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barbie (2653)

  reversethis-{ku. ... m} {ta} {eibrab}

Leader of [] and a CPAN author []. Co-organised YAPC::Europe in 2006 and the 2009 QA Hackathon, responsible for the YAPC Conference Surveys [] and the QA Hackathon [] websites. Also the current caretaker for the CPAN Testers websites and data stores.

If you really want to find out more, buy me a Guinness ;)

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Journal of barbie (2653)

Tuesday November 29, 2005
06:57 AM

r0ml and The Woz

[ #27786 ]

Since Nicole bought me new in-car CD player, with a USB port, I have barely listened to any CDs. I have been listening to a lot of online broadcasts (I hate using that other term, as it "doesn't mean what you think it means" [1]). Mostly LUGRadio and PerlCast, but I've been discovering a few other technical shows too. I have downloaded some like the TLLTS and The GNU/Linux User Show from the beginning, so have only just started with them. However, one of the other broadcast sites I discovered a while ago, is IT Conversations, who Jonas has mentioned here too. Having got through a ton of OSCON and ETECH shows, I started branching out into other shows that sounded interesting. I've listened to about 20 so far, and have just finished listening to four shows that are worth mentioning.

The first two are part of a set, with a year between them. Robert Lefkowitz talks about "The Semasiology of Open Source". It's a very interesting narrative about how we think we know what words mean, but to others they can mean something totally different. Using stories from his own experiences, Robert explores the use and understanding of Open Source and Free Software.

The second two are again part of a set. The talk was so long that the team decided to split the presentation into two manageable chunks, with an additional interview at the end of the second part. The presentation is by Steve Wozniak from Gnomedex 4.0. If you only listen to one set of shows from IT Conversations, I would suggest it would be these two. It's not a mistake that he's the highest rated and listened to on the site. Woz starts at the beginning, at junior school and stops around Apple II. It's a fascinating story and one I'll probably listen to again.

In part of his story Woz talks about his father being an engineer at Lockheed and how he inspired him to learn more about electronics. It was similar for me, as my father worked originally for LEO, who later became ICL, on some of the very early computers. Although I wasn't so interested in electronics, I did become fascinated with the software to make the computers do things. I wrote BASIC and Assembler games in the early 80s for the Sinclair machines (ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum) and got bored of the tasks they set me for O level and at University, because I could them without too much effort. Woz actually points to bettering himself with each new design as a way to improve himself, and I did pretty much the same with the software games I wrote. There are many hardware and software people I've met over the years who have trod a very similar path too. Many of them are part of Linux or Perl user groups. They're often the people I have an instant rapport with too. Those that do programming as a job and have no interest in the advancement of technology, generally have a hard time understanding how we can be so passionate about what we do.

There is a well known saying (I don't know by whom); "There are 10 kinds of people, those that understand binary and those that don't." The presentations listed above made me think about the word "geek". It was originally a derogastory term, but having said that, virtually all the cool people I know could be classed as geeks. A number of years ago, I met up with a friend I hadn't seen in years, and I was introduced to his girlfriend at the time. After getting to know me, her comment was, "you software people are just wierd". It wasn't just that I wrote software, but there was a group of people she specifically thinking of. If she'd have thought of it she would have called us geeks. Every software engineer she knew was passionate about what they did, but also had an extreme side to their hobbies. Mine was being a lightning engineer and touring Europe with bands. We're generally the ones who think a little differently. These days it's more likely to be used in reference to someone who pushes the boundaries a little further, making the "inconceivable" [1] possible. Woz has certainly done that :)

[1] Listen to the Robert Lefkowitz shows to follow these Princess Bride reference :)

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