was one of the first lines I keypunched to 5-hole paper tape in 1976. Dartmouth BASIC was a joy—I wrote pages and pages of line after line in a notebook and carefully thought through the outcomes before daring to sit at the keypunch. Getting the tape right on the first try meant I would not have to rekey or splice the tape; perfection on the first attempt was so very satisfying. I was the master of the machine.
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I'm still close to the machine and enjoy my adventures in technology. Bitsy is my inner voice, the sage advisor who keeps me from losing my love for technology when the people around the technology are, well, challenging. She is direct and relentless but still as joyful as a young software engineer traipsing through task control blocks in system dumps, drinking vending machine coffee, and eating packets of Lorna Doone cookies.
She remains with me after all these years (over 40 of them now!). I still use a mechanical keyboard attached to a modern laptop and wave my wine-stained punchcard about at conferences. Lorna Doones are still a favorite snack. Over those years, I've asked and answered thousands of questions about delivering technology with, and sometimes in spite of, organizations and people. Those I've adventured with likely recognize the following Bitsy-isms:
The technology is the easy part.
Plans are just the things from which we deviate.
I should have taken more psychology courses in school.
For my 40th anniversary as a professional software engineer, I've decided to give Bitsy a voice as an advice columnist for those of us who love technology but sometimes struggle with the people and organizations surrounding it.
Does the world need another advice columnist? Goodness, if you'd like to master async/await or debug a deadlock, advice is a quick Google or ChatGPT query away. The technology is the easy part—it should be the fun part. Bitsy can help when mastering the machine stops being fun. She believes that GitHub is a social network for good and advocates for open source, open conversation, open exchange of ideas, and the 19 lessons. Her advice may soothe or skewer, but all in good fun. Hopefully, her voice can also become yours when you need it most.
For more from Bitsy, check out her previous article, What agile framework is right for your organization?
This previously appeared on the Dear Bitsy blog on Medium and is republished with permission.