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 Post subject: Interesting article about (programmer) hackers
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 6:54 pm 
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This is an interesting read, whether you agree with the author's thesis or not. Personally, I think he has hit the nail on the head ... and it is nice to see someone put into print what I'm sure many of us are thinking.

Some of my favourite lines (please read the article for the context before responding):

"What do hackers want? Like all craftsmen, hackers like good tools. In fact, that's an understatement. Good hackers find it unbearable to use bad tools. They'll simply refuse to work on projects with the wrong infrastructure."

"When you decide what infrastructure to use for a project, you're not just making a technical decision. You're also making a social decision, and this may be the more important of the two."

"Great hackers also generally insist on using open source software. Not just because it's better, but because it gives them more control. Good hackers insist on control. This is part of what makes them good hackers: when something's broken, they need to fix it. You want them to feel this way about the software they're writing for you. You shouldn't be surprised when they feel the same way about the operating system."

"Bottom-up programming suggests another way to partition the company: have the smart people work as toolmakers. If your company makes software to do x, have one group that builds tools for writing software of that type, and another that uses these tools to write the applications. This way you might be able to get smart people to write 99% of your code, but still keep them almost as insulated from users as they would be in a traditional research department. The toolmakers would have users, but they'd only be the company's own developers."

" I've found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness as mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent."

For more juicy tidbits, read the article, then come back here and share your thoughts! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting article about (programmer) hackers
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 7:30 pm 
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You know, that had to be one of the best articles I've read thus far. And might I say, I concur with a lot of it. Hacker's have a way of thinking, a way of conversing, a kind of attitude that sets them apart from the rest of the regular world. I can see why they love languages like Python, Ruby, Perl, and C/C++. Those languages have not only experience behind it, but good tools that set them apart. I used to work in a place where 2600 meetings where held, and I've met guys that fit those descriptions. The biggest reason a lot of them hated Microsoft is because (other than crappy software) is that they hated being restricted in what they do, so they feel suffocated when any of them had to work with Microsoft tools.

I have a friend who is a Java programmer, and he's very much into the business of programming. He doesn't care so much about what kind of problem he's working on, as long as they pay him, he's all good. But to a lot of good hackers, that feels empty, and it's hard to concentrate on working on a project that you don't like.

To me, programming is not just a job - a means of getting paid - but it's actually fun. I'm not sure about how eager I am to learn Python, but I know that in the list of languages that I've learned, I've come to love C++ because it's given me a lot of freedom and I'm not restricted by its tools. If I don't like a tool, I can always make my own.

Open Source does bring freedom, not because it's free but because we can fit the tool for our need. I've worked in Microsoft environments long enough to know that it's darn near impossible to save money with Microsoft. Because no matter how hard you try, the supposed "solution" is either too big or too small for ones needs. I'm all about tools that fit exactly what you need. I don't buy pants that three times larger than my waist or three times smaller. I buy pants that fit me and I feel comfortable wearing. And the more I used closed source software, the more I felt restricted, and it's one of the biggest reasons I switched to Linux.

In all, that article really hit it home for me. I love what I do, even if other people call it nerdy. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting article about (programmer) hackers
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 7:37 pm 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
I've come to love C++ because it's given me a lot of freedom and I'm not restricted by its tools. If I don't like a tool, I can always make my own.


/me sounds the Hacker Alert. Woowoowoo!! :D

(this is a silly way of saying "I agree!")

DJSPIN80 wrote:
Open Source does bring freedom, not because it's free but because we can fit the tool for our need.


Yep. I do 90% of my hacking on a 486 laptop without a GUI. I sit on my roof, in the sunlight but under a sunshade (the screen sucks, or I'd work on my tan), and write and write. When I need to compile, distcc sends the work down to my uberPC and returns the results much more quickly than this antique POS could. Now THAT is a custom tool that MS couldn't build for me ... my code grows in the sunshine, y0! ;)

DJSPIN80 wrote:
In all, that article really hit it home for me. I love what I do, even if other people call it nerdy. :)


Yep. If someone calls me a nerd, I listen carefully their tone. Some say it derisively ... these people I ignore and / or mock. Some say use the word as a term of respect ... these people I buy a coffee and sit and chat with.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting article about (programmer) hackers
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 7:57 pm 
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It's funny, tonight (Wed., July 28) my friends and fellow bandmates called me "nerd." I didn't take it as that they meant anything negative or derisive, but I wore it with pride and they know that my being a nerd is just a term of endearment, it's a passion, it's something that I'm proud of because it's who I am.

When I read that article, it brought in my mind all of the Indian, Bangladesh, and Pakistani people I know. It's rare for me to see someone who really loves to code, who hates Microsoft, and actually talk code with us. Most of them get that degree because they can go back home, and work as a programmer there. That sucks, and I think that time and time again, our exporting of programming jobs here caused a rift in good software design. I'm not saying that there aren't any good Indian programmers, but because a lot of them just want to pay the bills, they don't produce good code - and that sickens me, because of all the things I care about, I care about good code.

Moreover, it's really the suits that cause a lot of what the guy wrote about. To them, software is either a relatively useless tool or something that makes them money. With this kind of mentality, they hire bad programmers who really don't care about code. In my last job, we used a proprietary software that was written by a company that was exactly what I described. It was a waste of money, $40K down the hole. The software barely worked, and made me sick to my stomach.

One of my professors, said that we have to be passionate about the code we write. The code we write lands planes, manages food distributions, calculates our paychecks, overall, it makes the world work. So we shouldn't cut corners, we should love the code we write and be proud that you wrote it. And in the group settings, if one person doesn't understand that, then the entire team goes down the drain.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:10 pm 
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I really enjoyed his section on 'how to motivate a hacker' ... 'make this better, faster, cleaner, beautiful' ... and he was right.

I write (and write and rewrite) code because it is a passion .. I want to make the BEST damn code I can .. and since 'best' is a purely subjective term, I find myself going back to old projects when a new idea occurs to me that will make the code cleaner, more efficient, or even just more interesting.

How many times have you learned a new tool ... whether it is OOP, or a new language, whatever ... and while you are assimilating this new information, you are applying it to past, present and future projects? This new tool sets off a stream of new ways to solve problems, and even as you are learning it, you are applying it.

My school had network jacks in all of the classrooms. I can't count the number of times I'd ignore the last half of a lecture .. the part where the prof repeats himself ad nauseum so everyone understands .. by logging into my PC at home or the school server and start playing with the new concept ... start applying it to my own code ... even just start taking my own notes on how it could be useful.

One of the things that he didn't mention that I have noticed among the great hackers I know is a touch of obessive-compulsive 'disorder' .. I put it in ' ' because (in this case), it is not so much a disorder as a need for order. My room is a mess, but my work area is always immaculate. I can find any physical reference from my computer chair with my eyes closed .. I know where every single one is on my shelves. If I have been using it lately, and it is on my desk, floor, or chair, I can still grab it because I know EXACTLY where I put it.

My clothes closet is a mess, but my outdoor gear is carefully racked and organised. I can pack for a climbing trip or a backpacking trip in MINUTES .. and I bet I could do that blindfolded as well.

I'm not trying to say that I am a great hacker .. just that this tendency is common among people with our passion.

How well organised are your .mp3s? Your files? How descriptive are your filenames? How long does it take you to find a file on your PC without using a search tool? I think you probably know what I am talking about. ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:34 pm 
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I'm fairly disorganized, but my books are within arms reach from my desktop. The minute I turn around, my books are staring me in the face. My server is next to me, so if I need to setup my server for something, it's just a turn of the chair away.

My MP3's are kept in a single folder, from which I keep things recursive: Root->Artist->Album. Makes things easier to view in my MP3 Player, and it's easy to add stuff as well. My files are located within my Samba share, and I have multple folders that separate things by category: programming tools, system utilities, Miscellaneous stuff, etc. All of my documents: Office Docs, Programming Folders, etc., are kept under My Documents or my Home folder. I keep things centralized so that it makes it easier for me to track.

"How many times have you learned a new tool ... whether it is OOP, or a new language, whatever ... and while you are assimilating this new information, you are applying it to past, present and future projects? This new tool sets off a stream of new ways to solve problems, and even as you are learning it, you are applying it. "

OMG, one too many times. I even managed to apply my algorithms course into my old job! Since I was doing a lot of repetitive stuff, I started formulating ways to make things faster. And I did, in fact, it worked so well, that I managed to balance a large job with my everyday duties. I learned process management in days :P

For me, how many times do I end up re-writing a project. I remember in my telecommunications class, we had to write a CRC generating program. It was a small project, we were given a 30-bit sequence and we just had to generate that one sequence. I ended up re-writing that project over around 10 times, but I managed to solve for all cases whereby the project solved for all bit lengths. I went above and beyond the scope of the problem and it earned me more points to help my already ailing grade.

I like to apply what I learn right away, and even if it takes me days to figure it out, at least I figured it out! And yes, for me, it's not so much that I'm obsessive compulsive, but rather, order is needed because code can become confusing and terse to read if not done properly.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:38 pm 
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I figured as much ... even if you didn't have the same habits, I was sure you'd understand 'em. Gadget will show up soon, and I bet he is quite similar. ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:44 pm 
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Jipstyle wrote:
I figured as much ... even if you didn't have the same habits, I was sure you'd understand 'em. Gadget will show up soon, and I bet he is quite similar. ;)


I bet, but he's room's probably cleaner but his desk is absolutely atrocious due to the number of books he has lying around in his desk. He probably spends hours reading Java, Java, and more Java. I'm sure Manta's the same way too.

Which reminds me, and is a bit off topic, there's not a lot of us here in PP? We need to recruit more programmers!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:47 pm 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
Which reminds me, and is a bit off topic, there's not a lot of us here in PP? We need to recruit more programmers!


Well, given how new the folder is, I think we are doing quite well. :)

I noticed that DEA pimped us in the delphi forum in the Forum Announcements section, which is pretty cool .. .hopefully that will help as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 11:30 pm 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
Jipstyle wrote:
I figured as much ... even if you didn't have the same habits, I was sure you'd understand 'em. Gadget will show up soon, and I bet he is quite similar. ;)


I bet, but he's room's probably cleaner but his desk is absolutely atrocious due to the number of books he has lying around in his desk. He probably spends hours reading Java, Java, and more Java. I'm sure Manta's the same way too.

Which reminds me, and is a bit off topic, there's not a lot of us here in PP? We need to recruit more programmers!

Recursively....

we built it, they will come. Already a few new members showed up here. And we still haven't seen Colby around all that much yet. I'm sure Josetann, Dal, and others will start dropping by with little scripts and what not to play around with.

My desk is a mess probably 90% of the time. The current situation is pretty bad.... to the left of my chair are 2 java books, 1 lj, 1 jdj, 1 compiler book, 1 math software package (i'm suppose to be prepping for the gre so I can get out of my miserable school and into one of these 'research environments'), and a small stack of papers that I clipped... bus speeds chart, cat5 wire diagram, etc. On the desk to the left of the massive Sun monitor is a remote, a 1 liter pepsi and several stack of cd's, to the right of the monitor is tux doll mouse another cd stack, ut2004 and headphones. I'm sort of an obsessive-compulsive cleaner, when I start - I can't seem to stop, but frankly, I need to get started more often... everything except the bookshelf is a disaster right now. I might do this tonight.... but if I start, I'll be up till 4am for sure though.

Personality - who knows.... can you actually self-diagnose accurately? Sometimes I think I have ADD, others times I feel manic-depressive, maybe I'm both. I hated psychology - not because it is interesting - just because the damn symptoms are so general that I had convinced myself that I had every single mental illness known to man! I really do feel like how a 'hacker' feels according to the article though (which I don't agree with btw - next post).... every single day, I show up to work and really believe it is going to be the last - 'OMG, they just figured out that I've been applying for other jobs, talking to fonda, screwing around all week on some internet forum, and just did everything I was suppose to do since the last meeting in 15 minutes this morning... crap'. So maybe I am also paranoid. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2004 11:44 pm 
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I'm just as paranoid as you are but then again, I think I have ADD but I do know I have depression. :?

Anyhow, being hacker and assigning oneself the title are two different things. There's this kid in the C.S. Dept. that continually brags about how l337 and h4x0r he is. He's really loudmouthed about it too, having managed people, I can read people all too accurately. I know he's not a hacker, he's just a wannabe. He pretends to know what he's talking about, but when the going gets tough, he doesn't have a clue. There's another guy, still in College getting his undergrad in CS, but he knows so much about UNIX/Linux, Perl, Python, C, and C++ programming that he is a hacker but he doesn't think he is. Self-assigned titles are retarded and shows how incompetent you really are.

That said, if someone were to title me a hacker, 1) that person better know what they're talking about and 2) I better live up to it.

EDITED TO ADD:

I forgot about how young this folder is...I come here often enough that I think it's been here since inception. :) Oh well, you and Jip are right - they'll come eventually. It's just that even in the old forums, we coders didn't have much of a folder to call home so we kind of posted in random folders. Ah well, I'm thinking that this is going to be the most popular folder in here (other than LL).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:11 am 
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OK - about the article. I like 3 or 4 things, and could just leave the rest. I'm starting to feel like OSS, and OSS advocacy writers in paticular, are starting to resemble a record that keeps skipping back to the same place. Over and over. Again and again. Didn't ESR write the same things a few years back? And that wasn't all that original back then.... and now we have 'hackers and painters' smells like someone needs to clean the bazaar. My love/hate (yes hate!) relationship with OSS is definitely offtop here though and should be discussed elsewhere.

The two parts I liked the most were....

Quote:
I think, though, that all other things being equal, a company that can attract great hackers will have a huge advantage. There are people who would disagree with this. When we were making the rounds of venture capital firms in the 1990s, several told us that software companies didn't win by writing great software, but through brand, and dominating channels, and doing the right deals.

They really seemed to believe this, and I think I know why. I think what a lot of VCs are looking for, at least unconsciously, is the next Microsoft. And of course if Microsoft is your model, you shouldn't be looking for companies that hope to win by writing great software. But VCs are mistaken to look for the next Microsoft, because no startup can be the next Microsoft unless some other company is prepared to bend over at just the right moment and be the next IBM.

It's a mistake to use Microsoft as a model, because their whole culture derives from that one lucky break. Microsoft is a bad data point. If you throw them out, you find that good products do tend to win in the market. What VCs should be looking for is the next Apple, or the next Google.

I think Bill Gates knows this. What worries him about Google is not the power of their brand, but the fact that they have better hackers. [7]


That quote resonates strongly with me. I really believe that great 'hackers', all engineers, programmers, scientists and professionals who create products and technology, are an undervalued and overlooked component in America's economy - and possibly other economies.

I also dislike MS for the reason he stated. MS doesn't compete on the same playing field because of the Windows monopoly. A product like IE would have never been able to compete against Netscape if they hadn't bundled it. Media player is successful because of the tight os integration as well. And I don't hate MS either - I just hate the situation they've created in the industry. They have good products, they have bad products, but all of their products overachieve because of windows. And the fact that very little of it is ever new, mostly copied or a reaction to a perceived threat, pisses me off.

Ok - I deleted my second quote. It was about the universities. I like universities and the work they do, and I started to quote him because I felt like he feels the same way. The paragraph below that with the 'their brain only works one day out of ten' comment is amusing. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:24 am 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
I'm just as paranoid as you are but then again, I think I have ADD but I do know I have depression. :?

It is one of those things I've talking about seeking treatment for, for far too long. The thought is actually depressing, but I also think it only get worse unless you get help. Anyways, I work a half-day tommorow, so I think I'll get that looked into at the school when I am off - hopefully they didn't shutdown for the summer or something.

I remember when Stormblade (from infinite loops) commented that he had ADD or ADHD and that the 'super focus' actually helped him as a programmer. I thought that was amusing and couldn't help but respond with... "Wait, your name is Stormblade and you have something called 'super focus'? What are you, some kind of programming super-hero? " :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:20 am 
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What I didn't like..... (damn, this is long - I should shorten this, clean it up - make, um, nicer, and see if I can get slashdotted or something. :))

First, a short rant. I don't like the way that OSS writers seem to be trying to own the term 'hacker'. This notion that all the good 'hackers' only work on projects they want to work on for the most noble of reasons is a bunch of crap. The 'scratching an itch' does happen, sure, but I bet there are a whole lot of really good programmers that punch out at 6:00 and don't spend all night working on an 'itch' either. Does MJ have to play streetball on the weekends to be MJ?

Quote:
That's not a new idea. Fred Brooks wrote about it in 1974, and the study he quoted was published in 1968. But I think he underestimated the variation between programmers. He wrote about productivity in lines of code: the best programmers can solve a given problem in a tenth the time. But what if the problem isn't given? In programming, as in many fields, the hard part isn't solving problems, but deciding what problems to solve. Imagination is hard to measure, but in practice it dominates the kind of productivity that's measured in lines of code.

When I read the first sentence, I thought I was going to actually agree with him. Wrong. If someone solves a problem in 1/10 the time, is it because she read the problem 10x faster, recognized the problem and formulated a solution 10x faster, and then typed a solution 10x faster than you? Not very damn likely. There are a number of factors at work - and creativity/imagination is defiinitely a very important one. That part I can easily overlook, but here we go with the 'itch' thing again. Have you ever met anyone that was really intelligent, but they confined their thoughts to some little box of ideas and never peered around the edges? Sure, some people might peer a little longer or gaze off into the distance a little farther, and still others totally forget about the box, but I don't believe that I have ever met anyone that just gets cozy inside the box. And if some anomaly does decide to just sit in the box and never has a single itch in their entire life, but somehow manages to solve problems faster than 97% of all other people out there - guess what - they're a hacker.

As for the 10 to 1 variation, that isn't the only figure. Some studies have found it extends up to 27 to 1 - even when participants are compared to people with the number of years of experience.


Quote:
The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python. [2] And the quality of your hackers probably matters more than the language you choose. Though, frankly, the fact that good hackers prefer Python to Java should tell you something about the relative merits of those languages.

How the hell does he get off saying this? I suppose programmers that perfer Python are also much better 'hackers' than C, C++ and C# programmers too? But not Perl or PHP - those are OSS languages. What a load of crap.

As for google, they have thoughtfully put their job announcements clearly on their website. Let's take a look. Google hires Java developers alright. And look, they should also have C++, SQL, XML and Javascript experience as well. Could they just want well rounded Java developers? Scroll down to the "Internal Web System Engineer" posting a little lower and you'll see them ask for experience with Java, SQL, Unix/Linux and HTML. No Python. Hmm. Maybe Google only wants Python developers that have Java experience? How can that be? Because, obviously, all 'hackers' prefer Java over Python! And you can see the proof over at Google - where many of the great hackers work. Most retarded attempt at Python advocacy ever.

I don't understand what the anti-java craze within the OSS community is all about. It certainly doesn't seem to be immenating from the rank and file. ESR comes out with this rant a year ago about how Sun will soon die and we should all mourn the lose and we need to start talking about what is going to happen to Java (yeah, you won't find that little rant on his site anymore - oops, nice one Eric). RMS writes about the subtle Java evil that is creeping into OSS and how it is like satanism creeping into the vatican or something. I think it really pisses some of these people off that Sun won't give up control of Java and has managed to somehow survive the evil empire. Hell, they have a coffer with over 7 billion cash now.

Quote:
I've read that Java has just overtaken Cobol as the most popular language. As a standard, you couldn't wish for more. But as a medium of expression, you could do a lot better. Of all the great programmers I can think of, I know of only one who would voluntarily program in Java. And of all the great programmers I can think of who don't work for Sun, on Java, I know of zero.

You know what I really hate? When I read an article that contains a bunch of irrelevant and useless footnotes and then the author makes a comment like "I just read this important..." and doesn't footnote it. WTF is that? A footnote is where you provide readers with evidence supporting your arguement - not where you make silly remarks that are easily refuted by going to a companies website and casually glancing at their job board. I love Java - I admit it. But I am not even close to naive enough to believe that Java has superceded COBOL as the world's most used language (wth that means - I assume it means most used language, but who knows with that Google math). From Object-Oriented and Classical Software Engineering,

Quote:
More code has been written in COBOL than all other programming languages put together. COBOL is the most widely used language primarily because of the U.S. Department of Defense.


All others combined. So, yes, I doubt that Java just snuck up out of nowhere and suddenly overtook COBOL. As for 'all of the great programmers' that you know and how known of them use the unexpressive Java medium - please. Enough already. You guys must be pissed that a CSS language, like Java, is used scratch more 'itches' than any language but straight C, including Perl, C++ and Python. Tough. Deal with it.

http://freshmeat.net/browse/160/

You know how I know when someone isn't a great hacker? When they spend a bunch of time writing a bunch of crap about great hackers.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 8:56 am 
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Gadget wrote:
Personality - who knows.... can you actually self-diagnose accurately? Sometimes I think I have ADD, others times I feel manic-depressive, maybe I'm both. I hated psychology - not because it is interesting - just because the damn symptoms are so general that I had convinced myself that I had every single mental illness known to man!


Can you self-diagnose accurately? No, not really. I can tell you this, though ... if the symptoms you feel are general, chances are you don't have the illness. Manic-depression is not something you might have ... if you have it, you know it, your family knows it and your friends know it. They may not be able to put their fingers on it, but they know something is wrong.

OTOH, I think everyone has a touch of this and that. These illnesses are scales, not absolutes. With cancer, you have it or you don't. With mental illnesses, most people are a little messed up and it will manifest itself differently during the course of their life.

/babble

For what it is worth, I've 'diagnosed' myself with a list of different illnesses so long I could write a novel by tossing a few verbs between them. :P

Gadget wrote:
I really do feel like how a 'hacker' feels according to the article though (which I don't agree with btw - next post).... every single day, I show up to work and really believe it is going to be the last - 'OMG, they just figured out that I've been applying for other jobs, talking to fonda, screwing around all week on some internet forum, and just did everything I was suppose to do since the last meeting in 15 minutes this morning... crap'. So maybe I am also paranoid. :)


Hehehe .. I worked for Mitel for a summer, and I felt exactly the same way ... largely because I did exactly the same thing. :lol: It was the summer of 2000, IIRC, and I am sure that if someone graphed my postcount/day at Delphi, they would see a HUGE spike during that summer. :P And yet, when I left, they offered me a job before I had finished my degree.

This dumbass turned it down, IT went further into the the toilet, and the rest is history. :P


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:02 am 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
I'm just as paranoid as you are but then again, I think I have ADD but I do know I have depression. :?


I did as well ... it seems to have lessened considerably in the last couple of years which, apparently, is quite common. I had my 30th birthday this month, which celebrated my 7th year since the first diagnosis. I'll tell you this, though: when I replaced the pills with exercise and therapy, things started getting MUCH much better. Eating properly also made a huge difference. I'm told, however, that it is common for people in their late teens throught their 20s to have emotional illnesses, and for these illnesses to abate (they never go away) considerably when you hit your late 20s and 30s. If you ever need to talk, don't hesitate. :)

DJSPIN80 wrote:
Anyhow, being hacker and assigning oneself the title are two different things. There's this kid in the C.S. Dept. that continually brags about how l337 and h4x0r he is. He's really loudmouthed about it too, having managed people, I can read people all too accurately. I know he's not a hacker, he's just a wannabe. He pretends to know what he's talking about, but when the going gets tough, he doesn't have a clue.


What, just one? :P My school was filled with 'em. Oddly, they all chose the Windows machines in the labs, and the quiet serious guys were plugging away on the UNIX boxes.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:23 am 
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Gadget wrote:
First, a short rant. I don't like the way that OSS writers seem to be trying to own the term 'hacker'. This notion that all the good 'hackers' only work on projects they want to work on for the most noble of reasons is a bunch of crap. The 'scratching an itch' does happen, sure, but I bet there are a whole lot of really good programmers that punch out at 6:00 and don't spend all night working on an 'itch' either. Does MJ have to play streetball on the weekends to be MJ?


Two good rants here. :)
I agree that OSS writers / advocates definitely try to own the term ... but I also find that, for the most part, this article fits my experience with 'good' hackers[1]. Note also that the author specifically limited the scope of his observations to ... his observations. He mentions that he is discussing the great hackers that he has known ... and, like him, the best that I have known all run OSS at home for their pet projects.

[1]: Of course, any well-trained academic will point out that both the author of the article and myself are OSS advocates, and are most likely to most in OSS circles ... in other words, it isn't surprising that a disproportionate number of our friends are OSS users, given that it is an overriding interest in our own lives. The author doesn't address this. If Logik! ever wanders in here, I'm sure he'll have some stories about great windows hackers ... after all, that is the environment that HE works in, so he is most likely to know people of that calibre.

The second rant ... whose focal point was "Does MJ have to play streetball on the weekends to be MJ?" is also a good point. Not all hackers live and breathe code. I play outside whenever I get the chance. Given the choice between climbing a fantastic new multi-pitch, or hacking a great piece of code to solve an interesting problem, I've got my gear in my bag and and running for the car before I answer the question.

On the other hand, I'm not a great hacker. A hacker, yes. Great, no. And that might just be because I have a tan (sunburn after yesterday, actually :P) and have hobbies that don't involve punching a kb.

Gadget wrote:
Have you ever met anyone that was really intelligent, but they confined their thoughts to some little box of ideas and never peered around the edges? Sure, some people might peer a little longer or gaze off into the distance a little farther, and still others totally forget about the box, but I don't believe that I have ever met anyone that just gets cozy inside the box. And if some anomaly does decide to just sit in the box and never has a single itch in their entire life, but somehow manages to solve problems faster than 97% of all other people out there - guess what - they're a hacker.


Yes. I even dated her. Brilliant mathematician ... no boxes there ... but in almost every other aspect of her life, she was completely closed in.

As for getting cozy inside the box ... the only people who do that (and they are the majority of humans, IMHO) are those who are unaware of the box. The author has another semi-interesting article about the fashion of morality that I would post in the LL if I gave a damn about the opinons provided in there. :P Most people think of their morality and their culture as absolutes and are completely unable to think outside the scope of those limits. For example, how many people in North America could convincingly argue that democracy is a good way to run to a country? 99.99999% will say it is, and be pissed you even asked ... but I doubt many could explain why other than 'it is obvious' or 'it is my right.'

This world needs some social hackers. ;)

Gadget wrote:
Quote:
The programmers you'll be able to hire to work on a Java project won't be as smart as the ones you could get to work on a project written in Python. [2] And the quality of your hackers probably matters more than the language you choose. Though, frankly, the fact that good hackers prefer Python to Java should tell you something about the relative merits of those languages.

How the hell does he get off saying this? I suppose programmers that perfer Python are also much better 'hackers' than C, C++ and C# programmers too? But not Perl or PHP - those are OSS languages. What a load of crap.


That one pissed me off as well, but I thought I'd leave it to you. :lol: Seriously, though, that seemed like a paragraph tossed in completely at random and at odds with the rest of his essay .. because he made a very sweeping statement and just expected us to swallow it. Since when does the choice of a programming language indicated intelligence?!?

Gadget wrote:
I don't understand what the anti-java craze within the OSS community is all about. It certainly doesn't seem to be immenating from the rank and file. ESR comes out with this rant a year ago about how Sun will soon die and we should all mourn the lose and we need to start talking about what is going to happen to Java (yeah, you won't find that little rant on his site anymore - oops, nice one Eric). RMS writes about the subtle Java evil that is creeping into OSS and how it is like satanism creeping into the vatican or something. I think it really pisses some of these people off that Sun won't give up control of Java and has managed to somehow survive the evil empire. Hell, they have a coffer with over 7 billion cash now.


I've often thought that these guys should be forced to take a degree in philosophy, so they can learn to think about social and economic ideas as well as they do technical ones. I read many of their writings (and the article I posted is a good example, from which you've pulled the best) and I'm often struck by their ability to throw a completely asinine argument into a perfectly good paper. This backassed slam at java is a good example. He does a good job of describing hackers in general, and has some interesting insights into their personality traits ... and then he goes off on a personal tangent and makes stupid comments like this.

I don't know why java has such a hard time being respected either ... and I have to admit that I don't really pay attention to the bleating of those who demonise it (literally in the case of RMS).

Gadget wrote:
Quote:
I've read that Java has just overtaken Cobol as the most popular language. As a standard, you couldn't wish for more. But as a medium of expression, you could do a lot better. Of all the great programmers I can think of, I know of only one who would voluntarily program in Java. And of all the great programmers I can think of who don't work for Sun, on Java, I know of zero.

You know what I really hate? When I read an article that contains a bunch of irrelevant and useless footnotes and then the author makes a comment like "I just read this important..." and doesn't footnote it. WTF is that?


ARGH! I hear ya. :)

Gadget wrote:
You know how I know when someone isn't a great hacker? When they spend a bunch of time writing a bunch of crap about great hackers.


So the aspiring hackers in this thread need to get the hell out and get back to coding! I, on the other hand, will continue to rant, bitch, and chat. ;)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:48 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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Jipstyle wrote:
I did as well ... it seems to have lessened considerably in the last couple of years which, apparently, is quite common. I had my 30th birthday this month, which celebrated my 7th year since the first diagnosis. I'll tell you this, though: when I replaced the pills with exercise and therapy, things started getting MUCH much better. Eating properly also made a huge difference. I'm told, however, that it is common for people in their late teens throught their 20s to have emotional illnesses, and for these illnesses to abate (they never go away) considerably when you hit your late 20s and 30s. If you ever need to talk, don't hesitate. :)


Thanks d00d! But fortunately for me, I did what you did and staved off from the pills. I don't like being hooked on something, so I replaced pills with spending time with friends, Martial Arts, eating (good food, obviously), and coding. Anything that brings accomplishments at varying difficulties so that mentally, I can affirm that I'm not lazy and nor do I vegetate.

Jipstyle wrote:
What, just one? :P My school was filled with 'em. Oddly, they all chose the Windows machines in the labs, and the quiet serious guys were plugging away on the UNIX boxes.


And thank God just one! I'm sure there are more, but I'm not keen on finding them at all. I'd rather keep your talents to yourself, you need not be some hotshot programmer, it's not like hot babes will flock around you and call you l337 h4x0r, it doesn't increase your chances of getting a date. You just look more obnoxious than the quiet, humble person to your right.

Speaking of quiet, serious guys...you can tell in our school who the OSS guys are. They're huddled in their own laptops, using whatever Linux/BSD distro they use, and sit there quietly with a book on some insane subject like RegEx parsing. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 10:57 am 
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DJSPIN80 wrote:
Thanks d00d! But fortunately for me, I did what you did and staved off from the pills. I don't like being hooked on something, so I replaced pills with spending time with friends, Martial Arts, eating (good food, obviously), and coding. Anything that brings accomplishments at varying difficulties so that mentally, I can affirm that I'm not lazy and nor do I vegetate.


Good man! :)

Jipstyle wrote:
What, just one? :P My school was filled with 'em. Oddly, they all chose the Windows machines in the labs, and the quiet serious guys were plugging away on the UNIX boxes.


DJSPIN80 wrote:
And thank God just one! I'm sure there are more, but I'm not keen on finding them at all. I'd rather keep your talents to yourself, you need not be some hotshot programmer, it's not like hot babes will flock around you and call you l337 h4x0r, it doesn't increase your chances of getting a date. You just look more obnoxious than the quiet, humble person to your right.


Absolutely. Have you noticed that you very rarely get that kind of attitude from girls? Incidentally, how many girls do you have in your program? My school was quite progressive ... they offer a lot of encouragement to women in CS, so we had almost 30% of our graduating students female ... though the first year is 50/50, so the dorks are still scaring away quite a few. :?

DJSPIN80 wrote:
Speaking of quiet, serious guys...you can tell in our school who the OSS guys are. They're huddled in their own laptops, using whatever Linux/BSD distro they use, and sit there quietly with a book on some insane subject like RegEx parsing. :)


Heh. Yep. :D


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 11:05 am 
Bitchin' Fast 3D Z8000
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Jipstyle wrote:
Absolutely. Have you noticed that you very rarely get that kind of attitude from girls? Incidentally, how many girls do you have in your program? My school was quite progressive ... they offer a lot of encouragement to women in CS, so we had almost 30% of our graduating students female ... though the first year is 50/50, so the dorks are still scaring away quite a few. :?


Actually, a lot. We're around 51/49 (male/female) so the numbers are high, but not that high. They do a lot for the women in my school, it's nice really. In 2003, all of my tutees were women. It was a rare occurence I tutored a man. Surprisingly, there's this one girl who was a promising student, I tutored her on C++ basics and she picked it up in less than 20 minutes. In the span of an hour, she was practically two weeks ahead of the class. Consequently, I also tutored a total dingbat who was two weeks behind. The men are either just as bad as the women, if not worse.


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