To Build or To Better?

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Sunday, October 23. 2005 in Open Source

Almost every programmer runs into that question on at least a weekly occasion: When writing something, do you build it from scratch or do you take something that already exists and adjust it for what you need? The availability of Open Source makes this an even more viable question, and one which is usually answered via the latter. As much as I enjoy the craft of designing and coding from start to finish, I also find it worthwhile to take and existing project, and enhance it in ways in which I, and I hope others, find useful. A good case in point was a webmail interface. I had created an original work, in PHP, and it did a fine job. When I started thinking about releasing it to the world, research showed that there were already a large number of such applications. The vast majority were way to "heavy" for my tastes, until I came upon Uebimiau. The design goals of this little project were the exact same as mine, and so I decided that instead of putting energy into improving my version, why not help this project, which at the time seemed to be suffering from neglect. So I fixed some code, made some improvements, folded in improvements proposed by others and started releasing the so-call "Jimjag" patches of UM, which seemed to be warmly received and used. I'm up to patchlevel 3 and hope to release patchlevel 4 some time this month. The UM community also seems to have seen a re-birth, now that people are seeing that a few of us are still taking care of the application. Again, we see how Open Source takes something which, at least in part, is a selfish desire ("I need something so I'll use this") and turns it into something good. Open Source is the alchemy of development and community, turning lead into gold.
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Not a common name

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Thursday, October 20. 2005 in Junk Drawer

My oldest son still thinks it's the coolest thing in the world that there's a character on the show One Tree Hill that shares our last name. Now for those of you named Smith or Evans or Bunker or even House, you have to admit that Jagielski isn't exactly a common name. So I wonder where the writers or creator of OTH "found" the name? Well, at least when you Google Jagielski, I still come up 1st :-)
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Be not proud

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Tuesday, October 4. 2005

Over this last weekend, my wife's (Eileen) mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Cancer markers from various blood tests came back incredibly high, indicating it's widely spread and that there isn't a lot of time. She is still in the hospital now, but we are starting the process of looking into hospice care for her, or having her move in with us for awhile. As cliche as it is, it is during times like these that you appreciate what is important in life, and how much you rely on the support of family and friends. I am also incredibly lucky that I work for a great company. When I told Covalent's CEO (Mark Brewer) the news, he said, basically, take whatever time you need. In this day and age, a company that actually cares like that for its employees is quite rare. Eileen's also received warm support from her company as well. You have no idea how much that means to have one less worry on your shoulders during times like this, and having a flexible schedule to do what needs to be done. So enjoy each day; call your Mom and Dad; eat more salad; get more excercise; take care of yourself, and take care of those important to you.
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