A few people said I should say a few words about myself, my motivations in writing the program, and my programming philosophy. (I invite you to the side bar for additional info on my 'philosophy on customer support.')
So just in case anyone cares, or thinks knowing something about the author of a program is in any way important or interesting, here is a bit about me.
I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1953. I lived my entire pre-adult life there. (Arlington section, for those who know Jacksonville.)
I attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, for my undergraduate education. It was at Stetson that I first became enamored with my wife, with computers and with programming. I attended Law School at the University of Florida. Go Gators!
(Oh, yeah, I graduated, too.)
I served a 4 year military tour with the US Army as an Army Lawyer (JAGC, 1978-1982). I was assigned to Fort Eustis (Newport News), VA. I did
all of the things that you saw military lawyers do in the TV show
'JAG'. (Only kidding.)
Because of my stated interest
in computers and technology, when I arrived at Ft. Eustis I was given the assignment of procuring two computers and buying or developing a process to speed up the production of standard documents such a Wills, Powers of Attorney and Marital Settlement Agreements. I traveled the country (on your taxpayer dollars) searching and studying for the right stuff.
I cannot recall the name of the personal computers that I ended up buying, but they were big. Not UNIVAC big, but big nevertheless
compared to the computers of today. The removable storage devices were
those huge 8" floppy disks that held maybe a dozen documents, tops.
I also became quite adept at
the IBM memory cards and memory belts while working on early document
assembly models. It was through their use that I developed a
'sensitivity' to the urgency and importance of document assembly.
After my tour of duty, my wife, Betty (whom I met while at Stetson and married while in law school) and I decided (1) to start a family and (2) to stay in Newport News. I also had to get a ''real world' job. I joined the law firm of Wentworth & Buxton. Because of my stated interest
in computers and technology (note a pattern here?), I was given the assignment of programming the two computers they had recently purchased and to develop a process to speed up the production of standard documents such a Wills, Powers of Attorney and Marital Settlement Agreements. I was being type-cast! But I truly enjoyed it (then as now).
All of the above was still pre-Word and WordPerfect. We used a wonderful program called ''SunWord" (no relation to Sun MicroSystems), later renamed to
"Prisma." Best program in the world for document assembly at the time,
no question about it. Then along came Word and WordPerfect. No big deal to us. Prisma was
still much better, and we stuck with it. Then along came Windows. The world changed. Word and WordPerfect made the transition. Prisma could not. Sad.
About the program itself: It is all written by me. Every line of code. Every button. Every good thing. Every bad thing. Every one of those horrible typographical errors. All mine.
(I really do know how to spell. I know how to put two words together and how to form a meaningful sentence. But proof-reading one's own work is just hard. And I constantly forget to press the spell checker. There is a definite downside of trying to do it all.)
On the other hand, I am 'in charge.' I can write the kind of program I envisioned. I set the original design parameters as: "no codes, and no programming required." My goal was to make it usable for the typical user, not just the on-staff techie. And I can enforce those rules.
I personally read and answer all the email. I try to respond instantly to your reports of bugs, requests for improvements and new features.
My intimate and daily involvement with the program also explains why I take it personally when I ask for customer feedback, yet none comes. I know that the reluctance of customers to write about a problem is based on their general experience with other programs: "What's the point, nobody will listen anyway."
But that belief drives me crazy. I will (and do) listen and I will take care of the problem. I promise. Just give me a chance! Whether you are a long term customer or a first day demo-user -- if you have an issue with Pathagoras, I want to know about it.
And that is about as direct a statement of my philosophy as there can be.
Then along came HotDocs(r) and
a few other document assembly programs. The ease and simple logic that defined Prisma, and its document assembly features, were absent. Despite my programming background, I simply could not understand
the logic of these programs. I also could not understand what HD and its bretheren were trying to do by adding such complexity to the process.
I told them so. They wouldn't listen. So I started writing my own program. It ended up being pretty good.
When I first introduced the program into my office, the most skeptical staff member there was Jeri (real name. No protection here.). She did not work directly for me, though. She heard all of the moans and groans coming from my
personal staff during the program's early failures. She wanted no
part of that, and made that clear to me!
But when the time came for the entire office to finally make the transition (with the blessing of the senior partner), Jeri was forced to try Pathagoras. I was pleased and relieved that the first word out of her mouth was "Wow." That's why you see that word a lot on the site.
With Jeri's reaction, and positive encouragement from others, I eventually decided to market what I had developed. HotDocs and others continued their ''let's add more complicated stuff' trek. I was determined to go in the other direction.
My design criteria was 'plain text,' 'no codes' and no 'Boolean logic.' That has remained the lodestar
of the program design. (When Word came out with SmartTags, I was determined to ignore them as well. When Word came out with 2007 and Vista, and all the new fangled things they added, my reaction was, and still is 'so what' and 'what have they done to disrupt our lives now?')
For almost every day for the past 14 years, I have worked on the program, the documentation, or the website. All by myself (see side bar).
Writing a program like this is like having a 4th child. (Oh, did I mention that I have three sons? They are my pride and joy, but all are grown or almost grown now. This diversion has been very healthy for me, and keeps me young and mentally healthy.)
The original name of the program was PathSmart. It changed to Pathagoras when I was working a puzzle at my Dad's house in Jacksonville. The puzzle's answer was 'the philosopher Pythagoras.' I 'knew' that Pythagoras was a mathematician, not a philosopher. Triangles, and all that. But when I checked it out in the encyclopedia, I stood corrected. Pythagoras' philosophy hit me like a ton of bricks: 'Everything is number.' It so perfectly fit idea I had for PathSmart (assigning a single digit number to complex DOS names) that I knew right then and there that 'Pathagoras' (with the 'a') was going to be the new name for my still nascent program.
Most people hated the name. Most still do. Oh well. But, at least this answers that burning question, 'Where did that name come from?" (It is pronounced p'THAG'o'ras, in case you were wondering.)
When I write to my customers and ask for feedback, I mean it. When I say that 'I enjoy hearing from anyone about any topic,' I mean it. I really do like the interchanges. See the side bar. Via Pathagoras, I have developed a network of friends. I truly feel that everyone who writes for the first time is a new friend. And I cherish each one. (But I am still going to charge for the program and the annual maintenance fee. Friendship can put just so many children through college.)
In addition to writing Pathagoras and practicing as an attorney, I am actively involved with volunteer work. I am avidly of the opinion that we need to give back to the communities and organization that provided our bases in life. Our community centers, our houses of worship, and our gathering places that existed when we were just getting started were there because our parents and predecessors saw to it. We owe the same to our children. My law office website reflects some of that aspect of my 'bio.'