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2001 Editor's Desk
View from the Inside Out...
December 2001: "Here comes the sun ...!"
November 2001: "Goodbye, Trellix; Hello, CuteSITE Builder!"
October 2001: "Give peace (and patience) a chance!"
Sept. 2001: "Telling the truth can be dangerous business"
August 2001: "If I only had a brain!"
July 2001: "Well, ya got trouble my friend ... "
June 2001: "For the times they are a-changin'"
May 2001: "These are a few of my favorite things!"
April  2001: "Ah, those were the days my friend!"
March 2001: "Love makes the world go 'round!"
February 2001: "Never give up, never surrender!"

 December 2001: "Here comes the sun ...!"

George Harrison, of Beatle's fame, passed away on Nov 28th, losing his battle to cancer.  He was known as "the quite Beatle".  But it was his view and approach to the world that influenced the other Beatles, in both their music and their lives.  George did not look for fame, fame found him.  After the breakup of the Beatles, he continued to live his life as he thought was right, always moving onward, never looking back.  His family said that he "he left this world ... concious of God, fearless of death, and at peace."

The Christmas season is once again upon us, and many songs echo the words of glad tidings and "peace to men of good will".  And by way of holiday cards, and family newsletters, and parties with friend and co-workers, we use this time of year to tell one another how important or special they are to us.  That's important!

Whatever your own beliefs, if you read the Gospel stories of Jesus, you quickly discover one of his most amazing qualities.  Whenever he encountered another individual, it was as if the whole world stops ... and for a few moments, the two of them are at the very center of the universe.   For me, one of the meanings of Christmas is to remember that each person we meet is special.  And although our lives may never cross again ... it did for that one instance, and perhaps what we say, or don't say, is how the other person will forever remember us.

On Monday I will attend a funeral of close friend of mine. He was my age. He was killed in a plane crash last week. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters. But he leaves behind a legacy that far outweighs even the fame of being a Beatle.  He saw the good in people, he shared openly of his love for God, and he lived his life knowing that he was making the world a better place, day in, and day out.    I'll miss you, good friend!   
Here comes the sun ... and it's alright!
 November 2001: "Goodbye, Trellix; Hello, CuteSITE Builder!"

GlobalSCAPE announced the beta version of CuteSITE Builder 3.0 (CSB) on November 21, 2001 to current Trellix users.  CSB is based on the Publish Anywhere version of Trellix Web 2.7.  This is GlobalSCAPE's first release since obtaining the rights to further support and development of the Trellix Web product in May of this year from Trellix Corporation.

Dan BricklinI was initially attracted to Trellix Corporation two years ago, primarily based on the name recognition of one of Trellix's creators, Dan Bricklin.  Dan is better known as the co-creator of VisiCalc, the first ever spreadsheet program which, by the way, single handedly justified the existence of PC's!  There is a well known story associated with Dan that he never received any royalties from his VisiCalc software, because way back then (1979) it was virtually unheard of to patent software.

Reading Dan's business and travelogues, one quickly gets the idea that Dan is a straight talking guy who thoroughly enjoys the work he does and the people he meets, and does not flaunt his status nor bears any grudges for the lost $$$ of his earlier successes.  Somehow, I hope that's the kind of person I am, or am becoming ... success is knowing you have people you can count on as friends.

GlobalscapeNow we must switch allegiance, so to speak, and begin working with GlobalSCAPE.  Personally speaking, I have had the privilege to communicate with several people at GlobalSCAPE in the recent months, and everyone of them (Brian, Daniel, Juan, Joey) have demonstrated the same character traits as Dan Bricklin --- straight talkers, who enjoy their work and the people they meet.  So, welcome aboard, GlobalSCAPE!
 October 2001: "Give peace (and patience) a chance!"

Wasn't it just yesterday that we were protesting the Vietnam War, and crying out "Make love, not war!"?  One thing for certain, no matter which side you stand on, either then or now, our one desire should always be to make this a better world to live in.

A fellow Trellix user, Jose from Brazil, sent me a personal email last month that really made my day.  In it, he wrote: "... but it shows how much I enjoy your tips and most of all how much I look up to you as a person, to treat everyone equally and use the Internet to make the world a place yet to live and have some fraternity attitudes."

Anyone who thinks that what we do or say in our personal lives or in our work environment does not affect the rest of the world should reconsider such notions.  They say your actions speak volumes about who you are.  Well, the world is listening and watching!

We saw the face of hell on Sept 11th, and each and everyone of us will be forever changed by that encounter.  Far better if we could, instead, be changed by the face of love and peace. I saw that face of love through a simple email from a Trellix user that I will probably never meet face to face!  

We can change the world ... even while building web sites!  John Lennon summed it up appropriately when he sang, "all we are saying ... is give peace a chance."
 Sept. 2001: "Telling the truth can be dangerous business"

A friend asks you if you can take a look at a computer they were just given for free.  They want to know if it's usable.  So, you plug it in and turn it on and discover that it's a 486 processor with Mb memory, Win95, a 500mb hard drive, and no modem.

So what do you tell them?
(a) What a great system! (b) They sure don't make PC's like this anymore! or (c) Who gave this to you, a friend or an enemy?

It's hard balancing tact and truthfulness, especially with friends.  Sometimes telling someone what is obvious means taking a chance with your friendship.  Learning to take risks, however, is crucial at all levels of life.

GlobalSCAPE, for example, is taking a risk in assuming support and future development of the Trellix Web software we all know and love.  What will be the outcome?  We should find out shortly.  

Or take the Trellix Cafe -- one of the forums there invite Trellix users to ask others to look at their site and give them input and feedback. For some, that's a hard thing to do!  But I find that generally, if you ask someone for their truthful feedback, you will get back a response that is a mix of  tact and truthfulness.

One of my favorite movies is "Ishtar" (1987), which starred Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as two would-be songwriters who dream of being the next Simon & Garfunkel.  As songwriters  they are so-o-o bad, and yet no one will tell them, even their agent!

 But they believe in themselves, and continue to write and perform their songs.  And you know what? They're happy!  And they use their love of music to make the world and people around them better.  

Taking risks can be dangerous business ... but if we do it out of love, we stand a fighting chance of improving the world around us!

 August 2001: "If I only had a brain!"

As much as I love working with computers ... there are days I could walk away from every last one of them and never come back!  

You know the routine.  You've just spent several hours working on a system: installing Windows, configuring applications, and tweaking the settings.  You proudly reboot the system one last time to make sure everything is just right!  But, alas, all is not right.  In fact it won't shutdown at all!  And after powering it off and back on, it doesn't boot up ....

Whether its trying to make a new Javascript work, or rebuilding a PC, the number one rule that I have relied on over the years can be summed up as follows: "Strip away the excess and narrow the problem down to its bare elements".   A less wordy version simply says: "Get rid of the glitz so you can find the bug"

You've just downloaded a Javascript code for a fancy drop down menu, and you modified it for 20 selections, changed the colors and change the font.  And, oh by the way, the page you put it on already has four other Build your own Web Gem's!  You publish your site, and the new drop down menu doesn't work.  Now what?

You could try moving the web gem to a page by itself and see if it still fails.  If so, then try it with just one selection instead of 20.  Or take out the coding you added to change color, even though you used it in another script last week, and it seemed to work fine!  If necessary cut it down so that the only thing left on the page is the script itself!

Problem solving with computers, as in life, requires that we use our brains to think though the problem.  But we must also eliminate the distractions, and not get confused with all the 'busy'ness around us.

So many things vie for our attention.  If we let ourselves get distracted, our brains will quickly feel like mush.  And then, it's hard to spot the incorrect period in a line of code, or see that our child or spouse needs 15 minutes of one-on-one time alone with us!

The Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz wanted a brain so that he could "unravel every riddle for any individle in trouble or in pain!".   We've been blessed with brains and talents and a life .... let's make the most of all of them!

 July 2001: "Well, ya got trouble my friend ... "

I had lunch with my daughter the other day, and the topic of our conversation quickly shifted to computers.  After graduating from college (English degree) three years ago, she immediately jumped into full time employment doing web development in the Washington, DC area ... without any real experience or training!  Although I didn't say so, I certainly thought: "Impossible, she won't get a job!"  But she proved me wrong ... go, girl!

While working there, she learned a lot from the ground up ...  Javascripts, Cold Fusion, graphic design, and the like.  She also learned how to deal with customers, and customer's expectations!  Customers demand a lot, especially since they're paying the bills.  It's frustrating when customers think they know more than the "experts" they've hired or contracted to do the job.  "It can't be that hard," they'll state, "surely fixing it won't take you very long!".  Meanwhile all we see is an impossible task ahead of us, and time running out!

At times like that, I think about Professor Harold Hill in one of the best musicals of all times, The Music Man.  "Gentlemen," he tells a group of boys, "I want you to think the Minuet in G. It's called the 'Think System' -- if you can think it, you can play it!"

Here is a man who couldn't read or play a single note, but convinces an entire town (the customer) to pluck down their money to buy band instruments. Even the town piano teacher changes her tune (pun intended).  Why?

Because Professor Hill had that special gift to make people believe in themselves; to believe in the impossible, to try the impossible.

Sure, we will always have problems ("Oh, we've got trouble"),
whether it is with our web site, or in our lives ("right here in River City!").
But its how we face these problems ("it begins with 'P'"),
and deal with these problems ("... and that spells Trouble!"),
that will allow us to measure ourselves against the likes of Professor Hill.  Not a bad measuring stick, in my opinion!
 June 2001: "For the times they are a-changin'"

Bob Dylan celebrated his 60th birthday on May 24th.  For over four decades people have labeled him everything from a poet to a critic, from a songwriter to a rebel.  

In 1963, he wrote these words:

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you is worth savin', then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone:
For the times they are a-changin'

Who would have ever imagined that such an anthem would actually define the last 40 years of our civilization?  We have been literally on the roller coaster ride of our life!

I will be celebrating my 50th birthday on June 5th (now  that's something to write home about!).   Looking back, I'm not sure if parents in the 1960's really believed that their culture could survive the rebellious, hippy, love generation that Bob Dylan wrote about.   Well for those of us who did survive, we are proof that from death comes life, as we did not "sink like a stone."  

The world, though far from perfect and still reeling from the sexual revolution of the 1960's, is still a place "worth savin'", a place to raise children and care for the elderly.  

When Bob Dylan urges us to "start swimmin'", I imagine he knew it would be against the current.  There will always be sacrifices to make in our lives, and battles worth fighting.  Let's choose our battles wisely so we can continue to make this a better world!

P.S.  As I write this, Trellix has announced that GlobalSCAPE (makers of CuteFTP) will be taking over support and distribution of the Trellix Web product.  I'm looking forward to positive improvements to the Trellix Web software.  Indeed, the times they are a-changin!
 May 2001: "These are a few of my favorite things!"

Recently I watched a live for TV performance of "On Golden Pond", starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  What a joy it was to watch these two fine actors together again.  Reality check: it's been 36 years since they thrilled us with the songs and beauty of Austria in the movie, "The Sound of Music".  My two daughters, now grown themselves, would entertain themselves with that movie - watching it over and over and over!  For them, the movie never got old, never got boring.

You know, I have to remember that as I help answer questions from "newbie" Trellix'ers.  Where do I type in my HTML code?   Can I keep people from stealing my pictures?   How do I put an MP3 file on my site?   What may be common place and old hat to me is new, exciting and adventurous for them!

I especially enjoy seeing the web sites created by teenagers.  What a great way for them to express themselves - their thoughts, their interests, and their passions.   I hope and pray that I never lose that excitement in my life.  

There are always new adventures around the corner, for all of us.  And whether we are simply leaving home for college, or leaving our Austrian homeland ... we mustn't forget where we came from, nor those desires within us that make us strive to better ourselves.  To always do right, to make this a better world, to bring joy into someone's life ... these are a few of my favorite things!
 April, 2001: "Ah, those were the days, my friend ..."

When it comes to the computer business, I've been around the block more than once.  My first introduction to computers (circa 1969) occurred while in college, and consisted of punched cards, paper tapes, and waiting all night for a printout that would let me know that I somehow generated 106 errors on a 15 line COBOL program!  

The modus operandi, even then, was to stay up late, work out the problems, and get to class moments before the teacher arrived.  Later on, while working for Burroughs Corporation in the 1980's, the term "4GL"  (4th generation) was the industry buzz word and promised huge gains in the backlog of data processing shops around the world.  But it still required the programmer to spend late nights to work out the problems and meet the deadlines, while being nourished by a six pack of cola and a dozen doughnuts.

Now, here we are in the 21st century, and the application backlogs still exist, and promises of the next generation of software to make our  programming life better continue to be touted daily.  And meanwhile I still find myself staying up past midnight trying to get an MP3 file to play properly through my browser!

Perhaps our lot in life is much like the artist ...  my wife is happiest when she is at the drawing board working on her next painting.  And so, here I am, once again, at my wireless keyboard, working on my 17" color monitor, designing an animated GIF, while fondly recalling those days down in the basement building with the computer gods. Those were the days!
 March, 2001: "Love makes the world go 'round!"

Not too many years ago, pocket calculators were considered new and amazing. Now we have palm size computers, palm size cell phones, and palm size TV's.  IBM even announced they had put the Linux OS on a wrist watch -- which gives a whole new meaning to the term "real time"!

Small and portable ... take it with you wherever you go ... in today's world, we could almost get caught up in the idea that our lives revolve around these electronic marvels.  Well, guess what? Last fall I took a vacation to New England for 10 days, with no computer, no Internet  - and survived!  So, don't fall for it (pun intended).   New England, Oct. 2000

Be sure to take a break from your computer and your web site, and explore the world we live in.  This planet we call home has been spinning around like clockwork for several billion years.   There's a lot we can learn from its history, its trials, and its successes.  In the words of one song, "Love makes the world go 'round", ... not computers, not IPO's, not web sites.  Be sure to take a little time and experience life to the fullest!
 February, 2001: Never give up, never surrender!

This past weekend I was able to help a fellow Trellix'er work through several frustrating issues.  At times we were both ready to throw up our hands and give up.  But then I recalled the line from the recent sci-fi comedy, Galaxy Quest: "Never give up; never surrender!".  

I admit it ... I love a good challenge!  Challenges are one way that we can measure ourselves ... it allows us to measure our character.  How easy do I give up, or get flustered, or get frustrated?  Just as "gold is tested by fire", so we are tested by our challenges.  Don't fear the challenges that life presents. We are to be fearless in the face of life's adversities, so that we can join Commander Taggert (aka Jason Nesmith, Tim Allen) and simply say: "Never give up; never surrender!"