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Comment: Re:Inspire kids to be the next Woz, not Jobs (Score 1) 245 245

No doubt that I would prefer my kids be like Woz.

Ironically, even though Jobs cheated him, Woz ultimately has amassed enough of fortune that he arguably hasn't had a real job in 30 years, - and IMHO that is largely thanks to Steve Jobs who kept working almost right up until his death.

Now, Woz has technically been employed by several companies but it seems his role has largely been limited to being a figure head. He also has many philanthropic pursuits, so I'm not accusing him of sitting on his ass. Just saying that he lives a life of ease, and that has more to do with Jobs than it does his own accomplishments. So while Jobs screwed him financially many years ago, Woz has continued to benefit from Apple's and Steve's work, long after he ceased making any real contributions of his own.

I guess if it were me, I wouldn't be holding a grudge. ;)

Comment: Re:Pretty much exactly what my wife did (Score 1) 245 245

My wife was out of the programming workforce for about twenty years, and worried that her FORTRAN skills were no longer needed :-)

I encouraged her to take some Java classes, she liked it a lot, found an interesting job and several years later is loving it.

The thing is, do the research to find an *interesting* job -- yeah, it may be just "Java Enterprise stuff", but if it's an interesting project, and something you believe in, with good people, it's worth doing. My wife's team is a crazy bunch, and she enjoys their interactions (and telling me the wild stories) a lot.

She's been able to learn a lot of useful side technologies (XSLT, Databases, basic web stuff, etc.) so she'll be able to find a new job if the rumors of them moving the project she's on several hundred miles away pan out.

Anyway, with you working, she doesn't have to settle for the "first available" job, look around a lot, interview a bunch (if nothing else, to hone interviewing skills).

Good luck to you both!

I agree that an approach like that can make a big difference. Coding on an interesting project is completely different than coding something you don't give a crap about. Being out of the game for 3 years makes it more difficult to be choosy like that but if she's not as concerned about a high salary, she could look to some smaller organizations or non-profits that need technical staff.

Comment: Re:Don't Do IT! (Score 1) 125 125

27-year olds are 1/10 as effective as a 45-year old.

Indians... forget about it. They code horribly.

I know that, but MBAs don't recognize the truth of it.

I would expect that there are quite a few MBAs that are smart enough to realize that age and ethnicity aren't reliable predictors of effectiveness. There are also plenty of organizations where MBAs aren't making IT related hiring decisions.

My advice is to quit worrying about MBAs, H1-Bs and people that are younger than you. The best you can do for your career is to make sure that you are effective now and still will be 5 to 10 years from now. You can't depend on your company to make sure that will be the case. That definitely means you will need to learn new skills whether they are technical or "soft" skills. This a brutal industry in the sense that technology will almost certainly pass you by unless you stay on top of it. Being really good at what you do today isn't going to be good enough.

In any sensible software development group, there will be fewer managers than there will be coders, so moving to management doesn't mean that you've suddenly got a wealth of jobs to choose from.

Comment: Re:It really doesn't matter (Score 1) 292 292

But both spent a ton of money. How many millions were spent just on the primaries?

The realistic choices for president were limited to those who could amass a large fortune in contributions. There's some democracy left in this country at the local level, but even those races are getting expensive unless you're in a small town.

Comment: Re:We need more people like him... (Score 1) 323 323

Here's my take on it. I'm in a leadership position so this does hit home with me but it could anyone. If you've been around long enough, you've had bosses or coworkers that have had a "blunt" style. You've also probably worked with shrinking violets. The "blunt" people are generally way more effective leaders than shrinking violets but they definitely have their limitations and that style can come back to bite them.

I have had no personal interaction with Linus so all of his supposed bluntness might be blown out of proportion. Anyway, it is one thing to be a leader of a project that lots of very talented people want to work on and quite another to be a successful leader on a project that's more of a mixed bag (which most are). In my mind good leaders know what their weaknesses are and work to eradicate them.

Kudos to Linus for writing the kernel, hooking up with the GNU people and keeping it all going. But I'm not at all convinced that his leadership style is intrinsic to the success of Linux. Obviously his leadership style has been at least good enough, but one wonders if more success could have been possible.

Anyway, I agree with Linus in that Linux will be just fine without him.

Comment: Re:This can't be good for Silicon Valley (Score 3, Insightful) 346 346

Yeah, there are labor laws for a reason and if you're using "contractors" you don't have to pay minimum wage for example. There are some Uber drivers that have learned how to game the system and earn OK money, but they work hard and hustle customers.

The average Uber driver probably makes less than minimum wage, - especially once their expenses are factored in. Uber pays a premium for working certain hours, accepting 90% of rides, taking at least one ride per hour in that time frame, etc. It's hard to qualify for the premium all the time.

So really what it amounts to is that Uber is dancing around labor laws so that they can offer a cheaper and more convenient service. There may or may not be evil intentions, but that's the end result.

I guess the question is when does an arrangement for services cross the line into exploitation? It's not always obvious. I may be perfectly happy to do something for a few bucks on the side or even for free just for the experience or the kicks. But what if someone else is trying to earn a living doing the same thing?

For example, let's say you'd think it be great to sail across the Atlantic on a 70 foot keel boat but you lack experience and a boat. You run across someone advertising the need for crew on a two month sailing tour, - no experience necessary. You have to help pay for food and supplies, plus you have to help sail and maintain the boat along the way. But otherwise there's no charge AND no pay. Sounds like quite an adventure right? Well, a week into it you discover that there's a whole lot of work to do and the "captain" isn't doing much of it. In fact, he's got paying guests that aren't doing anything at all. You want off but the best he'll do is drop you at the next island and you've got pay for your own way home.

Well, there are laws that govern this kind of thing because it is very easy to exploit people.

Comment: Re:Most influential individual economic force... (Score 1) 323 323

What does set Linux apart from the BSDs is that BSD is the whole enchilada, - not just the kernel. You could argue (and many have) that it was the combination of GNU and Linux was the key to success. You could also say that BSD would have never enjoyed that same success even if Linux had never come along because GNU/Linux encouraged/promoted shared development in a way that BSD didn't. I'm not sure I buy that.

However, if you are going to make that point then Linus becomes just one of many people responsible for it's success. He clearly was one of (but not the only) key player and he's the one it's named after.

Comment: Re:Most influential individual economic force... (Score 1) 323 323

The post that I responded to suggested that Alan Greenspan shouldn't be thought of as having more economic impact than Torvalds because if Greenspan hadn't been in his position, someone else would have been and history would have largely turned out the same (which may or may not be true).

My argument is that there were many people working towards the same end that Linus was, and BSD even got there first but was held back by legal battles.

Newton was ground breaking. Linux, not particularly. Not technically anyway.

Comment: Re:Most influential individual economic force... (Score 1) 323 323

But there are lot of people turned off/scared off by the GPL. Even people who had no intention of making their code proprietary. Or perhaps initially wanted to create a closed product but could be convinced to open source it later on. You could easily argue that the BSDs would have had an easier time getting commercial/enterprise viability than Linux but BSD got a later start.

Linux got out of the gate a year or two before BSD because of lawsuit that put the status of BSD in question. It was '93 or so before that was cleared up and by that time Linux had a lot of momentum. Lots of people would argue that OS/2 was a superior OS to DOS/Windows but Windows was first to market and was good enough.

And let's be clear, copies or forks of BSD might be susceptible to embrace/extend but BSD itself would always be there.

So things might have looked a lot different without Linus but not necessarily worse and perhaps better.

Look at it this way. Alan Greenspan in many ways was a product of his time. Still, someone else in that same role at the same point in history probably would have not made the exact same decisions or commanded the same respect he did. The markets hung on his every utterance. In the end it may have turned out to be a wash no matter who ran the Fed, but a couple of different decisions either by the Fed itself or by the market could made some big differences. We do not know.

By the same token, Linus was a product of his time. He wrote Linux because he, like many people saw a need/demand for a free UNIX for X86. There were other cheap or free versions of UNIX in the works or already available. If Linus hadn't created the Linux kernel, some other UNIX or UNIXen would have filled the void that Linux did. The results may have been quite a bit different or largely the same. We do not know.

Comment: Re:Most influential individual economic force... (Score 1) 323 323

He created his own kernel and patterned the file system after Multics. He knew and admitted that a kernel is useless on its own and so worked with the GNU folks to build an OS around his kernel.

So without Linus there may not have been anything exactly equivalent to GNU/Linux but there would have been the BSDs. And the BSDs may or may not have thrived the way Linux did. No way to know for sure, but there almost certainly would have been a widely available free UNIX like OS without Linus.

Comment: Re:Most influential individual economic force... (Score 1) 323 323

He built Linux off the work of people and institutions that came before him or were even contemporaries.

Of course. To a point.

He also wasn't the only one working on a free or low cost "unix like" operating system, but his system is the one that took off.

GPL + Linux is why it took off. I give Stallman a lot credit; perhaps even more than Linus; because the GPL was a big deal. Still Linus chose to use it.

If there had been no Linus and no Linux, there would surely have been something else.

Surely? I'm not remotely convinced. GNU Hurd might have gotten off the ground if it had received the attention that went to linux... or it might still be a toy project in a university somewhere chasing ideological perfection rather than the practical.

It really is the unique blend of ideology + practicality that made GNU/Linux special and I'm not convinced it was inevitably going to happen.

I guess we need to define what "something else" is and maybe the answer for you lies in the fact that you refer to it as GNU/Linux. Let's say there was no Linux. We still have the BSDs that would have gotten some additional attention. There is the whole GPL thing which people have different feelings about. You could take the view that with the less restrictive license and having a less fractured UNIX world, the BSDs would have gotten farther than Linux has.

If the ideology behind the GPL is extremely important to you then maybe you're right in the sense that that particular philosophy would have not gotten as far without Linus.

If we are to be honest, I'd say the major reason it took off was that it was open source, but GPL isn't the only open source licensing model and many would argue it's not the best.

Comment: Re:We need more people like him... (Score 2) 323 323

Not to put too fine a point on it, but being a stubborn prick might have been ultimately what killed Steve Jobs. He delayed surgery for 9 months because he insisted on "treating" his cancer through alternative medicine. He refused to listen to the people around him.

You can get far by being an asshole if you're an asshole that's right. Most everyone gets it wrong at some point though and after awhile a lot of these people get trapped in their own reality distortion field.

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.