Friday, December 25, 2009

Guys and dolls

Carla Schroder recently published an article called "Hug your favorite FOSS contributors today". I have a problem with both that title and the intention. I don't feel like hugging some bearded nerd and if they're anything like me, I don't think they really want to be hugged anyway. Some of them are really grumpy old geeks..

Sure, there are several projects I like and use every day. I even cooperate with some of these projects, but I feel awkward sending a message "I love you, please don't stop". I think the people who run these projects already know I find their products indispensable, because I write about them with every occassion I have. Some of them even publish links to my blog, which is fine. But telling them "I love you". Man, I don't know..

I know my girlfriend thinks it's very important I tell her every day that I love her - which I do - but I'm your average bloke and I feel that if she doesn't run away, I must be doing something good. At least, that's what I've been telling myself every day for the last five years.

I've been in the FOSS business for about fifteen odd years. First I wanted to distribute my software as shareware, but since all these folks gave me all this software for free, that didn't seem right somehow. So, I became a FOSS developer.

Why? Well, I didn't like the way Forth compilers integrated with Linux, so I wrote my own. That's how it is. I had an itch, so I scratched it. Nobody ever thought it was possible, but I did it. And now it was possible, it was blasphemy. Because almost all Forth compilers follow the same architecture which allows instant interpretation. Mine didn't. According to the ANS-Forth standard, it wasn't even a Forth compiler. I was flamed to hell. I couldn't care less.

Up to now, the hardcore Forth sites don't even list it as a Forth compiler, although it is able to compile certain ANS-Forth programs. You think that stopped me? No. It was what I wanted. I wasn't in the business to be liked or wanted, I just wanted to do my thing and nothing was gonna stop me.

Nowadays things are very different and people contemplate about 4tH and accept it as being another player in the field. I rejoice every time a new user joins the newsgroup (all sexes welcome) or examines the possibilities of this tool. But that wasn't why I started it. I'm not here to be loved, I'm here to share an former itch.

I loved the moment a user passed by and told me he had ported a floating point library to 4tH. We spend hours designing a "square root" function and in the end we boosted performance tenfold. I was delighted when a user ported 4tH to FreeGEM and painted some amazing pictures on the screen. I wrote a preprocessor in 4tH, not that I really needed it, but because it was such a neat thing to do. I was really fascinated when I ported Herbert Schildt's "Small Basic" interpreter to 4tH and was able to enhance it beyond Tiny Basic. I really don't need to be hugged, the project in itself is reward enough.

Sometimes I lay down on my bed in the evening and skim the source code I wrote lately. It's beautiful 4tH, it functions perfectly and whether someone uses it of even finds it practical doesn't interest me in the least. It's just my thing and it is well done, so I can go to sleep quietly, knowing that no one will be able to find a single bug.

I know I'll be able to depend on this code, even in a work environment and that's all I need. I don't need the praise of strangers to tell me I've done well. I know. Maybe that is where guys and dolls differ. My father told me this years ago. Men love things. Women love people.


Anonymous said...

I love your post ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love your code ;)

The less we hug them, the more time they have to code :D

But personally, I'm a big fan of hugging.

Anonymous said...

"It's beautiful 4tH, it functions perfectly and whether someone uses it of even finds it practical doesn't interest me in the least."

But in the other of your texts you've stated:

"Sure, you want as many people as possible to use your software".

Mood jitter? ;)

Could you, please, post a link to that "4th-OpenGEM integration" project? Cannot find this...

The Beez' said...

No "Mood jitter". Both can be true at the same time. As a project as a WHOLE you want it to be used, but sometimes you venture on a piece of code that takes an excessive amount of time, but you know it will be of interest to only a few. It's simply your thing. Where GEM4tH is concerned, when you read this I've probably added a link in the text. If not, the programmer probably abandoned it.