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Hess
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:3
Column Tag:A Dedication

A Dedication

By MacTech Magazine Staff and Friends

A Dedication to Our Friend Robert

In the midst of Macworld Expo/San Francisco, the industry suffered the loss of one of our friends - Robert Hess. This issue of MacTech Magazine is dedicated to Robert. And instead of a column from myself or Scott, we’re using this space for those in the industry to let us in on their view of Robert.

Even if you never knew Robert Hess, read through the below notes - they talk of a man who epitomized the quintessential Macintosh attitude. Take a minute and reflect on Robert, Macintosh, and what our industry is about.

The obituary for Robert from our friends at MacWEEK read:

Jan. 12, 1996 - Robert Hess, 29, an Associate Editor at MacWEEK, passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions in Robert’s name be made to Digital Queers, 584 Castro St. #560, San Francisco, CA 94114.

Anyone wishing to make a personal remembrance of Robert can do so by sending mail to his family at memorial@macweek.com.

As for myself, I can tell you that many times, I’m embarrassed to be a part of the press. The feeding frenzy that takes place from time to time is simply amazing. But watching Robert, seeing his ethics/standards, and reading his writings always made me proud to be a part of the press, the Macintosh industry - and most importantly, Robert’s friend.

Neil Ticktin, Publisher

Some Letters From Friends

It might seem odd to dedicate an issue of a Macintosh programming magazine to a news reporter, even a reporter who wrote for a newsweekly for Macintosh managers; but let me tell you about how Robert spent a few days just a few months ago.

Head down, buried in his work, he sat quietly, working. Hour after hour, few signs of motion offered any hint that he was anything more than a zombie craning over the keyboard. Sure, his fingers moved over the keyboard, the mouse moved this way and that. Can after can of Dr. Pepper joined the growing crowd of empties, each one just reducing the amount of available mousing space. Was this the image of the investigative reporter working on the big story? No. It was Robert doing something he loved. For three days straight he worked on his hack. MacHack 95 might have been just another story to any other reporter, but to Robert it was a full-intensity recreational activity.

While I worked with my hacking buddy on our hack, Robert sat next to us, working feverishly. While we did trick photography for an About box, Robert pored over Inside Macintosh volumes. I don’t remember his seat being vacant any longer than it took him to go get another Dr. Pepper. He was in the groove, doing what some only dream of doing - hacking nonstop at MacHack. The only major interruption I recall was when he jumped up from his seat because he had just realized that he had consumed fourteen cans of Dr. Pepper in a single session, and he was trembling from the caffeine overload.

Robert built a reputation as a sharp investigative reporter, and regularly caused a stir at Apple with his accurate (if sometimes unpopular) reporting. Robert had a passion about the Macintosh, and about doing things right. And, as you’ve now read, his passion extended to Macintosh programming. If you ever wondered how his stories seemed so technically on the mark, now you know part of his secret.

Not only will we miss his contributions to the quality of MacWEEK’s reporting, but we’ll miss the loss of one from our community of Macintosh programmers.

Scott T Boyd, Editor Emeritus

Robert was a smart, funny, nice guy who gave great e-mail and was a fine and sometimes brilliant writer. I will miss him.

Bob LeVitus

I was a beta tester for Robert. He had an attitude, when he ran into a problem, of ‘I can get it to work, regardless of what people are telling me.’ To me, this sums up what being a Mac developer and loving the Macintosh are about.

Jonathan Duke, Boston College

I only knew Robert online, but I participated in beta-tests of a few of his programs. I recall that sometimes it would seem my mailbox scrolled with new versions! Robert really understood that programs are used by people, and he was always open to implementing good suggestions. He was a wonderful example of the kind of developer that makes the Mac all it can be for everyone. He will be missed.

Neil Shapiro, MAUG Forums Manager on CompuServe

A bulldog with keen instincts and natural journalistic talent. We were fortunate to have him in our sphere. It’s somehow fitting that he would pass on during the quintessential Macintosh love feast [Macworld Expo].

Kathy Kruse, PR Professional

Robert Hess stuck his neck out time and time again when the Metrowerks/Symantec/Apple Power Macintosh war was being waged by so many hard-working engineers from all sides. Robert worked the trenches and was often berated by people he offended with his no-nonsense articles. He was a straight-shooter who searched for the truth and didn’t hold back his punches. I loved Robert’s candor and knew that I always had to tell him the truth, no matter what the impact on our company would be. During those two years, Robert became a friend; through our hardships, he watched us grow. Our hearts are broken by his passing on. He was a great, young man, faithful to himself as much as he was honest to others. May our memory of him guide us in our lives.

Greg Galanos, President & CEO, metrowerks inc.

Robert’s interesting MacWEEK articles will live on forever in the legends of the PowerPC.

Richard Hooker, IBM Advisory Engineer

Robert was the most resourceful person I have ever known. He would get things before Apple would. I only knew him through the computer. He was my sword, I will sorely miss him. I empathize with family.

Michael Bartell

I still remember our first meeting with Robert. He came in his biker’s outfit with a helmet. But, what most impressed me was that he was always objective in his articles. It is such a loss not only for the people who knew him, but also for the Macintosh development community.

Nobuko Isomata, VP, Marketing & Sales,
Quasar Knowledge Systems, Inc.

Robert was loved by many; his spirit will live on. He will be missed.

Cal Simone, Main Event Software

What was most striking about Robert as a Mac journalist was that he combined a passion for the platform with an in-depth knowledge of its weaknesses as well as its strengths, plus an absolute intolerance for B.S.

I’ll never forget the first time I met Robert in person. We had previously exchanged messages online, and I had noticed that his posts on-line were well-written and well-informed; so when a reporting job opened up at MacWEEK, I sent him a note asking if he’d be interested in applying, even though I didn’t know anything about his background or formal qualifications. That was probably the best personnel move I ever made.

The interview, however, didn’t go terribly well: Robert obviously knew plenty about the Mac, but not very much - at that point - about how journalists work. The climax came when Dan Farber, then Editor-in-Chief of MacWEEK, took a look at Robert’s résumé, which included his personal motto: “F-k authority.” (At least I think that’s what it was - at any rate, words to that effect.) “What’s this shit?” Farber scowled. “I’m the authority around here. F-k him.’ Thus ended Robert’s first shot at a job at MacWEEK.

I still wanted him on board, though, so when the position of systems administrator for MacWEEK opened up some months later, I called him to suggest that he apply. That position didn’t go through Farber, and perhaps Robert had by then cleaned up his résumé - one way or another, he landed the job.

Once he arrived, his ability and integrity were obvious to everyone. Within a few months we had him writing stories on the side, in addition to supporting an overgrown network. Before long it was clear that not making him a full-time reporter would be a serious waste of talent; the only hesitation: we knew we wouldn’t find anyone who could do as well as he with our systems.

Henry Norr, Editor Emeritus & Columnist, MacWEEK

Some of our correspondents thought that Robert was best reflected in his own words; here are their letters, and then we let Robert speak for himself.

I beta tested Shaman/Sharing Stone/ShowShare/ShareDevil with Robert and found his announcement and feedback emails to be immensely entertaining as well as informative. Take your pick of the excerpted ‘goodies’ below!

Kirby Schrader

Some of Robert’s Emails to Beta Testers

This means you cannot run one copy of Shaman and control it with another copy on the same Mac. Why would you do this? Because you’re a good beta tester and you know damn good and well some bonehead out there is going to do exactly that someday. That’s why.

Hey, smell me. I could write Microsoft ads.

Side note: If you’re playing with PowerTalk/AOCE/S7Pro, let me know. I’m looking for fellow idiots, I mean “adventurers”, to test with.

Man, what’s that stink? Why, it’s Beta 15! Well, I have taken Beta 15 out into the back yard and shot it. And buried it DEEP. It shall never return to bother us. On the other hand, there was a wild-eyed cat crawling out of the ground nearby, which I think is a bad sign.

While you guys are testing this version, I’m going to run Shaman through Metrowerks. Wooo. Native PowerPC Shaman. Scary. Fatal crashes on multiple microprocessors! Yippee! And, assuming all goes well, this will give me faster turn-around. In other words, I’ll be able to take your bug reports, hack away and say, “Hell if I know what’s wrong,” even faster!

Wow. This is starting to feel good. I’d love to call this a final candidate but, as a male, I fear commitment.

Although I didn’t know Robert all that well, I have been one of the many lucky recipients of his newsflash, humor, and rumor emails. One thing I habitually did upon receiving a piece of mail from him was to immediately scroll down to the bottom of each piece to see what Robert’s sig-of-the-moment was. There’s definitely no substitute for Robert Hess.

Crystal Waters, The Net

Some of Robert’s Sigs

• The Net is like the world’s biggest library with everything marked “Misc”.

• I’d trust 40-bit RSA over US Mail any day.

• The Win95 promotion’s budget exceeds the total cost of ‘Waterworld’.

• Win 95: the push-up bra of computing.

• “Pizza! Pizza!” I used to think he was cute but now he’s starting to bug me.

• Despite the name, ‘food stamps’ are not edible.

• First a round of the “Friends” drinking game, followed by the “ER Piss Game”.

• “Have you installed Window 95 yet?” “Yes! Many times!”

• The OJ trial is enough to make me wanna slit somebody’s throat.

• Question: You believe in reincarnation. What do you want to come back as? Answer: “Matt Dillon’s underwear.”
- Boy George, interviewed by R. Murphy, US magazine, Oct ‘95

• Protect your rights! Use PGP! My key at: http://www.macweek.com

• Microsoft Network is prohibited from redistributing this work in any form, in whole or in part. Copyright, Robert Hess, 1995. License to distribute this post is available to Microsoft for US$1M. Posting without permission constitutes an agreement to these terms.

 

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