Dan Appleman: Kibitzing and Commentary

My personal blog

Real Geeks Use Tools

So today I saw a funny series of Blog posts starting with Robert Scoble’s defense of his “Geekhood” after a post by someone named Cody who hates fake computer geeks.
What’s interesting about these posts are the examples that both use to define geekiness. Cody complains that Scoble doesn’t host his own Blog software. Scoble defends his geek credentials by mentioning past experience installing NT 3.5. Either way, those definitions don’t reflect the reality of the information age.
To put this in context, let’s think back 15 years or so to the Visual Basic story. Here was a tool that provided a high level of abstraction over Windows. Who were the geeks? The C++ programmers who blew off VB as a “toy language” or “glue language”, or the millions who adopted VB either as their first language or migrating from another language?
The answer is obvious – both were. The only difference was that the VB geeks were much more productive (for a wide class of applications).
The world has changed of course, and neither VB .NET nor C# provide the kind of abstraction levels that are needed going forward. We don’t have a tool that corresponds to the .NET framework the way VB related to the Windows API. Or put another way – VB was incredibly productive because it provided a level of abstraction to the underlying API for which C/C++ was the “first class” language. Today, VB .NET and C# are the “first class” languages for .NET – but we don’t yet have that new paradigm, that new level of abstraction, that will bring us to the next level (of geekiness, as it were).
Or do we?
At least in one area, I’m beginning to think that we do.
When I look at ASP .NET, I see lots of great components and features for building great web applications. At the same time, the prospect of building a site using it is – well, it’s about as exciting as Hello World was in C back in the 90’s. I’m working on a project now (not ready to talk about yet), that is web based, and building it from scratch wasn’t even a consideration.
For web applications, tools like WordPress and CMS systems like Plone, Drupel and DotNetNuke are compelling platforms on which to base new applications. Their open source nature and flexible architectures assures extensibility in much the way that VB’s support for custom controls allowed the language to do things that it’s developers never imagined.
This, by the way, should be something Microsoft pays close attention to – the vast majority of CMS systems today are LAMP systems – and this is what might cost them the web platform war (not the quality of the platform itself).
Anyway, I digress. Cody, Robert – you’re both geeks in my book.
And for the record, this particular Blog is on WordPress, that is in fact hosted on my own server – not because there is any geek value in doing so, but because my incremental cost to do so is zero (which is, coincidently, the cost of Robert’s hosting as well).

The Graduating Geek's Guide to High Finance

As many of you know, I’ve been turning some of my attention to the topic of finance and investing (the results of which you can find on my alternate blog at www.ThinkingAboutMoney.com). While most of my focus has been for somewhat more advanced investors, it occurred to me that there’s one beginners group that desperately needs financial education – new college graduates – specifically those with tech degrees.
New graduates with tech degrees suddenly find themselves making real money – in many cases for the first time in their lives. In our consumer society (devoted to separating us from our money), it’s not uncommon for them to quickly find themselves in debt and living from paycheck to paycheck.
So I wrote an e-Book called “The Graduating Geek’s Guide to High Finance” that contains the most important information they (if not everyone) needs to know about personal finance (the kind of information that isn’t taught in school). It also contains some of the career advice/wisdom that is traditionally handed down to newcomers from jaded industry veterans.
Sample topics include:

  • Money Isn’t Everything.
  • Wealth isn’t Income.
  • Start Today, well actually – tomorrow.
  • Think twice before you spend.
  • Time is Money.
  • The Tax Man cometh.
  • A Piece of the Action.
  • Stock and Stock Options.
  • Investing.
  • Start a business.
  • Going Independent.
  • Corporate Myths.
  • Buying A House.
  • Insurance.
  • Trust No One.

The Graduating Geek’s Guide to High Finance is published as an e-Book for $3.99. Now available on amazon.com.
If you’re interested in a review copy, contact me via Email.