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Chaski to relieve suffering for Helix TCP/IP users

17 February 2004--When we undertook the Helix 6 project, we made three critical decisions that would guide our work. For those of you just joining us, or for those of you who are just plain antsy to know what’s taking so long, those decisions bear repeating.

First and foremost, we decided that the old code had to go, but since rewriting everything from scratch would take too long, we would rewrite it as we went along. In laymen’s terms, it came down to this: every time we encountered something that could be done more quickly and easily in, say, Pascal, we would go instead with C or C++ because those languages would afford us greater the flexibility we needed to reach our three primary objectives: macOS, Windows and Linux.

The second decision was simple: continue doing what we’re already doing, which is to fix problems as we encounter them. So, if we were in the middle of a particular operation and tripped over something that didn’t work properly, we’d fix it, whether or not it had anything directly to do with what we were working on. Together with Decision #1, this has led to a great deal of improvement in the Helix work environment already.

The third decision was to make technology available as soon as it is truly ready, not to wait for artificial or undeclared deadlines. This decision was, at its heart, a statement of our commitment never to let marketing dictate the direction of technology. Marketing may speak, and it may influence, but it must never direct. That mistake has been repeated too often already in the short history of Helix.

That third decision, together with the first two, gave us the expanded Fixed Point range, QuickTime support, the ability to preview externally stored documents and more...all functionality slated to be part of Helix 6. And the added benefit of that decision is that putting that technology in your hands is, in large part, responsible for generating the revenues we need to get to Helix 6 and beyond. long as we keep mentioning Helix 6, here’s another picture as we promised:

Coming back to the subject of revenue for a moment, we would be remiss if we let an opportunity to ask for money go by: remember, the Recovery Team is funded completely by upgrades, new Helix license sales, training, T-shirts, investor T-shirts and purchases of USUs. This trip is far from over and the need for funding is as critical today as it was on December 22, 2002 when the march toward Helix 6 began.

But we digress...Ever since Helix 5 shipped, we all agreed that the existing TCP/IP networking code in Helix could not be part of Helix’s future. It either had to be fixed or replaced. We created a specification for what it had to do, found the right people to do the job and put them to work in June of 2003, after a specification period of nearly six months. They produced the initial fruits of their labors last fall and we immediately set ourselves to the tasks of building and debugging versions of Helix containing the new code.

It has been very difficult for us to sit by and watch Helix users abandon Helix because of its lack of support for emerging standards in TCP/IP. It has also been hard to hear the horror stories about what some users are going through to make it work. It was encouraging to hear how many people thought 5.2.1 brought a big improvement in Helix TCP/IP performance, if only because, as the old saying goes, "if they liked that, they’re gonna love this…"

We had been testing Chaski every day, using it for our internal operations, isolating and eliminating many bugs along the way. In January we felt confident that we were "99%" of the way there, so we invited our beta testers to help us conduct a preliminary test of Chaski to see how well it would respond to a larger group of users. The results of that test led to further refinements and now, we believe, the code is solid and beta testing will start in earnest.

At the successful conclusion of these public tests, Chaski will become known as Helix 5.3, replacing Helix 5.2.1 as the current version of Helix. Anyone who purchased Helix 5.1 or later will get a free upgrade to Helix 5.3.

So please check our home page often over the next few days as we prepare for this test. We need your help!

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