Stories by David Harris
“So ... you want to market your software in America, do you son?”
David Harris (pictured right), who developed Pegasus Mail, an email package used by as many as six million people at its peak, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the PC World Awards in Auckland on November 15. Harris, of Dunedin, a former Computerworld columnist, accepted the honour with these words:
Being beaten by Australians is one of those things that slashes away the tough exterior of your average New Zealander and exposes very tender, delicate flesh - few other events cause such unanimous displays of soul-searching and breast-beating in this country.
In a former life (“ahh, sonny, I ‘member when thar w’aint no high-falutin, gol-darned com-pooter contraptions to fox up ‘n bemuddle an old man’s wits”) I was a professional photographer: photography has been a lifelong passion of mine and for years I’ve been looking for signs that a true fusion of the photograph and the computer might be nigh.
I normally avoid watching the news if I can. For the most part, it ends up being a depressing catalogue of human callousness and greed, which is just what I need with my dinner.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a strange recurring dream: in it, I am walking down a long straight road through endless acres of wheat — wheat, stretching as far as the eye can see in any direction. In the last few weeks, I’ve thought about this dream a lot.
Way back in 1992, I wrote a short guide to etiquette for inclusion in my email system. I thought I was simply articulating some of the more basic common-sense issues involved in communicating via this new medium, but even now in 2001 I’m regularly asked by people if they can publish my guide for their email users.
If you’ve ever spent an hour introducing an older person to the internet, you’ve probably encountered the question, “But who controls it?”.
Breathless, the child bursts into the kitchen. “Mummy! Mummy! Come quick! You gotta look!” Startled and curious, the mother looks up from her bread dough, wipes her hands on her apron, and is dragged to the front door by her excited progeny.
I was on holiday in France in September 1999: the days were warm, the food was unbelievable (except for the andouillette, which was, regrettably, far too believable), the wine was like the sacred blood of ancient holy vines, and the French were ... well, French; you can’t really put it fairer than that.
Just about everyone I know has a Hotmail account or a close clone thereof; and nobody I know who uses one likes it much.
Terrorist One sends an email message to Terrorist Two, saying “We’re going to kill the President of the USA on Monday at 6:15pm”.
A correspondent wrote to me last week aggrieved at my Consulting the oracle column (one of several who did so -- at least it's good to see that someone actually reads this stuff). It happened that he was also a user of my email software, and asked in a footnote why I've never written about email in this column. There are two primary reasons: firstly, I don't want to be accused of pushing my own barrow too much, and it's very difficult for me to resist ranting about Outlook, the product that is single-handedly destroying an entire industry built around email.