Thursday, May 24, 2012

Open Source and Productivity

I was so productive this evening that I decided to finish it off with a little blogging.

I love my job.  There isn't a day that I don't look forward to going into work.  With KLa and Ash leaving for Utah this morning, I was left with a free evening and the activity that sounded the most fun was to go back to work after dinner. 

If there was one downside to my job, however, it's that everything is "Proprietary and Confidential."  We use a lot of open source software (OSS) at work, but it's pretty one-directional--we only select OSS software that doesn't require us to contribute back.  It's a fact of life for a proprietary company like ours, but still not the dream world I would live in if I could. Every since I could program I've worked on and contributed to open source projects and I've always enjoyed the open sharing.

For the past couple days I've been working on adding joystick support to our software.  It's been a fun project, made infinitely easier by finding two pieces of OSS that make working with joysticks a breeze.  I did run into one snag, though--one of the joysticks just wouldn't work properly.  After spending some time on my own troubleshooting, I looked up the chatroom where the developers hung out and grilled them with some questions.
With their guidance, it took 20 minutes to fix the bug instead of two hours.  I went away with a fix for my problem and a big savings in time, and they went away with an improvement for their software.  That's what my perfect world would be like all the time--everyone sharing, and everyone winning.

Until then, I'll keep enjoying my job, and mentally thanking all those open source developers who put so much of their time and resources into making free and incredibly useful software, asking little and requiring nothing in return.

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