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Random blobs of wisdom about software development

The good guys

Some people that I look up to.

Bram Moolenaar

Bram Moolenaar is the author of Vim. Vim is The Zen of text editing. It has integrated itself so much into my everyday life, that I couldn’t do anything without it now. I’m writing my emails, blog posts, lengthier forum posts in Vim. I spend 8-12 hours a day writing code. I can’t put it into words how much of a productivity boost it is. There are so many plugins, for so many languages, that it still surprises me. I’m thankful that I’m not in Bram’s place, I can’t imagine how big of a burden it is to maintain a text editor as popular as Vim is. Linus Torvalds

Probably not someone you have to introduce, there are so many things he is famous for. I love that he started working on an operating system in his free time, and now it has grown itself out so much, that when Linus gives the middle finger to nvidia, they knock on the door a few weeks later, asking how they could contribute to the kernel. He gets fed up with a version control system, writes his own, which becomes the new industry standard. He gets a lot of bad rep for his attitude on the linux mailing lists, but when he makes statements like this:

This kind of “I broke things, so now I will jiggle things randomly until they unbreak” is not acceptable. […] Don’t just make random changes. There really are only two acceptable models of development: “think and analyze” or “years and years of testing on thousands of machines”. Those two really do work.

Then I think he’s right.

Paul Rand

Not someone that I know too well about, Paul Rand was an American designer, some of his best known works include the logos for IBM, UPS, and NeXT. What I’m mostly amazed by, is his statement that he made to Steve Jobs:

I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you, and you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution — if you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how, and you use it or not, that’s up to you — you’re the client — but you pay me.

Although this conversation happened in 1993, when Jobs influence wasn’t as high, it still took balls to make a statement like that. I think the world could use more people like him, who know their craft and are not afraid to stand their ground.

Douglas Crockford

Man up, and learn the language.

Best known for his involvement with the JavaScript language. He developed JSLint, and invented JSON, which is slowly driving out XML from the web, as the major data interchange format. He has excellent talks about JavaScript, a language, that according to a lot of people, got nothing right. His best talk in my opinion is JavaScript: The Good Parts, which goes over the features, and gotchas of the language.

He had a very funny discussion with IBM. He released several of his works under the MIT license, which basically means do whatever you want with it, but he added one extra clause to the license:

The Software shall be used for Good, not Evil.

He got a call from a lawyer from IBM, saying that they want to use something that he (Douglas) wrote, in something that they (IBM) wrote, and they are not using it for evil, but he’s not sure about the customers, and asked for a special license for IBM. His response was:

I give permission for IBM, its customers, partners, and minions, to use JSLint for evil.

Bram Cohen

He was fed up with the slow download speeds of Kaazaa, and invented Bittorrent, which went on to revolutionize the world of digital distribution. I contribute the spread of services like Steam or Netflix to him. Steam, because there needed to be a way to share large amounts of data efficiently, and Netflix, because the idiots at cable and film companies needed a wakeup call that the internet is here. What’s the most efficient way to test your service? Free porn. Yeah, that’s what he did to test Bittorrent.