I got the opportunity to do another Scale11x interview, this time with Philip Ballew. Philip was a real pleasure to talk to and I even got the opportunity to meet with him in person since he is a San Diegan. Philip is a great guy, very passionate about Open Source. I am looking forward to catching his talks up in L.A. later this week at Scale.
I tweeted and G+ about this story yesterday but I also wanted to add it here for anyone who might stumble onto it. If you thought Open Source was just about free software, limited to maybe something you would run on your desktop or phone, well you couldn't be more wrong. There is a movement of people who are applying Open Source philosophy and licensing to a scale you have probably never considered, Industrial Machines. The creation of physical working solutions for things like farming and agriculture. We are talking things like brick presses, bread ovens, tractors, saws, and cement mixers.
I’ve stumbled across this video several time, most recently on a blog post of an extremely talented developer and someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
If you’re not a developer it can be kind of hard to wrap your head around what is being outline but if you stop thinking of what is being talked about as work and more as a something you enjoy doing it makes more sense. They make a great reference comparing work to music in the video but it could be anything, painting, gardening, working on your car. The thing a lot of non-developers (managers, bosses, what have you) don’t get is that some of us in the IT field do this because its what we enjoy doing. I wasn't always in IT, at one time I was in a completely unrelated industry and even during that period, my free time was doing some sort of development or general computer hacking. Not because it was going to move me up in the company I was working at but because it was what I wanted to do in my free time and has been that way since my Dad got me a TRS-80 for Christmas ’85.
This is why Open Source Development works. Not because there is a big carrot hanging at the end of the stick, but because there is a passion and thirst for knowledge. The reward structure in Open Source is always difficult to explain to people but this video does a great job at capturing some of the attributes that does drive Open Source Development.
Being an "Open Source" guy there is a certain stigma that goes along with that title, one being that everything you use has to be Open Source. Where I take great pride in the knowledge there isn't really any aspect of my digital life I couldn't do without an Open Source solution, I personally don't necessarily make Open Source a "requirement". I always look for the best solution and tool for a particular task, for me freedom and access to the code weighs heavily in that decision but is not the only parameters in picking a solution.
In the interest of full discloser, and because there are people who enjoy pointing out when they "catch me" not using Open Source (as if I don't know), I present to you a list of my Non-Open Source guilty pleasures that I use frequently (with some justification for using them)
Note: with the exceptions of OSX and the Microsoft products all solutions below do offer free versions of their products though I typically pay for the upgraded products.
Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) - There are several alternatives to Evernote, including Open Sources ones such as Tomboy but they all seem to lack either features or cross platform compatibility. Evernote does have a OSX and Windows client but no client for Linux which has always been a huge draw back. Evernote does have a pretty good web interface, which continues to improve and this helps a lot when I am on my Linux desktops. Evernote also have a lot of open APIs and there has been some activity to writing alternative Evernote clients that will run on Linux desktops including one I've checked out called Nevernote (http://nevernote.sourceforge.net/)
Navicat (http://www.navicat.com/) - I simple like this tool. The user interface and feature set is wonderful. There are tons of Open Source GUI clients to connect to MySQL database and even though 99% on my database activity is connecting to a MySQL backend every now and then I need to connect to MSSQL, Oracle, or PostgreSQL and my Navicat Premium allows me to do this in one client. It also has a wonderful feature of establishing my MySQL connections over SSH which I love when I need to work on my Windows boxes. It's baked in so I don't have to establish my own separate SSH tunnel. They also have clients for Windows, OSX, and Linux
Dropbox (http://db.tt/AyOLUYV) – I have to be honest, I’ve used Dropbox for several years but it is always on my hit list to move to an alternative Open Source solution. There seems to be a new one that drops every month. When I get comfortable with the staying power and feature set that Dropbox offer, I will probably drop Dropbox.
OSX (http://www.apple.com/macosx/) - This is really a decision of convince than anything else. There are typically a greater number “vendor support” desktop application that are not support on Linux desktops such as the previously mentioned Evernote. However OSX is BSD at heart and lets me retain a lot of the Open Source tools I am accustomed to on my Linux desktop including a very power command line and scripting ability. My OSX desktop also affords me the unique benefit of running virtualization software such as Virtualbox (http://www.virtualbox.org/) and allow me to run Windows, several Linux distributions, and OSX all on one physical machine. This is really nice especially when needing to do testing.