A large amount of this vacation, Patrick and I have been going to our Aunt Darla's house. Darla is my dad's youngest sister, and she has four children. She home-schools them, and for whatever reason, they are all very, very smart.
Darla's oldest son, Wade, is just about a year or two younger than Patrick I think, and since my last visit, he's become a pretty hilarious Linux programmer. He's pretty good at it I presume, he's definitely very quick at getting little file processing and browsing tasks done.
One of the comments he made was that he was a bit surprised that I wasn't able to do programming, as a result of the fact that I seemed like "such a massive computer geek" on my previous visit. Hilariously enough, my previous visit involved me re-combining little videos from my digital camera in Final Cut Pro, and a few other things in Illustrator and Photoshop, on the old PowerBook G4. I was definitely more of a creative arts geek at the time, than a programming geek, or a networking geek like I am now.
Of course, I don't feel too terribly bad about not being able to program, I've got a pretty good understanding of most networking concepts, and I've done pretty well in my studies of directory systems like OpenDirectory and ActiveDirectory. All I've got to do now is implement a few legacy directory systems like NIS or YP on A/UX, and then learn straight-up LDAP on systems like Solaris or IRIX, or even Linux, since those are easier to come by. There's also NetInfo, but I don't have enough (any) OPENSTEP systems running around to be able to do that. Like I said, networking geek.
Hilariously enough, Wade knows almost nothing about networking. He knows what packets are, probably in more detail than I'll ever need or care to have, but he doesn't understand the actual application of it, like how to plug some systems into a Linksys router in order to create a small network. I really wish my virtual machines were working, so I could show him some of the cool things a system like ActiveDirectory can do.
Another benefit of networking my computer to his is that it won't bug him so much when any of my online friends pop up with what he refers to "just punctuation!" There's a whole dialogue that some of my friends online and I have got going that sometimes doesn't use full sentences with proper structure and correctly spelled words. Ah well, I suppose it would be too difficult to explain communication theory and "Grammars" to a 14 year old. More importantly, I don't know if I want to bother.
Hilarity and youngness aside, it looks like Wade has a pretty good future ahead of him in the realm of open source programming. I wouldn't be surprised at all if after a bit of a formal education in computer science and maybe some volunteer work doing something like a Google Summer of Code, he would be able to get hired on at any of the big developers, like Novell, Oracle, or Sun. He could probably get hired at Microsoft too, were he willing to learn the Visual Studio development environment on Windows.
On the topic of the Internet, it's very interesting to see how someone who has access to it so rarely does when they get access to it. At first, Wade was unwilling to accept the idea that the Internet in and of itself was a form of entertainment, which is sort of an inevitability, at least for me. Then he wanted to use it to gain access to games, the one he tried was BZFlag, and that was "interesting" I suppose. If I could successfully get a Linux VM going, or if my Windows VMs were willing to work properly, there's a lot more we could do with even our small network.
Ahwell, one day he'll have more networking experience, I'm sure. I think he's still just amazed at the idea that we were able to connect our two laptops together with Ethernet, and share my silly EDGE connection to the Internet.