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Knauss on Paul Graham's "Great Hackers"

Greg Knauss doesn’t have a weblog of his own, so I asked if I could post his rebuttal to Paul Graham’s Great Hackers essay. Greg writes:

“Hello, my name is Paul Graham. I have a bunch of opinions and prejudices, and I’ll now present them as fact: Python is better than Java, Linux is better than Windows, quiet is better than noise, one big problem is better than a thousand tiny ones, hackers are better than normal people. If you disagree with me, then you are obviously not a super hacker, and are instead some sad little monkey, banging on a keyboard.”

Jesus. s/hacker/self-satisfied prima donna/g.

You know what a hacker is? It’s someone who enjoys solving problems. Great hackers do it elegantly. Good hackers do it at all. How they do it is irrelevant, and it certainly has nothing to do with what language they choose or what OS they run or if they’re politically correct or not. To claim otherwise is arrogant, narrow-minded foolishness.

The fact that I’m learning C# and Windows.Forms does not make me any less of a hacker. In fact, it makes me more of one, because I’m able to solve a problem I couldn’t with all the Python and Linux in the world. Oh, but I forgot: hackers only solve the problems that interest them, if they’re presented in the right way and in the right environment. Because hackers are special.

Joshua pointed out that while it may seem that every smart person I know is using open-source tools, it’s a product of observational bias. Open-source programmers hang out with other open-source programmers. I don’t know many Windows applications developers, so I’ve never met a Windows super-genius. But they exist, and to say they don’t is a form of technophobic racism.

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Fun with iDictate Transcription

At work, we’ve started using iDictate for transcribing audio. After sending them an MP3, they send back a written transcription within an hour or two for about $.01/word. (They split the audio into manageable chunks, distribute it to typists around the world, reassemble the text, and send it back.)

Phil noticed that they offered a 100-word free trial by phone, so decided to have a little fun. He called their toll-free number, started his favorite MP3, and held the phone up to the speakers. They e-mailed him the transcript below. (They couldn’t figure out the words “find emotion” and left it blank.)

Try it out! Call 1-877-DICTATE (1-877-342-8283), press “1” to dictate, then “1” to do the free trial, and start recording. If you have any good results, post them in the comments.

Update: Ryan sent them They Might Be Giants’ “Exquisite Dead Guy.” They mangled the lyrics.

Continue reading “Fun with iDictate Transcription”

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