Photo of Jason Robert Carey Patterson

Jason Robert Carey Patterson's


Mac or Windows?
Mac for desktops & laptops, iOS for phones & tablets, and Linux for servers (previously Solaris, Amiga, Commodore 64). I've always believed in a solid UNIX base with a great user interface on top, and after 17 years of having to choose one or the other, OS X finally gave us both. And now it's even on our phones!
Linux distro?
Ubuntu (previously Debian, Slackware). I also think there are way too many distros and some unification and focus is desperately needed. Fragmentation and incompatibility between distros killed the Linux desktop, and it undermines the entire Linux ecosystem. I'm all for moving Linux to a single, standardized distribution. Less is more, guys!
Web browser?
Safari on Mac/iPhone/iPad, Firefox on Windows & Linux (previously Camino, Netscape, Mosaic, Lynx). Never Internet Explorer, although to be fair, IE did finally become a decent browser in its later versions.
Programming language?
No comment, but stay tuned. ;-)
Vi or Emacs?
Neither. I prefer the modern text editors of IDEs like Xcode and Visual Studio (though I'm quite adept in both Vi and Emacs when required). As long as an editor has configurable syntax coloring, code folding and tab-based auto-completion, I'm happy. I do wish modern editors had better, more configurable syntax coloring, allowing different keywords to be different colors, for built-in types (int, float, char etc) vs "real" keywords (if, for, while, return etc).
Code font?
Consolas (previously Monaco, Fixed), a monospaced programmer's font which is highly readable even at small sizes, with the letters I, l and 1 nicely distinct, and similarly O vs 0, while keeping the lettering as simple, clean and readable as possible.
Spaces or tabs?
Spaces, like any sane person. ;-)
Version-control system?
Git using SourceTree (previously Mercurial, Subversion, CVS). And here's my gitignore/hgignore config file, which many people like to use as their own.
Command-line shell?
zsh (previously bash, ksh, never csh!). And here's my zshrc/bashrc config file, which many people like to use as their own, or perhaps as a starting point.
CPU architecture?
Alpha & SPARC, but they're dead/dying, so ARM (even though it only has 16 registers in 32-bit mode). I'm a strong RISC supporter, and there's no getting around the fact that x86 is pretty awful, even though I work with it a LOT.
None. I'm not a gamer, although I'm a big fan of 3D graphics. Games can be fun now and then, but they can easily become addictive, wasting an awful lot of people's time that could be better spent on other things. I think the Wii was great for redirecting the gaming industry, and I'm a big fan of the current push into virtual reality, especially for its other uses such as 3D modeling and data visualization.
Social network?
None. I'm not into social networking, and I'm surprised at how it's taken off. I always thought "nobody cares what you had for lunch" was right, but maybe they do? I worry that social networking is a constant distraction and can easily become addictive, wasting an awful lot of people's time that could be better spent on other things. It also encourages certain personality traits...
Diagram of social media

The Computing Industry...

Best thing?
We change the world. We really do.
Worst thing?
The geeky image! I'm a supporter of the campaign for a new image for computing ("geek to chic"). We're not all geeks! And I think the image is changing, slowly.
Most frustrating?
The amount of shameless copying. Many successful computing products today are really just shameless copies of earlier products by other companies. I believe that's wrong. It's unfair to the original inventors and risks killing the incentive to innovate in the first place.
Most exciting?
The future. We're only half way through the computing revolution. The next 50 years should be amazing. To quote Walt Whitman: "the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse!"
If you could change one thing?
The patent system. I'm very much in favor of rewarding innovation, and anti-copying. Indeed, "be original, don't copy" is the very first core principle of my company's constitution. But I've seen patents hamper progress in computing more than help it, because when upheld they're too strong and last too long. We need something shorter term, lighter weight, and which promotes or even requires licensing, not blocking all derivative works. We need a system which rewards innovators while still allowing us to stand on each other's shoulders, not stomp on each other's toes.

Vital Stats

50 years
183 cm (6'0")
~95 kg (210 lb)
Shoe size
Wii Fit age
best 20, worst 42
Songs on my iPhone
Typing speed
~70 wpm
Internet link speed
100 Mbps (FTTB)
Position in line to get an iPhone

Strengths & Weaknesses

Signature strengths (see UPenn)
  • ingenuity
  • critical thinking
  • enthusiasm
  • love of learning
  • bravery
Other strengths
  • curiosity
  • appreciation of beauty & excellence
  • kindness & generosity
Greatest weakness
Kentucky Fried Chicken. I love the stuff, even though I know it's not very healthy. I try to limit myself to having KFC just once a month, not always successfully.

Favorite Books

Books that changed my life...
Other thought-provoking books...

Big Questions

Dogs or cats?
Pizza or pasta?
Pizza. Chicken and pineapple please, but no ham – pigs are smart and deserve better.
Boxers or briefs?
Boardies or budgies?
Glass half full or half empty?
The glass should be full! But it's half empty! But then it's also half full. In other words, I'm an idealist who's naturally negative but works hard at being optimistic. I think the book Learned Optimism is brilliant and should be read by everyone.
Historical figure you'd like to meet?
Michael Faraday & James Clerk Maxwell, great unsung heroes of physics and "fathers" of electromagnetism. The fact that we are masters of the electromagnetic force, while we're just ignorant novices with the other forces (gravity and nuclear), is largely thanks to Faraday, the greatest experimentalist of all time, and Maxwell, who's insight successfully unified electricity, magnetism and light. If we can master gravity the way we mastered electromagnetism, we'd be able to buy an anti-gravity cell at a local supermarket the way we buy a light bulb or battery today, and if we can master nuclear, we'd have consumer appliances like Mr Fusion from "Back To The Future" where you put matter in and get energy out.
Closest brush with fame/celebrity?
I used to live just one street away from Wally Lewis, the world's greatest ever rugby league player.
Our place in the Universe?
We're very special, but very small. Taking a look at these images gives a healthy dose of perspective...