While it would have been more interesting to uncover the real Roberto Solis, a fugitive and veteran of the FBI’s most wanted list, we ended up chatting with a computer engineer working for a local trading firm. The Roberto Solis we met is a FiberOne diner, tech fanatic, and north suburb resident – unlikely characteristics of a mastermind criminal.
Roberto shares his favorite places in Chicago…
Things you like in your neighborhood: Old Orchard Mall, North Branch bike trail to the Botanical Gardens, Skokie Public Library, free parking and no potholes.
Sports/hobbies:Volleyball, Golf, Tennis
Living in Skokie is like a mashup of urban and suburban living. That is why I get to alternate between supporting the city’s independent business owners and the suburban franchise behemoths. And I live close enough to the city that I can pretty much hang out late in the city while still getting back to bed at home in a few minutes.
F: Favorite place to play golf in or around Chicago?
R: City courses like the ones at Waveland and South Shore have the awesome lakefront views but they are poorly managed. The grass is usually in terrible shape and you waste a lot of time waiting for the groups in front of you to tee off before it’s your turn. I like the suburban courses. Northbrook has a nice one called Willlowhill. Glenview has a nice one called Glenview National 9. From my balcony, I can see Skokie’s Weber Park golf course which is nice for a very quick and easy round of golf.
F: Best place to eat Filipino food?
R: None that I know of. If someone knows of an upscale Filipino restaurant, let me know! There used to be a restaurant in Wicker Park called Rambutan which served Filipino cuisine tapas-style. Alas, it’s been closed for years.
F: Favorite bike trail?
R: In the burbs, I like the Green Bay Bike Trail which starts in Wilmette and runs alongside the Metra train tracks through the North Shore suburbs. I’ve never ridden the whole way but I think it goes all the way to Kenosha. In Chicago, I prefer streets like Clark and Lincoln. Much more interesting than any bike trail, lakefront bike trail included.
So, you’re not the Roberto Solis we thought you were…
F: You are a techie guy working for a trading firm out in Chicago. How’d you get started in technology?
It all started in high school. My dad got me a computer. I got myself a modem and had fantasies of hacking into my school’s computer system and changing my grades. That never happened. Instead, I unwittingly logged into a Department of Defense computer and nearly started a nuclear war between us and the Soviets. Luckily, I was able to convince the computer to play tic-tac-toe and, thus, the machine learned that sometimes winning means not playing. Apocalypse averted!
F: Why are you on the FBI’s most wanted list? Can you fly on planes and not get sent to the back room?
Flashback to 1992…one last job. $3 million cool ones and I get to retire to my little hacienda on the Costa del Sol (aka Skokie). My partner? Heather Tallchief. We rob an armored car and now I’m on the “list”. I never have trouble at the airport. Who’d ever think that someone on the lam would travel without changing their name? Homeland Security certainly doesn’t.
F: What are your thoughts on Twitter? Do you think the world will move to conversing in under 140 characters?
I’m nowhere near as hardcore on Twitter as some of my friends. I mostly use it to update my Facebook status by cellphone. But… I did hear a story about how this American tourist in Egypt was thrown in jail. Before he gave up his cell, he twitted for help and within hours, the American embassy was on his side helping him out of the clink. Maybe someday, and I hope that day never comes, I might need to tweet for assistance.
When you think about it, most verbal communication takes place in under 140 characters. And when someone starts rambling beyond 140 characters, doesn’t someone usually interrupt? For the longest time, our non-verbals consisted of letter-writing on paper. Now that cellphones and instant messengers allow rapid feedback and interruptions, it’s not surprising that our nonverbal communication style is mimicking our verbal.
F: If you could create your own version of the internet, what would it look like?
Some key features: Wireless connectivity everywhere – say no to hotspots and cable clutter; fast – we’re only going cram more data (HD video, yo!) into those internet pipes; only legit websites allowed – no phishing attacks; no spam – Only real email gets in my inbox; free – Well, you did say “my version of the internet”.
F: Worst thing technology has done to you?
I think technology has degraded my social etiquette. Like for example, when I pick up my friends, I never knock on doors or ring doorbells anymore. I call from my cell and tell them I’m outside. Or, instead of calling people on their birthdays or sending them a birthday card, I’ll just post a happy birthday on their facebook wall. Yeah yeah…. I know…
F: Mac or PC?
I have both but if I was to choose between the two, I’d have to say PC. Though their user interfaces and aesthetic designs are great, Apple doesn’t have a strong hardware reliability record. I always purchase the extended warranties for any Apple product I get and I’m always glad I did. My ipod had to be replaced 4 times in one year. My macbook had it’s motherboard replaced after 2 years. I’m pretty finicky about what gets installed on my PC so I rarely have problems.
F: Favorite websites?