Editor's Column - March 2009

Tim Benjamin at the March 7 Rally
Tim Benjamin at the March 7 Rally

I’ve had a pretty eventful month. I’ve gone to a couple rallies at the capitol and talked to a few folks about the upcoming proposed state budget cuts. The federal economic stimulus package should be good for the state and may keep many of our programs from becoming ineffective dinosaurs. I’m not so sure that this stimulus package will be good for the federal government in the long run, but that’s another article. I have become less confident over the years about our ability at the federal level to be successful in serving all of America. But it sure seems something has to change because what we’ve been doing certainly hasn’t worked. I don’t want to lay blame on anyone for the economic hole we’ve got ourselves into. One thing I am sure of is that there isn’t one person or one group even to blame: not the rich, middle-income or the poor. It’s many of us becoming greedy and wanting more than we can afford, should have, or need. I’m as guilty as the next.

Last month, I spoke about the 24-hour Sierra Bravo Overnight Web Challenge. Well, it’s happened and it was a gas. We had 10 young but well-seasoned developers, who called themselves “The Code Cowboys” and spent no time getting started on our wish list. Not one took more than a 15-minute break to get up and walk around and chat with other team members. All of them worked in the field of Web development except for one, who was a master’s student in software design. Most sat in front of a two-monitor workstation, and several had a laptop at their side as well. It seemed that each one of them had their own expertise and each started creating what they knew. One of the guys, Nick, took control as project manager, and each one of the developers assigned himself a task. As the design developed, a new project manager would take over. Ryan stepped in around eight hours in bringing new expertise and keeping everyone moving forward. About 3 a.m., Mark stepped in and called a meeting away from the computers so we could discuss problems that needed to be resolved. Each programmer again assigned himself a problem to resolve and asked for help whenever needed. If there was a quick fix, fix it or get help, Mark stated.

I know that by about hour 18, I was having difficulty concentrating, but with plenty of Red Bull and lots of sugar in them, all these guys seemed to stay pretty focused on the task at hand. There was not a moment of serious tension throughout the 24 hours and at the end, we were all very pleased with what we had. Unfortunately, the “Code Cowboys” didn’t win the overall design prize which went to one of the other 11 projects. But each one of them is a winner in my eyes.

Several of us planned to get together March 9 to set up a new hosting site and decide on the best way to finish up the tweaks and fix any bugs. Then we will get the new Web site online. It looks completely different from our old site, and there are plenty of opportunities for input from and interaction with you, our readers. After we get the site up, I only hope that each of you will take the opportunity to test it, and then take the opportunity to share your voice among our disability community. We have our fingers crossed that the site will be live by about mid-March, so be sure to visit and bookmark www.testing.accesspress.org we are excited about the potential for this site!

As we mentioned last month, Mai Thor and Charles McIntosh brought a handsome young man into our world. Matthew was born on Saturday, Jan. 28, weighing in at five pounds, eight ounce and 18 inches long. He is blessed to have two wonderful parents that are devoted to him and to each other. Congratulations, Charles and Mai! I’m sure you’ll make wonderful parents. And Matthew, what can you say? You are a beautiful baby! end of story