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July 20, 2014

Do Not Go Quietly Into The Night

Last month, I stated that I want to close this site. In fact, a few people were disappointed to hear that. Let me remind everyone, there still will be a There still will be a blog that is updated from time to time. It's just that the site as you see it right now will be replaced. Soon...I hope.

*="Soon" is a trademark of [procrastinating long groan]

So, what's really going on? I've had a few thoughts for new projects and have been going to user groups and coding events. Stuff I probably should have been doing the past couple of years but really didn't have any direction. That has changed.

I've also worked on some ASCII art projects this month, which in a world where Photoshop is king, it still impresses some younger programs that you can manipulate characters and colors to create art from text. (It just takes some knowledge of how to use escape characters in Linux). If you want to play around with this, I highly recommend using Terminus size 11 as a font. (Ubuntu users sudo apt-get install xfonts-termius.) To complement this artform, I'm interested in figuring out how to create chiptune or MIDI sounds, which is much more complicated to do today than it was 20 years ago because using echo -e "\a" doesn't do anything anymore because the bell character relied on computers with a buzzer to create a beep. I'm hoping to figure out how to do that. I'd post some screenshots of what I'm doing, but I'm currently writing this post on my Raspberry Pi hacktop. If anything, this experience reminds me of the importance of having a full laptop. However, using Raspberry Pi continues to be a great learning experience, one I wish existed 15 years ago.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm playing catch up or waking up from a coma after being hit by a bus years ago on the way to work. You want to really live that normal life you planned but you feel like you've been locked away and missed a lot of important life events.

I know a lot of people expect a lot from me at my age. I really mean that. Not doing much the last seven years has damaged my self-confidence. It would be great to run into someone who can tell me "you're doing fine" or "no pressure". I like to create my own stuff. (Although, I don't mind forking someones else's project sometimes.) I really enjoy proofreading someone else's work to make it even better. I can't help but want to do my own thing at my own pace.

I'm a Vim geek. GUI editors don't impress me, especially if they don't use command line or regular expression. If only more people knew that Vim was capable of code completion. I prefer the iterative-Incremental development programming model over "Agile" anything. (Agile is a terrible buzzword!) I believe programming projects should be treated as programming projects not business projects until a stable and reliably strong version is ready to use. (It will be ready when it is ready!)

I know most employers don't like to read or hear about what potential employees think when they are either looking for employees who will answer "How High?" when they are asked to jump up and down or if they are looking for programmers who have accumulated enough computer knowledge from their educational and non-professional experiences that they can teach to employees who are imported from other countries in order to export what they've learned to countries that corporations uses as tax havens at the cost of far less than what the college educated person paid for learning that knowledge. I know it sounds biased, but from the many people who I've met and who have been recruited to work for large global companies, it has been one of the many unintended consequences of their job where instead of being a programmer they end out spending most of their time training other people to do their job.

Such a business model is often part of the "Embrace Extend Extinguish" a model Microsoft appears to still use considering this week's news that of the 18,000 workers being laid off at Microsoft, 12,500 of those employees are Nokia workers. 1,100 from Finland where Nokia is from. 1,800 from a Nokia factory in Hungary. Nokia was acquired by Microsoft in August last year and since Steve Ballmer passed the CEO reins to Satya Nadella. And despite these layoffs, MSFT shares have grown over 20% while at the same time Microsoft and other large corporations lobbied to raise the cap on the number of H1-Bs and wrapped it up with all the other much needed immigration reform that Congress (and folks like Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)) keep rejecting. If H1-B immigration and the regular immigration issues were not bundled together, the H1-B part would be rejected and we probably wouldn't be having an immigration crisis with kids from Central America going through Mexico in a very dangerous Hunger-Games-esque journey into the U.S.

Meanwhile for Microsoft and other global tech companies to state that there is a "deficit of STEM workers from the U.S." is a complete lie. For the past seven years, I've gone to hundreds of interviews, thousands of resumes, and at least two different job programs (which was a big mistake considering they paid no attention to my technical skills), and several recruiters, only to wind up empty or told they wanted someone with a skillset mostly using some proprietary Microsoft programming product and language.

Good programmers will use Microsoft products to write their resume in Word or make an Excel spreadsheet. Great programmers, never use anything made by Microsoft especially since most free software tools aren't made by Microsoft and suffer software bloat when compiled in Windows. Heck, most everyone who shows up to the user groups shows up with a Mac or a Linux laptop. Just about everyone does not use Microsoft programming products. They use Java, Python, C, C++, PHP, Ruby, Scala, Erlang, Haskell, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, etc. There's never any .Net stuff. There's no ASP, no Coldfusion, and very little C# unless Mono needs to be used

So why do tech companies still want to hire people who know how to use Microsoft tools? Why do the same tech companies support STEM programs in schools but in the real world ignore the same people who they said "You can grow up to be a programmer/engineer/technician/consultant"? Why do they post job offers, then say "sorry we're not interested" THEN hire migrant workers after the tell the government "we couldn't find enough people here"?

It's because they are more interested in jacking up their stock price, blow off paying taxes, and making a ton of money to insulate themselves from the have-nots just like any other modern global corporation. Yet, people are still willing to work for these companies on the bottom under the promises of benefits (which are cut) and low wages that aren't enough to keep their heads above water.

If anything, I would much rather work for a startup or a medium sized company rather than some really big company full of unfulfilled promises and denial of mistakes. Last I checked, that's pretty much what defines a government these days. (Zing!)

But why should I even be concerned about any of that? I just want to fork the GQRX project so it uses ncurses instead of Qt (which was at one time owned by Nokia) or GTK+ to provide a textual interface instead of graphical.

That's what I'm talking about. I'd much rather think about code and programming and projects that I'm working on than where my next paycheck comes from or if I'm going to get fired (which if you live in a state with "at-will hiring" or "right-to-work", they could fire you tomorrow just to see their stock rise a penny) or if I will ever get hired.

That's really all I ask. To get paid to work on things that I do, and to have a routine so that I can live like an adult for once. Isn't that what everyone wants? I know there is no free ride to wealth, but I see myself as a craftsman rather than an assembly worker. I just need a routine and something (or someone) to keep me interested in it.


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