If you want AWS compatibility, use Eucalyptus. It's solid, proven, open source. I've never understood the hype around OpenStack.
I'm an inch away from 60. Happy as can be slinging code (mostly Java). I've had periods in my career where I've been up the management chain, but I never really felt alive. There's something about the magic of getting something really complex to run. Coding pays at least as well as management, especially if you're working somewhere that has Hard Problems (as opposed to just cranking out yet another form). The added bonus as you get older is that you need less sleep.
As an aging geek, and as much as an aging body sucks, I wouldn't trade my wiser more developed brain for my younger body.
The last months of a persons life are overwhelmingly the most expensive, but the outcomes are predicable. There was a great article in the WSJ on this called Why Doctors Die Differently - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203918304577243321242833962.html . The basic point is that doctors understand death, and when their condition makes death inevitable. They almost always opt for more life in their years than more years in their life. From a healthcare point of view, doctors have much less expensive end-of-life care.
As a life-long programmer myself, I've always had great relationships with the tech writers I work with. For one, I may be excellent at coding, but I'm crap at prose, and the delicate task of writing prose that is both understandable and accurate is a truly hard skill. Programmers need to have a little humility towards, and understanding of, tech writers. The other big thing about tech writers in my career has been that if a tech writer comes to me and says "I don't know how to describe this" it occasionally means that the tech writer is an idiot, but more often it means that my code isn't as clean as needed, and almost certainly has a clumsy UI.
Check out http://sveasoft.com/ - they have firmware loads for commodity WiFi nodes that turn them into excellent mesh's that do exactly what you want. Excellent tech, dirt cheap. Easy.
It's a game. Get over it. Give him an account that has zero privileges. And set it up to log whatever he does. 99% chance that he only logs in once and does nothing more than peer around for a minute. 1% chance of interesting
This is just Oracle's way of saying "Hey, you remaining engineers in Hamburg, your RIF notice is in the mail"
I had a similar issue. I never thought I could switch hands, but I was desperate. It was awkward for a long time, but it worked. The bonus is that a couple of years later, when my "art hand" had fully recovered, I found that I had two art hands, which has been wonderful
Learning Java is remarkably valuable. An easy way to start is with a cool tool called BlueJ from bluej.org. It's a "teaching IDE" that's used to teach people programming who have never programmed before. There's a textbook that comes with it. It's been used by literally millions of people all over the world.
If you use ZFS with SSDs, it scales very nicely. There isn't a bottleneck at a raid controller. You can slam a pile of controllers into a chassis if you have bandwidth problems because you've bought 100 SSDs - by having the RAID management outside the controller, ZFS can unify the whole lot in one giant high performance array.
Sandboxes are a tried and true idea, they work well. It's about time
This may be sacrilegious in this crowd, but fear of patent suits is one of the major (perhaps *the* major) reasons that many companies don't open source more software. Device drivers are one of the most common areas where this problem crops up: if they open sourced their drivers, others would have lots of material to base a patent suit on. What others don't know about, they can't sue about. It sucks, but the system is what it is.
If you don't take the money, this is what will happen: you're clearly doing something they want. If you turn down your offer, they'll just have to reinvent it. They'll probably even be ethical and clean about it so you won't be able to sue for IP theft. But you'll end up as a few geeks with principles trying to compete with someone who has real resources. At that point, you're toast.
I strongly recommend "Feynman's Lost Lecture", a reconstruction of a lecture that Richard Feynman once gave that was a proof of Newton's equations as applied to planetary motion. All of Kepler's laws are derived during the course of the lecture. When Feynman prepared for this lecture, he set himself the challenge of doing it all without using advanced calculus, and restricting himself to "high school" mathematics. It's brilliant and totally do-able for (bright) high school students.