Today I get to pick the brain of a techie, Jerry Weinberg also know as Gerald M. Weinberg, author. I've got some great questions for him on problems I've been having with some computer systems so I'm going to jump right in. You don't mind if I call you a geek do you.
Jerry: Why would I mind such a flattering compliment?
You have tons of books out in both fiction and nonfiction. What made you decide to write fiction after a successful career in consulting and writing computer and self-help novels?
Jerry: Actually, I decided to write fiction long before I published any nonfiction--I just didn't sit down and write any. That's not completely true. I wrote one novel and threw it away (actually, I kept a copy, but I'm afraid to look at it today.
Then a decade later, I wrote another and actually sent it to a publisher. The editor sent me a 5-page, single-spaced letter telling me in great detail what I needed to do to improve the manuscript. I was devastated, not understanding that if an editor takes the time to write you a 5-page letter, he must like the book very, very much. Certainly, later in life when I did some editorial work, I never wrote even a three-page letter to the best submissions.
So, I shut down my fiction for another two decades, until I was rich enough to afford rejections. I received some helpful feedback, and was wise enough just to learn from it and keep writing. That's where I am today-writing and learning.
"The Aremac Project" intrigues me for a number of reasons. I live in the Midwest and about three hours from Chicago. You have terrorists blowing up things? Tell me about that.
Jerry: I was born in Chicago, and when in high school (Senn High), I cut school
rather regularly and explored the city, up, down, and sideways. I knew how I felt about landmarks disappearing (not because of terrorists, but because of greedy developers), so I figured it would be a great way to extort money from the city, with (intentionally) killing anybody.
You say they have a machine that can read minds. Boy, I would love to have that when I'm interviewing the police chief and he doesn't want to give me any information. Does it come in a handheld model? With all your skills, could that be possible?
Jerry: Shortly after The Aremac Project was published, I received an email from a professor out West who was trying to build such a machine. In the book, and in his lab, the Aremac (backwards camerA) pretty much fills up a room, but the history of technology shows how electronic ware gets smaller and smaller rather quickly. When I started programming computers, I worked with the largest computer in the world (at that time). I had about 10% of all the computing power in the world literally under my thumb. The machine filled a large room, and now I can hold a million-times more powerful machine in the palm of my hand. So, yes, an Aremac will be built, and then it will be miniaturized. We just don't know the exact time scale.
The two main characters are grad students and one of them has a life threatening side effect from this invention. Should they be messing around with this stuff unsupervised?
Jerry: Well, they are supervised, but their supervisor is an arrogant, stupid, jerk.
Now in a just a second we will get to my computer questions, but first I want people to know where to find all your books: http://geraldmweinberg.com. Now you all go check out the books, about my computer....
Jerry: Yes, about your computer. You bought it yesterday? Yes? Well, it's obsolete, so scrap it and buy one that's up-to-date. Thanks for the interview.