More on Extinct Software Engineers

To continue with the idea that software engineers will become extinct, as I discussed earlier, and as is being discussed on FlatWorldSoftwareDevelopment, I would like to extend the thread beyond the idea that "high tech" jobs will disappear from the USA by 2016 into an old idea. The focus of software engineering will become almost exclusively on tools for software development, with the focus of software development being tools for end-users to create their own software.

This isn't a new idea, but has been around for awhile. It's never come to fruition because the technology [or maybe the technologists] weren't up to the task.

Most software, if not all software, is very frustrating for non-technologists to use. Much software is even frustrating for the technologists. When I watch my parents [both in their late 70's] trying to use a computer, even the "easy" UI of the MacOSX, I realize what should be obvious to the most casual observer. The current UI paradigm is anything but intuitive. Pushing a mouse or tracing your finger on a touch pad or point in an horizontal plane and relating it to selections on a separate vertical plane is confusing as hell until you've done it for a few years. It is counterintuitive. Hiding functions behind multiple and cascading menu options is counterintuitive. Making software that satisfies technologists' training but not end-users' needs, processes and ways of working is not just counterintuitive. 'Tis idiotic.

The real power of software, computing and digital communications will come from embedding and hiding the software functions of today in tools that allow end-users to create their own applications to automate their daily personal and business tasks; from UI's that follow the way the user prefers to operate and interact, to software that implements their algorithms, paradigms and processes. And, folk will be able to do this repetively, on-the-fly, as needed or wanted.

There are examples already being implemented in the Web2.0 world, using AJAX and Flash, such as Dabble DB.

So, will software engineering become extinct, in the USA or elsewhere. No, but it will change dramaticaly, and become a much more focused field of study.

Software Engineer becomes Extinct circa 2016

What is an "High Tech" worker? Since the Internet Bubble of the late 90's, many folk use "high tech" to be synonymous with "software" or "computer technology" or "Internet/Web". The first decade of my career was spent in aerospace as a system engineer [that's system, not systems, and refers to someone who architects and analyzes an entire system, not designs the subsystems that make up that system], manager of system engineering, and finally, consultant. As such, I've never actually considered software engineering as particularly "high tech", and certainly not the definition of the term.

An article at Fast Company states that

U.S. high-tech jobs
But software engineers can always get a job down at the garage.end quotation
-- Fast Company

I was pointed to the article from FlatWorldSoftwareDevelopment...

According to Fast Company, the occupation known as Software Engineer will disappear in the US around 2016...

"Do you think so too?end quotation
-- Flat World Software Development

I'm going to ignore both these folks assumption that "high tech job" equates with "software engineering job" and categorically state that "high tech" jobs won't ever disappear from the USA. Innovation can occur anywhere, and will continue to do so. Much of early rocketry came out of Germany and the old USSR; much of early Internet technology came out of Norway, as does much innovation in Wireless today, though Korea is big there too, as is the USA on the software side. The USA continues to innovate in software [read/write web, enterprise-class open source solutions, and security come to mind], bio- or life-sciences, "green" technology, nanotechnology and other material sciences, and even, still in aerospace.

Innovation can't be outsourced. It occurs wherever someone acts on an idea. [Come on, how many great inventions have you thought of, but never developed?] Acting on the idea makes one an innovator. Innovation, in whatever field, leads to jobs.

Sun_T2000_Arrives

The Sun Microsystems Sun Fire T2000 "try and buy" server arrived today.

Sun Fire T2000 arrives
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Opening the box brought joy to this rainy day...

Opening the box
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It comes with Cat5 cables and rails and cable management...

Cable Management Assembly
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And instructions are printed right on the case...

T2000 Instructions
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It's a handsome machine...

Sun Fire Front
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But, no racks here, and shades of the past, at least 10 years past for both of us. That was the last time we had set up a SPARC server with SunOS from scratch. Our hosting service uses machines leased from a rack company, at NOCs in Los Angeles, Texas and Virginia - we've never seen them. Same with our test servers. Being TeleInterActive, we all work from home.

On first start-up you must access the beast through the server console port...

T2000 SC Port
Click to view original size

Though you can use a terminal emulator on a PC [anyone remember hyperterminal?], but...

Er, no RJ-45 serial port here
Click to view original size

So, Clarise and I spent the rest of the day hunting for a RJ-45 to DB-9F gender bender, not at CompUSA, not at Radio Shack, but thankfully, I remembered Strawflower Electronics in Half Moon Bay, and yes...

RJ-45 to DB-9F adapter
Click to view original size

Now, let's see, where's there a pin-out? On the Sun site, in a manual. Look for Table 1-3.

And we can find the RS-232 DB-9 pin-out, but tomorrow.

Somehow, I don't think a ranger without a sys admin background could have dealt with the requirement for terminal hooked up to the SC port. Nor do many such folk as Jonathon targets, have a rack system about.

And to answer a few of the comment questions - the offer applies to anyone interested - not just corporate customers. We don't care if you're an educator or a park ranger or a blogger or a physicist or a CIO - so long as you're in the market for the fastest/most efficient server on earth.end quotation
-- Jonathon Schwartz Niagara FREE TRIAL - Update

But, this is going to be very interesting as we test the open source solutions for BI on the open source Niagara. We can't wait to finish the set-up. We'll keep you posted.

Mela is home

I spent the weekend pretty much away from my own computer, working with my parents' new Apple iMac, MELA [Italian for apple]. Even though Mela worked fine out of the box, there was quite a bit of set-up to be done, in order for my parents to be able to use it.

The first order of business was to download and set-up Yahoo!Messenger for the Mac. That worked fine.

The next was to get their contacts off of their old Outlook. That didn't work out well, as it wouldn't export. I tried sending the contacts from my palm via bluetooth, as the whole category for family, as that would have most of their contacts. But only the first four would send. I wound up doing sending them one at a time, via bluetooth. It took awhile, but was easier than typing them all in. I did type in the one's that I didn't have. I then exported Mom's new address book as a vcard file, and imported it into Dad's.

Next was importing bookmarks from the last backup, and setting up everything's preferences.

I'm not sure I like the built-in mail client. I can't figure out how to subscribe to IMAP folders on the mail server, for one thing. But it wil work natively with spamAssassin on the server, so that's good.

I also added and configured some widgets, like Sudoku & stock tracking and set-up their dot-Mac accounts.

Then I had to learn how to really use the iMac, so that I can answer their questions. Using control or alt or apple/command, with the mouse or a key. Learning to squeeze the mouse and using the scroll ball thingee - stroke lightly works best. They're now set-up with the basics, but there's much to learn, much to do, and then help them to learn as well.

Nothing like being the home CIO & help desk. :D

It's a Mac

The decision been's made, the money's been paid. I've bought my parents an iMac Intel Core Duo. Spent some time investigating TabletPCs and Apples, old and new.

The TabletPCs don't use a touch screen, as I knew; they use a digital pen. What I didn't know was how they work for selection and control. The Toshiba and HP/Compaq units, at least, that were available at the local CompUSA, work like this. To simulate a left mouse double-click, you press down on the point. For a right click, you press a button on the barrel while pressing down with the point. I felt this might be confusing for my parents, and maybe even impossible for my poor, old arthritic mother.

I was thinking that the Tablet would allow them more freedom in use, even more so than their old, dead Sony laptop, that handwriting might be easier than typing, and if not, they could use the keyboard. However, the disadvantages just seemed to outweigh the advantages.

The iMac really won out with its clean display. I think it will be very good for my parents to learn a new user interface as well. So my partner and I spent some time today at Robert Scoble's favorite Apple store in Palo Alto, and came away with the iMac. Surprisingly, the other area where the iMac won out, was in price. I also considered a Mac Mini plugged into an LCD screen [maybe even an Apple Cinema Display] :>> to replace their aging - but working TV.

But to duplicate the specs of the 17 inch display iMac with a Mac Mini or TabletPC would bring the price over two grand US$. Granted, since my first home computer, a Kaypro 64 in 1984, I've always set $3000 as the reasonable price for a reasonable PC. But not today. Here's what we got for $1299:

  • 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo Processor
  • 2MB L2 cache shared across the two cores
  • 512MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 160GB SATA hard drive
  • Slot Loading superdrive (DVD+R, DL/DVD+/-RW, CD-RW)
  • ATI X1600 graphics with 128MB GDDR3 SDRAM
  • Built-in iSight video camera (web cam)
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • 2-Firewire400, 3-USB2, 2-USB1.1 ports
  • 802.11g built-in
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR built-in
  • Every audio and video I/O port you could ask for
  • All the software my parents need including some of the best A/V & photo software around

I couldn't go wrong. :p

Set-up back at the office couldn't be easier. It found our WLAN, and accepted the hex code for the passphrase without an hitch. As I write this blog using Safari [testing web designs we make on Safari will be much easier than going to said Apple store and telling the staff why we're there], MELA [Italian for Apple] is getting its updates.

Now for the hard part...

Bringing MELA to my parents and giving it to them. :-/

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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