only yesterday, clearing out, a came across a stack of those fanfold icon/shortcut cards that used to come with the big Adobe apps, listing all the icons/shortcuts. Still, it was magic. I recall the day back c.'95 when I sat down, installed Streamline and Premiere and in [too may] hours had scanned a stack of hand-drawn images and made some an animation (with much thumbing of the manuals (in the days when you got a paper manual). It truly felt like living in the future.
Learning point: friends don’t let friends make minor UI animations using hand-drawn 12 fps images.
Still, we knew no better and couldn’t afford adult supervision. But knowledge is a game where all can play. I recall the moment when, beta-testing an invite-only DeBabelizer† beta I found all the other player were big-name outfits like Disney. Imposter syndrome? Much.
My first public white paper was back in '99 (though it started awhile before) showeng how to make a cross-OS CD running Acrobat Reader off both Mac and PC partitions—recall at the time Mac & PC didn’t share media (you needed special apps for that). I well remember bemused Adobe staff contacting me after I first posted the paper‡:
them “How did you do this? We didn’t think it was possible”
me “What? But, it said so … on the side of the box”
them “No one reads the side of the box. Seriously, what did you do?”
me “I just tried, as I couldn’t afford to pay someone else.”
them “So are you making money off this?”
me <blush> (bearing in mind we were ‘cash poor’ at the time) “Am I supposed to? I just thought sharing might help other people”
- <line goes dead>
Funnily enough before CDs went to the scap heap, every few months I’d receive a jiffy back with unusual stamps, with a CD - "Look what I made using your doc. Memorable were one from the inner sanctum of the Vatican and one that came partly on mule-back from a UN project in the depths of the jungle in the North of Laos. I like karmic closure, having learned so much by the kindness of strangers.
Different times, different values. But the experience stayed with me in 2004 when starting aTbRef. My webserver was paid for, so everything else was my willingness to learn and to write down what I learned. Answering other people’s queries taught me a lot; actually they are less stressful as nothing rides on the outcome apart from there being an answer even if it—occasionally—is “not possible!”. On balance, I think I made the right choice.
†. Yes, figuring out a single 256-colour palette for a whole CD’s worth of images was a real task, once upon a time.
‡. A hat-tip to the many on the Usenet Acrobat list who contributed signifiicant expertise. We stand on the shoulders of giants.