A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1996


At the SCA's Twelfth Night (January) a couple of things happened. Carolyn had written a play the previous year called "Peermalion", based rather loosely on "Pygmalion". It was an SCA morality play (why do people do some of the things that they do in the SCA, what motivates them, good examples, bad examples ...). The Golden Stag Players presented it at this event and got a huge standing ovation. People still talk about this play, which is pretty cool.

At the same event Carolyn became the "Chancellor of Scribes" for the Kingdom (this was her second go around in this position). One of the things she did was to ask me to write a software program (using dBASE) to handle the backlog of thousands of scrolls that the scribes were responsible for creating. This was a fairly hefty undertaking as the database then had to be populated, and updated based on information that was available from the past. It's not as easy as it sounds! It was a task that I jumped into feet first. I also worked on the Scribe's Handbook finishing up what someone else had started, getting it all into the computer, getting a clean master printed so that Carolyn could something out there for the scribes, so they could work on that huge backlog.

Then I got a job offer that was just too hard for me to refuse. It wasn't really an offer, but ... Ken Chan, formerly of TeamB, was working on the dBASE Team at Borland, doing documentation. He told me about an opening in Quality Assurance for dBASE. I applied, and got the job. OH NO! Carolyn and I had been using her father's old truck, which had four cylinders and a manual transmission. Getting to Scotts Valley from El Cerrito meant heavy traffic and going over Highway 17, which goes into the "Santa Cruz Mountains" (sorry, it's the Alaskan in me -- when it comes to Mountains, these aren't big ...). The highway is a tricky one, and so we decided to get a better car for this -- one with an automatic transmission, but with enough power (six cylinder) to handle 17 on a daily basis. We got a used Ford Taurus Wagon (which at the time I'm writing this, we're still using).

I started at Borland and spent two years driving there and back every day (or nearly so). Somewhere in here Tim and Laurie had moved to Santa Cruz, as had Jeff (he was living with Tarik, a friend of Tim's). This was convenient because if traffic was horrid on 17, or if I'd worked late, or whatever, I could crash over at Tim and Laurie's house. The one drawback to working at Borland was that I couldn't be a member of TeamB, but that's the way it worked. Despite what it sounds like once I got past the worst of the traffic, I actually enjoyed the drive. Going to Scotts Valley was a "reverse commute" -- most people were LEAVING Scotts Valley as I was going into it, and vice versa. It meant 17 wasn't as bad that way. If I'd had the "normal" commute there, it would have been hellish.

Shortly after I got hired on to work on the next version of dBASE (Visual dBASE 6.0, 32-bit architecture) the developers came up with an idea for a web-based database software package called IntraBuilder. I was told to learn JavaScript so, away I went. That was kind of fun, but it wasn't dBASE. Well, it was sort of. For the technogeeks -- this software was actually merged with the dBASE source code in C, so that changes made to one affected the other in the core software (which was still the new 32-bit dBASE code). IntraBuilder was the hot product at the Borland conference that year ... at least in theory.

In the two years I drove to Scotts Valley for work I got hit twice, once per year. That was annoying. The first was by a guy who fell asleep at the wheel in his pickup truck, hit the guy behind me, who then hit me. The second one was a straight hit, but it hurt my back a bit. Luckily we had insurance ... In both cases the car had to spend some time in the shop.


In the SCA there was a Thirty-Year celebration held in Texas. We didn't attend, because it was long, and we needed our vacation time. I thought I'd mention it to show that the SCA was still trundling along. Carolyn and I were still attending events, and still doing those things we did, including the Golden Stag Players.

The Borland Conference came and went, I went as a speaker, but I had to share a room with someone else from the company. I'd gotten spoiled at previous conferences, as speakers who weren't employees got their own rooms.

On the plus side, this conference was in Anaheim, and therefore the big party of the conference was a free evening at Disneyland. Not that big a deal since Carolyn and I usually went every year (although not this year), except that the Indiana Jones ride was brand spanking new. Unfortunately we didn't get the deal that we had when the conference was in Orlando where we had the park to ourselves. But, it was still fun, but exhausting.

The TeamB conference in Scotts Valley happened. I was no longer on TeamB, so while they were in town I came and visited, but I wasn't part of the whole TeamB conference thing. It was sort of a letdown, since in a way I was largely responsible for the makeup of the dBASE Team. dBASE wasn't being supported much by the head-honchos at Borland, which was depressing, but the community was still out there. dBASE had been around almost from the beginning of the PC industry, and it wasn't dead yet, as much as Microsoft and some others wished it might be. Some folk were still pushing hard, including Alan Katz, to keep the software alive.

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