Hal Helms

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Top Stories by Hal Helms

One of the most enduring of American legends is that of John Henry, the "steel drivin' man," who pitted his strength against a machine - and won. Unlike many legends, John Henry was a real person - a former slave who was hired by the C&O Railroad to cut holes in rock into which explosives were placed in order to create tunnels. It was slow, difficult, dangerous work and John Henry did it better than anyone. One day, a salesman came to John Henry's camp and boasted that his steam-powered drill could outwork any man, and the now-famous contest was on. John Henry won the race, drilling fourteen feet to the machine's nine, but his victory was short-lived as he died a few hours later from the stress of the competition. It's ironic, but the best thing for John Henry's reputation was his death after that victory. Had he lived, he would have seen his value as a worker dimi... (more)

ColdFusion Developer's Journal Special "Frameworks" Focus Issue: Mach-II

It's all Simon's fault. We say this to all framework writers who, even now, are trying to recover from the task assigned them by CFDJ's editor-in-chief: provide an article and an implementation of the Macromedia Pet Market application in their chosen framework. Realizing that our first sentence might not serve as sufficient explanation for those weary framework authors, allow us to provide further clarification... It began with an innocent-seeming dinner for speakers at the recent "Fusebox and Frameworks" conference. When we found ourselves seated next to Simon Horwith, we had... (more)

A Developer's Story Part 2

In last month's article, I introduced you to a company with a project in jeopardy. When I was called in to analyze the situation, I discovered that the project was a major revision; the first version had been very successful, but now the company was running into problems. I promised the CIO that I would make a presentation to his key development team. In preparation for that meeting, I found myself at a local store, Frank's House of Models... Frank led me to the back of his small store, filled to the ceiling with models, some of which were so old that they must have been made when... (more)

The Best Recipe

About two years ago, I decided that it would be "fun" to learn to cook. I figured I would be a quick learner; after all, I liked to eat (passion for the subject), I had been a skilled cabinetmaker (possessed manual skills), and I enjoyed watching "Iron Chef" on the Food Network (had an available learning resource). Compared to cabinetmaking and software development, how hard could it be? When I told my wife, she adopted a Mona Lisa-type smile and told me what a good idea she thought it was. She was remarkably encouraging. So, I started on my journey to becoming a chef (the simpl... (more)

Do You Object?

As I write this, ColdFusion MX is widely available in a preview release and it looks like it's going to be an excellent one. CFMX offers several features to ColdFusion developers, including native support for reading and writing XML, Unicode support, better Flash widgets, and Web services. Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is the introduction of what they're calling ColdFusion Components - CFCs for short. CFCs are the integration of two previous ColdFusion pieces: structures and user-defined functions. Structures are wonderful things that allow us to model the idea of a thi... (more)