Quote of the Day: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

“My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products. Everything else was secondary. Sure, it was great to make a profit, because that was what allowed you to make great products. But the products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It’s a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything: the people you hire, who gets promoted, what you discuss in meetings.

Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There’s something magical about that place. There are a lot of people innovating, and that’ s not the main distinction of my career. The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation. I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves. In fact some of the best people working on the original Mac were poets and musicians on the side. In the seventies computers became a way for people to express their creativity. Great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were also great at science. Michelangelo knew a lot about how to quarry stone, not just how to be a sculptor.

People pay us to integrate things for them, because they don’t have the time to think about this stuff 24/7. If you have an extreme passion for producing great products, it pushes you to be integrated, to connect your hardware and your software and content management. You want to break new ground, so you have to do it yourself. If you want to allow your products to be open to other hardware or software, you have to give up some of your vision.

At different times in the past, there were companies that exemplified Silicon Valley. It was HewlettPackard for a long time. Then, in the semiconductor era, it was Fairchild and Intel. I think that it was Apple for a while, and then that faded. And then today, I think it’s Apple and Google—and a little more so Apple. I think Apple has stood the test of time. It’s been around for a while, but it’s still at the cutting edge of what’s going on.

It’s easy to throw stones at Microsoft. They’ve clearly fallen from their dominance. They’ve become mostly irrelevant. And yet I appreciate what they did and how hard it was. They were very good at the business side of things. They were never as ambitious product-wise as they should have been. Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he’s really not. He’s a businessperson. Winning business was more important than making great products. He ended up the wealthiest guy around, and if that was his goal, then he achieved it. But it’s never been my goal, and I wonder, in the end, if it was his goal. I admire him for the company he built—it’s impressive—and I enjoyed working with him. He’s bright and actually has a good sense of humor. But Microsoft never had the humanities and liberal arts in its DNA. Even when they saw the Mac, they couldn’t copy it well. They totally didn’t get it.

I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company. John Akers at IBM was a smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn’t know anything about product. The same thing happened at Xerox. When the sales guys run the company, the product guys don’t matter so much, and a lot of them just turn off. It happened at Apple when Sculley came in, which was my fault, and it happened when Ballmer took over at Microsoft. Apple was lucky and it rebounded, but I don’t think anything will change at Microsoft as long as Ballmer is running it.

I hate it when people call themselves “entrepreneurs” when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.

I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest. I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right. That’s the culture I tried to create. We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same. And we’ve had some rip-roaring arguments, where we are yelling at each other, and it’s some of the best times I’ve ever had. I feel totally comfortable saying “Ron, that store looks like shit” in front of everyone else. Or I might say “God, we really fucked up the engineering on this” in front of the person that’s responsible. That’s the ante for being in the room: You’ve got to be
able to be super honest. Maybe there’s a better way, a gentlemen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in this Brahmin language and velvet code-words, but I don’t know that way, because I am middle class from California.

I was hard on people sometimes, probably harder than I needed to be. I remember the time when Reed was six years old, coming home, and I had just fired somebody that day, and I imagined what it was like for that person to tell his family and his young son that he had lost his job. It was hard. But somebody’s got to do it. I figured that it was always my job to make sure that the team was excellent, and if I didn’t do it, nobody was going to do it.

You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people. His 1966 Europe tour was his greatest. He would come on and do a set of acoustic guitar, and the audiences loved him. Then he brought out what became The Band, and they would all do an electric set, and the audience sometimes booed. There was one point where he was about to sing “Like a Rolling Stone” and someone from the audience yells “Judas!” And Dylan then says, “Play it fucking loud!” And they did. The Beatles were the same way. They kept evolving, moving, refining their art. That’s what I’ve always tried to do—keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.

What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how—because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what has driven me.”
— Steve Jobs

One Word to Describe Lambda School’s Curriculum: Intense

What We’ve Learned So Far

It has been more than a week since we started studying in Lambda School and tons of things have already happened. That is to say, we have already learned loads of stuff.  Here are some of the topics we’ve covered so far:

  • User Interface
  • Inheritance
  • Specificity
  • The Box Model
  • Flexbox
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Fixed vs fluid vs adaptive vs responsive design
  • Web Tools
  • UI Frameworks
  • Preprocessors
  • LESS
  • Bootstrap

Over two months ago, before we joined the mini bootcamp, we didn’t even know what in the world Git was, or what the difference was between that and GitHub. We didn’t even know what terminals and text editors were.

Now, we use all of those things — GitHub, GitBash, VS Code, and many others — every single day. They have become so easy and unintimidating to use because those tools have become part of our daily routine. And we already have at least a working knowledge of User Interface and Responsive Design, as well as Web Tools and UI Frameworks. We still have a long way to go to become good frontend web developers, but if you’ll ask us right now to create a decent website that is responsive across laptops, tablets, and smartphones, we’d be able to do it. Crazy, right? And to think that we’re total newbies at this. We’ve only just begun.

Intense

Here’s what our typical day at Lambda looks like:

8am to 9am             —  Code Challenge
9am to 11am           —  Live lecture/instruction
11am to 12pm        —  Lunch
12pm to 4pm          —  Project/ pair-programming
4pm to 5pm            — Open queue
5pm onwards         — Team standup

Lambda School is based in California, so their time zone is PST. Philippine Time is ahead by 15 hours, so that means we start our classes at 11 in the evening and end at 8 the following day. We’ve rented a tiny office in a co-working space not very far from our house so we could eliminate all our distractions, focus on our studies, and avail of high-speed Internet. What we’ve realized is that it’s not enough to just spend 8 or 9 hours a day to learn the material we have at Lambda. You actually need to study and code for as many hours as possible. So we actually go to our office 3 or 4 hours before our class starts just so we could review our previous lessons and get acquainted with the topic for the day. After class, we’d stay in the office for 2 to 3 hours more just so we could read and code a bit. So, on average, we spend around 15 hours daily for study and coding. For example, we are still at the office right now. We came here last night at around 7 or 8. It’s currently 10:30 in the morning, so we’ve been here for more than 14 hours.

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I can barely keep my eyes open while I’m typing this. Web development, and in general programming, is hard. It takes a lot of energy and effort to learn. It requires long hours of sustained, uninterrupted concentration and work. But it’s rewarding. There’s something fascinating and exhilarating about creating intangible products (which websites, web apps, and software are). The process is also intellectually fulfilling because it requires the solution of mental problems or puzzles. And we have this “itch” to always be at our computers to type away codes at our keyboards.

Scratching the Surface

Of course, we’ve only been scratching the surface these past few days. Next week, we’ll be studying JavaScript (and that fills me with dread); after that, the lessons will only become more difficult and challenging. But there’s one important thing I’ve learned so far, and that is to just trust the process and push on even if things don’t make a lot of sense in the beginning, because in the end they will (make sense).

We’ve hardly had enough sleep this week, but this is nothing compared to last week. Last week, we only had a total of 8-10 hours of sleep, because a lot of things converged and occurred simultaneously: our kids’ activity-loaded literary week (we enjoyed our time with our kids, but that meant not sleeping), our preparations for a cousin’s wedding in Manila, our trip to that city, and our attending the wedding. Instead of reviewing past lessons and preparing for the coming topics, we spent the entire weekend with family and friends. We have no complaints, though, for we had a fun and memorable time, but that meant time away from the computer and our studies.

 

Quote of the Day: Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads–and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
— Charlie Munger

We Made It Through Day One of Lambda School’s Computer Science Course

Woohoo!

We made it through the first day of Lambda School‘s Computer Science Major course. We were so anxious to begin the program that we couldn’t sleep last night. Nor were we able to sleep the night before that, so we were more than a little groggy coming into the class. Our excitement and anxiety were so high that we were able to carry ourselves through the day without bingeing on coffee or Red Bull.

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Our topics were User Interface and Responsive Design. Specifically, we learned about HTML and some intermediate CSS stuff. I don’t really have a very good grasp of the fundamentals of CSS, so I struggled to catch up. Many of us probably did.

But it quickly became apparent to us that the curriculum is world-class. And the team behind the cohorts — the instructors, curriculum developers, and project managers — were super skillful and friendly. We were also given loads of resources, guidance, and tools, so that we really don’t have any excuse not to succeed, because everything’s already given to us. All that’s required is for us to put in the work.

 

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Three major things I’ve learned:

  1. We really need to read up ahead on each of the topics so that we’ll be able to keep up with the live instructions, exercises, and challenges.
  2. That means we should be either coding or reading and learning about coding in our spare time.
  3. And, being challenged, stumped, and even overwhelmed are good things, because they will force you to see your weaknesses and the areas you need to focus on.

We also made lots of friends from different parts of the United States. Bel and I belonged to different sub-cohorts of 8 to 9 students each, and we really liked our project managers and peers.

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So one day down, 130 days to go!

Quote of the Day: Bishop Robert Barron

Fr. Robert Barron

“If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, all bishops, priests, and Christian ministers should go home and get honest jobs, and all the Christian faithful should leave their churches immediately.

As Paul himself put it: “If Jesus is not raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain and we are the most pitiable of men.” It’s no good, of course, trying to explain the Resurrection away or rationalize it as a myth, a symbol, or an inner subjective experience. None of that does justice to the novelty and sheer strangeness of the biblical message.

It comes down finally to this: if Jesus was not raised from death, Christianity is a fraud and a joke. But if he did rise from death, then Christianity is the fullness of God’s revelation, and Jesus must be the absolute center of our lives. There is no third option.”
— Bishop Robert Barron

Easter (or the Resurrection of Jesus) is an Event Rooted in History

Let me share with you my favorite quote about Easter or the Resurrection of Jesus from William Lane Craig, one of the foremost Christian philosophers and theologians of our age:

Most people probably think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just believe in, by faith or not, but there are actually three established facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today, which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus.

Fact #1: On the Sunday after His crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was discovered empty by a group of His women followers.

According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist, “By far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.”

Fact #2: On separate occasions, different individuals in groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive after his death.

According to the prominent New Testament critic Gerd Lüdemann, “It may be taken as historically certain that the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” These appearances were witnessed not only by believers, but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies.

Fact #3: The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary.

Jews had no belief in a dying, much less rising, Messiah. And Jewish beliefs about the afterlife prohibited anyone’s rising from the dead before the resurrection at the end of the world. Nevertheless, the original disciples came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar, concludes, “That is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”

Attempts to explain away these three great facts—like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn’t really dead—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. And therefore it seems to me the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be.

Powerful.

Happy Easter!

My Life As An Aspiring Software Engineer

Major News

Major news! I’m renaming this blog.

I know exactly what you’re thinking: Again!? Didn’t you just rename this blog not too long ago?

Yes, I did. Last January, to be exact. But I feel I need to do this again because my plans have changed. Or rather, my life has recently taken quite an unexpected turn. I’m talking about Lambda School. You’ve “heard” me mention the school in previous posts (here and here), and I’ve already announced the great news a few weeks ago here. But I’ll say it again:

My wife and I have been accepted in Lambda School’s full-time Computer Science Major course! This is a dream come true for us, for joining Lambda was initially impossible for us since we’re not US residents.

The program will last for 6 months. It will begin tomorrow and end in October, so by October, we’ll become full-stack Software Engineers. How awesome is that?

So for 6 months, our heads will be filled with nothing but codes, codes, and more codes, and I won’t have enough time to do what I intended to with TechEasy, which was to write short articles that will make topics in technology, entrepreneurship, and startups easier to understand. I have no doubt that these will be the longest 6 months of our lives, because Software Engineering and Computer Science are extremely difficult to learn, especially for us who have virtually zero background in coding and technology. My wife, Bel, finished Marketing in university, while I finished Psychology and Nursing. So we are absolute beginners coming into Lambda School, although we did undergo their precourse, which was their Web Development Mini Bootcamp that lasted three weeks. That was our first exposure to JavaScript and CSS. Back in college, I taught myself basic HTML, creating websites and blogging before there were Blogger and WordPress. But those were the early days of HTML and a lot has changed since then.

Hence this need to rename this blog anew. I’ve chosen My Life As An Aspiring Software Engineer because I can’t think of any other name that’s more catchy than that, and it captures perfectly what I intend to do with this blog moving forward. I will share with you my journey to becoming a software engineer/developer/programmer. I will tell you about the topics and lessons we’ll cover and learn, and the struggles we will undergo. I’m sure the road ahead will be brutal, so right now I’m taking a very deep breath before plunging head-first into the world of programming tomorrow.

Why We’re Doing This

You may be asking, if Software Engineering is so hard, why study it at all?

software-dev

Well, first of all, because we love technology. We’re fascinated by it and we’d love to become great and skilled at it. Second of all, because we want to dramatically change our finances. We aim to earn big so that we can do a lot of great things for our kids and family. We see Lambda School as a key to unlocking a lot of doors for our lives — big income, savings, investments, starting startups, traveling the world, and many others. It sounds audacious but that’s our plan, and because of Lambda School that dream of ours is now closer than ever, and more concrete, rather than abstract. And finally, because we want to be able to create/do a lot of side projects that may lead to a great startup company.

Time For Other Things

Besides studying in Lambda School, I hope to still have time to do the other things I used to do: reading books, writing short stories, and doing freelance writing work.

So, if you can, please pray for my wife and I that we may be able to handle the challenges that await us and finish the course on time. Our goal is not just to complete the course but become excellent and awesome Software Engineers as well.