New Web Site Online

Really no big news. But after roughly 10 years I managed to revamp my personal web site. This time, it’s destined to be slim and stable. The majority of content is on other sites, e. g. my syslog blog or github.

I still find it is useful to have kind of a personal home in virtual space. So here it is, and it is severely renovated. Let’s see when it gets the next brush-up…

Work as a Human Bond

This is from a conversation with a collaborator on rsyslog, after his country was hit by a nature disaster.  We went a bit philosophical, and I tried to explain how important I think it is to believe in your work and how I feel about cooperating. Again, that’s a previously unpublished bit that I thought is useful to be found (timestamp changed to original date).

To me, work (including rsyslog) is much more than just “doing something for a living”. Of course, that aspect is involved, I can’t deny that. But to be good at something, one must love what one does. So any work we conduct should ideally match our interests and be something we can be proud of (which also includes failing to deliver good work should make us ashamed and thus trying to fix the situation).

Not everything, even well done, is “good work”. Good work is work that benefits society at large. That doesn’t mean I need to be Einstein – every garbageman also provides a useful service to society (and should be proud in what he does, provided that he does it well). As a side-note, in that sense I do not see that any one work is more valuable than any other: people who try similarly hard to provide good service to society, each one with all the capabilities they have, deserve the same respect, no matter how large their contribution to society is being considered by other people. In fact, a highly educated scholar working on something light-hearted is in my opinion much less respectable than a garbageman who tries his very best in fulfilling his duties.

Having said that, I do not consider work to be something “external” to me. Instead, it is a very important part of my personality. Not the only one, and I don’t try to assign priorities to different parts of my personality so I can’t say if it is the most important one or not – but that doesn’t really matter, I think. In that sense, if you help me succeeding in my work, you also help me succeeding in growing my personality. You help me being more proud of what I am doing because you help making it better, more well-known and, importantly, more valuable o society at large. And I hope that my contribution to your work (e.g. by providing some basis) will have a similar effect for you. What’s more important is that the borders between “my work” and “your work” go away.

So it becomes “our work”, something we jointly work on, and something we are actually being tied together. And, in a sense, part of my personality  becomes yours and vice versa. Doesn’t that justify to also care a bit about the person who is behind that shared work? To me, I think so, even though we “know” each other only via electrons traveling a global network…

A Rant after the Columbia Space Shuttle Accident

This is actually from an exchange with a friend somewhat involved in space exploration. It was shortly after the Columbia accident and we were ranting about all those folks that know everything better… I think it is worth to be reproduced as it explains quite some of my base motivations.

I think it is not really important if you are in this or that field [of space exploration]. Of course, if you know people in there and the procedures, things may be even more terrible. But I honestly think it is more an issue of what you believe in.

I have grow up with the quest for space and I have grown up with increasing  complex technology entering more and more into our everyday life. I have  seen those early and exotic “satellite broadcasts”. I have seen computers to come out of the data centers and enter the homes. I have seen international  communication becoming main stream. I even read today that it is just the 75th anniversary of the connection of the German and US telephone systems. 75 years ago, they had – on average – 3 calls from Germany to the US per *day* (each one billed @ roughly 160$ per 3 minutes…)!

I have seen the Hubble images. I have seen the world shrinking. I actually have seen the world. I mean really seen – that blue planet. I have been called a  dreamer some 20 years ago when I told my friends that I wanted and believe to be able to freely and quickly communicate with friends all over the world. I have seen all these idiot articles on space exploration not paying off. I know these articles were transmitted via satellite and probably had been printed with the help of some technology originally developed for space.

I see the explosion of knowledge and wealth all over the world (and I really mean all, although some people tend to deny this). I have to admit I always loved to watch Star Trek and I have to admit I have imagined if all or part of it could become a reality in a distant future. I even have seen some of this to influence the design of actual and useful products we use today.

I really believe that technology is our future. I believe in the “If we can dream it, we can do it” slogan. Hell, I have seen so many changes in my lifespan. And fortunately I can hope to expect some more years. Some few years ago I wondered how it was for my grandma to see all this rapid change happening in their time. Know what – we have by far beaten them already… I see young kids  logging on to computers and watching shuttle starts and space pictures and … I have noticed how normal it is for them to use a PC – to have all this technology available. I see the fascination in their eyes when they watches they NASA movies. I know they will wonder how we ever could exist without the Internet and space technology.

Yes, I do believe in technology. I am more than grateful for those that risk their lives while pushing us forward – as the astronauts do. I am ashamed that they are only brought onto the front page if things go really worse. And: I am deeply depressed to learn that technology has failed here. I really, really believe that technology will solve our problems. I am depressed that we overlooked a fatal detail (as it looks right now). I am depressed that those poor astronauts became heroes because they died – and not because the took the challenge.

But know what – I am not ready to surrender! Although I am depressed, I am sure we can move forward and we will move forward. I am sure the best thing we can do in the spirit of those died is to carry on the challenge. Take on new risks. Push the border further. I have to admit I am not the hero who would actually do this (even if I had the qualification, which for sure I do not have). Hell, if I look at the text I have written, I have to say it is me who is upset. I don’t even know with whom – but that doesn’t matter…