When I was first hired at SlickEdit, I remember going out to lunch with one of my fellow developers (Dennis, for those of you who are familiar with our language support guru) and having a conversation about how cool it was what some people get to accomplish every day, developing software. I think Dennis sensed that I might have been less than enamored with some of my daily tasks at SlickEdit, in terms of their positive impact in my world, and he was nice enough to express his personal feelings on the subject. When some people are writing code that is run on robots collecting data on Mars, and I am trying to implement some possibly-obscure set of commands for our Vim emulation, it is easy to look out the window and wonder what crazy-awesome project there is that I could be coding. Well as usual, Dennis hit the nail on the head and enlightened me that any feature I am working on for our editor could be saving hundreds of programmers valuable minutes (hours?) in their day. This, in turn, enables them to churn out more code, be much more productive, and lets us be at least a small part of all their great accomplishments. All was well in the jungle.

I recently came across a great local story about software making a huge difference in the lives of many children in our area. Just up the road in Wake Forest, NC, Melissa Matthews recently won the “Ikea Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest”. The award was a $100,000 grant to continue work on a project which will improve the lives of others in their community. Melissa is the mother of a child with down syndrome, and is well aware of the incredible work of software developers who are creating apps for special needs children. She is working with the Frankie Lemmon School right here in Raleigh, NC, to enhance their use of technology in furthering the education and development of their students.

If you check out the website born from this project/grant at http://frankielemmonschool.org/technologies, you can read all about the efforts of Melissa and the Frankie Lemmon school. One iPad app currently in use (DAF Assistant) helps students who have speech impediments by relaying delayed auditory feedback to them as they speak. It’s been well studied that this technique can make a big difference in their development. In true SlickEdit fashion, the app is very customizable and has received great ratings in the iTunes store :). There is a list of all apps for the iPhone and iPad being researched and used at http://www.kcdsg.org/files/content/24470331-iPhone-and-iPod-touch-Apps-for-Special-Education.pdf.

Of course, short of contacting any of these developers directly, I have no way of knowing that our editor was a part of the development of these pieces of software…but it sure is possible. At any rate, it’s always nice to hear about fellow coders who are working on special projects and making a difference. Maybe they are hardcore Vim users who just wish they had a nice graphical interface to organize their projects, while still being able to use their familiar Vim key bindings…