Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Embarrassment of (Reviewer) Riches

I just had a flashback. When the weekly "hey, hey, hey!" from CNET popped up in my email, I opened it to a bunch of headlines about "Sidekick."

My mind immediately rebooted to the days of DOS! "How can you lose data with Sidekick? Sidekick can't hurt anything!" flashed through my mind for nearly a millisecond before I noted that they were talking about T-Mobile and not Borland.

This happens whenever I see "Sidekick." It's pure Reflex (if you'll pardon the pun. Those of you who weren't around before Windows won't remember Reflex, a pioneering flat-file database cum spreadsheet that had everyone going nuts. Great program.) When DOS was king, I was working hard to find all sorts of ways to get more out of the apps. Sidekick was one, a key-combo pop-up notepad, alarm, etc., etc., a TSR that didn't enrage other programs and make your system crash. Both Sidekick and Reflex were products of Borland.

I liked Borland. Without exception, they sent me a minimum of two copies of every program (and new version thereof) they brought out--and this was before I wrote a book with Jerry Pournelle (his only computer book, btw).

I suppose they thought I had two computers, which I did after a time because more than one PC clone maker sent me two machines with the paperwork to return only one. Just as Intel did when they came out with their first hand-scanners. (Greyscale, 4 inches wide, with clever software.) And you couldn't return the review hardware without the paperwork.

It was truly and embarrassment of riches--and fun! The only outfit that was really serious about getting all their equipment back was Apple. The agreement I signed with them must have been intimidating, because I made sure I got their Mac IIci back to them with time to spare before the deadline.

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