Monday, September 10, 2012

Why Mark Zuckerberg Is My Source Of Inspiration

Mark Zuckerberg is easily one of the most picked-on entrepreneurs of his generation. Or of almost of any generation now. But why should I be part of the media that unfairly slams and criticizes him for “screwing consumers”, when in fact, all he’s doing is being himself. Mark Zuckerberg established a name for himself at Harvard. And whether or not his name there is a really good one is a different discussion, but he still left a name for himself. Many people fail to leave a dent in the universe, so-to-speak, so I’m just glad that he chose to stand out.
  With power and wealth comes responsibility. And it’s very easy to fall into the temptation of obsessing over one’s wealth and power. Luckily, Zuckerberg didn’t fall into the same trap that many millionaires and billionaires fall into. No, Zuckerberg was different. 
  There are very few analogies that could be made between Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. But the analogy here is quite apt. Both Jobs and Zuck have an incredibly large personality. They’re both quite opinionated, and while Jobs was more so, Zuck definitely had an opinion. Jobs and Zuck both also resisted the temptation to listen to the media, or to listen to their shareholders. They both had large egos that stretched way beyond the control of their shareholders. That’s a good thing. No, that’s a great thing! They’re willing to get their voice heard over others, and while some may see that as a bad thing, I see that as a quality, that just needs to be balanced. 
   Zuck wasn’t afraid to eliminate artificial boundaries and limitations to get what he wanted for Facebook, even if it meant possibly getting sued by some privacy watchdog group, or getting investigated by the EU. He wanted his vision to supersede anyone else’s vision for Facebook. He had absolute control, an advantage that both Facebook and Apple had by having strong, competent leaders.
  Sure, Zuckerberg isn’t perfect, and neither is Jobs, or anyone else of their personality. But being able to make a mistake and move on is a great characteristic that Facebook has. Haven’t you noticed that every single privacy lawsuit, every single investigation, hasn’t damaged them much? Facebook can withstand impact by people that think they’re power is greater than Facebook’s. And every time they lose, because they think they’re more powerful than Facebook, which is absolutely ludicrous. 
  Of course I’m going to get negative scrutiny for so vigorously defending Zuckerberg, but everyone has to have an inspiration. Sure, Zuckerberg isn’t the world’s greatest public speakers, and yes, he can be socially awkward at times. But the question I must ask is, would you rather be inspired by someone who has an iron will, like Jobs or Zuckerberg, or would you rather be inspired by someone who is weak and ineffectual? 
   There are lots of other character flaws with Mark Zuckerberg that I haven’t addressed here. There’s no doubt in my mind that he could improve, but he’s already a better leader than many of the leaders of the last generation tech companies. While all the last generation companies look at how they’re going to survive, Zuckerberg is thinking ahead of the curve, not just simply, “How can I improve the situation I’m in right now?” And as a result of such intelligent thinking, he is thriving, not merely surviving. 
  Also, he’s not a number cruncher. He’s a geek! He doesn’t justify decisions based on financial pros and cons. He justifies actions based on his own will. That’s why I’m inspired by him. He’s not the average money cruncher, that just takes the title and control for the paycheck. He does it, because he loves it! He doesn’t do it for any other reason, and that’s what inspires me! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Incredible Dream

Hi. My name is Steven Styffe. You don't know me, and so I understand if you decide to click away from the writing and find something better to do online with your time. No hard feelings. But I would love it if you would stick around and read my story and hopefully you'll find some inspiration in what I call my 'incredible dream.'

I am 16 years old. I was born and raised in, originally, a family of 6 in Orange County, in Southern California. In 2008, my family expanded. My parents successfully adopted 3 children from Rwanda, Africa. The ages 13, 12, and 9. This now puts me in the middle of the age spectrum. My oldest sibling is 24 now. So with me being in the middle of the family, I started becoming worried about being lost, or invisible, in a large family.  The challenge for me was to, in a positive manner, make myself stand out. Display some skills and passions of mine that would allow me to differentiate myself.

I am a technology enthusiast. My passion is in digital technology. I grew up, learning to use the computer as early as 3 years old. That early-on interest in technology has what led me to continue down the path of a career in technology. At 15, I started my own, now discontinued, technology podcast that allowed me to express myself. I was so thankful that the Internet brought me my opportunity to do that. And while that idea didn't catch on, I'm still thankful for the lessons I've learned from that. I'm also extremely appreciative of the Internet, since it gave me a positive identity that I could control, and it's allowing me to write to you today about my very passionate dream.

Living in Orange County is a difficult challenge for me. The problem with living in such a small area is that the technology education isn't well developed here. My technical education has been mostly established thanks to my next door neighbor, his garage, and the Internet, which has made technical education much more easily accessible. But I wish to expand beyond what a free, online education can bring me. At my local high school, which I attend, there are no technically oriented class offerings. There isn't any computer science course, or robotics or AI course, or anything remotely like that. They don't even offer an electrical engineering course. It's very easy for me to get discouraged by these challenging odds. But I haven't lost hope.

Part of me instantly wants to say that it feels kind of wrong, or at the very least, cliché for me to try to promote my 'incredible dream.' But I had to beat that part of me and try to make a name for try to reach my dream. So that is what I'm doing. I'm desperately hoping that there would be a chance for me to get a great high school quality education in electrical engineering and computer science. I've always loved the inspiration that technology has given me, and I would  hope to be further inspired by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a great education in those areas (electrical engineering and computer science).

When all is said and done, and if I discover that this doesn’t catch on, at least I will have learned to make an effort. I’ve learned from many failures in my life. I can speak from experience. Failure hasn’t been the fear for me. I’ve always been willing to take a risk so that I could achieve my dreams. I’m taking that risk now. And all I’m hoping is that you’re listening. 

If you think you can’t make a difference for me, you’d be very wrong. You can make a huge, significant difference just by sharing this. It would mean the world to me if you would share this message with someone you think could help. Just share it! Period. That by itself would make the world of difference for me.

I'm trying to reach what I thought would be impossible. The question is, can you help me achieve the impossible?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Not-So-Obvious Reasons To Ditch Java

  Java has had a painful history. Java, the cross-platform programming language originally developed at Sun Microsystems by James Gosling, has been more recently contained flaws in both the runtime environment and the core set of methods that were provided by Sun, now Oracle. Java has proved to be the prime platform of choice for malware and virus authors to exploit users. The difficulty for us in the technology sphere is to convince users that Java should be disabled, if not flat out removed, if they're not using it. We've seen Java been used before in famous cases by malware authors. The Flashback trojan horse for Mac OS X was put in place, thanks to a flaw in Java. Java is constantly under attack. And so from the user's benefit perspective, it is definitely beneficial to not run Java on your system unless you absolutely have to.

 But there is a not-so-obvious reason to ditch Java. Java is a very outdated technology that was designed to tackle a problem that programmers had ages ago, that dates back to before the Internet became mainstream.  Back in the day, software programmers had the issue of choosing which platform to write for. Learn and dedicate themselves to the programming language and the set of APIs that corresponded with the operating system they wished to develop for. Java solved this issue with being one of the first to adapt the 'write once, run everywhere' model. In which one set of high level language code could be compiled into byte code, or machine readable code. Java did this well. And it worked well. The problem is that, besides the fact that Java now (inadvertently) has the 'write once, infect everything' malware model, but the other problem is that the language is outdated. It shows it's age in the way it's structured. And while the other popular high level languages show their age too, but Java shows it's age and brings much more serious problems to developers when they choose Java over another language. And with every new release, the language just gets older and older, and every release becomes either less significant, or the language just gets less and less useful.

  Let's expand on that idea that Java becomes less and less useful overtime. The big issue with Java is that the fundamental principles behind it have faded away. The original team behind Java doesn't work on the project anymore, and since Oracle acquired Sun, the language has gotten worse. The moral principles behind Java are gone. Oracle suffers from corporate greed, in which this flaw takes over what could've been a better vision for Java, but instead, they just made it worse. Instead of maintaining it more openly, in concert with the  Java community, they decided to try to make it as proprietary as possible, and in turn, making them responsible for new iterations and security patches. By making it more proprietary, Oracle has demonstrated that they don't care about Java, and they don't care about the developer and user community that was formed around it. Oracle is essentially sending a big middle finger to those who put their soul into writing with Java. And Java is not the only example, MySQL (also a Sun product), and VirtualBox (also a Sun product), have also become, or at least Oracle has attempted to make it, more proprietary. So it's clear that under Oracle's management, all of these great products have turned into crap. And that's a shame!

 But thankfully, HTML5 along with Javascript and CSS3, have made web applications a more viable, and more future proof, way of developing applications, that brings most of the benefits of Java, without most of the security problems that Java brings along. And to the benefit of consumers, and to the determent of Oracle, they've made Java become less relevant, and easily replaceable by newer and better technologies.  And hopefully, with all I just said, we'll see the death of Java become more of a plausible event rather than merely a wish of software developers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rundown of the (Rumored) Fall Announcements

This season is going to be, without a doubt, the busiest season of the year for the industry. If all the rumors are true, these are the announcements that are rumored to be scheduled:

Apple event/events - There are rumors circulating (and come on! we're all expecting it) that Apple will hold an event to launch the highly anticipated next iPhone. There have been rumors also going around that Apple will host not one, but two events. One for the new iPhone, and one that falls in line with their regular fall media event. Focusing on the iPods, the iTunes Store, and possibly even an iPad 'Mini'. (September)

Nokia event - Nokia is scheduled to launch their lineup of Windows Phone 8 devices there. Rumors have circulated that, and this seems crazy to me, but they may also launch a Windows RT / Windows 8 tablet at the same time. Again, seems kind of crazy to me. (September)

Amazon event - Amazon is rumored to launch the second generation Kindle Fire as well as a revamp of the other Kindle devices as  well. Although I personally don't believe that Amazon will revamp the entire lineup because they've not too long ago updated their original Kindle lineup (excluding the Fire) (September)

Windows 8 General Availability - Not too much to say here. Windows 8 (devices and upgrades) will become available on October 26. Nothing new there, we've known that for a while. At the same time, Microsoft's Surface (Windows RT) based tablet will launch according to rumors that don't seem to far off the reservation.