Name: Peter Harris
Member since: 2000-12-12 14:21:07
Last Login: N/A


Mostly I work in Progress 4GL (with a bit of Python, Java and Zope). I can read and debug C too, but it's a while since I've used it much.

I get paid to wield the might of Free software development against the evil forces of Proprietary Software Suppliers, on behalf of a whisky company in Scotland. They are OK about me spending a little time on my sourceforge projects:

  • jftp - an ftpd in Java (should have called it jftpd, I suppose)
  • f2w - A web- based helpdesk/knowledge base application.

Recent blog entries by scav

I am wondering about whether to get Linux certification, and how valuable it would be. Not valuable as "marketable" but valuable personally.

Anyway, I wonder if it would differ from MS certification in the way that really counts - would it be "grey" knowledge or "green" knowledge?

I would call "grey" any knowledge that is arbitrary facts you just have to remember. Eg. which menu option to choose to do a word count, what year a certain battle took place, how to conjugate an irregular verb. The facts may be useful as they are, but that's all they are.

"Green" knowledge reflects an underlying reality, and can grow by interlinking with other things, related or otherwise, to contribute to a deeper understanding. Not just how things are, but WHY. E.g. how to use pipes to filter text files (including getting a word count), what influences caused a battle to take place, how conjugation of regular verbs works and which verbs to expect to be irregular.

So, would Linux certification leave me with a better mental map of OS design and good practice, or just a head full of "how to install Red Hat"?

Recently released 1.2beta2 of f2w helpdesk.

Now, I really have a very naïve understanding of how to choose version numbers, so it should probably not be above version 1.0. I live and learn.

Also, less recently, I've read Erich Fromm's book "To Have or To Be". Heavy going in places, but pretty sound and satisfyingly spiritual. In short, he says what you are is important (and by extension, what you can become); what you have is not.

A parallel with software development: contrast "owning intellectual property" with "being creative".

I notice this viewpoint helps with the usually difficult but serious question "What do you REALLY want?". If you interpret this as "what do you want to HAVE?", there is no end to it, and you are into that old finite resources and infinite options thing. If you ask instead "what do you want to BE?", it's a question you can answer to the first approximation, and the answer can be a productive one.

Or so I think, anyway.

Just spent a gruelling couple of days writing documentation for f2w helpdesk.

It strikes me this is where free software projects are most likely to repel potential users and contributors. Because I had a look at my project, imagining I was a newcomer to it, and I was repelled.

Hence, the User Guide and Admin Guide that I knew all along would be needed finally got written.

Oh well.


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