Apple & FreeBSD relationship
perrin at apotheon.com
Thu Mar 10 19:45:45 UTC 2011
On Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 01:48:05PM -0500, Jerry wrote:
> Personally, I donate to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I find
> donating money to help find a cure for a disease or aid those that have
> all ready contracted it far more satisfying that giving it away to a
> foundation in the hopes that someday, perhaps they will write a
> functioning driver for a wireless N device.
On the other hand, as computing technology continues to advance at an
accelerating rate, we will increasingly see such technology serving an
ever-more important role in reasearch within innumerable fields,
including cancer research. Consider an analogy that should be familiar
with sysadmins everywhere:
You need to do something two or three times a day. To accomplish
this task, you make a change to a configuration file, then issue a
command like /etc/rc.d/foo restart. There are three possible changes
you might need to make to the configuration file. It'll take you
about twenty seconds to make the change, and another three to five
seconds to issue that command and wait for the service to restart.
You could spend up to twenty-five seconds for all this to happen, or
you could write a script that takes a single argument specifying
which of three edits you want to apply to the config file and, after
making that change, restarts the service in question. This entire
process of writing the script takes about five minutes, plus three to
five to run your new script. Five minutes and five seconds is a lot
longer than twenty-five seconds.
. . . but your sum total time spent on each subsequent occasion is
only that five seconds. By spending four and a half minutes or so up
front, you save yourself (conservatively estimating) about five
minutes within three weeks.
This is what automation buys us -- and automation is what computers
provide . . . very *easy* automation. I've rambled on about this subject
to some extent in another venue:
Code Reuse and Technological Advancement
My point, though, is sipmle. Initial investment in something that is not
direct work on a goal that is important to you can, if it helps to
automate the tasks that *do* work directly toward that goal, is often the
wisest investment toward that end. This is why we have admin scripts
instead of doing everything by hand every time. It is also why, all else
being equal, I prefer to invest in the advancement of computing
technology rather than picking and choosing between other things that are
important to me (including research in cancer and Alzheimer's medical
fields). Just as the script in my hypothetical example above automates
not one, but *three* different (but related) use cases, investing in
computing technology provides greater research leverage in not one, but
*many* other fields.
More to the point, because of some of the realities of code reuse as
described in the above-mentioned essay *Code Reuse and Technological
Advancement*, I make a point of focusing my efforts on copyfree licensed
software such as the (majority of) the FreeBSD project.
Your mileage may vary.
Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: http://owl.apotheon.org ]
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