I just now learned that Karen Kenworthy, the author of a great number of excellent tools, is dead. All my heroes are dying.
Checking back in on software ∞
It started with the difficulty of finding and getting things. I would keep things I downloaded from BBS'. I collected a lot.
When I later got into this internet thing, though it took time I admitted the transitory nature of the internet and began saving important things there, too. I've operated under the assumption that I'll lose internet access.
I keep all the important software I use or may use, and some of their alternatives. I don't bookmark things. Again, I operate under the assumption I'll lose internet access.
Now, when going through my software to organize and update things, I'm finding software which has gone stale.
Sometimes a program won't have been updated for a newer version of my operating system. Sooner or later, an old program can't work with what I'm using. I recently learned that I won't be able to use 16 bit applications on Windows 10 and I believe this includes DOS software.
Sometimes the author has gone on to other things, and their software is "done" and continues to work in spite of having not been updated in years (Blackbox, I'm looking at you.). In today's "always-updating" environment, this is a little irksome, but this is the way things used to be. I need to remember that a good piece of software is "done" when it ships, like old console games.
Sometimes the hardware or operating system has been abandoned by the public at large, and the community consists of a mere handful of enthusiasts. I've seen this with several generations of computers. The Commodore 64, the Amiga, DOS, BeOS, generations of Windows, the HP 200LX, the Zaurus (Zaurus SL-C1000), and soon the original Pandora.
.. and sometimes the author has died.
How many years would pass before we check back in for an update and see the website gone, not knowing if the author has moved on to other things or moved on up, never to return?
I've researched people. I've found them in their other projects. I've tracked down and contacted them, but I've now lived into the times when I'll conclude a search at an obituary.
I like to think I give a small amount of respect to each and every program I keep. I categorize them, name them and now I try to post on them and add notes.
Although I haven't used them in years, I'll soon be reverentially posting pages for what tools of Karen's I've kept in my toolkit.
I don't know how long her software will be usable or even relevant. I expect that one day, some future version of Windows will leave her software behind.
Karen's death announcement on Facebook ∞
(source, the linking is mine)
Author of the Karen's Power Tools Newsletter and fellow computer programmer, Karen Kenworthy, died on April 12, 2011.
Karen was one of my first customers at Vigoris Technologies. I had the pleasure of visiting the KarenWare global headquarters to help reconfigure her router and servers when she switched to my DSL service.
In 2009, while I was homeless, I received an email from Karen asking how to reconfigure something else. She wanted to pay me, but I only spent 5 minutes writing an email, so I said I couldn't charge a friend for that...
I received this letter a few days later:
I hope this letter finds you in time for Thanksgiving. That's because I want to say thanks for your help with my network cutover. Your advice and encouragement helped make the cutover smooth and successful. Since that day, the new network has worked perfectly -- just as you predicted!
I know we discussed compensation for your help. And you were kind enough to offer your help purely as a friend. I was touched by that offer and greatly appreciate it.
But I also know that you have many needs, some of which can be helped by a little money. That's why I'm hoping you'll accept the small amount enclosed with this note. It might help you move into an apartment a little earlier, or provide something you need or would enjoy. Please think of it as my offer of help, purely as a friend.
I hope you have a comfortable and pleasant Thanksgiving holiday. I'll be thinking about you as I sit down to dinner with my parents and friends, and offer a prayer. I hope it won't be long before you fully enjoy the same blessings, as you continue the hard work of "debugging and upgrading" your valuable life (something we all have to do).
Your friend and loyal customer,
And Karen also sent a donation to the Salvation Army in Shawnee along with a letter saying she appreciated what they were doing for me and the others there. She was kind enough to add that I was one of the best computer programmers she knew.
Karen's letter has a stamp she printed in her office (of course) and it's on letterhead she made (of course) and her letterhead icon is a teddy bear (of course).
Karen was so forward thinking that she registered TeddyBear.com when .com registrations were young and also got herself a separately route-able class-C network. Those weren't available in 1996 when I got started and they probably had not been for quite some time.
In February of 2010 she emailed me saying that she had almost dropped in on me recently because she was with friends not far from Shawnee looking at a hunting lease. We traded a couple more emails and then she said she might be in town that April and we should get together. I was looking forward to it.
April came and went. She didn't reply to my next emails -- I was afraid she might be sick.
Her last newsletter was sent in March, 2010.
Karen has personally touched tens of thousands of lives.
That's all I want to say about that. :(
About Karen ∞
(I believe I got this from the same facebook announcement from above)
(That GMail email address is almost certainly unmonitored now)
Newspaper obituary ∞
Loving daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She entered this world June 1952, in Levelland, TX. Graduate of Edison High School and Westminster College. Brilliant, witty, and deeply caring. Survived by parents Joe and Marja Kenworthy of Tulsa, brothers Bill Kenworthy (Susan) of Desoto, TX and Kevin Kenworthy (Lisa) of Falls Church, VA, 11 nieces and nephews, and dear friends Michelle and Terry Starr. Memorial Service 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 16, 2011, at Moore's Southlawn Chapel. This obituary was published in the Tulsa World on 4/15/2011.