Equinox Software recently welcomed Scott McKellar as its newest software developer (Laura, you’re no longer the newest!).
Scott will help Evergreen, the consortial-quality library automation software used in hundreds of libraries worldwide, continue to grow and meet the needs of current and future users. We interviewed Scott about what brought him to Equinox and the broader Evergreen community.
What interests you about working for Equinox?
1. Equinox is young enough, and small enough, that it hasn’t accumulated layers upon layers of sclerotic bureaucracy.
2. I sense an appreciation of technical excellence.
3. The product is free software, running on a free operating system.
4. I’ve seen enough of the code that I can see opportunities for improvement, and I can see that it’s worth improving.
5. I can reasonably expect to learn a lot.
What’s important about open source software?
2. Likelihood of technical superiority, for two main reasons: When the whole world can see your code, you’re less inclined to be sloppy. Any interested observer can find your mistakes or offer improvements.
3. Lower costs for the user. Licensing costs are zero, and support costs are at least potentially under pressure from competitors, with low barriers to entry.
All of these advantages accrue primarily to the user, not to the vendor. It isn’t easy to base a business on free software, and I applaud any company that tries. Like Equinox.
Where do you see open source development going in the next ten to fifteen years?
Microsft will have trouble surviving the onslaught from Linux, Firefox, Open Office and other open source software. The next major proprietary software vendor to feel the pressure will be Oracle, under hot pursuit by PostgreSQL and maybe others. Unlike Microsoft, however, Oracle provides a quality product. The open source databases will be chasing its taillights for a long time to come.
When you get stuck on a problem, how do you solve it?
For debugging, I apply the scientific method: formulate hypotheses and then devise experiments to test them.
For design, I don’t have any special approach. I obsess about the problem for a while. Usually I come up with several different ideas. Then I look for reasons why they won’t work. From the survivors I try to pick the best mixture of pros and cons.
What do you keep on your desk?
When I had conventional office jobs I usually didn’t keep much on my desk, except for loose piles of paper that I had to purge periodically.
Now that I’m working from home I have yet to establish a pattern. Right now my desk in the basement is a mess — littered with the detritus accumulated from years of web surfing, gaming, tinkering, and hacking.
What do you do to chill out?
Read, listen to music, play mindless computer games, roam the house annoying my daughters — nothing very interesting. I’m a really boring person [Yeah, right! — Ed.].