Friday, March 20, 2009

Don Macintosh

Today a friend of mine posted this comment on Twitter:

"Every so often I practice typing with my nose, just in case I lose my arms in some sort of accident. It pays to be prepared!!"

The comment immediately reminded me of a long time FoxExpress customer named Don Macintosh. Don would call me regularily for technical support. The support questions were really more about custom code than how to use the product. Our receptionists alway knew when it was Don before he identified himself because he was older and spoke louder than most of our other customers. I later found out it was because he was always using handsfree. He always started the call with "Hi, this is Don Macintosh." Because Don was older, it often took several tries to get my point across which at times could be frustrating. Even though I made sure to put on my happy voice, I didn't always enjoy talking to Don. But, Don always liked talking to me and never had any issues paying for the support he used. 

I don't remember the details of the application he was writing but I think it may have been church management software. What I do remember is that it was running on Chinese windows which was one thing that I found facinating about the application. He never had any questions about running under Chinese Windows. It just worked. His questions were all about FoxPro and FoxExpress.

One summer Mike and I were presenting at several of the Southern California User Groups and Don came out to meet us face to face at the.LA Fox User group. We knew Don was coming and it was going to be nice to finally put a face with the name. We got far more of a surprise than we ever expected. Don was indeed older. My guess was early 70s, which was ancient when I was not yet 30. However, he had very minimal use of one arm and no use of the other. I think that the proper term is Diplegia. He was accompanied by his lovely wife who was always nearby when we spoke on the phone. Before meeting him, I just assumed that a retired huband and wife spent a lot of time together. 

So, I bet you are asking how he could possibly program computer in the mid 1990's (before voice recognition was popular). Well, Don had a wooden dowel with him that he put in his mouth and typed with. He was unbelievably efficient, so efficient that I had no clue when I spoke to him on the phone. Sure, I thought some things took a while, but not that long. He was able to navigate the mouse just enough using his one arm. I was so shocked.

Don demoed his application for us and it was nicely done and pretty complex. Of course, our demo was using US Windows but he did show it to us running Chineese windows just so that I could see it. I left that user group meeting with a new respect for Don. When we got back to Toledo, I welcomed each and every call from Don and... I could hear the clicking of that wooden dowel as we spoke. 

Don finished his application and we moved on to other FoxPro technologies. I wonder what ever happened to him. I should remember Don more often when I open my mouth to say "I can't" 


At 3/20/2009 8:39 PM, Blogger foo said...

Toni, That is an awesome story! Thank you for sharing that.


At 3/21/2009 5:20 AM, Blogger Alan Lukachko said...

Excellent display of our humanity. We are all worth while to each other no matter what our (lack of) capabilities are.

At 3/21/2009 8:29 AM, Blogger Jody L. Meyer said...

Great story Toni. Thank you so much for sharing. :O)

Cheers, Jody

At 3/21/2009 10:49 AM, Blogger Andrew MacNeill said...

Great story - so true.


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