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April 2006

April 10, 2006

Patents vs. Software Patents

Filed under: Commentary,Software — Bob @ 9:08 pm

Paul Graham’s article Are Software Patents Evil is worth a read. He argues that “junk” software patents are less of a problem than “junk” patents on non-software inventions (opposite of popular belief in my circles). He points out the fundemental (and maybe unfixable) problem is the inability of the USPTO to identify obvious vs. non-obvious inventions in a fast-moving technology sector; this much is obvious to anyone. He further explains why innovation at most software companies is unhindered by the whole mess. This part is less obvious but well argued. Another great article from Paul reveals where successful startups find the right Ideas.

The First Week Was Great

Filed under: Software,Work — Bob @ 7:18 pm

Last week was the first week of working at Sophos in downtown Vancouver. I joined this company because they we are a fantastic organization making fantastic products in a growing industry.

The first week was like going back to school – I’m writing C and Perl on Linux and I forgot everything I knew about the Linux / UNIX system and library APIs a long time ago. Fortunately these are great people to work with, and they knew I’d have this learning curve for a couple of weeks.

We are doing pair-programming for most of the work. It’s a full Extreme Programming shop, and that has been really fun so far. I’d tried pair-programming in the past but the problem was never having quite the right set-up: we have special workstations with one computer, two monitors, two keyboards and two mice. Instead of crouching around a single monitor and trading the keyboard back and forth, both people sit comfortably and can immediately switch back and forth with no effort. Its really been a positive experience.

Another great feature of Extreme Programming: having the customer proxy (the guy whose opinion about features counts the most) sitting in the same work area all day long. Got a question about how the feature should work? Grab the customer guy (his name is Marc on my team) and get the answer immediately.

It was a little bit of a risk to join a company so different than my last job but I really think this is exactly the kind of place I like to work. Many times this last week I observed and participated in activites that reminded me of my best memories from development projects are Creo. I’m sure there will be days that I get frustrated too, but I doubt that will happen very often.

Today actually started my second week, and it was a great day. Learned a lot more about how our project is assembled and how the various components interact. I can hardly wait to go back tomorrow!

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