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Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Role that Open Source Software Plays in the Web’s Biggest Brands


Some people say that Open Source Software (OSS) sucks, and I guess in some ways I have to agree, because some of the less popular open source software projects often contain more than the average amount of really bad code. Not always, but generally speaking, minor OSS projects are quickly written and shared around the world, often being re-written several times along the way, though not always in good ways that might actually improve the software bugs.

Of course, open source isn’t always filled with bad code, and sometimes it actually improves how well things work.

There are some major pieces of open source software that are used behind the scenes by many of the web’s largest brands to deliver the sites that you love and enjoy each day, including the Linux operating system, the Apache web server that powers 53% of the web’s most popular sites and nginx (a new generation, high performance web server) runs on an additional 17% – combined, Apache and nginx are powering more than two thirds of the most popular web sites.

One such OSS project, OpenSSL, which is a free implementation of the Secure Sockets Layer protocol used by many web brands to deliver HTTPS functionality for their web sites has been in the news recently and getting a bit of a bad wrap because it had an undiscovered bug that has been in the software’s code since December 2011 nicknamed “Heartbleed” that allowed hackers to gain access to the usernames and passwords of internet users that have been using that server.

The great thing about the open source community though is that they are very quick to patch bugs in the large software projects that are used by many organisations.

Another huge benefit is that because the companies who push these free products to their limits, like Facebook, have access to the source code of these software programs, they are able to further modify and optimise them to run even more efficiently or handle the large volume of requests that their services put on these programs.

Over at Facebook’s Open Source page, they share the products and programs that they have developed from other open source products, as well as their optimised versions of popular products like MySQL.

Google are also another big contributor to open source projects – did you know that the Android mobile operating system is an open source project that has been developed by Google? Their web browser, Google Chrome, is also built on an open source product that they have developed, which they call Chromium. Their Open Source Projects page features both of these projects plus many others that their developers have built and continue to improve.

Finally, even Microsoft are part of the open source movement. Yes, you read that right. While their flagship products like Windows and Office remain closed source, they are also working to ensure that open source products can interoperate with Microsoft’s desktop and server products and in 2012 were listed as one of the top 5 contributors to the Linux project.

So, open source software isn’t all bad – and while many people don’t think that it’s ready for the average home user to run on their desktop, it is part of many peoples lives through the Android mobile operating system and behind the scenes helping to deliver their favourite web sites.

Lost in Translation

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I know I’ve said this before, but I’m Australian, or an Aussie, for short. I live in Manhattan now, so I often find myself staring into quizzical faces when I open my mouth and swathes of Aussie slang spring forth. The people I work with now have no idea what an arvo is when I greet them g’day. I just sigh and repeat it in their version of English: Afternoon. Then they smile and say it back and I walk away chuckling, having forgotten that I’m no longer working amongst my blokes from the bush, or down under, or whatever Americans are calling Australia these days.

I once mentioned a B&S party, which arouses some pleasant and amusing memories in me, and people assume I’m referring to BS which is, well, a lot different from the Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball. I didn’t bring it up again, although I do think this office could use one. I talked up some bloke outside the elevator one morning, noticing he was carrying one of those coolers for his lunch. “Nice esky,” I told him. “I usually just brown-bag it or do Maccas.” He had no clue what I was talking about so I pointed to the cooler in his hand, then to the McDonald’s across the street. Then he figured it out and laughed until the door opened at our floor. I have no idea why.

Once I told a secretary to avoid her boss as he was mad as a cut snake. She got the idea but I knew she didn’t know just how mad that was. I think she avoided him for a week just to make sure. Another time I brought my lunch to work in a plastic bag. The same secretary couldn’t take her eyes off it. I just said it was my tucker and went to my office. I came back later and found her staring at her computer researching the word. I secretly wished her good luck and left her to it. That’s how confounding I can be to my co-workers at times. I will always regret not telling her that my sandwich was made from damper. In my world, that’s bread made from flour and water. Sometimes speaking a different language is fun…even if it is technically the same language.

I joke with my boss sometimes. He’s a great bloke. I told him one day that I felt like chucking a sickie, and he didn’t know I was talking about calling in sick the next day. I confessed and then he admitted he wanted to do the same thing. Like I said, a great bloke. We often take smokos together even though I don’t smoke, he lets me stand around outside with him while he enjoys a smoke on our coffee breaks. I think I’ll go buy him a slab of grog sometime, that is if he can handle a 24 pack of beer on my dime. Maybe he’ll think I’m brown nosing, but nah, I’m just being friendly.

“Life is Short. Live Life. Life is an Adventure”


life-is-either-a-greatI have a new motto in my life these days. I’m in my 30’s now and feeling like time is going faster than usual lately. I want to do stuff before I’m old and creaky and everyone knows those days get here before we know it. My iPhone has a new background wallpaper but it’s not a cute picture of kittens or puppies. It’s not a picture of a girl in a bikini, although the thought did cross my mind. My new wallpaper is a text that tells me to live life because it’s short. I have a tee shirt with a similar sentiment that spells it out perfectly. Life should be lived, and that’s that.

I decided I needed more adventures, a few hair raisers perhaps. I made up a bucket list without actually calling it a bucket list, as that term inspires me to vomit. Number one on my list is learning to fly a small plane and I don’t mean a Cessna. I’m talking about those ultra-lights that are barely bigger than the person flying them. My friends force me to watch videos of people getting smashed up crashing those planes but I don’t care. I just tell them life is an adventure and you don’t live it always being careful. Maybe someday I’ll star in one of those videos of people crashing an ultra-light, I don’t know, but at least I will have had the experience. I might star in a video showing other people how to fly one. That’s me, living life to the fullest.

My laptop is full of pictures of ultra-lights. Someday one of them will be mine and I’ll rise above all the nonsense here on Earth. What nonsense, you might ask? Traffic on the freeways, jammed sidewalks where you are stepping on other people’s feet more than you are your own, and stresses of daily living. Okay, so all that stuff will still be a part of my life during the workweek but on the weekends, wow, what a stress reliever to get up above it all. But ultra-lights are not the only love of my life. I have developed other interests since turning over this oak leaf. One of them is moving up the corporate ladder a little bit, or a lot, depending on how well played my personal twists of fate are.

I’ve been in software a long time. I want to own a software company someday and I think I have what it takes to make it far, at least as far as CEO if not an actual owner. I’m always coming up with new, fabulous ideas, and presenting them to those who know the software business. It’s paying off, since here I am, in Manhattan, rather than Sydney, Australia. I got this new job through my connections and good idea presentations, so if I just stay on that track and not derail it, I should go far. I’m living life, it’s short but good and it’s an adventure to be had. So, I’m going for it.

Life as an Australian Living in Manhattan


The biggest change of my life took place recently. I’m an Australian, or ‘Aussie’ if you prefer, relocated from Sydney, and I took a huge leap of faith and moved to New York City… specifically Manhattan. Huge, huge change, and a lot of little changes have happened in my life since I made this decision. For one thing, I had to rent out my nice house back in Australia and now I live in an apartment. In case anyone back home is wondering, living in Manhattan is not cheap – my rent alone is US$3,817.00 per month.

Manhattan is busy all the time. They weren’t kidding when they said that New York is the city that never sleeps. The streets are always full of cars, buses, taxis, pedestrians and me. I’m neither a vehicle, nor a pedestrian. I’m not a driver either as I am not willing to take my life into my own hands and no longer own a car anyway. I always take public transportation. Let the other guy do the driving is my new motto, especially in this traffic. As far as I’m concerned, rush hour is a condition incompatible with life.

Manhattan has made a remarkable comeback since hurricane Sandy hit and I really think they are striving to make it a safer city all the way around, but it really is a lot different than what I was used to in Sydney. I don’t think it’s quite as friendly here. I’ve been told by my friends that New Yorkers pretty much ignore other New Yorkers, and I guess that’s somewhat true. On any given day in certain parts of the city, you hear screaming, shooting, alarms going off, sirens, and who knows what else. The natives don’t even get restless with all of that going on.

Manhattan is nice though, and upscale. The neighborhoods are decent and there is always Central Park to enjoy, though I’ve been told that the best way to enjoy it is from your apartment window, unless you like getting mugged while out on your Sunday stroll. I think it’s pretty unreasonable that the only bit of nature in all that great city is plagued by crime but that’s just the way it is. Central park zoo is pretty cool, though for some reason whenever I go there I always picture scenes from a certain cartoon.

I like my new job, and I guess I like my new home as well. I feel like I’m moving in the world… if not up, at least sideways a bit. It’s taking some getting used to but I’m getting there. My accent always inspires the natives to question where I’m from, although I always mention that to me, they are the ones with the accents…and boy, do I hear a lot of them, for it seems like each section of the city has its own dialect. I think I’m beginning to like it here though. Manhattan is growing on me.