
“A lot of it depends on the cost of the equipment,” she said. “If the cost of a computer comes down and it’s much more commoditized where you can go to Costco to buy a cheap machine with a year warranty, then maybe these types of companies aren’t that necessary for home machines.”
With the demise, 34 Make It Work employees are out of jobs and the Mini Coopers will be repossessed.
Noozhawk intern Kelly Nakashima ventured into “Fantasy” land for Santa Barbara’s 38th annual Summer Solstice Parade on June 23. As usual, the free-spirited revelry was a cacophony of vibrant colors and outlandish costumes — or near-costumes — to the delight of more than 100,000 spectators lining State Street.
Under the direction of Summer Solstice executive director Claudia Bratton, the spectacle has become an increasingly important tourist attraction for the South Coast and is now a three-day festival. If you haven’t had the chance to experience it for yourself, mark your calendars for June 22, 2013.
» Click here for a slide show of Solstice Parade pictures from Noozhawk photographers and readers.
» Click here for a Flickr slide show from Noozhawk reader Tom Lucy.
Martinez, 64, of Santa Barbara, had gone missing June 25 while diving with two friends in 25 feet of water off the island’s north end. A U.S. Coast Guard crew found his body on the beach the next day. Authorities said there was no sign of foul play but Martinez’s weight belt and other diving gear were located on the ocean floor, adding to the mysterious circumstances of the experienced urchin diver’s death.
Even while they mourned Martinez’s passing, however, friends quickly began contacting Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper to share stories of his exploits.
“He was one of the most experienced, if not the most experienced, urchin divers in California,” said longtime friend Alan Hopkinson. “His knowledge of the waters in the Santa Barbara Channel and the location of urchin ‘shoals’ was legendary. His personal catch was almost always the largest.”
Tom Bortolazzo, who had been one of Martinez’s closest friends since the 1970s, recalled diving with him for scallops and fresh fish to use in savory paellas, a Martinez specialty. Both Bortolazzo and Hopkinson recalled with fondness Martinez’s passion for paellas, which he cooked in an enormous 6-foot pan.
Bortolazzo said Martinez, a graduate engineer from Madrid, visited the United States in the mid-1970s and happened to be the only witness to a catastrophic car wreck. He was asked to stay and testify in the criminal trial and, while waiting, taught himself English from the subtitles on daytime soap operas, Bortolazzo said with a laugh.
“He led a very colorful life,” he said. “He always lived life dangerously, and I think that was his appeal to people.”
Martinez is survived by his wife, Gloria, and several children and stepchildren. A gathering of his family and friends will be held at Leadbetter Beach at 2 p.m. July 1. Paella will be served.
The afternoon hustle and bustle along Milpas Street came to a screeching halt June 27 after a report that a woman with a gun had barricaded herself in an apartment with her children. As the Santa Barbara Police Department’s SWAT team descended on the area, sealing off the block between Mason and Yanonali streets, scores of spectators gathered to watch and wait.
After a four-hour standoff and the report of a fire, police forced their way into the apartment only to find it empty except for two small dogs and food burning on the stove.
The 25-year-old woman and her children were located a day later and police were interviewing her to find out what was going on and, presumably, how three people had left the apartment without being noticed. Police Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman, said the case will be forwarded to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.
Santa Barbara’s Mesa and Westside neighborhoods have experienced a rash of recent residential burglaries, and police have been urging increased vigilance and basic precautions even as they step up their response.
Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli talked to one Mesa family victimized by a brazen break-in one recent morning. Entering through an unlocked back door, thieves were able to grab $20,000 worth of jewelry before running off with the security system’s alarm ringing in their ears.
“The alarm went off the second they entered the house, but they still had time to run upstairs, get what they wanted and get out before the cops got there,” the homeowner said.
Amazingly, police recovered most of the goods when a suspect tried to sell them, but police say that’s not a typical outcome for property crimes. Police Sgt. Riley Harwood, a department spokesman, advised residents not to leave their doors and windows unlocked or open and to report suspicious strangers or activity.
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Noozhawk is excited to be a sponsor of this year’s 70th Annual Man & Woman of the Year awards, which will be revealed at a dinner celebration Oct. 11 at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara.
It’s a privilege for us to be asked by the Santa Barbara Foundation to join KEYT and KDB 93.7 Classic Radio in promoting the prestigious awards, which highlight the community’s spirit of volunteerism. You’ll be seeing more about the program on Noozhawk in the next two months.
In the meantime, the Santa Barbara Foundation is now accepting nominations for Man and Woman of the year. Click here for more information or to make a nomination.
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