It turns out that this is the first blog article I ever wrote. I think it stands up pretty well. Hope you enjoy it. – Russ
I've been in the software business since before it was called the software business and sometimes it can be a cold and hard place. We in technology frequently lose sight of the fact that we are people just trying to solve problems for other people. We talk about resources and levels of effort when we really mean dedicated people and hard work. We go on and on about features and bug fixes instead of time saved and frustrations eliminated.
Like most blogs, this one is going to be about whatever is on my mind at the moment, but what is frequently on my mind is how we in the software business are just trying to solve problems. We are tying to solve problems without killing ourselves, our coworkers, or our own joy in getting something complex to work. If all of this sounds a little heavy, it won't be. Much of this blog is going to be about the people I have worked with other the years and many of them are pretty funny.
For example, I used to work with this guy who had a somewhat a somewhat unusual approach to weight loss: he claimed that he could maintain himself in healthy fitness by eating most of his calories before evening. I don't know a thing about nutrition but I do know that I never want to get stuck in a lunch buffet line behind my buddy ever again. By the time he reached the check out his plate would look like the leaning tower of Pizza or the great wall of Lasagna.
Thus was born a new international unit: the Nah, named for my early eating colleague. The Nah is international in the sense that some of us involved in its creation have been to Canada. The informal definition of the Nah is the amount of food that Mr. Nah would gather for his normal midday meal; in formal terms it is enough food to feed a family of four.
Once you start this game it takes on a life of its own. Next after the Nah is the Kiel. Bob Kiel is a good friend of mine, a very smart guy, and a superb engineer. But Bob has trouble reading to the end of a book. Bob will frequently start a book, read 70 or so pages and then put it down for six months. At the end of that incubation period Bob may return for a second helping of 70 pages. Bob tells me he has read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I have done the math and I don't think the universe is old enough. And so we have the Kiel, informally defined as the number of pages of a book you can get though on that first burst of enthusiasm. Formally, a Kiel is 70 pages.
Finally we have the Gafoor. Unlike the other units which measure more or less definite things, like millions of calories or tens of pages, the Gafoor is a measurement of a field, like gravity or magnetism. In the presence of a 1 Gf strength field for one hour will do mysterious things to your computer. Your background color and screen resolution will change. You will have different fonts. You may even be running a new, highly experimental kernel. Even a brief burst can change your screen saver.
The software business thrives on the quirky problem solving of people like Mr.Nah, the restless and impatient curiosity of the Bob Kiels and the endless tinkering of the Gafoors. Technology can be a cold and harsh business. But sometimes at the end of a long day I like to sit down with a couple of Kiels of a good book, a milliNah of popcorn and reflect on the essential Gafoorness of life.