Keeping Notebooks

Last week, those of us paying attention watched the bizarre spectacle of Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh getting emotional about his calendars. I’ve never kept a paper calendar, it alway seemed too much of a constraint. Around the year 2000, I toyed with keeping a planner/calendar online, thanks to the Internet Archive, I can still see my mad travel schedule.

What I have kept, since 1979, are notebooks. I still have most of them(*1), they are both interesting and dull. The changing over to a new notebook is always much more than turning over a new page, it’s more like the start of a new era. The notebook is a fabulous moleskin notebook, courtesy of First Line Software, given to me 3-years ago while I was still at Dell.new notebook

My last notebook was good for a couple of years. It contained notes, to-do lists, project activities and more. Most of this was about my transition from being an executive at Dell, to being a husband and stay at home dad. It also covers some epic projects, which like my prior IT career, didn’t always go well. These included trying to get to grip with the US Medical billing system as my heart attack; also the epic screw-ups made by FRSR llc of Broomfield while landscaping my backyard.

Some of my old notebooks cover key developments in both my career and technology. I have notebooks over the period 1983-1985 as I grappled with learning how the US Banking system worked, the requirements of systems such as the SWIFT banking, interconnect system; virtualization of operating systems on 12Mb memory systems; working on protocols to transfer data between dissimilar architecture an data format systems, which lead to the precursor to the ARC file format, which lead to the Zip file format; later notebooks cover my introduction to X.25 Networks as we built out a worldwide financial services network; and then my whole career at IBM, including the arrival of the World Wide Web, and so much more.

Apart from the recollection and reflection. notebooks, correctly dated and annotated can have real value for technical architects and programmers. During a patent dispute in 1998, I was able to return to a notebook from 1985 and prove that the disputed patent wasn’t unique, even though I no longer had access the system we’d implemented it on, and the system was no longer in existence. While it the patent wasn’t invalidated, it did save us a massive licensing fee.

I look forward to all the events, actions, projects and plans over the next couple of years. Keep a notebook.

*1 It all went wrong for a few years when the Filofax was a thing.