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"I can get stuff done with the BeOS."

Seth Flaxman is the author of various applications, including BePlan and Legolas, a runner-up in Be's second Masters Awards. He is one of the original founders of ABiSoft. And by the way, he is twelve years old.



Be Dope: What is your computer background?

Flaxman:
My first computer was an Amiga 2500. My father would get the Fred Fish, which later became Fresh Fish CD's for the amiga, and I would play with some of the things on them. I still have about a dozen of them laying around.

After the Amiga 2500, I had an Amiga 3000 which I tried (most unsuccessfully) to create animations with Lightwave, and the Video Toaster that was in the 3000.

The first programming I did was command-line programs for unix, but nothing that really did anything. All my programming was in C, and I knew a small amount of C++ at the time. My first GUI programming was with OSF/Motif, and I played with Tcl/Tk, but I didn't get very far, but then we got a BeBox!

How and when did you first hear of Be?

In 1995, or 1996 I heard about the BeBox, probably from an article in Wired, or some media coverage. My first experience with Be was a screenshot of BeOS as the background for X.

How old were you when you did your first programming?

Looking at old source, I did my first in Nov. of 1995, and I was born in Dec. of 1985. :)

What made you decide to develop for the BeOS?

When we first got a BeBox, in 1996, my brother was developing a java program for MacOS, as contract development. When he got a chance, he would develop for BeOS, but I didn't really get going till a little later. I decided to develop for BeOS, probably because I wanted to Be like my brother.

How would you compare learning the BeOS API vs. programming for other platforms?

The BeOS API is really, really, easy, compared to other things.... especially Motif. I recently looked at QT, and it resembles the BeOS a bit, but I prefer the BeOS API.

What led you to develop the programs you have? What sort of projects do you see yourself taking on in the future?

My first program that was available to the public was Legolas. I started Legolas in 1996, and I entered it in the 2nd masters awards, winning a runners up. Looking back on Legolas, it just isn't that great of a product, but it did help me learn the API. Looking back at the code for Legolas is hard, becasue I write much better code now.

I developed BePlan at the suggestion of my dad, who had been working on a modification of BeDaliClock that would give you a calendar. I wrote BePlan from scratch, although I borrowed the calendar computation code from XCalendar (which I think borrowed its calendar code from the unix cal(1) command) and I used concepts I saw in Plan, the CDE calendar, ical, and the PalmPilot datebook application.

I want to do more stuff with the media kit and I'm anxiously awaiting R4 (and R5).

Tell me about ABiSoft.

As edited by our legal department www.kenlaw.com:
In the beginning, when my brother was registering as a Be Developer, he needed a company name and he "invented" Absoft, which it turned out was the name of a well established large software company. When our legal department became aware of this problem, we hired a market research firm which, after thousands of hours of research and focus groups, came up with the name "ABiSoft." "ABiSoft" is now an Illinois corporation (ABiSoft, Inc.) and is our family business -- my father is president and general counsel, my brother is chief technology officer, and I'm anything I want to be. This week I'm in charge of public relations.

Next week, I'll either be Zookeeper, First Assistant Prophet, or Speaker for the Dead.

Do you get a lot of feedback from people who use your programs? If so, what does it mostly say?

I get almost no feedback from people in e-mail, and this has puzzled me. I do get some positive/negative feedback in IRC chat, and this has helped me with BePlan somewhat. For example, I am talking to someone as I write this about the buttons to go left and right in the month view of BePlan, and he is criticising the black triangles that I use currently.

Have you run into any "age predjudice" issues in the BeOS community or elsewhere?

I haven't encountered much age predjudice in the BeOS community, but (at least up until now) the majority of the people out there don't seem to know my age..... Of the people who do, they have all assured me that its not age that counts....

What books would you consider a "must-read" - programming related, or otherwise? I am currently reading the Orson Scott Card four volume trilogy that starts with Ender's Game, and I'm a big fan of most of Heinlein's sci-fi book. Programming related, About Face is a great book, especially because of the words the author makes up, for example "buttcon". The C++ Primer is a must-have, but I'm still reading it.

If the BeOS was an animal, what kind would it be?

A Pequino.... oh wait, they don't exist.. Maybe a flying squirrel?

Who is your favorite Muppet, if any, and why?

Beaker? The one who the one who just makes noises.

Finish this sentence: "Developing for the BeOS kicks ass because ______________"

The programming api is so amazingly awesome, and I can get stuff done with the BeOS, unlike other *ahem* operating systems, where I have no idea why the heck its crashing.

(And its the *ONLY* OS that I can play the BeOS Talking Blues at -400%)

More Interviews:

Mike Clifton
creator of Moho

Scott Barta
NetPositive author

Joe Palmer
the father of the BeBox

Seth Flaxman
CEO of ABiSoft

Scot Hacker
BeOS Bible author

Michael Alderete
Be's Webmaster

Melanie Walker
Be Web Diva

Dominic Giampaolo
Be engineer and creator of the BFS

Douglas Irving Repetto
creator of geektoys


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