17 June, 2006

Programming: Bill Gates - the opinions

Most of ya'll are not programmers.

As such, an image like this may not send thrills of terror down your spine. Please understand that for those of us whose very livelihoods depend upon the whims of this man, our reactions may not always be predictable.
Which makes the fact that he is retiring to do charity work a big, big deal. Big enough, even, to make this blog!

Not that I have an actual, meaningful opinion.

Bill leaving is not going to change my life one little bit. Microsoft can hardly become more dominant, and their demise would probably not make anyone's life better, really.

But, if you do have any interest, Joel Spolsky (whom I respect as highly as Steve McConnell, and that is HIGHLY) does have an opinion on the subject. He entitled it, My First BillG Review.

He has this to say about his first meeting directly with the man himself, after having given him a 500 page technical specification the night before.

He was asking questions. I was answering them. They were pretty easy, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were, because I couldn't stop noticing that he was flipping through the spec...

He was flipping through the spec! [Calm down, what are you a little girl?]

... and THERE WERE NOTES IN ALL THE MARGINS. ON EVERY PAGE OF THE SPEC. HE HAD READ THE WHOLE GODDAMNED THING AND WRITTEN NOTES IN THE MARGINS.

He Read The Whole Thing! [OMG SQUEEE!]

Believe me, to do that (and the other things in the article) Mr. Gates had to be a true genius. And in order to make that story interesting, Mr. Spolsky has to be a pretty good author. The whole post is a pretty fun read, if you can enjoy that kind of stuff.

Spolsky has this to say about what Bill really proved in that meeting.

It was a good point. Bill Gates was amazingly technical. He understood Variants, and COM objects, and IDispatch and why Automation is different than vtables and why this might lead to dual interfaces. He worried about date functions. He didn't meddle in software if he trusted the people who were working on it, but you couldn't bullshit him for a minute because he was a programmer. A real, actual, programmer.

My first work as a programmer was freelancing with Java on Netscape on MacIntosh. At the time that I was making a little bit of money to justify the hours I was spending bawling out the screen until it did what I wanted, Mr. Gates was saying, "I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years." Yeah, and while he was saying that, he single-handedly attempted to crush all three of my tools. He succeeded on two of them. (The third one seems to be doing a pretty good job of crushing itself all on its own. ;-)

Mr. Gates was not my favorite person.

Over the years, I have learned to respect him, but I doubt I will miss him much.

15 comments:

Maeghan said...

The image may not send thrills or terror down my spine but I thought it was funny and I can imagine based on the picture how it would send chills down some spines.

We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

Milly said...

I have a huge amount of respect for his intellect, he has without a doubt earned it. It will be interesting to see where he goes with this new journey.

My sister would be able to talk on this more than I she works for EDS. I think that mean I have no life outside of this place and I can talk on two phones at once. I’ve talked to her about Mr. Gates I suppose some of you will enjoy his retirement. :-}

codepoke said...

Bill is retiring to do full-time charity work. I find it vaguely frightening, but it's somebody else's problem.

Milly said...

I was too busy yesterday to say this with work from 6-8am then church then lunch then work then home. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY Cowboy!

Kansas Bob said...

A few things about Bill Gates:

1) He almost singlehandedly solved the windows crisis of the late 80s. MS Windows (not UNIX based X-Windows, Motif, etc.) became the defacto standard for developing windows based applications. Enormously helpful for we in Bell Labs who fought 'Style Wars' on a regular basis.

2) Bill validated my Nerddom ... it was no longer boring to be a nerdly programmer after he became so successful.

3) I respect what Mr Gates is doing for the world ... anyone who has a heart for the poor and for children is okay in my book.

Great picture codepoke ... I grabbed it and will circulate it!

codepoke said...

Good points, KB.

I entered the programming world through the "Open Source" pathway that started opening in the late '90's. Had I joined up back in the '70's, I would have seen Bill as saving the world from the IBM domination, and from the nightmare that OS/2 was trying to become. Instead, he was the one trying to rip my hoped for living out from under my unstable feet.

Like I said, it took me a while to learn to respect him, but it did finally come.

codepoke said...

Thanks, Milly. :-)

Danny Kaye said...

I gotta say one thing about ol' BillG: He is the best marketer who ever lived. How else could he have taken a sub-par product and made it number one in the world? Sure, we have a much better Windows product now. But when it first came out, it was horrible! And yet, he was able to convince all the world (except a few Mac holdouts) that his windows product was the best thing since DOS. And that isn't to mention his Office products, his development products, his internet products, his media products...etc.

And don't worry, Codepoke. I don't think you'll have a chance to miss him. He's kinda like "The Donald." (except more outwardly humble. He won't just disappear. ;-)

Milly said...

Why do elephants wear blue tennis shoes?

Because the white ones always get dirty.

codepoke said...

Q) Why do elephants paint their toenails red?

A) So they can hide in cherry trees!



And it works.

Well, you've never seen one when he was hiding up there, have you?!

See!

Milly said...

What game do elephants like to play most?


Squash.

(That's why I gave up playing with the big guy)

What did the cat say to the elephant?

Meow.
(It's a cat. . .duh)


What's the difference between eating an elephant or peanut butter?


Elephant doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth.

(Not the way Danny Kaye cooks it)

Codepoke,
Nope, never seen one in any tree, I'll be walking very carefully around trees from now on. Camo on an elephant can squash) Thanks for playing :-}

Danny Kaye said...

"Elephant doesn't stick to the roof of your mouth.

(Not the way Danny Kaye cooks it)"


I must confess that, though I am proud to be on the top of the food chain, I have yet to cook elephant. Someday, when I am trapsing around the Wilds of Africa, I will be sure to bring a saute' pan...A LARGE SAUTE' PAN!

BTW: How did we get on elephants? Did i miss a subliminal somewhere?

Milly said...

Danny,
Yes you missed it. I can't believe you missed it. There it is in the dark mist waiting to be led to the rainbow.

codepoke said...

Q) How do you cook an elephant?

A) One saute pan at a time.

(DK: Milly just sees elephants in the room ... It was there under the rainbow colored blanket.)

Milly said...

I'm an Okie so I need mine breaded and fried with cream gravy. I want okra too.