Happy Birthday, Macintosh!

There have been a number of trips down memory lane this week regarding the Macintosh so now you’ll have mine.  If you’ve been living under a rock you may not know that the Macintosh was introduced 30 years ago this week.  It truly changed computing and it certainly changed my course in life.

I entered college in the Fall of 1985 to become an electrical engineer.  While PC’s weren’t unknown at the time they were still expensive enough where they weren’t common.  In the fraternity that I joined, they had two(!) IBM PC’s sitting in the basement ‘computer room’.  We were praised by the national fraternity for having all of our books on Lotus 123.  Looking back how quaint.

As with any fraternity we had our various committees and in the Fall semester of 1986 I ended up being the chairman of the Parents Committee and it was one our charges to send a newsletter out to parents to inform them of all the great things their kids (and money) were doing.  For many years we had people that worked at the newspaper and had access to the Linotype machine where we could print out the text at high resolution, lay it out on boards for printing.  That semester we had no one on staff and I was scrambling to figure it out.

One of the older Brothers worked at the school computer lab.  He mentioned they had these new Macintosh computers and this thing called a LaserWriter printer that was ‘very cool.  He handed me a copy of MS Word and Aldus PageMaker and told me to go figure it out (ah the days before anti-piracy solutions).  I was reluctant but curious and got to play around with the two apps on a Macinoths plus.

I was intrigued and hooked.  I had used quite a few different types of computers, TRS 80, Apple II, IBM PC’s, Atari to name a few but the Mac was something special with its 9 inch black and white monitor and its mouse where you pointed and clicked and dragged things in a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) environment.  It was SO intuitive.  If you didn’t know the exact command you could find it in the menu’s.

My parents newsletter went out with relative ease and our chapter won an award for innovative newsletter.  The following semester I was in charge of the Alumni Committee and we won an award for the newsletter we did then too.  From then on I can’t tell you how many newsletters I did for the fraternity.  Again, looking back on 30 years they’re pretty cheesy but superb for the time.

This was an engineering school so we were predominantly IBM PC’s (this is long before Windows came into play).  Our classes expected us to use PC’s, the software was PC only and I stuck out like a sore thumb.  It was common practice at the time to do all lab reports by hand and to use very expensive chart paper to hand draw lab results and it took many hours to make nice graphs.  I pissed off more than a few classmates off by turning in my lab reports done on a LaserWriter where I used Word, PageMaker and a charting app to chart my data.  The lab TA’s were impressed with my reports despite having crap data and questionable results.  This is when I learned that making it user friendly and looking pretty counts.

The rage of the era was attending Mac User Groups, or MUG’s, where you could meet with like minded Mac geeks and talk about the software you were using, get questions answered, etc.  I started one at school.  I had my own MUG newsletter (for the 30 engineering students that actually liked the Mac).  I hooked up with other MUG’s in the Chicago area and got involved with them and because of that involvement was able to help pay my way through school doing Mac training and graphic design (okay I wasn’t very good at it but I was better than most desktop publishers of the day).

One Fall (I think ’88, or maybe ’89) I went to a MUG conference in Ann Harbor, Michigan.  The keynote speaker was Bill Gates (really!) and he spoke about how well Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint versions 1.0 were doing on the Mac.  His engineers held breakout sessions that lasted ’til the wee hours of the night listening to what Mac users thought needed improving.  I even shook Mr. Gates’ hand when I passed him in the hallway.  Despite having more money at that point than I’ll probably ever have, he was just your average computer geek.  Go figure.

That conference also happens to be the first place I saw my first 1 GB drive.  It was the size of a suitcase and cost a couple of grand.  As we all filed past we kept muttering, “What the hell would you have that needed something that big?”  Remember, operating systems lived on a 1.5 megabyte floppy drives back then.  We were so naive.

At times it’s been a very long 30 years.  I remember the mid to late 90’s.  It was an ugly time to be a Mac user.  Windows was king of the hill and every year there were fewer and fewer of us.  Even though I was using a Windows PC at work I always came home to a Mac where I was writing software for fun.  I used Think Pascal and Metrowerks CodeWarrior.  I had learned Pascal in college but learned C and C++ on my own.  CodeWarrior was a great development environment in my opinion.

When I finally was smart enough to switch careers – okay my soon to be wife told me to find a job I liked before we got married – I found Visual Basic and Access gig.  It was decent and I did learn to appreciate what Microsoft had done in terms of wiping out alternatives and becoming ‘the standard’.  However, DLL hell and compatibility problems were still issues that plagued even 100% Microsoft shops.

I landed a development job working for an exclusive CodeWarrior shop doing very early Mac OS X development work.  They did a lot of fun stuff but they wanted to do some rapid prototyping of an app idea and since I was the new guy in the office they told me to look at this thing called REALbasic.  I did and without too many issues I created a proof of concept for a photo storage and management application – the iTunes for photos if you will.  Sadly for all of us, iPhoto came out just a few months later and killed the project.  But my intrigue for REALbasic remained and I kept working on small projects and when it could do Macintosh AND Windows builds with just a click of checkbox I was sold!  It was the best of both worlds.

One thing that I recall vividly was my reaction when Microsoft was officially convicted of being a monopoly.  I was sure they would NEVER again have 95% marketshare because the only way they got it initially was to do it illegally.  So far history has proven me right.  Of course the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad have had something do with it.

When I started doing REALbasic (now Xojo) consulting 13 years ago few people cared about Mac versions of their apps.  A few years later when the iMac and iPod started to reinvigorate Apple it was a common theme to do a Mac version to keep the boss happy.  Nowadays, nearly all of our consulting clients want a Mac version first and if we can do a Windows version to keep the accountant happy (who is running some accounting app that’s still Windows only) that’s great.

Thirty years is a good chunk of my life.  I can remember life before the Macintosh but working on that first Mac literally changed my outlook on life and put me in a different path.  There are a lot of things about the Mac that made me a rebel, but also set the quality bar high.  I’m still willing to pay more for things that are of better quality from cars, to tools, to hiring contractors that work on my house because I firmly belied that you get what you pay for.

The Mac inspired me for 30 years.  I’m hoping it will for another 30.  Happy birthday, Macintosh!

Prepping for Real World

Real World is less than a week away!  Real World presentation on Intermediate Database Programming:  Done.  Real World presentation on Reporting Tools: Done.  Training Day morning session on Database programming in Real Studio:  Done.  Training Day afternoon session on Polishing your Real Studio applications:  Done.  Dry runs on all presentations with staff:  Done.

Usually this is the time that I start getting really, really nervous.  I start having dreams about flubbing sessions and stammering during every talk.  Instead, I had those dreams two weeks ago just before we did our first runs through the presentations.

I must admit that public speaking is not my idea of fun.  I get up in front of a crowd and it feels like my brain is mush and my mouth is full of cotton.  When I was editing all of my Real Studio training videos I discovered that  I used a lot of filler words (um, ah, so, you know, etc).  So I decided to do something about it.

Early in 2012 I started attending Toastmasters.  If you are not familiar with Toastmasters it’s an international organization whose sole purpose is help make its members become better speakers.  The big goals in Toastmasters are the speeches.  You start with an ice breaker speech and I’ve found it to be the hardest speech.   I’ve been fairly aggressive in my speeches as I’ve done 5 in the past year and been Toastmaster twice (which in our club is a lot like giving a speech).

We meet twice a month and in each meeting there are number of roles that are divvied up among attendees.  There’s a timer, someone to give a word of the day, a joke master, speech evaluators, table topics master, and vote counter (we vote who does the best speech, evaluation, and table topics).  Perhaps one of the best (worst?) roles you get assigned at meetings is the role of Grammarian – the person who counts everyone’s filler words.

Once you get that role in a meeting you can’t help but notice the use of filler words – whenever ANYONE speaks.  Literally I mean everyone.  At times it’s annoying to be so cognizant of their use.  Then you start catching yourself using them.  Made me mad for a while.  Eventually you start using a pause instead of a filler word.  I’ve only been a member for a little over a year but I’ve seen it happen with newbies to the group several times.  I think the goal is to strive to get better each time you speak.

So I’m not nervous about the speaking in public any more.  Okay, I’m not AS nervous.  🙂

Really, about the only things left to do for Real World is put the final changes to our two new products we’ll announce and the major product upgrade for the conference.  And then practice, practice, practice doing demo’s and writing up final notes.

If you are attending Real World you might want to think about attending our Training Day.  It should be a great way to start off an interesting week.  More information at http://www.bkeeney.com/real-studio-training-2013/

If you are attending Real World please make sure you stop me and introduce yourself.  I enjoy hearing from people who have been reading this blog.

See you in Orlando!


Open Letter To RS

Dear Real Software,

Thank you for a wonderful product.  It has served me and my clients well for over a decade now.  I can think of no other product that is as easy to use yet as powerful and flexible as Real Studio.  It really is a great product and I have no problems recommending it to others.

I have been critical of Rapid Release Model in the past and will probably continue to do so in the future.  I feel that in too many cases incomplete features and documentation have been released simply to fit the schedule.  I have advocated for fewer releases or releases that stagger bug fixes and new features because I have been bitten, too often, by needing a bug fix in a new release just to be bitten by a new bug somewhere else in the product.  It’s very frustrating for me and my clients.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, we are experiencing the opposite effect.  You see, you have been telling us for over a year that we need to be testing Cocoa because it’s the future.  We’ve taken this to heart because we don’t care to get caught with our pants down.  In addition you’ve also told us that bugs in Carbon, unless critical, won’t be fixed.  This leaves us between a rock and a hard place for our Macintosh builds because we have projects (for paying clients) that can’t be built using Carbon because of bugs, and we can’t build for Cocoa because of Cocoa specific bugs.

We have similar issues with Web Edition apps.  We have a number of very critical bugs that are affecting our delivery of web apps to our clients.  Sadly, what makes this situation hard to deal with is that those bugs are marked as fixed and are only awaiting a new release.

We all know that the goal is to have the 2012 Release 1 be a 100% Cocoa Mac build.  We also know that it is a completely redesigned IDE.  Both are laudable goals and I can only imagine the complexity of managing both of those projects simultaneously.

Real Studio Release 4 was released the week of December 5, 2011.  The three dot releases fixed some hugely critical bugs but contained just a few changes.  I understand that all hands are on deck to get the new IDE up and running and Cocoa polished.  No one is denying that it’s not a huge job to undertake all that at the same time.  I question, however, if you really have the resources available and the proper planning in place to accomplish these goals in a timely manner without understanding the ramifications to your customers.

It’s now been 120 days since the last major release.  Frankly, I don’t care about the 90 day release cycle but it leaves a foul taste in my mouth when you tell us to use Cocoa because you need more feedback and then stick us with a release that has bugs in both Carbon and Cocoa.  Unfortunately, there is no end in sight as there is no release date set for 2012 Release 1 and, as far as I know, R1 is not in beta testing yet.

This delay is starting to be intolerable.  Your failure to plan and execute this transition properly is starting to cost me.  So far, my clients have been patient.  The really large projects are still on schedule but that’s about to end as Web Edition and Cocoa bugs WILL cause them to stop dead in their tracks.  Do you plan on paying my salary and my employees while we wait on you to release a working and stable version?  I’m certain that my clients won’t be willing to pay for projects that don’t work because of framework bugs.

Here’s my fear:  You’ll release a new IDE with all of the Cocoa and Web Edition fixes but because you’re hurrying it through the testing process (because we’re all bitching for bug fixes) it will not be usable.  If that happens I am doubly screwed since I have zero options.  I can’t go forward and I can’t go back.  I see this as a lose-lose situation for me.

I urge you to reconsider the Cocoa and IDE redesign in the same release.  Let us, your loyal, paying, customers get our bug fixes so that you can continue working on the new IDE.  I realize this change will greatly impact the schedule of the IDE.  I also realize that retrofitting the newer framework into the older IDE is also a LOT of work if not extremely difficult.  However, if going back to an R4 update is faster and more stable than the new R1 IDE then I say do it and I will applaud the decision and defend the decision to the end.

I know this letter probably won’t go over well but I’m looking ahead and getting nervous.  I know you’re working as hard as possible but perhaps it’s time to rethink the strategy and go a different route.  Engineering is about planning and adapting to changes.  There is no shame in doing something different.

I hope I’m wrong and things fall into place.  I’d love to pen a post saying thanks for a great release saying that all of my developers and clients are happy.  I see many things that will make that hard to do.  I am nervous and nervous customers are a bad thing.

Anxious and concerned,

Bob Keeney

BKeeney Software Inc.

ARBP: So Long and Thanks for All The Fish

Volunteer organizations are a difficult thing to get to work.  Recruiting volunteers and getting them to do anything is like herding cats.  It’s a difficult and tiring process, at the best of times, and oftentimes there’s a significant risk of burnout.  Ask any PTA president what it’s like.

Today I am announcing my resignation from the Association of REALbasic Professionals (ARBP).  I was one of the founders and was president until last March.  In the past year I’ve been the treasurer and a Board member.  I am resigning both positions effective immediately.

ARBP started out as a number of blog post exchanges between myself and Norman Palardy.  You can see some of the exchanges in my blog archives here and here.  That happened in December of 2007 and January of 2008.  In 2008 we organized at Real World in Austin, TX and with the help of a very dedicated group of people we got the thing off the ground.

Between 2008 and now, ARBP had 100% turnover in volunteers and board members with the exception of one person (me).  I’ve been the (very) weak glue that’s held everything together.  I was the web admin, blogger, tech support, wrote articles, and much more.  I did pretty much everything at one point or another.

During my tenure ARBP organized two conferences.  The first was in Boulder, Colorado in 2009 and in 2011 we held a much larger conference in Atlanta.  Many people were involved with the organization of those events but as anyone that’s done a conference can tell you there are just a ton of details to work out.  We recorded each conference and they’re still available for paid members at www.arbp.org.  While I feel they were successful conferences I personally did NOT enjoy them because, well, I was running them.  I recorded every session, burned the video to digital format and got them ready for the website (or mailed them for the Boulder conference) – way more work than one should ever do and not get compensated.

This year I celebrated my eleventh year of Real Studio consulting.  It’s been a very rewarding experience and I am so thankful for clients that keep coming back.  I started out, as many do, as a sole developer.  I added a full-time developer in 2007 and I added another one in 2011.  The commitment to keeping everyone busy (and profitable) is my primary job.  To keep both my business and ARBP going meant compromising both and in the long run my business and my family win out.  Doing all that work for ARBP, for free, just doesn’t make any sense for me at this point in my life.

So, for those of you that I’ve talked to over the years, thank you for you kind words of encouragement.  I hope that our efforts have made your transition to Real Studio easier or at least provided another way of learning Real Studio.  I encourage you volunteer for ARBP.  There are ton of things they want to do and they could really use your help.

I’m not leaving the Real Studio community and I’m sure I’ll see you all again.  Until then, thank you.  Happy Coding!

Thoughts On Lego Mindstorms Programming

I’ve had the privilege to be a First Lego League (FLL) coach for the past two years.  It’s a very rewarding experience as I am amazed at the hard work and awesome ideas that these kids put into the research and their presentations.

The FLL competition each year revolves around a main theme.  This year it was called Food Factor and was all about keeping food safe.  The competition has three areas of emphasis, the Research (identifying and providing solutions to problems), Core Values (team participation, enthusiasm, gratious professionalism), and the robot (design and programming).  This is a very brief overview but you get the point.

FLL is for kids 9 to 14 years old and this year my team consisted of 10 kids (double the team size from last year) with two sixth graders, two fifth graders, a fourth grader, and five 3rd graders with seven of the ten being brand new to the program.  The ‘hook’ for most of the kids is the Lego Mindstorms robot and at the table competition challenges are made from Lego’s.  It’s brilliant because what kid doesn’t like playing with Lego’s?

In reality, though, there’s after building the field components there’s not a lot of Lego building.  There’s *some* with the robot but once you build it you really don’t want to mess with it much.  The robot is really about learning how to program and that’s where my big beef comes in.

After having used the Lego Mindstorms graphical programming environment for a couple of years for my First Lego League team I decided that it teaches them little to nothing about programming.  The graphical programming environment seems easy but in reality the kids find it frustrating and once you get past simple programs it quickly gets confusing.  There are ways around these limitations but I feel it in no way teaches the kids about good programming principles.

The IDE uses ‘blocks’ to describe what’s going on.  But, because the display doesn’t show the properties you are constantly having to click on blocks to see what is going on with that block.  So the graphical environment is NOT self documenting.

The left to right programming environment isn’t like most other languages.  I don’t know if this is a spurious argument or not but I find the left-to-right paradigm unsettling.  I spent years doing PLC programming in my electrical engineering days and I found it easy to describe how logic ‘fell through’ to the next level.  This language was used by a lot of plant electricians and a lot were not the ‘programmer type’ if you get my meaning.  All programming languages I’ve used professionally are text based vertical (top to bottom).  I feel the kids are not learning much that’s helpful when they get to a ‘real’ language.

You can add comments to the code which is kind of nice.  But, they are location specific meaning that if I added a comment near the 3rd block from the left and then added two new blocks before the 3rd one the comment is now out of place.  What I’ve found is that the kids won’t use comments.  No one likes documenting their code but because the IDE works against them they learn not to use it.

Variables are almost an afterthought in this development environment.  They are hard enough to use that it’s considered an ‘advanced’ technique?  Really!?  What programming language doesn’t make variables easy?  Another major failing in my opinion.

Now I don’t know what, exactly, I’d do differently, but I’m looking into it.  I’m looking at creating a set of Mindstorms NXT classes using Real Studio.  This might involve creating a base set of classes to allow Real Studio developers to control the robot just like the Mindstorms software.

Besides using standard REALbasic classes (and dot notation) I’d love to create a simplified interface that would be easy for beginners to accomplish some complex things.  I’ve batted the idea around of something like Mac OS X Automator.  It’s pretty linear, self documenting and graphical.  I don’t know how I’d handle loops but it has to be better than what the Mindstorms software is doing.

So I’ve done a little research and it looks like Real Studio can at least *see* the NXT using the MonkeyBread Software USB classes. Does anyone have any experience/insight in this area? I can start from scratch but I’d love to talk to someone that’s a Subject Matter Expert (SME) if I could.

For what it’s worth, there is a very old project that connected to the older RCX but not the newer NXT. Unfortunately, it was written using encrypted modules so it’s not possible to review and update the code for the NXT.

So if you have any experience in this area, please contact me and we’ll collaborate if possible.

Real Studio Developer Nov/Dec 2011

Issue 10.1 of Real Studio Developer came out while I was in Germany last week.  In my regular BKeeney Briefs column I penned an article titled “Telling The Story of An Application – Getting your client to communicate with you”.

I also do an interview with Marc Zeedar about…wait for it…me!  Trust me, you’ll find out more information about me than you ever really wanted.  Imagine my surprise when I went the conference in Germany when people said, “Huh.  The picture in the magazine is a few years old, right?”  Um…thanks?

Also in this issue:  JC Cruz has an article on getting started with the Report Editor in Real Studio.  Marc Zeedar walks us how he used Real Studio to make an app for his iPad.  Paul Lefebvre’s two columns cover Large Database Objects – working with pictures in databases, and Easy Web Services – create a web API.

Check it out.  If nothing else you can use the picture to scare away mice and small children.


The Value Of Conferences

Like many developers I’m not exactly the most outgoing person on the planet.  I guess that would make me a classic introvert.  However, I always get jazzed up when meeting new people at conferences.  It’s always fun and exciting to hear their story.

This week I’m in Frankfurt Germany for the Real Studio Database Days training sessions sponsored by MonkeyBread Software.  Tonight was a get together for drinks and dinner at the Hotel Amadeus before training starts tomorrow bright and early.

The connections you make in these conferences are invaluable.  Already, several people have identified areas that they are having particular problems with in Real Studio.  Maybe I’ll be able to help or, maybe, I’ll be able to reproduce their problem into a small project that I can send to Real Software.  I also have no doubt that I will learn much more than I help others.

It’s been a long day.  More after tomorrow.

Crazy Month

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something.  There’s a reason for that.  First, business is good and all of our developers are busy and will be busy for the winter.  That’s an awesome thing!

My Nigeria trip at the end of September really put some work on hold until I got back.  Thankfully I have some really cool (and patient) clients that are flexible in their schedule and were accommodating to the change in schedule due to travel and as a couple of emergency projects showed up.

Then we sold our house that had been on the market since June.  Then we bought a house (24 hours later).  And then moved out (and in to the new house) less than 2 and a half weeks later.  Even our Real Estate agent (who does 120 homes a year) says that this sequence is fast, fast, fast!  The one positive note is that the movers complimented us by saying we were “really organized” and I’d say so as in less than 48 hours we are about 85% unpacked.

Prospective clients keep showing up and asking for quotes.  There are a LOT of people asking for quotes from us to take their VB6 applications and rewrite them into Real Studio.  Most are scared away by the price (because there are no conversion tools so it’s really a rewrite) but a few have been serious enough to continue the conversation.

It really is a good time to be a Real Studio developer.  Every developer I know is busy and that’s a really good thing.  If you are not part of the Real Software Developer Referral Program you should be as it’s a great way to get leads.  One project and it pays for itself.

I barely have things unpacked from the house move and I’m off to the Real Studio Database Days training in Frankfurt, Germany where I’ll do a short presentation on our ActiveRecord implementation.  I must be crazy.

Steve’s Legacy

Steve Jobs changed my life – literally and figuratively.  It’s been a long journey even though I feel like it’s just getting started.

My first exposure to an Apple computer was my friend Mike.  His parents owned a machining company and were using an Apple II for a bunch of business things.  We used it for games – and my, oh my, what fun those games were.  Of course they’re pitiful compared to todays games but they were outstanding for their time.

Because I couldn’t live and his parents business (though I mightily tried) I found other sources.  Even though I was in high school, I got permission to use the one (!) Apple II at the elementary school (my school was small – it was all one building) where I did my first programming by creating a Dungeons and Dragons character creator using Apple BASIC.

Then I went to college where I was surrounded by DOS machines.  It was an engineering school and these things were everywhere.  When I got drafted to publish a parents newsletter for my fraternity I discovered the two little dinky Macintosh Plus computers in the corner of the computer lab, a LaserWriter printer, and a piece of software called PageMaker.  My love affair with the Macintosh began.

And it continued to grow.  I learned PageMaker, FreeHand, and Persuasion like the back of my hand.  I worked for a company called MacTemps and made good money using those skills and worked my way through college.  While my engineering contemporaries were doing their reports and graphs by hand I was turning them in on laser printed paper.  What took them hours to prepare took me one.

I remember vividly my first Mac Plus and my first Mac SE.  I was passionate about those Mac’s.  I have no doubt my fraternity brothers were bored of me extolling the virtues of using a Mac.  Well, I was right, wasn’t I?

I went to a Mac users group conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan (circa 1988) where I saw my first 1 GB hard drive the size of a suitcase.  We were all wondering how we’d fill up a hard drive that size.  This is also the same conference where I shook Bill Gates’ hand just before he walked on stage to deliver the keynote speech (at a Mac conference remember).  Microsoft wasn’t always the anti-Apple company – MS Word and Excel were pretty slick back in those days.

Since college I’ve owned many Mac’s.  A Mac II LC (the pizza box Mac), probably something from the Performa line, a G3, a G4, a G5, several of the all-in-one iMac’s, a PowerBook laptop, a G3 laptop, a MacBook Pro, and a MacBook Air.  These machines helped convert me from an engineer to a programmer.

In my early consulting days I had a crappy Dell in the corner simply so I could use Visual Basic and Access.  Now days I simply fire up VMWare or Parallels (depending upon computer) and use Vista, Win7, XP or any number of Linux distro’s.

I resisted the iPod, at first, thinking it was a crappy name and Apple wasn’t an electronics company.  But when the iTunes music store showed up it changed my mind and how I bought music.  I now buy more music without ever leaving home.

I had resisted using a cell phone for years but finally gave in when I got married.  My cousin gave me an old HandSpring Palm phone which lasted for years.  When the iPhone came out I willingly jumped in because I figured it had to be better than the Handspring phone.  My oh my, was it ever.  I think we’ve owned every generation of phone since and I don’t leave the house without checking to see if I have keys, wallet and iPhone.

Like the iPod before it, the iPhone changed the way I purchased software.  No longer did I need to go to a store to browse software boxes.  Now, I go to an app, browse the selections, read reviews and then purchase and download it practically instantaneously.  What a game changer.

When the iPad came out there was never any question of getting it.  We were already big iPhone users and to start with several hundred apps without buying anything?  It was a no brainer.  No reason not to get it.  It’s now used daily.  It goes with us on trips (of any type) and like the iPod before it, it’s changed the way I consume books.  I now purchase books without ever going to a brick and mortar store and I read more than I did before.

So this is a big thank you to the man I consider to be the biggest tech visionary of my time.  He started from humble beginnings and created, several times, new markets where others followed.

I could certainly argue that Microsoft would not be the company it is today without the Macintosh influencing how it did Windows.  The music industry resisted online sales until Apple proved they could make money on it.  The entire cell phone industry is undergoing a complete transformation now because of the iPhone.  The tablet market is undergoing a radical shift because of the iPad.

And that’s just Apple.  Steve bought a little company called Pixar that did computer animation.  It had a string of blockbuster movies that weren’t just about the animation it was about telling the story.  Many imitators have followed.

Even before that, when he got pushed out of Apple, he never stopped trying to think outside the box.  He helped found NEXT computer.  It was an awesome computer for it’s time but too expensive and it never took off.  But it was a NEXT Computer that was the first web server.  And it was the NEXT operating system that Apple used to reinvent itself after Steve came back.

Steve Jobs unique.  He was an a**hole to some and inspired intense loyalty to others.  His leadership style was unique and he was a consummate salesman showing us not what we asked for but what we were really looking for.

He died too young.  Or, he died after accomplishing much more than most.  He did ‘insanely great things.’  And we will miss him.

A Van For Joanne

The Real Studio community is a pretty tight-knit one.  Once you’ve been using Real Studio for a while the same names keep popping up over and over again.  So when one of us has a problem (usually in code) many people come to rescue.

We have one long-time member of the community that’s in need of something different, however.  Christian Miller, the owner of Pariahware, has a particularly dire need.  His wife, Joanne, has been in the hospital and in long term nursing care after a series of dramatic health incidents.

It started back in February with several strokes.  In April she had so many they couldn’t track them.  Doctors thought she would not survive and in May the family was preparing for a funeral.  She was unconscious for months.  Through constant faith, and prayer, she woke up from the coma and is slowly recovering.

I’m not much for miracles, but Joanne’s story of recovery remarkable.  She still has a long struggle in front of her.  You can read more about Christian and Joanne at http://pariahware.com/blog/?p=414.

To get her home, they’ll need a van that is wheel chair capable.  Crippling medical costs have made this very difficult so they are asking for our help in donations to get a Van for Joanne.  I urge you to dig deep and donate what you can spare (and maybe a little more).

I would like to think that the RB community can help one of their own.  We’re a small and vibrant community.  If you can’t donate any cash to the project, I’m sure that they will appreciate your prayers and thoughts for a steady and permanent recovery.  You can follow the Donate button below to help out.

Click here to lend your support to: Van For Joanne and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !