Thursday, October 30, 2014

I was watching this video here and, at the end, the speaker, Ghislain Nkeramugaba, mentioned that there is an unwritten rule that broadband Internet access is built out with road construction. Hearing this makes me think that the countries which are building out their infrastructure for the first time must be at a great advantage to older nations that had to patch centuries old (or older) infrastructure to bring broadband access. Especially in Europe where various buildings and roads may have been there for a millennium or more, bureaucratic restrictions may slow down build-out regardless of industrial sophistication. That certainly is not to say that countries like Rwanda have no areas which are worth protecting; however, I think there is always greater difficulty in tearing up and replacing established infrastructure versus adding something that did not exist before.

What's the upshot of this alleged smaller burden of history? It's really unclear to me as I have no background in the development of infrastructure. I do suspect however, that there are opportunities for innovative plans for building the networks that power developing countries and that these countries will be the laboratories of exciting new Internet technologies.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I've thought a little about why it is that I have more trouble taking the time to learn some software development tools than others. In one part, I prefer software that is well maintained, well spoken of, and well-used. I am wary of newer tools (pretty much anything that can't be traced to before 2006).

My reason for avoiding newer projects has little to do with how well-made they are. I don't know if they are or not most of the time until I start using them and dig into the code. Instead, it's more that I fear taking pains to learn some framework or tool-chain only to have the usefulness of my learning negated by some other newer system.

The keep-up game never appealed to me. It's why I avoided the technology fetishism that lusts after the newest/fastest/sleekest version of a few-months old product. It's clear that it takes real work to keep abreast of such changes, to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a line of products, to make useful characterizations of a brand. The thing is, I have no head for remembering system specs, to do so would be a non-trivial investment, and that investment would be made moot two or three versions down the line. That's my concern anyway.

So, it's the same with software development tools, especially web frameworks. I would rather learn fundamentals of network programming and HTTP. Once learned, these provide a basis, or so I imagine, for extension in a greater number of directions than if I learned how to make a J2EE web app. Perhaps this is the wrong way of thinking about things. After all, knowing fundamental physics doesn't necessarily make you a good chemist, let alone biologist, although the latter are built up in terms of physics.