This editorial marks a huge milestone in my life: It officially marks the end of my first 20 years as editor in chief of CODE Magazine. And before you get any ideas, this is NOT my last editorial! I have many more years ahead of me to “entertain” you with my witty banter and deep knowledge of software engineering, science, music, and Dungeons & Dragons. Some of that statement is true.

When I started thinking about this editorial, I reviewed a bunch of my past editorials and was proud of what we've accomplished at CODE Magazine in the last 20 years. It's amazing how much things have changed in that time. The early 2002 issues were all about this new “.NET Initiative,” Web Services, XML, and XSLT. The cloud was non-existent at the time, there was no Twitter, no Facebook - heck, Amazon's primary business was selling books. How things have changed!

As some of you know, I was hired as EIC of CODE Magazine via an instant messaging session (ICQ I think) and, to be honest, this was a dream come true. From the time I was in high school, I dreamt of being a writer. Did I want to be a tech writer? Heck no! I wanted to be a Dungeons & Dragons writer. That dream was partially filled in high school when I published my first D&D article called “The Role of Taxes.” I was a geek then and I'm a true geek now. So, for those long-time readers (and new ones of course), where am I going with this? Well, I want to talk about inspiration.

As I was thinking about the things that inspired me and how to best represent them in this editorial, I decided on a picture. Like many geeks, I've spent decades collecting various geek trophies of things I enjoy. Figure 1 shows a bookshelf containing the many, many things that provide me with comfort and inspiration. I'm going to highlight a few of them.

Figure 1: My collection of inspirational trophies
Figure 1: My collection of inspirational trophies

Star Wars

I'll never forget the opening credits of Star Wars. The title card read: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….". I fondly remember my eight-year-old self writing “books” about Star Wars with an oversized pencil. Writing new adventures for Luke, Leah, and Han were my bag.

Dungeons & Dragons

I discovered Dungeons & Dragons when I was 12 years old. I remember getting my first module on my 13th birthday called “The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl” Yes that was the title and some 40 years later, I can still recite the names of many of these modules. The names were epic. D&D was (and still is) is an amazing game and it took me to many mythological as well as real-world places. From Greek to Roman to Norse to Tolkien, every mythology was represented. As for the real-world places, I met many other gamers in high school (I was president of the Golden Dragon Club at one point) and at numerous conventions in places like Los Angeles and Milwaukie. I was deep into this game, and that inspired me to start writing about it. Like all new writers, I got a TON of rejection letters, but I persevered and had some minor successes. These successes drove me forward.


I was determined to be a writer until I discovered programming. Programming has always been fun for me and when I discovered databases in college, I knew what I wanted to do for a career. I started in the DOS era and have continued to write code for over 30 years now. I still find enjoyment in slinging code to this day. Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with some great developers and have grown to be a fairly skilled programmer myself. But however skilled I became, I missed writing. It was programming skills that eventually led me back to writing.


In 1992, I decided to see if I could get published in a computer magazine. I went to a software conference and proposed an idea to Dian Schaffhauser who was an editor at Database Advisor Magazine. She accepted and I went to work writing my first article. One article led to another, and another, and another and eventually it led to writing books and finally to being EIC of CODE Magazine. I've never stopped writing. As a matter of fact, I wrote an article for this issue! Writing has been a source of inspiration to, well, keep writing. It's a sickness, I think. Talk to me about writing books some time.

Finding YOUR Inspiration

I described just a few items that inspire me. There are others: music, pop art, movies, and economics, to name a few. The trick for you is to find what inspires you and lean into it. Having sources of inspiration is what makes our world go around. I hope you find yours!