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Ralsina.Me — El sitio web de Roberto Alsina

Now, that´s cool

A gtk en­gine that draws us­ing the cur­rent Qt style.

Ku­dos to David San­some, your code is an ex­am­ple of the kind of evil ideas the world need­s. And I re­al­ly mean that as a com­pli­ment :-)

US IT workers should shut up.

Ok, here´s a lit­tle rant. I keep on read­ing the whin­ing about IT out­sourc­ing to In­dia (note that I don´t live in In­dia and don´t do out­sourc­ing job­s) by US IT work­er­s, and you know what? They are a bunch of brats who be­lieve they are spe­cial.

They are not.

Hell IT work­ers in gen­er­al are not. Those of you who have man­aged to make a liv­ing with it for the last 10 or 15 years, and want to keep your stan­dard of liv­ing, learn a new skil­l, be­cause it´s all down­hill from here.

Let´s start with the out­sourc­ing com­plaints:

  • They on­­ly move the jobs to In­­­dia be­­cause it´s cheap­­er: Duh. Per­haps if you had both­­ered learn­ing ba­sic eco­­nomic­s, you´d have seen it com­ing.

  • The In­­di­an com­­pa­nies are do­ing a worse job: The an­swer is: maybe some­what, and it does­n´t mat­ter.

Work in a cap­i­tal­ist econ­o­my is a sim­ple trans­ac­tion. You get mon­ey, you give up a piece of your life and ef­fort and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

Now, if you charge less, you can of­ten get away with pro­duc­ing less, with­in rea­son. Be­sides, the IT out­sourc­ing is on­ly start­ing, come back in 5 years and we can have a rea­son­able mea­sure of how it wen­t. The com­pa­nies that are com­ing back af­ter a year can just as eas­i­ly go back to In­dia in an­oth­er year or two, and vicev­er­sa.

It´s glob­al­iza­tion of labour, just like mak­ing base­balls in Haiti. I bet the first Haitian base­balls sucked, too.

  • It´s not the same be­­cause it´s skilled labour: it is­n´t. You live un­der the mis­­­tak­en idea that IT work is some­how dif­­fi­cult. Let me tell you: it is­n´t.

Here is the re­al prob­lem:

Pro­gram­mers spend their sweat try­ong to make things eas­ier: well, IT is way eas­i­er than it was 10 years ago, and it is get­ting eas­i­er all the time.

While there will still be a role for the su­per­f­reak who can hack the re­al­ly hard stuff, 99.9% of IT work­ers are no such a thing. In fac­t, 90% of the re­al­ly bad IT guys still man­age to make their sys­tems sur­vive. And when they can´t, they call a free­lance that´s smarter and charges more.

Most of you guys, had you been born in 1880, would be train en­gi­neer­s. That was a pro­fes­sion that re­quired great skill and was re­spect­ed.

How­ev­er, it was nev­er quite as re­spect­ed as IT, be­cause of the prej­u­dice against man­u­al labour, and it nev­er went so low as IT will go be­cause there is a lim­it on how sim­ple an en­gine´s "in­ter­face" can be.

The re­quired skill set of a IT work­er nowa­days, while wide, con­sists of sim­ple stuff. Prac­ti­cal net­work­ing is not re­al­ly hard at al­l, sys­tem man­age­ment is both get­ting sim­pler, more cen­tral­ized (and thus eas­i­er to hire from a com­pa­ny, or to au­to­mate), and less fre­quen­t.

Hope­ful­ly, soft­ware re­li­a­bil­i­ty will im­prove, and thus dis­as­ter re­cov­ery re­quire­ments will be­come sim­pler to man­age, as will con­tin­gen­cy plan­s.

Look at it this way: the on­ly rea­son why IT skills are need­ed is that de­vel­op­ment has been lack­ing. But de­vel­op­ment is monotonous­ly grow­ing, noth­ing is for­got­ten in that branch, so IT work is steadi­ly re­duc­ing.

On the oth­er hand, the In­ter­net boom mis­tak­en­ly lead a gen­er­a­tion in­to the IT field, pro­duc­ing a huge glut on the mar­ket.

So, the size of the IT work­er mar­ket is re­duc­ing, and the of­fer is grow­ing... bad news for you.

But why don´t IT work­ers see this?

  • They over­es­ti­­mate them­­selves, and un­der­es­ti­­mate oth­­er pro­fes­­sion­al­s.

Most­ly, they be­lieve that be­cause oth­ers don´t un­der­stand their work, the oth­ers are dumb­er and they are smarter. Hel­lo? You are prob­a­bly dumb­er than 90% of the lawyer­s, and 95% of the doc­tors out there, and you don´t un­der­stand their job­s, ei­ther.

The com­put­er guy that says stuff like "how can he un­der­stand it, he´s a lawyer?" is cliche... and a sure sign that the com­put­er guy is a mo­ron.

  • They over­es­ti­­mate their work´s im­­por­­tance

IT guys are about as im­por­tant as the cool­ing and heat­ing guy. Less if it´s too hot or too cold.

Sure, com­put­ers are nec­es­sary for many job­s. So is pow­er and a time­ly cof­fee cup. IT guys are labour. Skilled, yes, but just labour. And re­mem­ber, there are 100K guys in In­dia will­ing to do it cheap­er.

I have seen peo­ple work­ing with a DOS based sys­tem, with­out much trou­ble, with­out any IT as­sis­tance (ex­cept a time­ly com­put­er vac­cum­ing) for 15 years or so.

  • Sense of self­­-en­ti­tle­­ment

Who says you de­serve a US­D70K pay? The mar­ket. If you don´t agree that you de­serve it, you are SOL. When the mar­ket push­es the num­ber down (and it will), you will still be SOL.

Oh, sure, you will have tem­po­rary aids by the gov­ern­men­t, who will prob­a­bly put some trade bar­ri­ers of some kind or an­oth­er. Even­tu­al­ly, those al­ways fail (look at the US steel in­dus­try).

The fun­ny part here is, of course, that most IT guys claim to be lib­er­tar­i­an, even to like Ayn Rand. Well, that´s al­ways easy when there´s mon­ey, ain­t´it? Well, I bet in 10 years most of you will be eat­ing crow for what you say about unions now.

A bit long, but here´s the short ver­sion: You are go­ing to be­come skilled fac­to­ry work­ers in the next 10 years. Get used to it.

XFree86 core disbands

Just saw that the XFree86 core group dis­band­ed.

Last I heard, the core group had on­ly three ac­tive de­vel­op­er­s, so it´s not such a huge thing, and the mes­sage says this is an ac­knowl­ege­ment that the core team was no longer rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the ac­tive, ex­pe­ri­enced and skilled XFree86 de­vel­op­er­s, or a place where tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sion hap­pens ...

This prob­a­bly means that de­vel­op­ment of XFree86 will go on pret­ty much as usu­al.

How­ev­er, de­vel­op­ment of XFree86 has al­ways been a strange beast. A open source project that was de­vel­oped a lot like it was­n´t (closed mail­ing lists for years, get­ting com­mit is hard­er than al­most ev­ery oth­er pro­jec­t).

Al­so, in the last year or so, it has been... cen­trifu­gal. It has spun out peo­ple and sub­pro­ject­s, usu­al­ly not in the best of terms.

I mean, if you look at their mail­ing list archive, there seems to have been some se­ri­ous per­son­al­i­ty clash­es.

Those are of­ten not a ter­ri­ble prob­lem: de­vel­op­ers usu­al­ly have huge egos, large enough that they can shrug off at­tacks would make less­er egos shriv­el ;-)

But put all to­geth­er, and it does­n´t look like XFree86 is a very healthy de­vel­op­ing projec­t. Since it is al­so a very im­por­tant one, I hope ev­ery­one will chill out, or else, that they will get over­heat­ed enough to re­al­ly make it ex­plode, and that one of the re­sult­ing shards will be strong enough.

Free fonts!

I saw an ar­ti­cle on the news­pa­per about an event called Le­tras Lati­nas, a sort of ty­po­graph­ic con­ven­tion, and it said that there would be about 300 fonts dis­played, and that the pub­lic would be able to down­load them.

Guess what, you al­ready can! (y­ou have to dig around a lit­tle, though) In fac­t, there´s sev­er­al hun­dred fonts, if you both­er go­ing to the au­thor´s web­sites.

In the past, I ob­tained rights to dis­trib­ute some 400 fonts just by ask­ing the au­thors. These lack li­cense in­for­ma­tion, but I may do it again, if I have the time.

Some are pret­ty good. For ex­am­ple, Es­crit­u­ra Px is a nice bit­map font, and some of the "text fonts" are re­al­ly not bad (brasil­i­a, for ex­am­ple).

Hinges and integration

Thoughts about plat­forms brought by a His­to­ry Chan­nel doc­u­men­tary on tool­s. Hope it´s in­ter­est­ing :-)

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