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User Journal

Journal Journal: Theory Time: The Dev Gov't Theory.

Ok, got a theory here. It was sparked by current things going on in my job and the example of Google.

Developers have a unique insight into data, data models and systems that manipulate them. Therefore developers often have the most insight into what's next in terms of computer development. For example an in-house developer creates a simple database querying system to pull reports for the higher ups. Some time after completing that, the developer usually thinks to him/herself how they could have made it better. It doesn't take long before they've got a plan on how they'd improve it. After the first go round, the developer has learned a few things to. So the process repeats. The dev improves the system, learns techniques and sees that things are not quite at that next level.

This process never goes on indefinitely. That's because at some point the company funding this developer says we've invested enough money/time into it. OR, time is cut short by a promised deadline. OR, and this happens the least often, the developer has no improvements that wouldn't fundamentally change the system. A new system is needed at that point.

Google seems to be the only company that has seen where this rabbit hole goes. When no premature deadline/budget is involved the results are pretty amazing. They pump out apps that are really strong and have high ease of use. In addition some of their apps are providing public service sort of services. Book Search, Maps...

Code is cheap. Code is reusable. Code doesn't wear off. It can be obsoleted. But, it doesn't break with use like physical world commodities. And, it's really, really cheap to reproduce.

So, to recap: Developers contribute greatly to society when given creative freedoms, loose budgets, absence of deadlines and a general, ambiguous focus.

Here's where the theory starts. At some point, it will become desireable for the local, federal or state government to hire developers who do nothing but pick projects and expand upon them. We as a society will come to depend on things like search engines, map engines, email etc. There will be a point where the citizenry can't trust corporations to be the gatekeepers of these services. There will also be a point where such a tremendous amount of code will either fall out of public patent limits, be removed of patentability, or be open sourced. When that tipping point is reached, to better serve the public, governments of some kind will need to step in to take over these services. And that'll probably be a near catastrophe.

At which point, there will be a sort of Post Office vs Fed-ex competition going with the gov't and private enterprise in terms of software.


Ok, so this is a really sketchy theory. But, it's not something I can dismiss easily.

Whether this theory has merit or not, it's kind of fun to theorize here.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Non-profit

I work in the non-profit world. Did I ever mention that? I probably did in a comment or two.

So... Non-profit, what's that like?

Let me describe my job. I am the one and only Web Developer at an Umbrella Charitable Organization. I won't name names but, I'm sure if you look those words up and put two and two together, you'll have a good idea. We're set up to cover several counties in our state. So, we've got smaller satellite offices in each of the surrounding counties and one big head office in the main city. So, it's pretty important that we do a lot of communicating between locations since physical distance is about an hour drive from the main office to any of the satellites.

So, this means that we need an intranet for internal communication and of course we have our external site for public communication.

The work environment is interesting. I'm the only developer on staff. I'm also one of three computer technical people on staff. I say technical because we wear a lot of hats and switch them around frequently. I'm beginning to think I'm the only active developer in all of the sister organizations to ours. We're certainly the only one with a home built intranet site that responds with dynamic content. Non-profits are notorious for skimping on their IT staff in the belief that budgets are better spent on the fundraising folks or the good cause they are committed to. For some of them, that's perfectly acceptible. For others, it just leaves the organization stagnant and unflexible. Thankfully our Org leaders have a different view on that. The moment that changes, I may be out of a job.

During the first year or two I was here, I obsoleted so many of our daily functions. I think I easily saved my salary in expenses those two years. Some of the things I obsoleted were just ridiculous wastes of time.

It took me nearly 4 years to get to the point where I had stopped feeling like I was playing catch up.

Overall, the experience is rewarding. I'm surrounded by people who are professional and caring. The salaries aren't what you'd get at the megacorps. So, we tend to attract people who want to make a difference over making a killing. It feels good to know that I'm enabling people to make a bigger difference. I like to think that for every task I simplify, I add about a minute a day on average to my co-workers. And when you multiply that out by the co-workers and the number of days in a year, that really adds up. Hey, it's how I get my warm fuzzies with out directly interacting with the community. (I'm lousy at that anyways.)

Downsides? Salary. Definitely salary and benefits and all that jazz. And, because we're a non-profit, were constantly being looked at and evaluated for honesty, efficiency and outcomes. So, there tends to be a committee-group-think decision process on things that seem really basic. It's annoying but workable. Just do the due dilligence and you'll be ok.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Note to Self

Write something witty and/or informative. And failing to do that, let's go for entertaining. And if you should fail to do even that, at least try not to make an ass out of yourself. You're too good at that last one.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rhetorical

rhetorical (r-tôr-kl, -tr-)
1. Of or relating to rhetoric.
2. Characterized by overelaborate or bombastic rhetoric.
3. Used for persuasive effect: a speech punctuated by rhetorical pauses.

rhetoric (rtr-k)

1. The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.
2. A treatise or book discussing this art. Skill in using language effectively and persuasively.
3. A style of speaking or writing, especially the language of a particular subject: fiery political rhetoric.
4. Language that is elaborate, pretentious, insincere, or intellectually vacuous: His offers of compromise were mere rhetoric.
5. Verbal communication; discourse.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Microsoft and Users

I posted this a long time ago and was amazed when I saw it again on linuxworld:

When I look at a computer, I see a box of metal, plastic and electrons. I see mathematic equations and for/next loops. I see something engineered and well planned.

As well, I should. I have a degree in Computer Science. I make my bread and butter off of it.

When the average person sees one, they see something totally different. They see something mysterious and powerful. They see a creature capable of causing havoc and dismay. In most people minds, the only thing keeping this creature from devouring their latest report is the few things they know about it.

Microsoft has nurtured this perception.

That is why business men don't/won't change their OS. They know this demon, and they know how to appease it. Why switch to another when it could be much worse? Harder to appease? More complicated to work with?

IMHO, that is the perception of value.

I don't know what advice to give you. But, I've found that education is usually the best alternative. If that doesn't work, prove them wrong by making at least one box Linux and actually use it then demo it.

I yearn for the days when computers are about as mysterious as cars.

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We don't really understand it, so we'll give it to the programmers.