Imposter Syndrome

Today I’m going to talk about the Imposter Syndrome.  That feeling that says everyone knows you’re faking it and they’re going to find out, at any minute, that you’re a fraud.  You’ll be cast down into the depths of despair in humiliation because EVERYONE WILL KNOW YOU SUCK!

I’ve experienced this feeling and I’ve had conversations with developers I greatly admire that struggle with this too.  This is both heartening because it means we’re not alone in this despair, but it’s also sad since that means there’s really not a point where you’ve ‘made it.’
Feeling like an imposter doesn’t go away as you gain experience but it’s not as big a deal.  With more experience you know the things you know and have hopefully gained enough knowledge and wisdom to know where to start looking for the things you don’t know.  Still, sometimes, you have to fake it.

Wait, fake it?  Yes.  Sometimes you have to be an imposter.  Let me use a poor analogy to explain it a bit more.

When you start a new video game you just start playing, right?  You know a few rules and as you progress you make mistakes.  You learn from them and at some point you level up.  This comes with a fancy cut scene showing your character victorious over the foe, gaining an object of some value, and gaining experience.  Your character is more wise and capable of doing more things.  You were up for the challenge and overcame the barriers to the next level.LevelUp

Being a consultant and software developer is no different than a video game.  You have to play the game to learn the rules.  The consequences of not learning the rules can be disastrous but hopefully you’ve done your research so those rules don’t kill you (metaphorically speaking, of course).

At some point you level up from time and experience doing consulting and programming projects.  Sadly, there is no amazing cut scene with dramatic music since we rarely, if ever, see the level up process.  It’s shame really because I’d really like to have dramatic music just play from nowhere and obtain some cool device from my endeavors.  But I digress.

For a Xojo consultant, like myself, it’s knowing parts of the framework really well and realizing that I don’t know some parts as well.  I do a ton of small example projects to learn those bits better.  It means creating my own tools to make my daily life easier.  Those tools involve ActiveRecord, and Shorts to name a few.  These were not developed overnight but over the period of a decade.

So the next time you feel the Imposter Syndrome hitting, recognize that it’s a natural part of the process.  You leveled up without noticing and that’s okay.  You can handle it.  It means you’re winning.

XDC 2015 Recap

The Xojo Developers Conference is my favorite week of the year.  It’s where I go to renew friendships, make new ones, talk to potential clients, learn from other Xojo developers, and learn what Xojo is up to.  Along the way there’s usually a surprise or two and this year was no exception.

The first surprise from XDC was that all sessions were recorded.  All attendees will get access to the sessions.  Currently it’s unknown if they will be available to the general public for free, or for a fee.  During the wrap-up session several people gave an impassioned plea to make these available to everyone at no cost.  The argument is that their experience with other conferences showed attendance actually goes up after releasing session recordings.

Not really much of a surprise since they’ve been telling us this for over a year now, but 64 bit builds are coming in 2015 R3.  This is indeed welcome news in a  software world that’s quickly becoming 64 bit.  From what I gather from people way smarter than me (insert joke here) is that 64 bit won’t really change anything in our apps and won’t give us much, if any, enhancements, and will make some things slower.  As Geoff joked at the conference, let’s hope that 128 bit computing doesn’t come any time soon.

Drag and Drop for web applications is coming for R3 as well and I expect this to be a big deal.  There are just some times of applications that do well with a drag and drop environment.  Think graphical editors where you have an object that you select and move by dragging it.  The current web framework has drag events but they should absolutely not be used – ever – since they don’t really work like we expect.  Drag and Drop might very well be my favorite news from XDC.

Raspberry Pi apps built using Xojo.  I think this is a wonderful addition to the product.  Raspberry Pi is a hugely popular processor because of its price and it’s used in a lot of places.  Hobbyists and the DIY crowd really like it and I’ve seen more and more ‘professional’ level projects with them too.  Heck, my sons 3D printer is run by a Raspberry Pi.  The XDC crowd didn’t react much to it when they announced it but as the week went on it came up in conversation more and more.  What a great way to introduce Xojo to new developers!  Really, the only question that’s come up is how much will it cost?  We already know it will be part of the Pro license but what about those that don’t need all the other stuff?

One unexpected surprise was the mention of the long deprecated and removed SpriteSurface and SuperSpriteSurface.  It seems that more than a few people got their start in Xojo/REALbasic developing games using it.  SpriteSurface wasn’t a great class, in my opinion, but it was enough to get started and getting people exposed to the language.  Perhaps we’ll see a Son of SpriteSurface in the future?

One thing that I expected to hear more about but didn’t was Auto Layout.  Norman had a session on it but other than there wasn’t a mention of it anywhere.

This isn’t a surprise because I’ve been many XDC’s now, but the official evening events are usually a lot of fun.  This year there was a mystery dinner theater that most found entertaining but the river cruise to watch the bats come out at dusk was awesome.  What goes on after the official events is even better as clumps of developers go exploring and Austin is a great place for exploring.

I encourage you to go to an XDC.  It’s a very nice event where you’ll learn a lot not only from the sessions but from those attending as well.  No word on where next year’s XDC will be. The cities under consideration:  Seattle, San Antonio, Miami, New Orleans, and I believe San Diego.  If you have a preference, be sure to let Xojo know.

So that’s my recap of XDC 2015.  Did any of the news surprise you?  Anything you expected to hear more about but didn’t?

Nest – The Learning Thermostat

One of the things that has annoyed me for a long time is my thermostat.  For something that is so critical to my creature comfort and is such an obvious energy user it really is a ‘dumb’ device.  Well, that’s not entirely true because while we have a ‘programmable’ thermostat but it isn’t very friendly or easy to use.

It’s very hard to read since, like every thermostat I’ve ever owned, it’s in a dimly lit part of the hallway, it has tiny buttons, and to program it you need to find the tiny  piece of paper covered in tiny script and learn how to program the thing.  Programming is like reading, understanding hieroglyphics and programming in assembler language (my apologies to those that understand both hieroglyphics and assembler!).  There HAS to be a better way.

Enter Nest, the Learning Thermostat from Nest Labs (  It promises to be the iPod of thermostats and save your money by making your thermostat smarter and simpler to use.  So far it’s too early to tell if it will save our household any money (the weather is comfortable without heat or air conditioning this week) it is definitely easier to use because it has a gorgeous interface and anyone familiar with an iPod will certainly be able to figure this thermostat out.

At $249 it seems a little steep but considering all that it does I think that’s a good price.  Considering that a high end programmable thermostat can be roughly $100 it doesn’t seem that expensive, in my opinion.  I’m sure there are plenty of people that would balk at the price but if you can save a little money each year because you can actually use it?  I think it’s worth it.  If you feel differently, please leave a comment.

Our household has been an Apple stronghold for many years.  The initial experience with unpacking the Nest is very much like unpacking an Apple product.  The Nest comes with easy to understand instructions and includes stickers to put on your existing wiring and even a multi-tip screw driver to uninstall and install your new thermostat.  It really is an all inclusive kit.

I found installation to be pretty easy and it took me less than 30 minutes.  The initial power up and setup was easy to understand and follow.  Using the dial interface to connect to my wireless network is a little tedious but since you only have to do it once it’s not so bad (assuming you only have to do it once).

Here is where my story deviates a little.  My Nest came with firmware 1.1.3 installed and while it connected to my wireless network it never was able to connect to the outside world to download updates and get weather updates.  After fiddling around with the Nest and my wireless router (and Airport Extreme) I called Tech Support.

I found the Tech Support people very knowledgeable, and personable, and they definitely knew what they were doing.  Unfortunately I was trying to get this done in amongst other work so my tech support was really over the period of 3 phone calls and in each case the gentlemen I talked to were very helpful and very apologetic for the problems I was having and were obviously keeping notes in my ticket since the last Tech finally hit upon the fact that the firmware was still at version 1.1.3.

The final result was that I had to disconnect my Nest from the mounting and plug it via micro USB into my Mac where it appeared as a regular removable drive.  The technician directed me to a URL to download version 1.2 of the firmware and copy that file to the Nest drive and then plug it back in to the Nest base.

Sadly this didn’t take the first time and the unit never restarted on its own.  I was able to restart it, restore it to factory conditions and do the upgrade process again and it worked.  As soon as I connected to my network it connected to the Nest servers and it even let me know it was connected to my account (the techs had input my serial number) with no work from me!

So now my Nest is working and I can control it via my iPhone or iPad even while I’m on the road!  It has some nice energy tracking functions on it that I hope will pay for itself in the next year or so.  It also has a learning mode that will be interesting to see how well that works.  Currently it’s warm enough so the furnace won’t come on but not hot enough for the AC to come on either.

A few other observations:  The display is gorgeous and easy to figure out.  It has no battery and simply uses the power from the existing wiring which is quite different than any other thermostat I’ve ever owned (with the exception of the most simple ones).

My installation experience was quite good minus the firmware problem.  If you have any sort of physical skills you should be able to do it yourself.  If you are not exceptionally tech savvy getting it connected to your network might be problematic but otherwise it ‘s simple enough.  I have to give the tech support folks kudos as they were very polite throughout the entire process and said that the network settings were often the cause of tech support issues.

Have you had any experience with a Nest Thermostat yet?  What can you share about installation and setup?

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

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 !

Shuttle Program – The End of an Era

Today I side-step the usual business of talking about Real Studio and programming and diverge a bit into science and politics.  Not much, but since today is the last launch of the space shuttle Atlantis it seemed appropriate.

I’m sure many of you are in the same boat that I am.  I can’t remember a time when NASA wasn’t doing something big, something people told them was impossible.  It was, and still is in my opinion, inspiring to many people.  And this just isn’t for Americans, I think this holds true for many people in the world.  They do (and have done) the hard things not because they are hard but because they want to answer important questions that satisfy the human curiosity.

Growing up in the 1970’s I remember the inspiring stories and amazing video footage from NASA.  In the 1980’s I remember the beginning of the Space Shuttle program and I can remember what I was doing and where I was when I heard about the Challenger disaster in 1986.  I was attending an engineering school and I knew classmates that eventually went on to work for NASA.  NASA really defined my generation of technicians, scientists and engineers in my opinion.

So today the end of an era is unfolding and NASA has nothing to replace the shuttle.  To get astronauts into space we have to pay Russia $50 million a seat to get them into space.  It might be a bargain, but it sticks in my craw as an American to have spent so much time, effort, money and the lives of astronauts to just abandon our efforts.

James P Hogan, a science fiction writer (who died just a year ago this week) once wrote a short story (I believe it was for Omni Magazine) where the premise was that the Russian and American space programs were doomed and that the Chinese would become the dominate players in space.  In the compendium that I read years after that short story was published, he argued that NASA was a clear example of the wrong way to run a space program.

His arguments are valid, at least to a certain extent.  The American space program had a number of competing programs in the late 1950’s (under various government and military agencies) and each had their own ideas on the best way to get into space (and stay there).  When NASA was founded, the competing programs went away and because of that they had to settle on ONE way to get into space.  Who knows, maybe one of the competing ways was better than what NASA ended up using.  We’ll never know.

His second argument was that NASA proved, unfortunately, that you literally could throw money at a problem to solve it.  That’s a simplification, of course, but it is true that many pieces of the Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs cost billions of dollars (those are in 1970’s dollars!).  I have no doubt that SOME of that money was wasted but I think of all the stuff that had to be invented first before they could solve the problem.  Engineering isn’t cheap when you have to invent new ways of doing things!

The shuttle program continued to push the boundaries of the technology of the time.  The push for lighter, stronger, more heat resistant materials was a boon for the material science community.  The push for lighter, faster computers can be felt too in todays computers.  But NASA is much more than just about space exploration.  They host a whole range of scientific endeavors – not all of it for space.  It’s not hard to find a list of research discoveries that have made their way into public use

For fiscal year 2010 NASA’s budget was about $18.7 billion dollars.  There’s no argument that that’s a lot of money.  The total cost of the war in Iraq, however, has cost the US taxpayers about $786 billion with another $431 billion for the war in Afghanistan.  Put into perspective, the cost of those two wars could fund NASA, at current levels, for 65 years!

The relatively new Department of Homeland Security budget request for 2011 was $56.3 billion which, according to my calculations, would allow NASA to operate for three years.  I would argue that NASA does more for our country (and the world) than the Department of Homeland Security.  Feel free to argue amongst yourselves if you disagree.

Many people have assumed that private industry will pick up the mantle of space travel.  I’ve heard it argued that NASA restricts private sector growth in space travel because it is the de-facto arbiter of all things space-related in the US.  That might be true but the sad fact is that, with a few notable exceptions, getting into space is prohibitively expensive (for now) and therefore is more or less in realm of governments to handle.

Some things, like space exploration and other science research, require government assistance due to the sheer amounts of money required.  It is my personal belief that being in space and exploring our immediate environment, and doing basic scientific research is well worth the money because it’s an investment in the future.

Sorry for the soapbox.  We now go back to our regularly scheduled programming….

Quiet Recently

Hi Folks, sorry for being so quiet recently.  It’s been a rough month with my mother going into the ER, then ICU, and then into hospice and finally her funeral this week.  She had a long illness but I don’t think you’re ever really prepared for the end.

I was fortunately to be able to spend a considerable amount of time with her this past month.  Despite all of the stress I am thankful for friends, family and even employees that have gone the extra mile in helping me out.  It’s never a good time in ones life but the support was awesome.

I didn’t get nearly as much work as I was hoping to do during this period but it was comforting to know that I could connect to my home computer and get any file that I needed.  Heck, if I wanted to I could have done all of my work ON the home computer from my laptop or even iPad over the internet but the lag time was rather annoying.

But, being able to check and respond to emails, surf the web and do a lot of general stuff on my iPhone and iPad made life a little easier.  The thought of dragging a laptop around with me all the time was tiresome and the iPad was distracting when I needed it to be.  Be nice if someday I could do software development ON the iPad.  I bet that will take less than 5 years for that to happen.  Just guessing but I see no reason why you couldn’t.

Well, that’s that and I hope to be re-inserting myself back into normal life over the next couple of days.  Thank you again for all of your condolences and warm thoughts.

Bob K.

I Do Not Recommend

As many of you know, I switched from a shared host that was I very happy with ( if you care) to a VPS (Virtual Private Server) so that I could run Web Edition apps (without fear of getting booted off for an app that took down an entire server) and get more speed from my website.  After 3 or 4 people were streaming videos the whole site become practically unusable and that’s the big drawback of using a shared web host – your server might have a thousand websites all clamoring for server processor attention at any given time.  So I switched.

I did my research and looked around and got recommendations.  I was settled on one and called and they called back a day later.  That was no good.  I called choice #2 and after a single, disastrous phone call with their tech support I decided to go to choice #3 which was for their VPS package.  I went with them because I called tech support and got a real human being who was very helpful (and answered the question correctly).  So I went with them.

Unfortunately, since then I’ve had horrible tech support.  It took two weeks of tech support to resolve an issue with ordering (yes, just ordering) an SSL certificate.  It’s taken three weeks of going back and forth for them to acknowledge that the mail server wasn’t working right (this is after a very long-time client had emails bounce).  The latest round has taken over week of getting Spam Assassin installed on the server (again some ordering/billing issue) and the damn thing doesn’t even work.  I had one issue early on where the technician actually gave me the wrong instructions and caused my entire domain to be unavailable over a weekend.  So collectively I’ve had a very bad experience.

I should have learned my lesson years ago.  I used MyHosting at one point for my shared hosting.  Again, friendly, very polite people, but their tech support just wasn’t very good and I was spending too much time worrying and fretting over my website.

So I’m on the hunt again for a good, friendly, and useful VPS.  I don’t have the time to muck around with my web server for days on end as I have with MyHosting – I have a business to attend to.  At this point, I’d ideally love for someone to just switch all three of my domains over to their system and just “get ‘er done” if you’ll pardon the colloquialism.

So I’m looking for recommendations.  Don’t recommend one unless you have are absolutely thrilled with them.  Price is always an issue but frankly I just want the damn thing to work and if I do have a problem I want to call and be able to talk to a human being that knows the subject material rather than reading from a script.  The reason I mentioned BlueHost above is that I loved their shared hosting AND their tech support was always helpful – always.  And I used them for five separate websites (and still use them).  Too bad they don’t do VPS.  🙁


What’s Your Real Studio Story?

All of us have a story on how we came to use Real Studio, what we’re doing with it today, and what we plan on using it for in the future.  I thought it would be interesting to get some stories on how I, and others, came to use the product.

For those that don’t know, I didn’t start off as a software developer.  I have a degree in electrical engineering from an engineering school, IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology), in Chicago.  I did take some programming courses (since they were required), but was never into programming.  That might have had something to do with the state of software development at the time since Pascal was the hot language and as engineer we were more concerned with FORTRAN and Assembler.  User Interfaces were pretty bad at the time too.

In school I joined a fraternity and was immediately immersed in the Greek culture.  Our fraternity had a lot of committees and activities that required a fair amount of planning, work and communication.  This led to being placed in the various committees that communicated with parents and alumni, and remember that this was before email and the internet.

As a freshman (IIT allowed freshmen to be Greek), we did all of our newsletters the old fashioned way.  One of our members that worked at the newspaper used the typesetter to create a high res proof, we laid it out, and then we sent it out for printing.  It was a long and rather expensive process.

They did that for years – until the year that I was on the Parents Committee and was in charge of the newsletter.  That year, the upperclassman that had done it was gone and we had no one on the newspaper staff.  Our resource was gone.  After the suitable panic period another upperclassman recommended that I take a look at one of “those” Macintosh computers in the computer lab and take a look at some program called “PageMaker”.

So I did and it was like water to a fish and that started my love affair with the Macintosh.  It won our fraternity some award for newsletter design and it helped pay my way through college as the more I did the better I got at PageMaker, FreeHand, and Persuasion.  I did a ton of work through MacTemps doing miscellaneous stuff and still have friends in the Chicago area because of my Mac work.  And my skills translated into really good looking lab reports that consistently got good grades despite sometimes shaky experimental results.

But, after graduation I entered the engineering work force and was stuck with DOS and eventually Windows.  At home I always had a Mac and was dumbfounded that more people didn’t write software for the Mac because it couldn’t be that hard, right?  So I bought the Inside Mac book series, practically every book written on Mac software development, Think Pascal and then Code Warrior and programmed for fun in Pascal and then C/C++.  During all this time I was the lone Mac user in the engineering wilderness.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I meet my wife, a long-time software developer.  She gives me permission to change careers since during all this time I’m still developing for fun and she’s “hired people with less experience.”  Cool.

At that point I get into Access and Visual Basic programming and really, really enjoy it (despite working in Windows).  Then my son is born and I have the honor to stay home with him.  Literally just a few weeks after I start staying home with him I get contacted by a local company that needs a part-time Code Warrior developer.  Awesome!

Over the next couple of years I do more and more C++ work and one day they call me in for lunch (I was remote worker) and they ask me to do some prototype work for a photo management app they were thinking of developing.  They wanted to do it as quickly as possible so they recommended this product called REALbasic which, at the time was at version 3.5.

I learned REALbasic as quickly as I could and did a quick and dirty prototype for them.  Weeks later though, Apple introduced iPhoto, so my work never went anywhere.  But, it was enough to show me the possibilities of REALbasic.

Over the next year or so I kept using RB for small utilities including one that would eventually become Task Timer.  Task Timer made me money the first week I used it because I was always underestimating the time I spent on my projects.

The CodeWarrior gig ended and I joined the Real Software referral program (still the best way to find Real Studio work, by the way) and started doing REALbasic consulting.  I’ve done that ever since.

REAL Studio (as it’s called now) has come a long way since the version 3.5 days.  It’s gone through a lot of changes.  They now support Windows and Linux in addition to Mac OS X.  Even Mac OS X support has transitioned over the years from Mac Classic and PowerPC support to Universal Binaries and soon Cocoa.

The move to Cocoa has been a long, rough road for Real Software.  I remember sitting through a Cocoa session at one of the REAL World conferences (2007, 2008?) thinking there was no way this was going to fly with the user base because it was simply hackish and way too hard to use.  With the amount of work you had to do to implement Cocoa in your RB app you might as well have learned xCode and Interface Builder.  Thankfully they pulled it and started over.

In 2005 they transitioned from the old code base and User Interface to one that relies upon REALbasic itself.  Some people hated it and some people loved it.  If nothing else, ‘eating their own dog food’ proved to be good in some respects and just as frustrating in others.  At the same time they introduced the Rapid Release Model where every 90 days a new version is released.  The upside is that you can set your calendar to when a new release is going to happen.  Every release brings new features, enhancements, and bug fixes.  The downside is that every 90 days you may discover a critical bug in of those new features, enhancements, or bug fixes.  I know I’ve been bitten by this in the past (as anyone whose read this blog can attest).

Late last year they introduced the Web Edition which was their second attempt at making web applications.  A version codenamed SwordFish was demoed earlier in the decade (2006?) but was never released since Ajax and other web technologies took off about the same time and it was apparent Real Software missed the boat on that one.  Only time will tell if Web Edition is everything they promise it to be.  It’s still very young and has some very annoying limitations as well as difficulties in deployment.

Over the past ten years as a Real Studio consultant I’ve done work in a dozen different industries.  I’ve written accounting, professional athletic training, military strategy, legal utility, movie editors, foreign country election, and credit repair applications and dozens more that I’d have to go look up.  Some of these have been for private use in a single company or individual use, some for Fortune 100 companies, some for entrepreneurs in vertical markets and some for myself.

So that’s where I came from and what I’ve done in the past.  What did you start using Real Studio for?  What version did start with and what do you remember about the ‘old days’?  Was there a transition that was particularly painful to you?