28 Aug 2000 aaronv   » (Apprentice)

Stairway to heaven

It's quite ironic. I spent much of my time last year playing with Berlin, preaching the coming of the GUI developers' messiah.... Skipping classes to catch up on my Debian E-Mail... Generally being a groupie. A newbie groupie at that. I can't honestly say that I ever truly made a significant contribution to either project, but both combined have helped me become what I am today: a unixhead in the software industry.

I and a friend of mine, Dave, always share any kind of pure-science-related knowledge we happen upon; both of us love anything from any field (math, chem, physics, comp sci) that stimulates thinking. You would often find I and Dave in the study lounge at 4 AM the morning before a big test, sitting behind our books as though to study, but rambling on about various algorithms, new emerging fields of science, physical phenomena, philosophy, you name it..

Well, Dave turned out to be interested in computer science (he's a physics major; funny, I'm a compE major interested in physics) so I began preaching the savior-of-the-world, CORBA, to him, and drew him some ugly flowcharts of what happens inside Berlin, to the best of my knowledge at the time (considering I have never really taken enough time to grok any of graydon's/stefan's code to my own satisfaction). The idea sounds really great, especially on paper...

Well, he hit me with a hard question. I had a difficult time explaining CORBA (the telltale of deficient understanding), so I fell back on how Berlin eliminates dependencies on various widget APIs with a stub library... That he was contented with. Then I proceeded to explain common paradigms (pixel-oriented displays) vs fresco-style vector graphics. After this I showed him a cool demonstration of the first DR of Berlin's second incarnation: three buttons that, however you transform them, just magically intercept events.

His question was: why? Doesn't X do translations relatively well? Who cares if you can zoom/rotate/skew an application's image, embed one within another, et al if the cycle cost is so high? I couldn't think of an answer at the time; that's when I decided I was being a groupie.

I've since figured things out a little better.

Since first quarter, I've been relatively inactive on lists, and even more inactive in the goings-on; either get involved or stop wasting time, I told myself. Dave and I kept discussing anything and everything when we should have been studying (He still got A's; it was never quite so easy for me). Quantum computing, physical simulations, et al.

[time warp] a few weeks before the end of the school year, a professor of mine contacted me with a job offer. I'm working for him now, being paid to administer servers, construct a cluster (just one for now, this is a startup; more later), learn MPI and study just about any new scalable parallel application. I love this field, and what's even better we're going to be doing lots of algorithm research in the field of physics. Dave is signing on to help (as a new brain to pick at), and I believe that much of our code will be open.

For anyone who has read this far, what I'm trying to do is convey both my thanks and my apology. My thanks for putting up with me and infusing me with interest in these fields, answering my questions when I had them. My apologies for leeching, scantly returning the favor. You will hear from me on some kind of basis in both debian and Berlin, but I am not sure of my future participation; everything depends on time.

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