Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stepping Out of the Balloon

Many many years ago, I returned from an LDS Mission in the lovely country of Norway. It was Christmas of 1991. I took a job at what was then Siemens Nuclear Power. In the months that followed, I was introduced to this novel computer programming language called Smalltalk. I took to it, and I like to think it took to me. For the last twenty years, I've done quite a few things with it. From writing nuclear fuel design and assembly software (which are still running today) to making sure that the french fries, green beans, and much of the rest of the world's food is a little cleaner and better. From numeric modeling to implementing frivolous things like roman numeral message selectors and goto. And quite a bit of toolsmithing. To say it's "served me well" is an understatement.

The wonderful world of Smalltalk technology and philosophy, wouldn't have been as enriching for me, if not for the wonderful community of people I have rubbed shoulders with over the years. I remember my first post via bitdearn to comp.lang.smalltalk back in 1994. Meeting people at conferences such as OOPSLA, ESUG, STIC, and others. I have made a ton of friends and come to admire the work and enthusiasm of so many people.

Working at Cincom, the "original" commercial Smalltalk vendor, has always been a sort of pinnacle in my Smalltalk pilgrimage. A chance to be at a hub of where Smalltalk was happening at.

But all journeys must come to an end. And the time for this journey, for me, for now, has come to an end. On June 4th, I will begin work at Nelson Irrigation, doing embedded automation work, sprinkled (that's a pun) with a variety of end user application work. I am super excited. It's a neat project, a neat company, and an indescribably neat culture.

But it means I'll be dropping out of that central involvement in the Smalltalk community. I may still do some Smalltalking for sure, and the ethos that is Smalltalk will permeate all the work I do, but it's unlikely I'll show up at a Smalltalk conference in the near future or be active in the mailing lists as a heavy contributor.

And so it's in some ways, a probable good bye for me. And that makes me sad. And yet happy, because it's better to feel sad about what I'm losing with the community, than thrilled to be shot of it all.

I also want to point out something my departure from Cincom does NOT mean. There have been some others prominent names that have left Cincom recently, and one might assume there was a sinking ship meme going on. Such is simply not the case with me. The timing of this opportunity to learn and be involved in some new and different things, was out of my hands. When it surfaced, unfortunate timing aside, I felt I could not pass the opportunity up. So please don't read any sort of ill boded fate for Cincom or VisualWorks into my departure. I have faith in the people that remain, and in the people that will replace me, I'm sure they'll take the balloon farther and better heights than I was capable of. Any age or oddities aside, it remains some of the best tech that is out there.

As for this blog, I'm not sure what will happen. The purpose of this blog was always meant to be about Smalltalk, and in particular the live "biological" nature of the Smalltalk program philosophy. There are one or two things of the normal ilk that I'd like to write about based on some work I've been doing of late, and then, it'll likely take a hiatus, possibly permanent.

If our paths don't cross in the future, in the immortal (and skewed) words of Spock, may you "Learn Long and Prosper." And remember, "Dead men never wish they'd spent more time at the office."


  1. I wish you all the best in your new job. The Smalltalk world is going to miss you and all the extras you've provided. Best of luck and keep in touch.

  2. Travis;
    I wish you luck and success in your new endeavor. Smalltalk and the Smalltalk community is a better place from your contributions, and benefited from your thoughtfulness, passion, and creativity. When you miss it, the balloon will be here for you to 'tag' ;-). Thank you for all your contributions!

    Arden Thomas

  3. My best wishes at your new position at Nelson, Travis. I hope the new opportunity works out in all the best ways for you and your family.


  4. Enjoyed working with you the past four years, Travis. I know you are excited by your new opportunity, and you go again to the place where all is yeasty and new, and the possibilities lead to the horizon and beyond.

    Les Kooyman

  5. Thanks for wit. You will be missed.

  6. Best of luck Travis. When I've worked in non-Smalltalk shops I found that prototyping in Smalltalk was productive and fun. That might work for you. :-)

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