March 12, 2005

Coming out (of the shadows)

Filed under: General Information — Ryan Wilcox @ 2:20 pm

For the last several years I’ve been doing ghost-programming for the company now called QSA Toolworks, LLC. I wrote code for the company, publicly acknowledged only by my codename, “Helen”. Jared came into the project 6 or so months ago, and was referenced by his codename, “Pike” (although not as publicly… Helen, in retrospect, was a fairly public entity.)

For those of you who aren’t familiar, QSA Toolworks writes Helix, a database management system for the Macintosh. There’s a lot more information at the website than I could ever convey here.

On Friday March 11, 2005, that all changed. The Shroud Of Secrecy was lifted for all engineers, all codenames revealed, and many secrets told.

In the past I’ve been mildly active in the Helix community, putting in my two cents on many topics. Like anything, sometimes I had words of useful wisdom… and sometimes not. I expressed myself because I think it’s important to help people. If I was proven wrong in a conversation (or someone tossed out a better technique for doing something), well, there are people in that community with 3 times the calendar experience, and countless more clock hours, who know a lot more about Helix than I do. Sometimes I was wrong, or showed a sub-optimal technique. I think teaching is an important part of the learning process, so I spoke up, with my learned, nor not so learned, opinions on many matters. Diving deep into the code has given me a much different perspective on the product than everybody else has, and I’ve learnt many thing about how Helix works internally… sometimes that translates into knowledge about how how to design databases with Helix, and sometimes not so much. I am reminded of a founding engineer of the product who got a much different perspective when he went and built an actual database for a client with it.

Yesterday that all changed. As an identified representative of QSA Toolworks, LLC, I have to be a lot more quiet about topics not in my area of expertise. So while I’ll still answer questions on using Helix with AppleEvents or CallHelix, I won’t, in the future, chip in where I’m not an authoritative source on the topic under discussion. There will be certain places where I can’t butt my nose in conversations where I used to be able to, but that’s par for the course, I guess.

Things I said in the past, on many Helix related topics, should not be trusted as being The Word Of The Company. If what I said goes against conventional wisdom, or if I was proven wrong later in the thread, please realize that I might not have known, completely, what I was talking about. Do not take every single character written by me as echos from upon most high, because most of the time they weren’t. You know that disclaimer on many corporate emails, and on DVD commentary? “The Opinions discussed herein are not necessarily the opinions of my employer…”. It’s that, in a nutshell (except I’m not employed by QSA Toolworks, LLC, I’m an external contractor, but you get the drift.)

I am, and have been since the start, delighted to be a part of the Helix Recovery Team. We’re doing good work, and every time I fire up a development copy of an OS X native Helix application my heart jumps for joy. I’m as anxious as our users to get Helix 6.0 in the hands of the general public. Maybe more so.

I may write more on this in the future, I may not. I’d love to write more about Wilcox Development Solutions’ current pride and joy, the Helix Maintenance Manager, although that will probably be in a more official forum.

At any rate, I thought you all should know.

All my love,
Helen

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