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Submission + - In Praise of the Solo Programmer

HughPickens.com writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There’s no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac’s all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple’s Preview does justice to the app’s power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller’s Acorn, an “Image Editor for Humans”, now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn’t working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."

Comment Re:Is it really bad to reduce aggressive treatment (Score 1) 245

I agree that in some cases it is cruel to provide treatment beyond pain management.

Where do we draw the line between little to no hope and a "fair chance"?

I am curious to see how many people who would support not treating hopeless cases, especially for monetary reasons, also support doctor-assisted suicide laws like Oregon has.

Comment Re: No Foul play... (Score 1) 173

Or are you talking about artists who sign an ill-considered contract because they've chosen poorly in their selection of business partners, and couldn't be bothered to get some expert help to look over the contract? You're not being "ripped off" when you choose to enter into an agreement.

Are you claiming that the record labels who offer these bad contracts are innocent?

Comment Re:A few comments (Score 1) 161

Yet it is the "red" states that get more from the feds than they pay in and the "blue" states that do not, which means that those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" states are welfare states.

The whole blue/red state thing is a stupid divisive tool.

Outside of 4-5 counties, Washington is deep red, although with a strong libertarian bend. Remove Whatcom county at the Canadian Border down to Thurston Country at the south of Puget Sound and Washington is no different and just as backwards as Idaho.

Comment Re: Easy ... (Score 1) 318

You mean the hundreds of large companies that employ people to work on the Linux kernel because Linux is such an important part of their business?

That Linux?

What does a kernel have to do with the success on the desktop? If you want to talk about a complete OS, the kernel is but one piece and I challenge you to find a mainstream Linux distro that is more difficult to install than Windows.

I just built a new machine a few month back that I dual boot. I had OpenSUSE installed, fully configured including drivers, dev tools(even third party tools like RubyMine) and updated inside 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, Windows 7 wasn't even 10% done with updates, much less have useful drivers and apps on it.

None of that has anything to do with the subject at hand: the Linux kernel is an example of a successful project where its devs are scattered to the wind, and unlike a company that lets its programmers work at home, Linux devs are employed by many competing interests, that Linus successfully wrangles them to keep the kernel functional and coherent is a testament to his abilities as a project manager.

Claiming that the Linux kernel isn't one of the biggest successes is to ignore the reality that it runs everywhere, from the smallest machines to the most powerful supercomputing clusters and is a success on two planets.

Comment Time to take addresses back (Score 1) 307

I know a university that has an entire class B block and they claim that they need them because they pass them out to anyone connecting to wifi on campus. In reality they could get by with maybe 20 addresses, at most.

Yup, connect your laptop on campus and you have an internet routable address.

There is lots of address waste.

"Just think, with VLSI we can have 100 ENIACS on a chip!" -- Alan Perlis