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Web valleyofthegeeks.com


Bruce Eckel
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

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Foreword by A Famous Person

Bruce Eckel, a famous person

This is the foreword originally intended for the book "Valley of the Geeks" published by iUniverse which, unfortunately, never made it into print.  Was it because Bruce's ideas were "too hot to handle"?  Was it part of a right wing conspiracy of silence?  Or was Bruce merely late in submitting his material in an effort to prevent a timely publication?  Read and decide for yourself...

I met Zack at the beginning of the first Borland OOP World Tour in 1989. My first book on C++ has just come out and Zack covered some other language, Object Something-Or-Other, that wasn't interesting enough to command my attention. Naturally, since C++ was such an important language I was given the larger hotel rooms -- suites of rooms, actually, with lots of fluffy pillows and towels, and a masseuse on call. I had to bring empty luggage on the trip because each hotel would insist that I take one of their monogrammed fluffy robes with me. The hotel staff would turn out upon our departure, distraught that I was leaving. And C++ being what it was at the time, there were the groupies, which I can't mention in a G-rated book such as this one.

Zack, of course, was jealous of all this, and so would assert that his room (usually in the basement, next to the boilers and elevators) was even larger, his towels were fluffier, that sort of thing. It was cute and it amused the roadies, so we humored him.

The tour took us all over the United States, and later, throughout Europe, to Australia, and Japan. We had to wear suits because the Borland PR department was convinced that this made us seem serious and knowledgeable. Even David Intersimone wore a suit, if those of you who know him can imagine that, although he adorned it with Mickey Mouse suspenders. Soon after we murdered and buried the PR guy in France, David, who would do anything to get a laugh, switched to loud Hawaiian print shirts (people were frightened of the shirt, so the laughter was nervous, but David didn't care).

Zack and I began to notice a curious phenomenon: people confused the two of us, as if we were twins separated at birth and Zack had been sent into the Canadian wilderness with the hope that he would live out his days as a beet farmer. But like the movies where pets separated from their owners cross thousands of miles to get back home, he somehow knew to get into the computer business and make his way to Silicon Valley, just so we could be reunited on speaking tours. Heartwarming, really. Because we apparently looked alike, people would ask me Object Whatever questions, and they would ask Zack C++ questions. Zack claimed this was the "programmers with beards and glasses" effect, but I've always felt there was a mysterious bond between us.

While David would often frighten the audience into laughing at him, my humor was easy and natural. I would be talking about something fascinating, and discover to my surprise that the audience was warmly chuckling at something I had just said. Zack wanted to be funny, too, so he would carefully work little comedy routines into his programming presentations. For example, he talked about writing a program that would deliver an electric shock to the user through the keyboard, and he created an example with an "OK" button that would dodge around the screen, avoiding the mouse. Juvenile, certainly, but by then the audience had already seen David's shirt and heard me speak, so the ice had been broken enough that the audience could be startled into laughing. This gave Zack the illusion that he was genuinely funny, with the unfortunate result of encouraging him. You hold the fallout in your hands: Valley of the Geeks.

About the author
Bruce Eckel is a very famous person in the obscure world of Java and C++ programming.  He is award-winning author of "Thinking in Java" and the soon to be published "Thinking of Another Book" but has never really stretched out of his comfort zone to write original satirical humor like Zack.

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