Editor's Note: Farewell, Hello, the Journey ContinuesJul 18, 2008, 21:50 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)
by Carla Schroder
I like the word "farewell". It carries a lot more meaning than plain old "good-bye". Wikipedia defines it as "...a wish of happiness or welfare at parting, especially a permanent departure." So it's fitting to bid Brian Proffitt, who managed Linux Today, LinuxPlanet, AllLinuxDevices, JustLinux, and LinuxPR for the past six years, a very fond farewell. He did a fine job, and a lot of people are going to miss him. His new job is so cool I am smitten with envy- Community Manager for the LSB Developer Network. Brian describes in an interview what the LDN is for:
"The idea of LDN is to provide a living, breathing front to the Linux Standard Base (LSB). The LSB is something the entire community needs... a set of standardized specs that will give private and commercial developers a target to which to write their apps.
Best wishes to you, old Hoosier, I know you'll do a great job.
How the Heck Did I End Up Here?Every so often I take a moment to ponder how I got where I am. It's been a long strange trip on the shoulders of giants. I barely made it through high school because it was a nightmare and a horror, and if I had kids I wouldn't let them near one, not even to drive by to gawk at the inmates. Sometimes I wish I had gotten more formal education, but self-education has its advantages. You're not held back by the slow kids, and not bound by someone else's schedule or curriculum. You can follow your curiosity wherever it goes, and experiment, and learn things that no one can teach you. I think the most under-appreciated resource the USA has is its public library system- a whole world of knowledge there for the taking. A lot of colleges and universities allow public access to their libraries, and if you just walk in and start reading and mind your manners they're not going to throw you out even when they are supposedly restricted.
Now with the Internet we really do have the world at our fingertips. "Knowledge is power" is a very old saying, and it's truer than ever. But knowledge alone is not enough- relationships make the world go 'round. Good relationships, that is, built on trust. That's how I got my first ever computer. Way back in 1994 or so a friend loaned me her Macintosh II just because I was curious about it. Now that's a lot of trust, because I had no experience with PCs, and that was an expensive machine. I had a lot of fun with it, but even then the Apple way of doing things felt wrong, so my next PC was a Tandy 386 running MS-DOS and Windows 3.1. Being a born tinkerer, I had that thing apart and re-assembled any number of times, and figured out pretty quickly that Windows 3.1 was poo and I had to drop to DOS to do anything. It was fun and exciting, a whole new world to explore.
Pretty soon people were paying me to help them with their computers. Then I discovered Red Hat Linux, and was soon immersed in the Linux world, and in interoperating with dratted Windows, which never wanted to share the playground with the other kids, and still doesn't.
Somewhere back in those misty olden days I pitched some article ideas to Computer Bits Magazine, of Forest Grove, Oregon. Paul Heinlein was the boss editor, and he gave me my first professional writing gig. The publisher was kind of an odd man; I don't think he liked me, but I don't know if it was personal, or if he resented girls in the clubhouse, or was just odd with everyone.
Then Michael Hall (of Enterprise Networking Planet, IM Planet, and OpenNetworksToday fame) gave me a chance in the Big Time. That led to several regular freelance assignments on various Jupitermedia sites.
Then Brian needed a substitute for Linux Today, and Michael Hall recommended me. Then when Brian decided to leave, I'm pretty sure they did some behind-the-scenes persuasion to smooth the way for me to replace him. True, my charisma and abilities speak for themselves, but having friends in the right places never hurts. Finally, the Big Boss (hi Dan!) had to make the ultimate decision, and I'm glad he said yes because this is one heck of a great job.
Somewhere along the way I wrote two books for O'Reilly Media (Linux Cookbook and Linux Networking Cookbook! Buy lots of them!), and have one in the works for No Starch Press. I still have a select few clients I do support work for. That all seems a rather amazing set of chain of events resulting from borrowing a computer. None of it would have happened without some key people giving me chances, and continuing to support me along the way. I've given some boosts my own self, and it feels pretty good to open a door for someone who then grabs the opportunity and does well with it.
How Did You Get Here?I adore "how did I get here" stories, so please share your own, whether you're a crusty old Unix geek, a raw noob, a leet coder, college student, kidnaped by Linux aliens, ordinary person who just likes computers- everyone has a good story to tell.