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Tuesday, March 13th, 2007, 1:36 am

I Found Myself in Free Software

[NOTE: streams of consciousness post]

THE past year has been an amazing year for me. I keep making excellent progress. Google have contacted me again, without me even applying. And apparently, it’s the #1 company to work for, based on the most recent US surveys. They actually have interest in my skills, which is the greatest ego boost one can wish for. While the door may be open for me to join them (as they got in touch with me in the past as well), I can only suspect that, given more time, I can do better independently, maybe as a freelancer. It’s clearly an investment. I will complete my current endeavours, which is important for status — however pointless it may seem — and then try to establish my own career, which may or may not revolve around activism. I have been in contact with some managers and prominent figures. Together we have an impact on the government (through the Open Source Consortium), as well as some of the world’s largest companies.

Some of this enlightening direction came from frustration. The frustration resulted from the morbid state of the IT industry, which I was probably destined to reach as a Software Engineer. Recently, someone shrewdly pointed out that people who work in computing nowadays either work for Microsoft or support them. It is an insult to one’s intelligence because Microsoft deliberately slows down innovation. It helps this suppressive establishment sustain a monopoly while keeping R&D spendings low and approaching no risks (disruptive technology). All they deliver are binary ‘blobs’ for Windows on a 32-bit x86 architecture. It’s very restrictive. In the past it was the norm to provide source code. Things are changing now, for a reason. There are benefits to be reaped. Also, the backlash that was formed due to ‘imperialism’ in the computer industry simply craved for older days to return, probably for good. The transition to Free/Libre Open Source software can be seen anywhere we go. It happens to also reduce waste, which helps the environment.

For those who refuse to be fooled by cliches and be sucked into a lavish lifestyle, here is a liberating point of view: Ask yourself not how much you wish to spend and how much work would cover it. The less you spend, the less you need to work. This leaves time for hobbies and luxuries.

I began with research and a couple of jobs as my main occupation. I had many hobbies on the Web, which in turn began paying the bills (Netscape). That is when my hobby and passion became a job, as well as a 24/7 commitment. My PCs have been up since a campus-wide outage in July (running a 2.4 Linux kernel), so the principles I advocate have my full faith. I stand behind everything I preach.

If it were not for delays that I cannot control (e.g. the involvement with and procrastination of other people), I will have probably finished my degree on time, at the age of 24. At the moment it feels as though I’m on semi leave, but I will complete things shortly. One thing I learned while working toward the Ph.D. is that long sentences make it hard to digest the input, let alone breathe in. I improved my writing and presentation skills. Beyond this, I can’t help but feel that 3 years in industry can teach much more than academic experiences. Those who say that a doctoral degree means very little are most likely correct.

As for the future, it’s too hard to tell. I am against long-term projections, which are unrealistic. Technically speaking, predicting the future will involve taking into account all atoms, even neurons of every organism and then building an infinitely-complex simulator and running it for almost an eternity. Let’s just wait and see. I think I’ll be fine.


Screen-shot of Metisse for FVWM

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