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Will the First Hacker in The Room Please Turn the Lights Back On?

16. March 2009 03:53 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (3)

Before I go into detail I must define a few things:

Hacker - is a person who heavily modifies the software or hardware of their computer system. It includes building, rebuilding, modifying and creating software (software cracking, demo scene) and electronic hardware (hardware hacking, modding) either to make it better, faster, give added features or to make it do something it was never intended to do. Hobby hacking originated around the MITS Altair.

Computer Hobbyist - A person who tinkered with computers and built new hardware, operating systems and even word processors.

What ever happened to the Computer Hobbyist?

Computer Hobbyists are still around, but they are now called Hackers. In the 60's, 70's, 80's and even in the 90's there a group of people who lived on IRC and bulletin boards.  Apple was started by them and they had an anti-IBM sentiment.  Years later most of the "old school" computer hobbyist gave up their pursuits and they complained about the big companies and big business revolution that has taken over.  The hobby was getting too expensive to keep tinkering with computers.  Things were changing every 18 months or so and that was just too rapid for most.  This was in the period of about 1985 through 1992 when you needed to buy another desktop computer every 18 months.  Most hobbyist bailed out during that time just because it was too expensive.  The reason they havn't returned to the scene was that programming was turning into a nightmare.  It would now take a full time commitment and most programming languages needed schooling as well.  So they left the scene back around 1992.  Sad time, but times; they are changing. Programming is getting easier.  Code is getting easier to write and now hackers are making modifications to hardware.  Instead of creating it, they are now modding it.

 

Hackers have now taken up the slack as the computer hobbyists have fallen off.  Its the changing of the guard.  Computer Hobbyist seemed to have turn out the lights in the room and now the lights are back on and in full swing. PC Magazine has fallen off the shelves.  They should be reinventing them selves for the new hacker sub culture thats coming into play. Hackers these days can be found deep in their cave working on the next software modification.  They work on software and on hardware.  They are thriving and making up for lost time.  These days, hackers are known to create new startups.  These start ups will be the Apple of tomorrow. Apple was once started as a hobby and now there are many companies forming around software and hardware innovation.  Hackers are now the innovators of software and hardware.  Look them up.  A large portion of them can be found on a site like Hacker News.


Photo by Yodel Anecdotal

So if your wondering where the last computer hobbyist went.  You don't have to look very far.  They are the new guard and will hopefully make the old Computer Hobbyists proud.

Posted in response to Will the last Computer Hobbyist Please turn out the lights?

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Thats Why No-One Will Remember Your Name

4. March 2009 03:04 by Scott in   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (79)

I often tend to think about life and how I am doing and how far I have come.  I want to make sure that my life is currently at its fullest.  That I am actually enjoying everything I do and learn.  In one of my brief moments, I have realized that I do live a pretty decent life.  I also realized that my life is fast approaching old age, 25 to be exact.  I know its not that old to people in their 30's, but its always older than what you want it to be.  Im closer to becoming extinct.  You, like every one else on this planet lives a finite life and its what we make of it that tells how people will remember us.  This reminds me of a quote out of Troy(2004) the movie.

Messenger Boy: Are the stories true? They say your mother was an immortal goddess. They say you can't be killed.
Achilles: I wouldn't be bothering with the shield then, would I?
Messenger Boy: The Thesselonian you're fighting... he's the biggest man i've ever seen. I wouldn't want to fight him.
Achilles: Thats why no-one will remember your name. 

Achilles is remembered still to this day about the things he accomplished in the past.  Human history is a interesting thing.  Do you think that 1000 years from now, someone will remember you? Someone will remember Barack Obama?  Someone will remember George Washington?  I ask this question to my self plenty of times.  In the old days, when there were very few historians, history could not remember every single person on this planet.  History only told about the well known, the greats.  Do you truly have to fight the biggest and strongest man anymore to be remembered? Do you really have to work hard to create something beautiful that will be remembered?

I keep questioning three things in my life.

  • Will I be remembered?
  • Did I have fun doing it?
  • Whats next?

Photo by HAMED MASOUMI

To break these down, two of the three points have to deal with fun and excitement while the third has to do with history.  I want to make the argument, that its your life, your journey and your expectations.  If you live a great life and enjoy what you have done, then why try to be remembered.  Why even care about being remembered if you had a great life.

I argue that life and the journey is not about being remembered, but by creating a great life.  Your life is all you have.  Why worry if anyone else remembers it.  You remembered it and thats all that counts. This doesn't mean that I don't want to be remembered because I do.  This means that you don't have to fight or kill the biggest man that you have ever seen or fight that hardest fight you have ever fought.  What it means is just have fun doing it and if the history books choose to remember you, then they will.

So the question I am asking you is why are you working on your next idea, your next project, your next adventure?  Are you doing it for others approval or are you doing it for your enjoyment.  Don't create something that others will remember, create something that you will love and enjoy.

My goals in this life are vast and far between, but they are for me and are my hopes and dreams. Not others.

If this post effected you in some way, let me hear how in the comments. Thanks for listening.

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Elements of a Sustainable Company

6. February 2009 03:25 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , ,   //   Comments (7)

At Start Up School 08, Greg McAdoo spoke about some different ideas on how to get your start up out the door fast.  And what elements you will need for a Sustainable Company. The key points are his, but I try to explain it better.

  • Clarity of Purpose - One must know what your trying to achieve in order to achieve it.  Get some goals in place.
  • Spectacular Market - Once must have a very good market in which to enter. The video market is just now catching on with YouTube, there can be more competitors if it grew large enough and was able to turn it around.
  • Alleviate Customer Pain - Make sure you have something that people want or have been dieing for.
  • Team DNA - You must have the ability to work together with your company.
  • Incredible Product Focus - You must have one or two solid products before you decide to expand.  Make sure the customer is happy with your product.
  • Real Operating Margins - Someone help me out here.  Still trying to decipher what he is saying.
  • Frugality - Spend less, develop more!
  • Inferno with a single Match - Light a fire and make your one product sell like mad!

I hope these points helped, because they are incredibly valuable.


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If I was a programmer still in college, I would...

3. December 2008 15:32 by Scott in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (16)

I was mentoring some kids the other day about being in college as a programmer.  Heck they could even had been kids in high school.  The ideas stated here still apply.

  • still worry about grades - Grades get you the job, but they don't keep your job.  Learn new things and relax off the grades a little.  You don't have to always get that A in class.  Unless you're going for a masters or PHD right after your bachelors, relax and have a little more fun.
  • put down the video games - There is much more to life than video games and chatting with people online you have no idea about.  The biggest thing that got me to put down a controller were the questions that "If I disappear tomorrow in the gaming world, will I be missed?  If I disappear tomorrow in the real world, will I be missed?"  There is a big line in spending a bit more personal time with your real friends compared to just some people on the other side of the world.
  • go out a few more times - I am two years out of college and I sure do miss it sometimes.  The interaction with all the people.  The not having to worry about bills and not waking up to a 9-5 job would be amazing again.  On a side note: I do think I have grown out of the parties a bit.
  • have thought of a GREAT IDEA and gone with it - It was the perfect time to focus less on college studies and more time on a great business/web 2.0 idea.  I had plenty of time where I got bored, I should have focused it towards a great idea and making it happen.  Now a day, I get home at 6pm and only have about 3 hours to work on my ideas at home.  I don't have much time left in the day to actually get my business ideas up and running.
  • join a Fraternity - It is a known fact that more than 75% of CEO's have been in a college fraternity.  It is a known fact that you get resources and jobs just through your fraternal world.  You get connections beyond your belief and you get a better social life in college.  Instead of playing those video games by your self, you could be enjoying a great time with friends that you have a close bond with.  Sure you might think of it as paying for friends, but I thought of it as networking and a social life.  I did join a Fraternity and got much more than I expected out of what I put in.  For a college job making $7.50 and hour and only working 10 hours a week, I was able to pay for my fraternity and social life.  It was a great bargain!
  • have thought of a GREAT IDEA and gone with it! - I know it is a repeat, but I fear it was one of my biggest mistakes in college.
  • have learned a real programming language - Java and C++ are no longer really used these days outside of academia.  Some people will even argue that java has become too academic.  I know Ill get some flack for this, but I consider it to be true.  Did you know that Microsoft uses 98% C# in its work environment?  I wouldn't learn PHP now seeing that Microsoft gives out its IDE and workspace extremely cheap these days to students.  Java and C++ are a good free language.  Even if you don't pick up two languanges, at least pick up one.  Learn one programming language and build something with it!
  • not let my teacher hold me back - teachers can sometimes not care too much about students.  Don't let them hold you back.  There is a BIG saying at most big universities which is hard to get away from.  "Publish or die" Teachers are required to publish at universities.  Unless they really like teaching, they are required by the university to publish or leave. They don't care much about the students. Don't let the teachers hold you back.
  • try to find a mentor - You can never have too many mentors.  I wish I would have found one to guide me along the programmers trail.
  • have run with my great idea! - I know I said it once and twice, but this is the biggest thing I look back on and think I should have done that!
  • not own a credit card - Spring break is fun for a week, but bad credit last for 7 years or more.  Don't own a credit card and repeat mistakes of others.
  • Last but not least, Be controversial! - Don't be hated, but be controversial. Make sure you get your point of view heard.

This is only a short list and I imagine there are many other things in that period of time I wish I would have done, but this list will not die and will keep growing.

These thoughts are more of advice than a memory.  You can do what you wish with them. 

  • "Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth." - Baz Luhrmann
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