Not-So-Enlightened Path to Coding Enlightenment

A friend of mine is finishing up a BSCS and looking to get into the tech industry. Ready to code? Here’s the list I sent him…

  • Pick a Linux distro (Fedora or Ubuntu). I would recommend Fedora if this is your first encounter with Linux.
  • Read How to Become a Hacker
  • Read The Art of Unix Programming
  • Master Vim – (http://www.vim.org/)
    • This is kind of a personal preference, as are all editors.
    • I recommend mastering vim because it is ubiquitous. You can run it on all of your workstations (Linux / Win) and you can usually depend on it being installed on just about every Linux server you SSH to.
    • Being able to use the same editor everywhere has its advantages.
  • Read Learn Python the Hard Way
  • Read Pro Git
  • Install Django, then run through the tutorial
  • Read Test Driven Development with Python
  • Next…. JavaScript stuffs
    • Learn JavaScript (don’t have a readily available book for this)
    • Learn Angular
    • Learn NodeJS
    • Learn Meteor
  • Along the way, you should pick up some knowledge about
    • Cryptography
    • web services and REST APIs
    • security
    • networking
    • Databases
      • Start with…
        • MySQL
        • PostgreSQL
        • MongoDB
      • Move up to
        • DynamoDB (Amazon’s AWS)
        • Hadoop
        • other NoSQL stuffs
        • Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server if you have to

The Bayh Dole Act

One thing I learned over the years is that if a work is created by the government, it is in the public domain. This means if a book is written, a work of art painted, or even a photograph snapped by the government, it belongs to everyone and they can use it to their liking with or without the creator’s permission. This includes use for profitable and commercial purposes. Today I learned that there is more than meets the eye. Enter the Bayh Dole Act.

I noticed on the White House website that the government was somehow charging for use of patents created through government funding. Since I thought the government’s work was all public domain, this confused me a little. I decided to ask someone in the know. I found a ranking U.S. Department of Energy official’s email address and asked her. Her response was:

“Lab IP is owned by Lab M&O contractor, unless they pass on it back to ther federal govt.
See Bayh Dole”

After reading the Wikipedia article in detail, I thanked her for the information and went on about my day. Then it hit me… what if, for example, I funded billions of dollars of research and came up with a widget and patented it. Then the government decided to fund research for a similar widget and let the researcher keep the patent? My widgets would, understandably, be ridiculously overpriced to absorb the R&D costs whereas my competition could charge a percentage and still make huge profits. Something just isn’t right about that. How do we fix it? I can certainly think of a few ideas. Perhaps it is time for some grant funding reform.