Thursday, June 22, 2017

Great James Gosling Interview

Canada’s code guru James Gosling is an international star in computing

I absolutely agree with the opening sentence (having spent a good chunk of three years in Canada):

"Most Canadians have never heard of James Gosling. But the Alberta-born principal creator of Java – one of the most widely used and longest-lived programming languages in modern computing – is a hero in Silicon Valley.

Java is the foundational software behind Android, the operating system found on most mobile devices. By some measures, Java can be found on 97 per cent of enterprise computer systems, and the virtual-machine systems Mr. Gosling designed for Java are critical to the world of cloud computing. For those who remember the Y2K computing crisis, Java was the main tool used to repair and replace the broken systems.

There are millions of Java programmers the world over, and some of those people still stop Mr. Gosling on the street for selfies – as if he were a movie star – and then thank him for their careers.
“That tends to weird out your kids. People mostly leave me alone, [but] if there is the wrong kind of conference in San Francisco and I wander around Moscone [the city’s main convention centre], it can be a little tough,” he says. “If I go to places like India or China it can get seriously tough.”

I love the story that James tells about Oracle:

"Then came Oracle Corp.’s purchase of Sun in 2010, a marriage of two corporate cultures that couldn’t have been more different, especially for Mr. Gosling, who had been with Sun for 26 years. “It’s like grabbing your hand onto an electric fence … Oracle is a very painful corporation,” he says.

He recounts an infamous story: Even before the acquisition closed, Oracle cancelled an employee appreciation party that Sun’s founders had organized, even though Sun had prepaid to book an entire amusement park. Sun was the kind of place that had a closet full of tequila, he said; Oracle was not so loose.

“Oracle does not do employee appreciation events. You get one employee appreciation event every two weeks; it’s called a paycheque. My early experiences with it were just, like, really, really, really awful. So I just had to flee. ”"

I am really glad to see James excited about joining Adrian Cockcroft, Tim Bray and other former Sun folks at AWS:

"On May 22, Mr. Gosling returned to the world of big-time software development when he announced he was joining Amazon Web Services (one of the world’s leading cloud-computing providers) as a distinguished engineer.

He has been tight-lipped about what he’ll be doing at Inc., though he posted this intriguing message on Facebook: “Years ago, I worked at IBM for a while and had to go through ‘confidential-information’ training. When I came back grumpy, my manager smiled and said, ‘IBM’s biggest secret is that it has nothing worth keeping secret.’ Doesn’t apply at Amazon. It looks like it’ll be a fun ride.”"

Below is my oldest son John, when he worked for Sun Microsystems as a Campus Ambassador at Virginia Tech, between Jonathan Schwartz on the left and James Gosling on the right.