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Jobs' commencement address

Posted by daniel on June 16, 2005 at 9:51 AM PDT

Connecting the dots

Apple and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs gave this year's Stanford commencement address. Although much has been written about it, take the time to read through the transcript. The first of three stories that he tells talks about how the things that you learn and take time to investigate may have long term impact on what you do. His particular example is about taking a calligraphy class in college and later working on the typefaces for the Mac saying " it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later."

When I taught high school and college, I would often hear students ask "when are we ever going to use this". The answer may be "never". You may never need to calculate a second derivative, analyze a work of art, have an understanding of a historical event, or have an appreciation of piece of literature. But it all makes up who you are. I just listened to a podcast of Science Friday where Ira Flatow talked to Richard Feynman's daughter about her book collecting his letters. What made Feynman such a compelling character was that his interests were much wider than just physics. In fact, even the work that led to his Nobel prize was the result of having the time to just play around and feel free to explore whatever interested him. As Steve Jobs says to the graduates:

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Another of Jobs' points is that when your career takes an unexpected turn, that can be a great opportunity. Of course being fired from a job is stressful, but Jobs was fired in a spectacularly public way from a company that he helped found. He looks at the wonderful things that have happened to him recently:

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

Jobs' third story is about being told he would die within months of pancreatic cancer. He explained that he had always thought of death and that his time was limited - but it was abstract. Being told by a doctor that he had a couple of months to live was concrete and he advised the graduates:

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Clark D. Richey, Jr. is connecting a different set of dots in his article Managing Timed Tasks Within a Cluster Utilizing The StopLight Framework
in's Featured Articles.

You want tasks in your cluster to run at a specific time, but you want to establish some control over them, so that your sequence of tasks won't run concurrently on different boxes and fail to coordinate. The StopLight framework offers a solution, managing tasks' execution and verifying their health.

In Greasemonkey Goodness in today's Weblogs, Ben Galbraith writes "Firefox's Greasemonkey extension is another piece of web technology that changes the game... are there any analogs for Java desktop applications? We've had to put up with poor user experiences in applications ever since the dawn of the desktop computer. Being able to fix annoying website UI glitches is a wonderful experience."

Mohamed Abdelaziz writes about
Distributed Collections, and Maps
"Have you wondered whether it is possible to create a distributed Map, or a Collection over JXTA? There's no reason to wonder any longer. The JXTA platform is well suited for the task, and provides several mechanisms which allow a variety of features which can be offered by such applications."

Your latest NetBeans 4.1 Tip from Brian Leonard is to Move 'Scanning Project Classpaths' Dialog to the Background
"Tired of waiting for NetBeans to scan your project's classpath? Check out this tip on how to push that process into the background. Plus, the latest news on what's happening at NetBeans Software Day."

In Also in
Java Today
"Anyone who has used Flickr, GMail, Google Suggest, or Google Maps will realize that a new breed of dynamic web applications is emerging." The key is the use of JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) features to create dynamic client side applications that work across systems and on all the major browsers. In Asynchronous JavaScript Technology and XML (AJAX) With Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, Greg Murray shows how AJAX works with such J2EE technologies as servlets, JSP's, Java Server Faces, and more.

There are widgets that developers keep building over and over again. It seems as if a calendar widget is one of them. In the Core Java Tech Tip Calendar utilities in JDesktop Native components, you will see how to use the prebuilt widgets to pop-up a monthly calendar view to pick dates. You can also use a related widget to display and select special events, certain dates, and ranges of dates.

In Projects and
the third-annual Java Communities in Action event will be held Tuesday June 28 at 6 PM at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco. The event is free and offers a chance to meet with community leaders and members of the JSR, JXTA, Jini and communities. You need not attend JavaOne to join this event.

Stanley Ho notes the submission of JSR 277 to the JCP, addressing "an area that has been long overdue for an overhaul, and the goal is to make it easier to bundle, distribute, and deploy Java applications and Java extensions," by addressing issues of versioning and inter-JAR dependencies.

Rick Carson argues that money matters
in today's Forums.
"This is somewhat disingenuous. Suggesting that changing the way money flows won't effect the software industry is... interesting. You may be right. But historical examples show that changing the flow of money is usually catastrophic. The idea of the flow of money is an interesting one. Unlike others have suggested I don't think that it will entirely dry up, but there's every reasonable expectation that in many cases free software can act as a substitute (in the Econ 101 sense) good for paid software. Given the presence of a lower cost substitute, the average amount of money spent on that good will (should) decrease."

s690716 posts on
TWAIN / SANE / WIA Support
"Neither Java Imaging nor JAI have basic support for standards like TWAIN or platform-specific implementations/abstractions like SANE (Unix, Linux, OSX) or WIA (Win32). Are there any plans to support these standards? Using JNI is a bad workaround for a platform independant language... java."

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Connecting the dots