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Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch

Blog it Forward – Dick Hirsch

Matthias Steiner biffed me (is this even a word? Whoops – I  just discovered that this means “Strike someone roughly or sharply, usually with the fist”) me and so I figured I would sit down and whip out a quick blog.


I’m currently a service manager of a corporate Single Sign On service which is similar to the SAP ID service that you just used to login to SCN.

I’ve been collaborating on SCN since 2005 and have been involved in SAP work since 2004 when I started working with the 5.0 version of the SAP Portal. I moved on to developing Java iViews for the 6.0 Enterprise Portal, using the Composition Environment (CE), Guided Procedures and various SAP Cloud offerings. I’ve been a SAP Mentor since 2009. I’ve been blogging on SCN since 2008 (indeed, this blog will be my 160th blog on SCN) and now I focus on SAP’s Cloud strategy. My blogs tend to be a bit long-winded (my longest one so far was 19 pages!)

Fun facts about me/my country

This actually isn’t as easy as it might seem – since I’m not really sure how I define “my country”.  Although I was born and raised in the Bay Area (close to San Francisco), I moved to Austria over 20 years ago.

I’ve been living in Salzburg ever since. Salzburg is a city in Western Austria and is most famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the movie “Sound of Music”.


Sound of Music is well known in the States and in other parts of the world but in the Austria the movie is largely unknown. Even I hadn’t seen the movie until two years ago.  There are these elaborate tours for Sound of Music fans in Salzburg but residents usually shaken their heads and have no idea what the fuss is all about.  Since a recent Sound of Music musical in Salzburg was unbelievable successful (it sold out all performances for an entire year), the movie is now more well-known and Salzburg inhabitants can be heard singing Sound of Music songs albeit with German lyrics.

Here is a recent picture of me visiting Hellbrunn castle location of the gazebo where Liesl and Frank sing the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” song in the Sound of Music movie.


Right after this picture was taken, I burst out my rendition of the song causing a minor riot as the tourists scattered.

The Questions

Who has been your personal hero/role-model in your youth and why did you admire her/him?

During a recent visit in California, I discovered an old scrapbook that I made when I was very young. It contained original newspaper and magazine clippings from the first moon landing.  I also have vague memories of playing with astronaut action figures in my backyard.  In retrospect, it is tough to say why I admired astronauts – perhaps the fact that they were explorers and brave in the face of danger were most important for me.

What made you start actively participating in the community and why would you recommend to people to give it a try?

I initially started participating in SDN forums and then at some point I started blogging. My first blog was in 2006. It was this transition that marked the start of my active participation in the community. Marilyn Pratt sent me an email that called me the “mystery blogger” and much has occurred since that fateful email exchange.

One of main reasons for people to collaborate on SCN is to create a network amongst the SAP community – this is much more important and useful than building your reputation.

What is your favorite conspiracy theory?

Bloggers post innocent questions about conspiracies so that the CIA can judge how much the public knows about their many covert operations. That old trick didn’t fool me.

If you were given by your work a full day every week to do whatever you feel like, what would it be?

I’m lucky enough to be able to work part-time. For the last seven years, I have had one day off a week when I can take care of my kids, blog, ski in the winter, run in the summer, etc. I don’t answer my cell phone or answer my emails.   This day off is critical to my work-life balance.

Share a fun fact/story about yourself that people don’t know

I was a full-time stay-at-home dad for a whole year.  After the birth of my first child, I made the decision to take a year off and take care of my daughter. I went to a bunch of infant classes where I was usually the only father attending.  It was a great learning experience and allowed me to figure out where my priorities should lie.

What is the best lesson your parents taught you?

My parents always did crazy stuff with us (building a fort from telephone poles, making home-made go-carts from old roller skates, etc). That showed me that if you are always serious (as adults usually are), then you miss out on so much joy and wonder in this world. Having your own children makes this playfulness much easier to maintain.

I enjoy blogging on SCN about SAP technology, because I view it as a role-playing game set in a strange land located somewhere between Waldorf, Palo Alto and Bangalore – I follow a new path like a curious child, try to understand what I see and then try and tell others about my explorations. 

Passing the torch

I’m biffing the following people (I haven’t ask them first, so I’m curious about their response):   Brian Bernard, Alan Rickayzen, Rukhshaan Omar.

I’ll ask those next in the chain to answer the following question as well as 3 other questions on Moshe’s original blog.

  • What is your favorite city and why?

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      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Hi Dick,

      I would love to have heard you singing 'I am sixteen going on seventeen'! 

      I also would like to express my deep admiration (and jealousy?) for spending the 1st year of your daughter's life with her.  And for understanding how important that work-life balance is.  Recently, I was having trouble getting in to email from home.  I called the Help Desk, and they suggested I hold while they tried to get a technician.  All of a sudden, it dawned on me.  I am at home.  I don't need my work email right now.  Thanks, never mind.

      I am glad you got biffed 🙂


      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Blog Post Author

      I have the same problem with work email on those days where I'm not off. It is similar to eating Doritos - once you eat that first chip it is so very difficult to avoid eating the next one.


      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      OK, now Sue has Sound of Music songs going through my head ("Doe, a deer, a female deer, ray, a drop of golden sun")

      Thanks for taking up the blog it forward challenge; I admire your ability to do part-time work and my brother did the same as you - took off a year after my nephew was born, to take care of him.  So you are not alone.


      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Blog Post Author


      Austria actually has excellent laws regarding maternity/paternity leave, so it is an option that is open to most fathers but there is a reluctance on the part of many fathers to take a year off due to the supposed damage to their careers.  They don't know what they are missing - it is a period in their children's lives that they will never be able to experience again. I'm not saying that it is always easy but it sure is different from the world of enterprise software.


      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer

      Nice blog Dick.

      It's good how you point out that kids make you get your priorities straight, and that they teach you not to be serious all the time. There's no sane argument for taking yourself too serious.

      Some people really need to learn that lesson. Though you don't really need kids for that (look at me, I am still a kid).

      Oh and on a sidenote; until last year's Christmas, I had never seen the Sound Of Music either. Now I wonder how I ever managed to get through Christmas without it. The sheer mellowness helps me forget about my indigestion. 😛

      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Blog Post Author

      You can't be serious all the time and having kids makes acting silly a lot easier - so why not take advantage of it.


      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer

      Absolutely true.

      In fact, it's probably my main reason to ever have kids.

      I always feel so awkward when I go into a toy store and look at the new Lego boxes. I tend to stroll by and act like "I just have to pass by here to get to the office supplies" (which in reality is a detour, but hey..)

      One time, I couldn't resist myself and bought something cool to play with. At the checkout, there were people in front and behind me, and I started already to feel uncomfortable. There was this hot cassier sitting behind the counter and when she scanned my box (can't remember what it was) she gave me this curious look. I got so uneasy that I just blurted out "It's for my nephew! he's 12. It's not for me. I don't play with that stuff anymore. I'm a grown-up..." --> yeah, no date

      So yeah, having kids is definitely a real advantage at those times.

      Author's profile photo Matthias Steiner
      Matthias Steiner

      Happy to get to know some non technical insights from you Dick. I'm not sure I "biffed" you (in fact never heard that term before) and to my defense I can say that I explicitly asked for your ok... guess it must have become a ritual for you to 'shoot' in my direction when blogging lately /JK 😉

      As my family roots are residing in Salzburg as well I wonder if we manage to hit the slopes together this year... let's talk about that @TechEd.

      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Blog Post Author


      I didn't say that being "biffed" was a bad thing - so no worries about the request.

      We can go skiing together in Salzburg but you'll have to take it easy on me - I just moved here 20 years ago so I'm still considered a beginner. I'm sure you started skiing while you were still wearing diapers so you can probably ski rings around me. 😉


      Author's profile photo Alan Rickayzen
      Alan Rickayzen

      Hi Dick,

      Your biff worked (just too many similarities to ignore) 🙂

      BTW: Guess you didn't read Beano when you were a small kid. That might even be where the term biffing originated.

      Love the picture of Austria. Is that the view from your office window?

      Author's profile photo Richard Hirsch
      Richard Hirsch
      Blog Post Author


      If that was the view from my office, I'd never get any work done ;->


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Dick - a very interesting Blog and great to find out more about you. I love Salzburg, I went to a wedding at Schloss Mirabell followed by reception at Schloss Frohnburg where I think they filmed The Sound of Music and we really loved the city. So hot in summer!

      I have added you to my list of people to meet at TechEd Madrid.


      Author's profile photo Audrey Stevenson
      Audrey Stevenson

      Wow. How can it be I never knew you were residing in Austria? As you know, I love your writing and look forward to your new posts to consider them for featuring on the homepage.

      This is so true: "if you are always serious (as adults usually are), then you miss out on so much joy and wonder in this world"

      I think many of us take ourselves too seriously sometimes (myself included) and could use a bit (a lot?) of lightening up!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Hi Richard,

      Good Day!

      Fantastic T Shirt and I like the way that you have presented. Keep up the good work! I liked it very much. Keep sharing and motivate us! I think your favourite color is Blue. Is that correct? 🙂

      Wonderful Blog!


      Hari Suseelan