Code name: Salamander… What does it all mean? – A MicroStation mystery

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Clearwater, Florida, USA — I came across this story rather by accident. I was sifting through the garbage outside of Axiom when a scrap of paper caught my eye. Scribbled across the top was the phrase “Code name: Salamander — knck ms users scks off.” I knew where it came from, but what did it mean? What was Axiom planning?

The clue that lead to the single most significant discovery of my investigative career.

I spent the next few weeks chasing up blind alleys — always coming to a dead-end.

The next break in the story came as I was carrying a pizza to my car late one night. I heard a sound.

“Pssst.”

The sound worried me as I didn’t have a spare. I checked all my tires, but none were leaking.

I heard the sound again.

“Pssst, buddy. Over here.”

I peered into the shadows suspiciously.

“No, buddy, I ain’t gonna hurtcha. Look, ya wanna know about ‘Salamander’ or not?”

I took a step closer. “Okay, I’m listening.”

“It’s gonna cost you.”

“Look, I have three kids, I can’t afford…”

“I don’t want your money, bub. Just hand over some of that pizza.”

I reluctantly took a slice of pizza out of the box and gave it to him.

He anxiously wolfed down the pizza, looked around, and then back at me.

“Well?” I asked.

“All I’m gonna say is I overheard something. I ain’t gonna say who and I ain’t gonna say where. They was throwing out names — names like ‘RasterDgn,’ ‘DgnSearch,’ ‘Enterprise Workspace Manager’ and uh….” He looked at me and then at the pizza.

I picked up another slice and held it toward him. When he reached for it, I pulled it back.

“What else?” I asked.

“And another name: ‘Translation Helper’. I don’t know what it means, that’s just what I heard.”

I gave him the other slice and he disappeared into the shadows.

At first I thought his “inside information” was just another wild goose chase.

I went back to my office and started a “Salamander” file. I put it in the cabinet next to other stories I was working on.

The next day held a major breakthrough on the Salamander case.

Myself and two of my closest associates had just completed a rousing game of charades when my phone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“I have more information,” said a deep, gruff voice. “Meet me in the park. Bring food.” And he hung up.

As I drove to the park, my head swam with questions. RasterDgn, Enterprise Workspace Manager, Translation Helper, Axiom, MicroStation… What was the connection? And who was this hungry informant?

I stopped to purchase a box of “Lance Toasty Rich ‘N Creamy Peanut Butter Crackers” on my way to the park. When I arrived, I saw him sitting on a park bench, dressed in a trench coat and a dark, wide-brimmed hat.

“Did you bring the food?” The mysterious informant muttered.

I handed over the crackers and sat down across from him. He stuffed a handful into his mouth and leaned in closer.

“Imagine, if you will, the ability to easily and affordably edit raster images within the MicroStation vector universe. What if you could write regular MicroStation elements like text and cells to the raster file in just one step for a fraction of the cost of other similar products?”

His eyes were slits now, as he stared at me with dark intensity.

“Now, I heard that this probably won’t be complete until later this year, but suppose there was an application that would walk you through the choices and decisions necessary to make a translation come out as desired and expected when translating from AutoCAD to MicroStation or vice-versa.…”

I gasped! But he wasn’t finished.

“Suppose this application also incorporated customized preprocessing and post processing routines, along with a truly ‘User Friendly’ interface so that anyone familiar with either AutoCAD or MicroStation could translate their files to the other format with ease and a high level of success!”

A red convertible skidded to a stop twenty feet to our right!

“It’s not safe here!” The informant leapt up, grabbed a fistful of crackers, and ran toward the foliage.

I got up calmly and walked in the opposite direction — careful to avoid eye contact with David Greenbaum, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom and owner of the red convertible. I had to get to a grocery store fast to stock up for my next meeting with the informant.

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