John Kaster

Behind the Screen

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

What’s the staying power of your code?

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I just reconnected with an old friend (he called us both dinosaurs, but we’re not that old!) on LinkedIn. Brian has been in business so long his company actually has a three-letter domain name, cus.com. CUS Business Systems does auction software and consulting, and many years ago I wrote some utility functions for him.

Part of his reconnection email to me said “We’re still writing software for auctioneers, and still using those rtf routines you wrote for me 20 +/- years ago…”

Naturally, I was amazed and impressed by the “staying power” of code I wrote more than 20 years ago, still being used in production. (This is for a Clipper application, by the way.)

So, this prompted me to ask both of my readers:

  • What’s the oldest code you have that’s still in production use?
  • What language is it written in?
  • What is it used for?
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Written by John Kaster

January 19, 2011 at 5:35 am

Posted in IT Industry, Personal

Moving on

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On December 27th, 2010 I will leave Embarcadero to pursue a great opportunity for myself. Please don’t view this as a sign that I think Delphi, InterBase or any other of the Embarcadero products is in trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Delphi XE is my favorite version of Delphi, ever. I have even gone so far as to call it “my” release. It has features in it (particularly some of the new DataSnap features) I’ve been wanting since Delphi 5. Really! It has great quality and performance, and I really enjoy working with it every day. Furthermore, the next release looks like it could be the most exciting release since Delphi was first launched in 1995.

Having said this, you’re now probably wondering why I’d be leaving Embarcadero if I feel that way about Delphi and its future. That’s a fair question. I hope you give me a fair chance to answer it, by reading this post to learn why I joined the Delphi team, and why I’m now leaving.

When I graduated from college in 1985, I sent my resume to Borland, because I wanted to work for the company that made Turbo Pascal. I never received a reply. I had already started building things in Turbo Pascal for my own use before I even left college, and these tools rapidly grew into popular public domain, shareware, and commercial products, which I sold and supported. Even while working as an employee of other companies, I kept building software development tools on the side, based on my own needs. 

After a couple years of working as a PC expert, consultant, and systems analyst for lots of major organizations in the Washington, DC area, I went out completely on my own.

In 1997 (12 years after sending my resume to Borland), while deeply engrossed in running my own very enjoyable and successful one-man product development and consulting firm, I got a call from a  head hunter that ended up changing the direction of my career for more than a decade. Based on the deliberately vague description he gave me of the position he was trying to fill, I knew the job involved working on the Delphi team.

I love using Delphi even more than I liked Turbo Pascal, and I thought it would be great to be a part of the team building the product. The thought of personally contributing to its success, and helping shape the product as one of its Product Managers was very appealing to me.

On the other hand, I had my own customers, whom I liked, and my own products, which I really liked, and I was making really good money from the combination of software consulting and product sales.

I was really tempted by the offer, but I was having a hard time deciding which direction to go.

So, I discussed the idea of putting my own business on hold with one of my best friends, Ali Davachi. At a Clipper conference back in 1990, I’d met Ali when he bought two copies of one of my products (TechWriter) with great panache. In the following years, we worked together on some projects, and I have great respect for both his business acumen and technical skills. We also have a fabulous time working together.

Ali said he thought it would be a great idea for me to work for Borland for 2 or 3 years, to get some experience working as a Product Manager on a major product I loved, from an industry-leading software company.

So, I accepted a huge pay cut to “get in the door” at Borland as a Product Manager. I started working as the Enterprise and Distributed Computing Product Manager on November 3, 1997. I was responsible for everything related to database connectivity, and anything to do with DCOM, CORBA, or any other distributed technology. This included the BDE, MIDAS (now DataSnap), and a variety of other “connectivity” technology that has come and gone.

After working in that role for about 1.5 years, I went to work for David Intersimone (David I) in Developer Relations. I became an “evangelist”, traveling all around the world, launching new versions of our products. Together with David and Charlie Calvert, I also launched what is now called EDN in 1999. Ever since then, I have managed, built, and maintained services for EDN, even while traveling.

When Embarcadero acquired CodeGear, I officially became the EDN Program Manager, which is basically what I’d already been doing for over 10 years. This is still my primary responsibility at Embarcadero. I still get to use Delphi to develop services for EDN, and I am constantly in conversations with the Delphi, RadPHP, and InterBase teams about their products, how they are used for EDN, and what I’d like to see in future releases.

A few months ago, my friend Ali contacted me. He told me he was accepting a position as CTO at a great new company called Transactis, and he thought it was the opportunity we’d both been waiting for: to work together again on great technology and services for our customers. In short, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. On January 3rd, 2011, I start working for Transactis as their Senior Vice President of Development, reporting to the CTO (Ali).

I will miss the people I work with at Embarcadero, the products I use, and the EDN services with which I’ve worked for so long. It’s very hard to leave, particularly because the projects never stop. But for me personally, this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.

Delphi will be just fine with me gone. EDN will be just fine, too.  As I pointed out in a previous post, many, many people have worked on EDN over the years. Many more have worked on Delphi over the years. Even more people will work on Delphi and EDN in the future.

I’m just one person, who stayed on the team 5 times longer than I originally planned, helping support Delphi. You don’t owe me any favors, but I’ll ask one anyway: if you share my love of Delphi, don’t worry about my departure, and don’t let others make it into some huge disaster for the future of Delphi. My departure has nothing to do with how I feel about Delphi, C++Builder, RadPHP, InterBase, or any other Embarcadero product. Even though I’ll no longer be “on the team,” I’m still a huge supporter of the Embarcadero products. I still plan to use them whenever I can in my future work.

In fact, Transactis will be buying some Embarcadero products in the very near future, so Embarcadero has just gained yet another customer! Smile

Keep the faith, and I’ll see you around.

Written by John Kaster

December 16, 2010 at 2:05 am

Farewell, Robert Marquardt

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I just learned that Robert Marquardt passed away on December 29th, 2007. Many people in the Delphi community will recognize his name. He was a generous and long-time contributor to the Delphi community, and a member of Project JEDI.

Farewell, Robert, and thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Written by John Kaster

January 1, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Personal

A word about blogging

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All this sound and fury about blogging and its extreme hype as the hottest fad on the Internet has prompted me to coin a new phrase: blogillation.

Here’s the definition: blogillation is preferring to spend time reading, searching, writing, and commenting on blog entries rather than doing just about anything else on your computer.

For the record, at the same time I also coined another word for blogging about your own blogs, but since this is a blog server hosted by my company (and I’m the admin for it) I will leave that actual word to your imagination 😉

Written by John Kaster

June 18, 2004 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Personal