Real-World Lesson #1 for Software Development Innovation

Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Virginia has a great backstory. They wanted to create a place where people could innovate and produce great work. I came away with one, unequivocal lesson.

It is not a lesson about how to write code or what code to write. It is a lesson about the conditions in which to write code. The lesson is as follows:

A person will innovate best, especially when it involves technology, science, or creativity, in an environment and conditions that nourishes both mind and body.

When you look at these major research facilities, they don’t just exist anywhere and they have a certain form to them. The people involved who work in those environments exist in a certain way of life both, professional and personal. The climate is idyllic. It nurtures them in ways that are useful to framing thoughts and pursuing innovation: creative, scientific, and technological.

That also says that innovation of the kind spoken of in the backstory above rarely surfaces in tough neighborhoods, tense environments with a common cadence of anxiety, or in conditions that undermine such innovation in favor of resolving more immediate challenges of existence. This insight, more than anything, may explain why some communities have a momentum in terms of innovation while others lack it. Exceptions do exist, but overall, good work comes from good all around living conditions.


Encryption Backdoor Policy

The idea of having a backdoor into encryption protocols would make situations like the OPM Breach far worse. It is said that encryption would not have helped secure the OPM database. The reason is the visitors had full access anyway and could decrypt at will. Imagine a situation in which such access does not exist but there is a backdoor that could be discovered to see how large the problem could be. Continue reading

Era of Solid State Drives Officially Arrives

The availability of 1TB SSD has been good for some time but the news of Samsung’s latest 1TB SSD marks the official shift from magnetic hard drives. Ironic how soon, relatively speaking, SSD capacity caught up with mainstream default drive capacities. A few years from now, mainstream, consumer SSD will cross into 10TB. With mSATA SSD, it is time for RAID config to come standard on high-end machines to contribute to a more compelling performance profile.

Portable hard drives may yet sunset to give rise to a common flash drive technology based on mSATA with higher capacities, reliability, and longevity. The transition to USB-C is happening faster than expected. I gave it 5 to 10 years, but it is seems more like 1 year to widespread adoption. While SD card and microSD card readers are adjusted to the Type-C connector it may be an opportunity to migrate to external drives that are based on mSATA SSD as a universal hardware storage platform.

Laptops are going to get much thinner with USB-C, mSATA SSD and the continued absence of optical drives. Tablets will increasingly participate in the world of USB as the Type-C socket works to the exterior aesthetic criteria of mobile design. Rather than staid old designs calling for a substantial shift, everything that is gets refreshed in a way that continues their use and uptake. Once again, hardware demonstrates its primacy in innovation.

Linux Inventor Talks Artificial Intelligence, Intel Processors, and Technology Evolution

A thoroughly enjoyable interview in which Linus Torvalds shares views about technology, collaborative community, and general perspective. A summary of the interview is as follows:

  • Intel processors have the design right for the trade-offs between hardware and software.
  • Artificial intelligence will not be like it is in sci-fi but a more limited but useful tool.
  • A good personality trait for open source is a combination of sanity, responsibility, perseverance, and engagement.
  • The single superhero coder is really a myth. A person can start something, but they need others to finish it well.
  • Besides the triad of talent, effort, and luck, you need passion and a specific focus in order to succeed.
  • No one true programming language. Different languages work well in different areas.
  • Generic drivers that are generically portable is not something he recommends.
  • Technology seems to work best when it evolves rather than as a push for radical change.

I found the tone of the interview to be very pleasant. The questions were very respectful and thoughtful. The insights shared to be very measured, balanced, and a good outlook overall.

Apple is Not a Web Company

Some are saying that representatives for Safari is noticeably absent at web conferences. I am okay with that because I think Safari is fine how it is relative to the issues others mention. The App model is a better approach in terms of a better user experience. People are increasingly spending more time in Apps than they are in web browsers. Eventually, the pendulum may swing back the other way, but then again, that is the cyclical nature of the tech industry.