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Category Archives: Harry Brindley

blogs-of-the-day-20071224 Something surprising popped up in a Google search for some information in my own blog recently: A link to my blog being one of the up and coming WordPress blogs of the day — the day before Christmas, last year.

What on earth were all those people, all three hundred and twenty four of them, looking for here at slappHappe on that one day?

I recently reconnected with some long, but not forgotten, Tac2 colleagues. The Transvaal Amateur Computer Club (tac2) was a hombrew club at the infancy of microcomputing in South Africa. To facilitate a virtual reunion of the club I’m proposing and helping the club draw in members past and present to a new tac2blog where we can reminisce and reconnect by sharing club facts, anecdotes and fond memories of the origins of an industry.

Caption: Out of the original Apple User Group grew the Desktop Publishing User Group (DTP/UG). Read More »

The Wall Street bail out bill got rejected today, for better or for worse, as Bo and I were visiting the Capitol. Unfortunately we missed actually witnessing the vote take place on H.R.3997* while we were standing in line to get into the House of Representatives’ gallery. Representatives were scurrying around the building and gallery visitors rushed out after the vote. A small contingent of demonstrators dressed in pink were holding a noisy “Tax Revolt” outside. We saw democracy in action today. All in all a very good day to visit the legislative capital of the USA!

*A revised bill H.R. 1424 passed the floor a few days later.

On my last vacation day this summer, after the family visiting went home, my daughter Bo-Ashley and I headed out to the Sunken Forest at Sailors Haven on Fire Island. It’s a comfortable walk, hardly a hike, mostly a raised boardwalk through the forest and a concrete path between the dunes — with a couple of benches, rest stops, toilets and showers along the way. The circuit is easily completed in and hour-and-a-half with lots of time to look at things along the way. Take good walking shoes, bug spray and picnic food — the concession store and food stand leave a lot to be desired. The shopping experience aside, the walk was pretty interesting and the two of us had a wonderful father-daughter day out!

This month an icon of African journalism that I once briefly worked with, died. Hannes Smith born March 17, 1933, died August 5th, 2008 at age 75. He was affectionately called Smithie, an English nickname I think he would have preferred over the Afrikaans version of Smittie which many people used.

I knew him as the founding editor of the Windhoek Observer but he always thought of himself as its chief reporter — and indeed he was. My consultancy, Intelligent Ideas, converted his paper to desktop publishing in the late 80’s (early in 1989 as best I can recall).

He was a bright articulate man who didn’t mince his words. Working only from his notes and memory, he dictated stories to his Compugraphic operator to the precise column length required to fill a news hole. Something only he was sure of. We had to wait for the galleys to be played out on bromide, cut into columns and stripped up on the tables to witness the magic of his mental casting. He did this for years before we had write-to-fit text editors. Read More »

The recent passing of computing pioneer David Caminer reminds me of Leo Fantl, one of Caminer’s original team of programmers, also deceased. Leo Fantl, b. August 8, 1924, Teptliz Schoenau, Czechoslovakia – November 11, 2000, Johannesburg, Africa.

Leo hired me to be a salesman at LEO Computer Bureau in Johannesburg, South Africa, in the late seventies. I wanted to be a trainee computer operator/programmer but they thought I was presentable and insightful about solving business problems so they put my enthusiasm to work in sales. I did surprisingly well, making salesman of the month several times over in my novice year, but I had no passion for selling. I wanted to control the machine. Read More »

I recently rediscovered an old photograph taken by Michael Kuhn, friend of my brother-in-law, Alan Field. Alan was a keen skydiver, his enthusiasm for diving was infectious and together with the misguided notion that skydiving might help ease my fear of heights, I took a lesson and jumped. Just once.

skydiving boarding the plane Skydiving

Take note of the parachute on the ground in the far right of frame. That was the target landing spot on which the instructor was standing, guiding me in with a pair of paddles. Also note two things about the guy with the paddles: First is that the position of his paddles are reflected in the degree to which I’m flaring the chute and second is that he’s running away (left of frame, slightly behind me).

I’ll let you in on something: This is the first time for both of us. Me in the air, him with the paddles. Never again! Read More »

Tac2 (the Traansvaal Amateur Computer Club) was a group of nerds and geeks that met in the basement of Senate House at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. I served as Editor of their newsletter for several years and also as Chairman for a good many more.

The club, as I recall, started out with folk who built their own Motorola 6800 computers from kits put out by Southwest Technical Products Corporation. Many of us also soldered together Sinclair ZX80’s. Then the tide turned against hardware and our soldering irons towards software and keyboards: We started buying ready built machines like the Sinclair ZX81, Commodore PET, Radio Shack’s TRS80 and the Apple II. The software revolution had begun and the Apple took a big lead eventually to be overtaken, not by the latecomer IBM PC itself, but by the generic PC. Read More »