By: J.D. Hildebrand
Abstract: News from J.D. regarding the importance of writing, an informative software review, and the upcoming moderated interview of Borland's David I.
By J.D. Hildebrand
Hello, my friends.
Today is the 281st day of 2001; 84 days remain in the year.
October 8 is the birthday of Frank
Herbert, author of the remarkable Dune
and several of its sequels. Do you remember when you first encountered Dune?
My first encounter was a revelation. As an adolescent, I had the same sense of
lonely destiny as Paul Atreides, the book's central character. I identified so
strongly with his battle to escape his fate. (Though in my case I think it was
American history I was trying to avoid, not a role as messiah and savior of half
the galaxy. Even so, I felt we had so much in common!) Herbert died a few years
ago but the books miraculously keep coming. (The quality has dropped off a bit
since he passed away, in my opinion.) Celebrate Herbert's birthday by dipping
back into the original book. Read just a few pages if you can. I bet you'll find
yourself sucked into it, enthralled again by one of science-fiction's enduring
classics of imagination.
Stine, author of the Goosebumps
books, turns 58 today. Like Dune, Goosebumps has become something
of a franchise. Numerous Web sites proclaim Stine the best-selling author of
children's books in history. I've never read one of his books, but maybe I'll
pick one up in honor of his birthday.
San Francisco's Coit
Tower, a monument to firefighters, was dedicated 68 years ago, on October 8,
was released 30 years ago today, on October 8, 1971. How time flies!
LIVE FROM NEW JERSEY. Maybe you're tired of reading about September
11. I am too. Yet it's tough to stop thinking about it.
I live just eight or nine miles from Manhattan, right across the George
Washington Bridge in northern New Jersey. It occurred to me today that if bad
guys smuggle a small nuke into Manhattan and detonate it to teach us a lesson, I
could be a casualty.
It's an odd thought. Over the years, as I've moved back and forth across
North America in pursuit of one job or another, I've mused from time to time
about my likelihood of surviving a military attack on the U.S. And I've
generally concluded, with varying degrees of satisfaction and relief, that I
lived pretty far from a target. And after all, there are 280 million of us. Most
of us have a better chance of winning the lottery than of being struck down by
And yet -- here I am, right across the Hudson River from the bull's eye. It's
a sobering thought.
A few years ago I happened to pick up one of Kurt
books. In it, one of the characters chooses as his epitaph a sort of report
card on planet Earth, which serves as perfect encouragement to those who carry
on. People think I'm goofy, but I love the epitaph so much I've adopted it as my
own: Everything was beautiful. Nothing hurt. I don't mean to be
morbid...but I've found myself adding those sentences as a postscript to my
e-mail messages these days. Just in case.
There's a stretch of road I drive here a few times a week, and one of the things I love about it is
a slight rise that coincides with a gentle curve. And although I'm in the middle of suburban New
Jersey, surrounded by homes and tree-lined streets and elementary schools and shopping malls,
right there -- right across the Hudson, close enough to touch, practically -- is the skyline
of Manhattan. Since I moved here I've made a little game of trying to forget about the view
so I can be surprised at the sudden sight of skyscrapers looming over maple trees.
Just four weeks ago, returning from a lunch appointment, I took that way. The road
curved and I looked up. And I saw smoke pouring off the crippled buildings.
Now when I drive that route the skyline is different.
It's not that I miss the buildings, exactly. I don't think I could tell you precisely
where they were. I don't really remember how tall they were compared to the surrounding
buildings, whether I could see the two towers distinctly or they overlapped somewhat from
this angle. But I know the view is different and it somehow feels different too.
That's about all the poetry I've got to show for the past few weeks.
I'm meeting a friend for dinner in New York City Thursday night and I'm taking some teenagers
to see their first Broadway play next weekend. I understand I'll pass through checkpoints --
they're searching some cars and they're not allowing single-occupant vehicles onto the
island of Manhattan. What a strange new world.
I spoke with my boss, David Intersimone, today, and we agreed that it's tough
to write under these circumstances. Tough to believe that what we have to say is
sufficiently significant to stand as an answer to these events that have moved
us, scorched us.
The article my brain wants to write is about how programmers helped create
the electronic world, and how we can help heal it. We can write code and Web
apps and help bring the world back to normal. Contribute something toward
reconstruction of the world that existed before we all saw the horrifying
footage of the doomed airplane.
My brain has lost the argument. My heart says there must be something more useful to
say, more meaningful.
And yet...here I am. I write. Life goes on. And by writing, by returning to
work and home priorities and all the trappings of normal life, I reclaim life.
It's a modest victory of sorts.
So. Write if you can. Source code. Documentation. Test plans. Articles for the Community site. (We're especially
interested in Java programming articles these days.) If you can't write anything
else, drop me a line.
AND NOW, BACK TO THE WORLD OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT. There's a pretty
good review of Delphi 6 in the November 2001 issue of Software
Development. I tried to find a Web link for it, only to find that the
November issue isn't online yet.
However, I did encounter Kevin Weeks's thorough
review of DevTrack and ClearQuest from the October issue. So I decided to
bring you a link to it.
Kevin is one of my oldest friends and the former editor of Windows Tech
Journal. He recently accepted a position as editor of Delphi
Informant. I'm hoping we can work together again, a little, since we're
both in the business of bringing great technical material about Delphi to
SPEAKING OF GREAT MATERIAL. David I. has consented to be interviewed
for a future Community article. Rather than come up with my own questions, I've
decided to experiment with a moderated interview. Here's how it works: You send
me questions over the next few days. I'll organize 'em, eliminating duplicates
and coming up with some semilogical order to them. Then I'll submit the
questions to David. He'll answer the questions, and I'll edit the resulting
document into an article.
If you like the format, we can repeat the process with other unsuspecting
Send your David I. questions to me by clicking here.
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