Tag - people

Imaginary fiends – The Boston Globe

Interesting … people have always had this odd tendency to “remember” the “good old days” … and look forward to the future with pessimism:

“In 1848, writer Thomas Macaulay wrote in his “The History of England” that “In spite of evidence, many will still imagine to themselves the England of the Stuarts as a more pleasant country than the England in which we live. It may at first sight seem strange that society, while constantly moving forward with eager speed, should be constantly looking backward with tender regret.””

via Imaginary fiends – The Boston Globe.

People I want to remember from eLiberatica

I met such great people on my recent trip to Bucharest for eLiberatica 2009. There’s something about conferences and trips: you compress so much experience into so short a period of time that you feel like old friends with people you met just a few days before.

Here’s a few that I want to remember and stay in touch with …

Georg Greve
georg-greveGeorg is passionate about free and open source software … and also passionate about good user experience. Totally unexpectedly, we completely connected, discussed software and life passionately and humorously … spent a lot of time together. It’s funny, but in the way we joked about each other and poked holes in each other’s ego, he kind of felt like a brother.

He’s the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, a great speaker, and about as smart as they come (he was trained as a physicist and was planning to go into nanotechnology before being seduced by free software).

Anca Luca
Anca is a software developer for Xwiki, a corporate collaboration company/community in Romania and around the world.

She’s wicked smart – working on a better online word processor/text editor than currently exists on the market – and is very definitely totally switched on. (I know something about the challenges about creating word processing capabilities in a browser, as I’ve done that for a past project. I’ll be very thankful not to have to do it again in the future!) She’s also extremely articulate, and I told her she should be on the panel of speakers for eLiberatica 2010.

Jeroen van Meeuwen
jeroenJeroen is a geeks’ geek. VP of the Fedora Linux association for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, he coordinates a ton of open source development. He’s also very funny and personable … and definitely knows how to party. I’ve heard, however, that trying to out-drink a Finn is like trying to win a land war in Asia: don’t even bother … and I think Jeroen might have discovered this fact.

Monty Widenius
monty-wideniusIf you know open source software, you know Monty. He’s the co-creator of the MySQL database. He’s an extremely successful software developer as well as entrepreneur … but here’s the thing: he has no ego. Zero.

Or maybe I should say attitude. He’s got some programmer’s ego about technical stuff, although he’s always willing to listen to other viewpoints. But he’s got zero I’m-a-bigshot attitude, in spite of having created absolutely iconic software and successfully selling his company to Oracle.

David Axmark
david-axmarkDavid is the other half of the creation of MySQL, and he’s very similar to Monty in that he has absolutely no attitude … he’s a regular guy, approachable and easy to talk to.

He’s a fairly avid photographer – has 6 cameras – and was always taking shots of people from odd angles when least expected.

Oana Iordache
oanna-lordacheOana is part of the Agora team, along with Anca, Marina, and Andreea, who took amazing care of the speakers at eLiberatica 2009, and made everything else in the conference run smoothly as well.

More than that, she’s a funny, patient person who accomplished the gargantuan task of teaching me a couple of dance steps when we all went out Saturday night. As I mentioned on Flickr, when I dance, women faint, strong men weep, and small children run away screaming … but I think I made a scrap of progress that night. Thanks!

Romulus Meier
romulus-meier2Aside from having about the coolest first name you can get in Romania aside from Vlad, Romulus is the general manager of Agora Media, the company that puts on eLiberatica conference. He’s smart, engaged, and isn’t unwilling to have a little fun, too, which is important in a leader.

He’s also an amazing dancer, and told me that if I came for 10 eLiberatica’s, then I’d probably be pretty decent as well! I really appreciate the fact that he and the Agor team absolutely made the event an experience to remember for me, and I think all the other speakers as well. And he fed us like kings. Wow …

Danece Cooper
danaceDanece is the “open source diva,” and she had an excellent, excellent talk on open source success stories in government and corporations.

She’s worked for just about everyone in tech … Sun, Microsoft, Apple, and other companies, and is currently with a start-up – a new experience for her. Funny and friendly!

Ismael Alea
ismael-oleaIsmael is the kind of guy that you can meet for 30 seconds and be talking like you’ve known each other all your lives. He’s Spanish, and very definitely has a high-tempo Latin personality … passion, excitement, laughter, and lots and lots of hand talking!

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There were others as well … I’m thinking of 10 or so people that I met and chatted with during the after-conference party on Saturday night, whose name I either don’t know or can’t remember, and who I don’t have photos of. But they’re in my memory, fondly.

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Staying in touch is a hard thing to do across a continent. There’s Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more …. but it’s not like face-to-face. Monty won’t be able to try to convince me to have some 60-proof jet fuel online, and Georg and I won’t be able to riff back and forth the way we did in person.

But I’m hoping to stay in touch, and meet each of these people and more in person again. Perhaps eLiberatica 2010?

We’ll see!


Had a great meeting in Winnipeg, Manitoba last week with a couple of companies that help us create educational products.

winnipeg meetingThe temperature was -27 degrees Celcius when I arrived Wednesday night, and climbed to -23 the next day, but since it was literally airport-cab-hotel-cab-airport, and the meetings were great, that was no problem at all.

FaQtory and i2i (now Kik) are the companies I was working with, and the smart, creative people are (from left to right) Karen, Dian, (me), Arie, and Patricia.

The best meetings are ones in which you find that you’re on your feet most of the day, and that’s exactly what this was. Fun, creative, innovative, exciting … all those good things.

(The picture was taken with Karen’s new 17″ MacBook Pro’s built-in iSight camera, by the way. Not bad quality.)

How to hire

Just saw this in a comment posted by “T-Boy” at Scott Adam’s Dilbert blog

“Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.” – Dee Hocks

Paddle to the Amazon documentary

Chris Forde, a documentary filmmaker, is doing a movie on Paddle to the Amazon … the longest canoe journey ever.

I’m interested in this because I read and reviewed the book Paddle to the Amazon, which is the amazing story of Don Starkell and his son Dana, who paddled from their home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Belém, Brazil … all in an open-top canoe, and Chris commented on that post.

Looking forward to seeing it!

[tags] paddle to the amazon, canoe, chris forde, don starkell, john koetsier, documentary, film, movie [/tags]

Opa’s last happy birthday message

Teresa’s grandfather’s last message … we left it on our answering machine for almost two years, until I recorded it onto my computer.

Click the pink play button:

powered by ODEO

opa1.jpgTeresa’s Opa (Rienk Koat) died in 2005. Here’s one of the pictures we have of him in our kitchen.

He died less than a month after leaving this message. Growing up is hard to do, sometimes.

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. . .

Posting this made me think of something I wrote about Corrie Koat, his wife, and Teresa’s Oma.

On being interesting

Russell Davies talks about how to be interesting:

While I was at the U of O I kept going on about how the core skill of any future creative business person will be ‘being interesting’. People will employ and want to work with (and want to be with) interesting people.

And since I’d spent quite a lot of time telling them all the things they should stop doing I’d thought I’d try and teach something useful. Since I don’t actually know anything useful I had to make something up. Which is below. It takes about 10 minutes to teach but it’ll take a lifetime for people to work out if it works or not, and by then I’ll be long gone. Ha!

A quick summary: first, be interested, and share. Then …

  1. Take at least one picture everyday. Post it to flickr.
  2. Start a blog. Write at least one sentence every week.
  3. Keep a scrapbook
  4. Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before
  5. Once a month interview someone for 20 minutes, work out how to make them interesting. Podcast it.
  6. Collect something
  7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)
  8. Every month write 50 words about one piece of visual art, one piece of writing, one piece of music and one piece of film or TV. Do other art forms if you can. Blog about it
  9. Make something
  10. Read

The only caveat I’d have to this list is that if I had to do them all, I’d be so busy being interesting that I’d have no time for anything else.

So I’ll take the list in moderation. But it is a great list.

Pope, Islam, violence

Recent history:

  1. Pope says Islam is violent
  2. Islamics react with violence
  3. Pope apologizes

It was not smart of the Pope to quote that 14th century sentence about Islam and violence. But it’s hard to argue that Islam is a religion of non-violence if, every time Islamics are offended, they react with violence.

Here’s a very good summing-up of the issue.

What gets me is how Islamic extremists think that murdering an old woman by shooting her in the back – a nun who has spent decades healing those in need – advances their cause in any way. And I wonder how they can live with themselves. Pathetic. Despicable. Evil.

Some other thoughts about this issue:

Either we get real about this and stop being afraid to speak the truth, or we will already have lost.

[tags] islam, muslim, violence, pope, freedom, john koetsier [/tags]

Jackie deJonge

Jackie deJonge is the wife of Hendrik, a friend and colleague of mine.

Right now she, Hendrik, and their 5 kids are going through a very tough time – just as they were about to move to Australia, she was diagnosed with a very severe form of cancer in her left arm. She’s recently gone through multiple rounds of tests and surgery, and may still require radiation and/or chemotherapy.

The family has set up a blog, which they’re updating with more information as they get it.

Our family’s prayers and thoughts are with them!

Waging a living

I just saw POV on PBS: Waging a Living, and I am ashamed that I am ever in any way discontent with my life or my job or my salary.

Waging a Living follows the lives of 4 individuals who are “working poor.” (More details about them.)

One’s a security guard in downtown San Francisco, making $9-10/hour. A raise of 25 cents an hour is a big deal to him. One is a nurse in New Jersey who supports 5 people on $11/hour. Another is a waitress whose husband left and didn’t pay any alimony or child support. Another is a woman who was abused through childhood and has slowly, painfully been getting her education and increasing her standard of living: 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

These people are inspiring. But their stories break my heart.

I’m a social, political, fiscal, and moral conservative, but:

  • it is not right that some make hundreds of millions and some make pennies
  • it is not right that a waitress could be paid less than $3/hour in New Jersey
  • it is not right that the gap between executive management and rank-and-file is wider now than ever (200-400x more, I think)
  • it is not right that many of us make so much money we don’t even think about spending it, or even know how much exactly we have, while others have basic living expenses that outpace their wages
  • it is not right that people die because they cannot afford medical insurance
  • it is not right that single mothers working for very limited wages have to spend half a week’s pay for over-the-counter medicines
  • it is not right that we have so little respect for people that we think we can pay them a wage that reduces them to living in inhumane circumstances

We can call a spade an implement for digging, or we can just simple say that this is evil. And – yes, I’m a Christian too – God will judge us for this sin.

That said, if I was counselling young people in school today, I would say the world is not fair, and you should never expect it to be. Get your education. Get your education. Get your education! It will improve your life.

And I would say to spouses: divorce will not only kill your relationship. It will not only scar your children for life. It will reduce you to poverty. All of the people profiled in this POV were divorced, and it adds greatly to the strain of trying to make a living.

May God make us thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have not been so blessed.

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And, PS: I’m glad to live in Canada, where anyone, anytime, anywhere, is guaranteed to get the medical care that he or she needs, to the best of our ability to provide it, regardless of the size of his or her bank account. Choosing not to help someone who is sick because they can’t afford medical care is revolting.

[tags] POV, PBS, waging a living, working poor, poverty, america, minimum wage, ceo compensation, social justice, health insurance, john koetsier [/tags]

Best general George S. Patton quotes

I’ve always loved reading about General George S. Patton, a passionate, brave, smart commander – who had his flaws just like the rest of us.

My favorite Patton quotes:

  • Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.
  • Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
  • Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.
  • Do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner all the time.
  • If I win I can’t be stopped! If I lose I shall be dead.
  • Just drive down that road, until you get blown up.

Patton’s favorite saying was a French saying of Frederick the Great: “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.” En anglais … “Audacity, audacity, always audacity.”

(More Patton quotes.)

Stolen conversations

Overheard today outside a Burnaby, BC high school: “They don’t know about Chinese people there!”

Volume, high. Asian woman and boy leaving SUV, hurrying to get into the school.

Conversation continued at high speed in (presumably) Mandarin.