Holiday break

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Sunday, December 30. 2007 in Personal

It's hard to believe that 2007 is just about over... My hope was to take a nice, relaxing, offline break during the holidays, but for one reason and another, it all didn't work out as expected (mostly in the "relaxing", as in stress-free, and "offline" aspects). But then again, I did kinda expect that as well. So the expectation of not achieving the expectation was expected, if you follow me... There was one thing I wanted to do that I did find time to do, and that was to better organize all my digital photos (a relatively small number but growing quite quickly), as well as digitize all our family videos into iMovie. Next on the agenda is scanning in a huge slew of old slides that we have hanging around, but that will likely proceed on an as-needed basis. One of our goals for the new year is to really add lots more photos around the house, which is nice because it not only make the house even more of a home, but it gives me the excuse to indulge in 2 of my hobbies: woodworking (for frames and shelves) and digital media (the latter being relatively new). As the kids get older, having more and more "on display" pictures around the house seems almost required. This also gives me the chance to lay around with Lightroom a lot more. But even with not being able to pull away from other things as completely as I would have liked, it's been a nice holiday. We had time to share with friends and family and had a really perfect Christmas day... and that's something to be very thankful about.


Posted by Jim Jagielski on Friday, December 21. 2007 in Personal

So earlier today we were setting up our nativity scene. It's a special one to us, because I actually purchased it from a small little shop in Bethlehem (the Bethlehem... you know, the one in the Middle East) back when I was US CTO for Zend. Anyway, we're setting it up when Andrew, our youngest (he's 9) says, "Hey. How come Baby Jesus has a full head of hair?" I had no idea how to respond... But Andrew was right. He does.

Perl 5.10

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Wednesday, December 19. 2007 in Programming

Even though other scripting languages like Python and Ruby (and even Erlang) seem to be getting a lot more press recently, Perl5 is still very much a real workhorse in use all over the place. So the release of Perl 5.10 is very good and welcome news! Congrats to the perl5-porters team!

Why community matters

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Monday, December 17. 2007 in Programming

As mentioned previously, one core fundamental of the ASF which is often misunderstood is the idea of "community over code". Some people take this to mean is that as long as the community is healthy, then it doesn't matter whether the code is good or not. This is, of course, total crud. The phrase does not mean that at all, nor is that the intent of the ASF as well. Instead, the slogan refers to a basic truth that has long been proven, time and time again within the ASF (and elsewhere); That a healthy community creates world-class code. It also implies the necessary corollary: That unhealthy communities do not create sustainable world-class code. The key word is "sustainable". There are, IMO, 2 main variants of unhealthy communities: one with poisonous people, and others which lack diversity and/or collaboration. My good friends Ben and Fitz explain the impacts of Poisonous People in Open Source, so I won't go into a lot of further detail about that. I will say that the impacts of poisonous people depends greatly on whether they are committers on a codebase or whether just nasty skunks on a list. The former is much more dangerous since the end result is driving away other developers within that codebase, as well as preventing other developers from even considering joining ("That project is a zoo... I can't stand that guy..."). So you devolve the project into the 2nd variant: no diversity and/or no real collaboration. The only people left in a project are either those who don't care or are simple "Yes men" to the poisonous person. But I can hear people asking "Well, except for the purist aspects, why is that bad? The guy is a coding machine! The code he's producing is really good! So what is the big deal?" The big deal is that there will come a time, sooner or later (and most of the time it is sooner) that the person burns out, is forced out or changes jobs or whatever that causes him to leave the project. It happens... it happens a lot. And when it does, you are left with a codebase which is basically now left fallow. There are no people left around to "fill in". The codebase suffers, the development community (what is left of it) suffers and the user community suffers. The ASF sees all that as an event to be avoided. The ASF wants to see code survive and even prosper with the changeover of developers, even super studly ones. The ASF wants to see code as a long-term resource, one that continues to attract users and developers. And by creating an environment where merit is rewarded, the expectation is that talented developers will be drawn to those projects that interest them, and will share their talents by helping that project along. And all this with the end result of a much better codebase. The code and the project are more important than the whims of a single developer... A healthy community is the antidote against poison and antagonism. A healthy community fosters and creates good, viable, sustainable code. Ergo: community over code.

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