It’s 2:39am on a Sunday morning of a long holiday weekend, and what am I doing? Working of course. 🙂 Or at least, I will be as soon as I am done writing this and probably will by by the time you’re reading it. I actually just woke up after getting about two and a half hours of sleep. That’s a follow up to yesterday when I got closer to four – four and a half hours. I’m kind of in full Bill Gates mode.
In the book The Innovators, there is a story about Bill Gates in the early days of coding before and probably in the beginning of Microsoft. They said he’d spend every minute he could in front of a computer coding. This was in the days when you had to go to some office or school class room to remotely log in to some distant computer in order to type and run your code. In the case of high school kids like Bill Gates this also generally meant coding in the middle of the night because that was the only free time you could get on the remote server. (It also meant hacking into the server to change the logs so you didn’t get charged for the hours upon hours you were using it.)
The story about Gates is that he would write out the code by hand in notebooks when he couldn’t actually be in front of the computer. Then he’d code it all into the computer line by line for hours at night, until he literally fell asleep at the computer. At which point he’d sleep for a couple hours before waking back up, remembering exactly where he left off, and start back coding away.
My current endeavors are actually strikingly similar to that. I actually spend most of my time coding from my bed, but I am coding to a remote server. In an almost nonstop 16 hour long coding blitz on Friday, I basically setup my own server from “scratch”. Of course, I mean “from scratch” in this case kind of the same way I meant it when I was asked if I had made the brownies “from scratch.” I said I had, but to me that meant taking the ingredients out of the box, mixing them with some eggs and water, and putting them in the oven. My grandmother would have been appalled.
For the server, I’m using a virtual cloud server that installed a base Linux operating system for me. I could have and have done it myself, but even base hosting generally comes “out of the box” with an operating system. From there though I never realized how much crap has to be done to get a server to work. I’m used to shared hosting that has “one click” install for everything. You non-tech people, and by that I mean pretty much everyone that doesn’t do serious coding on a regular basis (not these “pseudo” tech people that think they’re “tech” because they bought the latest gadget that is so preconfigured a trained monkey could use it), have no idea the amount of work that goes into building the modern day miracle we have called the internet.
I’ve set up local personal servers before for myself and used Linux on a couple personal computers, but for the last two days I have been almost non-stop working from a command line. A command line!! When was the last time any of you used the command line? How many teeny boppers with their Iphones and main line 24-7 social media even know what a command line is? Oh the humanity! 🙂
It is sad though, because while I know probably half of the people reading this will also be working for at least part of this weekend (and not in the oh I have to work this weekend way, but in the I’m working this weekend because I’m overly committed to my job, have too much work to do, and the only time I can get anything done is when no one is here because they are out actually enjoying their holiday weekend) most if not all of those people won’t want to be doing what their doing. I on the other hand am actually having a lot of fun.
Yes, typing into a command line can be fun. This is my point. 99.99999% of the people using all this technology have no idea how it works. If it breaks they can’t fix it. If it doesn’t do what they want it to, they don’t know how to make it do what they want it to do. In fact they intentionally pay more for stuff that won’t let them make it do what they want it to do (I’m looking at you Apple). And this isn’t a dig at most of you that call me up asking how to fix whatever. Most of you are two generations removed from the tech boom. You didn’t grow up with it. And even my friends that did and still can’t do what I do, most of them can still tear apart a car or do something useful. I’m talking about the people that have so little of meaning in their life that they literally post pictures online of themselves asking anonymous strangers if they are “hot or not.” This is what passes for self esteem these days.
People love to knock Ayn Rand usually for Atlas Shrugged, and don’t get me wrong I think Ayn Rand went over board about half the time, but you try growing up in Communist Russia in the early days and see if you wouldn’t go a little overboard in the opposite direction. But before she wrote Atlas Shrugged she wrote The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead was supposed to be what Atlas Shrugged eventually became but apparently people didn’t really get her point in The Fountainhead so she had to beat them over the head with it in Atlas Shrugged. I digress.
My point is The Fountainhead was all about embracing your potential to create great things, taking pride from it, and to hell with everyone else. I can work and write code virtually nonstop for three days on six hours of sleep because I love what I can do. It cost me $10 a month to run this server, and it’s like a canvas. If I don’t like how it turns out, I can shut it down and fire up a new one in about five minutes. But I can also build virtually anything I want on it. And yeah it’s “work” in the sense that I’m doing it for potentially monetary gain, but it’s not work in the sense that it’s actually work. I would and have done it for no other reason than the pride of seeing what I can accomplish. If that’s being a workaholic, than my god why would anyone want to be anything else?