Like many companies every year Digital Cheetah holds a Holiday Party. We have two events that make our Holiday Party special to us: I perform a magic show and we have a spirited gift exchange. Along with music, food, and drink the evening is always very well received and it is talked about long after the event.

It takes a lot of planning and effort to pull this event off each year, but it is always worth it as the party brings us closer together as a company and gives our employees something to look forward to. When you think about your own Holiday Party think about going the extra mile, you’ll enjoy it more and your employees will too. And in the end that is really what counts.

Here is where I attempt to cut the head off of Digital Cheetah’s President: Aj Tidwell. Enjoy!

By now you’ll have realized that I have a slight reverence for Bill Joy and so I feel compelled to talk about the first time I met him. It was back in 2000 and there was all this buzz about the article he wrote in Wired Magazine entitled: “Why the future doesn’t need us.” He spoke over lunch and discussed his views and every word was enthralling. At the end of his talk people all clamored to speak to him. I found myself standing right in front of Bill Joy with all these other guys going on about his talk. All I could think about was how this man had influenced my life with Vi, Csh, BSD, NFS, etc. and instead of talking about his lunchtime talk I started blabbing on about how grateful I was for all of his amazing contributions. It was very uncool in the context of the meeting and he looked at me as though I was a whack job.

I was a whack job.  I could hardly string together a sentence, I was so in awe of this man. I eventually pulled myself together but it was too late and his attention had moved on. I felt like a real tool.

Luckily, as I was leaving the room a little while later, I saw him walking down the corridor alone. Instead of going on about how great he was I remembered that he had a young daughter and I gave him my Magic business card and said to him: “Mr. Joy I enjoyed your talk very much, if you ever need a real magician to entertain your daughter, just give me a call and I’ll be there.” He first looked at me with suspicion, but as he read the card – Magic and Mystery for Select Occasions – a big smile came over his face and he thanked me and went on his way.

Just for that instant we connected and I felt that I had redeemed my earlier mistakes. I felt so happy that afternoon.

Zig Zag Illusion by Robert Harbin

Zig Zag Illusion by Robert Harbin

I have been collecting and performing magic since I was nine years old. However, when it comes to software my best advice is to avoid as much magic as you can. It is easy to think writing software that does all sorts of magicis a good thing. But after years of being burnt by such software I have come to the earth shattering conclusion that there is no place for magic in software.

The worst kind of software is code with multiple side-effects – it is a nightmare to maintain and never does quite enough magic to make it worthwhile. It doesn’t mean you can’t write useful scripts and routines that perform multiple tasks, but each task in the script needs to be spelled out rather than things happening “as if by magic.”

This revelation might seem obvious to many but for me it has really only been in the last five years that the truth has become crystal clear. These days I aim for simple and explicit code and although I like to think what I write is still cool, it is no longer magical.

Martin's Magic - It all began here.

Martin’s Magic – It all began here.

I have a passion for writing software. Solving problems by writing code keeps me up at night, and I live for the days when the code is flowing through my veins making sleep impossible. When I do have some downtime my hobby is collecting and performing Magic.

The software that my company, Digital Cheetah, uses was originally created to build my first Magic website: Martin’s Magic. Since then, when I have had a few spare moments I have have worked on many other magic sites. There is nothing better to fuel your passion than to incorporate it into your hobby.

Of course if you want to sleep or spend time with your family it may not be the best idea and you should take up train spotting instead.