The Five Things Meme

Simon tagged me, so I suppose I have to do this or else be on the bad end of Bad Luck For Seven-and-a-half-Years or something like that. Here we go, five things you may not have known about me before now:

  1. Je parle francais, un peu. (I'm not sure how to get the French characters on my keyboard or in the blog, so those who speak French will have to pardon the lack of the appropriate accented characters.) Ein BiBen Deutsch, aussi.
  2. My degree is in International Relations, from the University of California at Davis. I took several Comp Sci classes while there, but stopped when I realized that my self-driven study of programming (thanks to Stroustrup's The C++ Programming Language and Coplien's Advanced C++ Patterns and Idioms) put me actually well ahead of most of the CS undergrad community there. I thought briefly about grad school, but when the Chair of the CS department at UCD told me he'd turn me down due to my B- in ECS 140A: Programming Languages (I had a really hard time trying to get the hang of Lisp), I decided not to bother.
  3. I'm an avid video-game gamer, dating back to the very early games in the 80's. My most prized accomplishment of that era? Flipping Galaga. (For those who don't know the term, it means gaining a score high enough--in this case, a million points--such that the display "flips" back to zero.) And these were in the days when it was one-quarter-one-game, none of this "play 'til you run out of money" approach first introduced by Gauntlet....
  4. I didn't grow my hair out until after I'd graduated high school. No, it wasn't a "rebellion thing", it was the plain realization that if I ever wanted it long, college was my last chance to do it, because clearly long hair wasn't acceptable in the big bad working world....
  5. Speaking of high school, back then everybody thought my first published book would be a Sci-Fi/Fantasy work. I was one of the founding members of the school's Young Author's Club, and had a series of short stories about an assassin for hire--really terribly written, as I look back at them now, modeled after Edward D. Hoch's Nick Velvet mystery stories from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine but without any of his style or panache. That said, however, writing has clearly been at the core of my career for some time, as my life has been (quite positively) affected by various technical authors:
    • The two technical authors I most wanted to meet (and consciously modeled my writing style after) were Don Box and Jeffrey Richter. I grew up on Advanced Windows NT and Windows 3.1: A Developer's Guide, and I was fascinated by Essential COM and Effective COM.
    • The one technical author I never thought I'd ever come close to, much less write a book for and meet in person, was Scott Meyers; Effective C++ and More Effective C++ were amazing, literally life-changing experiences. Had somebody told me, ten years ago, that I would not only have met Scott, but written an Effective book of my own, and be privileged enough to call him friend, I'd have told them they were out-of-their-minds nuts.
    • The book that most influenced my technical career had to be Paul DiLascia's Windows++, since his was the first book I'd come across that walked through the nitty-gritty of building a real C++ framework, and that in turn led me down the ultimately futile path of building my own cross-platform GUI framework (which in turn, in its half-baked form, proved to several employers that my C++ skills were for real, despite not having a degree in Computer Science).
    • But by far and away, the author who's had the most profound effect on my life was none other than Bjarne Stroustrup, who, when emailed by this fledgling author thinking about writing his first book, offered a cogent, three-page email response filled with advice and wisdom about embarking on the path of the technical author, all of which turned out to be spot-on accurate.
    Thanks, to all of you.

So, I'm in turn supposed to tag five others, but I'm going to hold off for now, until I get a better idea of who's been tagged and who hasn't. :-)