[nSLUG] Re: Moving to Halifax

gnwiii at gmail.com gnwiii at gmail.com
Sat Jun 10 12:55:40 ADT 2006

On 6/10/06, jeff white <ninjajeff at eastlink.ca> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mike Spencer" <mspencer at tallships.ca>

> > Am I the *only* NSLUG guy who's a Linux {desk,lap}top user who is
> > without a job in IT?  [...]
> youre not the only one. i gave up the IT career a few years back and work in
> a lumber mill now. fortunately, being self taught in unix, my skills aren't
> easily forgotten.

These days there are very few places where you can avoid computers.  I
belong to the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.  Over 15
years ago the Society found membership was growing rapidly as cheap
computing led to a big increase in real applications of maths for
process control, robotics, engine management, etc.  Many industries
used to have computer staff running the mainframe but now have
computers on the shop floor and in the machines, so computer skills
are needed everywhere in the organization.

I don't consider myself an IT professional.    I'm an applied
mathematician working in a computer intensive field (remote sensing in
oceanography) where few people have the math/computer skills.  Our lab
puts a lot of effort into helping people in less developed countries
get started in remote sensing.  The big obstacles are 1) getting the
software going initially since many labs are almost exclusively Win32,
and 2) implementing the code needed for their projects.  At work I
mostly use SGI Irix (via Cygwin or Hummingbird X11 servers) on a Win32
"corporate standard" desktop, but the machines are old and need to be
replaced, probably with linux. We do have a couple linux boxes for
apps that aren't available on Irix, testing new software (since we
expect to migrate to linux), etc.  Our mission critical software is
developed by a group at NASA where the security policy does not permit
any WIn32 machines.

>From my perspective, a group focusing exclusively on linux is too narrow.
Linux is currently interesting because so much innovation is happening
there, but as any OS matures, the rate of innovation slows down.  I've
used IBM and CDC mainframes, PC's with CP/M, Dec, Sun, HP, NeXt, Apple
and Ardent/Stardent/Kubota machines, learned from all of them, and
watched them either die or transform.   Linux has a number of
limitations (security models, X11 graphics support for high-end
imaging is very week) that leave lots of room for innovation.  For a
long time, science has relied on business computing for a suppy of
low-cost commodity hardware, but there are those that think gaming
hardware will begin to play a significant role.

The other side of linux is the open source and free software movement.
 This is also broader than any one OS,

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia


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