It’s funny the turns Life takes.
I started programming in the eartly 1980s, on Timex Sinclair, Commodore 64 and TRS-80 computers in short order. In those wild days when high-level languages were really coming into their own, free and open source software seemed more readily available than retail equivalents. Hobbyist magazines, online bulletin boards and even the fledgling internet (pre WWW) were stuffed with code just waiting for eager learners like me to take and tweak. There wasn’t much in the way of formal free and open source protocol at the time– that evolved soon enough though.
But as I evolved myself, from hobbyist to ad hoc developer for various employers, I found myself drawn in deeper and deeper to the closed source world. I discovered I had a liking and knack for Visual Basic and thus fell into the Microsoft development vortex.
It’s a seductive and powerful sucker, too. It was all too easy to be “bought off” by events with (ironically) free training, free food and even giveaways of free software. I ultimately joined a Microsoft program that dumped thousands of dollars of tools in my lap for an embarrassingly small outlay. Resistance was futile.
Yep, I was assimilated.
Flash forward to 2005 when Nokia hired me to do data mining/management for factory quality assurance. At first it was the usual: Microsoft SQL Server, the Office suite, VB.NET and even Oracle. The only real challenge I faced at the time was ramping up SQL skills to an enterprise level.
At first it was an utterly alien object, this Linux-driven refugee from an old Star Trek show. I only knew it mobilized the Internet like nothing else at the time… and I wanted to put it to work.
I eventually took on a new role as quality engineer for certain Nokia products and that included the 770 and then the N800, which I helped launch. Supporting the tablets meant getting acquainted with something I had marvelled at from afar but never touched until then:
At first I had to perform all device flashing from a Linux command line. A helpful colleague introduced me to Ubuntu and after acquiring a laptop for the work I dug in. Just not too deeply– I was still using Windows tools for the bulk of my labors so I didn’t really have time to invest in becoming a Linux guru… although the desire was certainly there.
And now a few years and turns later, I find myself in another role where the old trusted tools need not apply. I haven’t even coded in VB for over a year! Couple that with my current employer’s strong desire to save money and wham! I’m back in the open source world.
Which is fine because I’m embarrassed that after a few years embedded in the Maemo culture I’ve barely picked up anything. I want to do more application testing and even some development but I still lack the foundation.
So I’m excited by the opportunity I have in my employment to investigate a process workflow solution (more on that in another article) that’s completely open source and takes full advantage of the open source ecosystem (MySQL, Apache, OpenBravo, Knowledgetree, Zimbra). This is my chance to pull free of the Microsoft vortex, at least a little bit, and gain some proficiency in what I think will ultimately become the status quo.
I’m ready now to get into Qt… Python… and whatever else looks useful. How-To posts like those at talk.maemo.org showing how to get Windows developers onto Maemo devices are just adding irresistable fuel to the fire.
Hello (open source) World, here I (finally) come!