I recently got to meet Nat Friedman of Gnome fame. Thanks Moshe for the opportunity.
While Moshe and Nat did most of the talking (about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship), I just kept listening and learning. I had an interesting story to mention, though. A couple of ex-colleagues from Codito had witnessed a live coding session on-stage by Miguel and Nat, and have come out impressed by their style.
I got to hear the story behind such sessions. Nat had this to say (not the exact words, I've sadly forgotten them):
"What I've come to know is that in India, you can actually get a degree in computers without actually doing a lot of coding"
I just kept laughing as this was the reality! Back in college, there were a few who really liked the subjects and who liked to code. The others coded just to get through the exams (and in cases, managed to get through without even coding).
Nat says he's never had as many people coming to him after a talk as in India. They don't ask questions during the talk, but after the talk. And the kind of questions they ask prompted him to ask "So how many lines of code have you written?" The reply is usually in the range of 3000. I'm not sure if his reaction was as animated in front of the crowd, but he said "that's the kind of number you should be coding every day if you've got to be decent coders!"
So true. It's a pity, since we have a lot of people entering this industry.. a lot of youngsters being churned out by colleges. What's painful is that everyone is misguided. Some take up the course just because "there's more money". Some are here there are colleges mushrooming everywhere, which can accommodate many such people. It's not for passion that many join the course and the industry.
Those few who, in spite of the extremely tolerant and greedy industry that we've managed to create here, can't make it to the industry post-college (for obvious reasons), become lecturers at these colleges. Doesn't help students at all. Of the talented lot, a few get disillusioned, a few don't get proper guidance... and that marks the sad start to an already finished career.
I particularly remember the nice anecdotes we used to have during lectures and practicals. A few gems:
- While doing the Kirchoff's Voltage and Current Laws: two currents flow through a resistor in the same direction. They're supposed to add up. The lecturer says it's I1 - I2. We're of course in the mood to have fun, so one guy points out the mistake and another one says there's no mistake. So we pass time debating this. At the end of the hour, the lecturer says "According to my logic, it's right. You go home and check with your books."
- The same guy, in a lab session. My unfortunate friend's allotted power supply doesn't work. He asks for a replacement. This lecturer says "why do you need a different power supply? Use this multi-meter, set it to 5V DC and use it." Atul couldn't control his laughter. The lecturer took offence and that might've reflected on our performance. (Hope you don't get into such trouble at CMU! ;-) )
Back to Nat: I was very impressed by him. Though I'm not a Gnome-fan, I still like all the work they're doing and from my interaction, I'm sure he's taking the Linux desktop to the masses.