Dear Mr. Drabek,
I first met you during my sophomore year as a Computer Science student at the University of Arizona in 1988, where I had my first class with you. I’m writing you to let you know how much of a positive impact you had on me. I’ve taken what you’ve taught me and built a career on the lessons I learned from you.
You were very strict, very serious, and I respected your skill, your style, and your knowledge. I remember focusing on what you had to say more than any professor I had. I didn’t want to miss a word.
I remember anticipating your class more than any other, eagerly wanting to learn all the cool things you knew. I learned a lot from you and it’s stayed with me – always.
One way you influence me every day is simply – coding style. You were very careful about teaching the “right” way to code and pointing out the wrong way to code. Your style still influences every line of code I write. I now use a code analysis tool, ReSharper, to validate my work and every time I look up at the indicator in the editor and see what it needs to fix, I’m always happy when I see it’s only one or two improvements. I feel like you made my brain ReSharp code as I develop it.
I came to you my senior year with an Independent Study project to write a Golf Handicapping Program on Microsoft Windows 3.0. The first thing you said to me was – “Everyone here thinks Windows is a toy and will never go anywhere”. I replied back, “Well sir, it’s not, I think it’s going to grow really fast”. Too bad I didn’t have any money to buy Microsoft stock back then, but you agreed with me and you let me do it. I remember showing you an early version of my work and the code behind Windows events and you nodding how clever it was. I remember seeking your approval so much so I was so nervous delivering the final version of the software, and after taking you through it, I finally got a smile from you. Moments like that could have gone either way, and who knows where chaos theory would have taken me had you not believed in what I was doing.
My success in that project motivated me in such a way, that 2 years after I graduated, after I moved to Silicon Valley, I convinced my company to port all the software from Motif to Windows, and I led the way.
In 1998, I started my first company, ememories.com, a photo sharing web site co-founded with fellow UofA CS alum Carlos Blanco. Once I got the company funded, I bought us an awesome new 8U server from Dell, and when giving it a hostname, of course, I chose to name it after you: DRABEK. Throughout the company’s life, all server requests flowed through a machine with your moniker proudly labeled in our data center.
Thanks for the impression you made on me. Thank you for the teachings you gave me. I really appreciate it and will never forget it. You’re a great man, sir.
Brett Morrison, Class of 1991, University of Arizona
Here I am, a little more hair, a little more blonde, and a bit more girth, giving an on-air demo of one of the first Internet social sharing sites, my company ememories.com. Before Snapfish, Flickr, MySpace, and even Facebook, there was – ememories! Enjoy.
So it’s been exactly two weeks since I’ve been using my iPad. I am confident when I say that this device is a GAME CHANGER. It will change the way we use computers forever. Although it’s not the first tablet PC, it’s the first relevant one. Apple got it right – building on the shoulders of the mighty iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is really like a giant iPod Touch. But the difference is just that – its size.
Where an iPhone and iPod touch are great for getting quick pieces of information, they fall short for true media consumption. You don’t want to watch a movie, read a book, or read the news on a screen that small – but you do because it’s so convenient. With the iPad, you have all the benefits of the iPhone OS, but you want to spend the time on it. You don’t get fatigued by the small screen, the iPad’s size is just right.
Because of the nature of my job, my laptop is bedside every night. I’m on call 24/7 – perpetually linked to the health of web sites that never sleep. Now, in bed, I leave the laptop alone, and reach for the iPad and connect myself to the world. As promised, it really feels like you’re holding the Internet in your hands. And when showing someone next to you the screen, it’s much more engaging, intimate experience. You can hand the screen to someone and point at it – something not natural with a laptop.
The iPad is best described as a “Media Consumption Device”. It’s not meant to replace your laptop or desktop, but it can certainly do a lot of the things you do on them – and do them better. It will never be a substitute for a multi-tasking OS where you have to aggregate and manage simultaneous tasks to be productive. However, because of the low cost and meaningful every day usefulness, the iPad, and devices like it, will soon be ubiquitous, with households having a few of them as part of their every-day lifestyle.
The first moment I realized just how sublime the iPad was, was on the first night, when I watched the Donovan McNabb press conference on the device. I had missed it on TV, quickly found it on-line, kicked back on the couch, and enjoyed it on the iPad – true media consumption on demand – literally at my fingertips.
The iPad is a great eBook reader – and I recently gave away my Kindle. There’s no need for it anymore. The Amazon Kindle for iPad App works flawlessly, allowing you access to Amazon’s entire library of Kindle books. After using the iPad, paper media just feels odd now. I’m looking forward to someday canceling ALL my magazine subscriptions and getting them all digitally. It will happen – it’s just a matter of when.
The Apps work flawlessly, and over the next few months, I’m sure we’ll see some amazing progress as developers take advantage of the larger screen. Among my favorites, The Gilt Groupe App really shows how to do e-commerce simply, elegantly, and efficiently. Also, check out MLB.Com At Bat, Desktop Connect, and Zillow.
Of course there’s always room for improvement. Most notably, a front-facing camera would make the iPad the ultimate device for Skype. As a kid I always was fascinated by the idea of video phones, with Skype for iPad – it’s finally (almost) here. I also think it should have been designed with a wider aspect ratio, more HD like. But that’s a minor complaint – you get used to it.
I realize this is a gush-fest of a consumer device, but I felt compelled to share my experience of how amazing the iPad is. Get one – you’ll understand the value immediately.
Brett Morrison – Official Site
The official web site of Brett Morrison, Self-Made Technology Entrepreneur.
Look around, and be sure and check out Onestop Internet, the company I co-founded with Steve Tandberg & John Tomich.
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