Jun 23, 2013

Giving Back.

I just want to preface this by saying that I didn’t make a draft before publishing this. It’s been a while since I’ve written something so I just wanted to get something out as quickly as I could. I’m expecting this post to be of a lower quality than usual.

I remember my first GNU/Linux distribution years ago. It was Fedora Core 3. I think we still have the CDs back home. I also remember being incredibly interested in Debian. I wanted to learn about this thing called Linux that everyone was using to run web servers.

Here I am, around a decade (whoa!) later, sitting in front of a Thinkpad running Ubuntu. Open source software has given me an incredible amount of knowledge. The open source community has given me opportunities, potential, and ultimately a lot of success. I’ve gotten jobs because of free software and I’ve built a business using open source / free software.

Open source has given me a lot. It’s more than just software. It’s knowledge. It’s incredible how people have been able to create amazing things and then give it away for the rest of us to use.

As someone who’s finding my own problems to solve and figuring out my own ways of solving them, I think it’s my responsibility to give back. I like making software, but I’m not making anything remotely as useful as some of the other things I’ve used. Still, whatever I find useful to myself, I’m giving back. One example would be atto, a Couchbase driver for Node.js. It’s extremely simple, and it was born out of necessity. I personally needed it to get something done. I just released it to the world hoping that it would save someone else some time. Looking at the NPM page blew my mind:


20 downloads in the last week? 40 in the last month? I know this isn’t me downloading it. I haven’t used atto in 6 months. People are downloading what I made. To be honest, I’m not even sure if it still works. Yet, people are still downloading it. If something broken, they’re free to fix it.

This told me something. I don’t care how bad something is. If it’s useful for me, I’ll open source it. I think something that I’ve worried about constantly is how bad of a coder I am. I fear that someone would look at my code and say, “wow… this is really unprofessional stuff!” I think that’s the wrong way to think about things. If it’s really bad, someone will fix it. It’ll get better. That’s the point.

Keep an eye on my Github. I know there isn’t much there yet, but give it time. I’m also writing blog posts about things that I’ve found useful or interesting. Hopefully someone will learn a thing or two and allow me to give something back to the community.

So, this is how I’m giving back. I face problems, try to solve them, and then tell the world. Check out my Github. Fork my crappy code, make it better, tell me what I’m doing wrong, use it, do whatever you want. At the very least, you should learn what not to do :).

Note: Alright, I don’t think I’m that bad at coding. I’m terrible at judging myself. It’s better to underestimate than overestimate your skills, right?

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