“A mathematician”, according to the late Hungarian mathematician Alfred Renyi, “is a device for turning coffee into theorems”. Seems like good old Alfred knew a thing or two about intellectual work, he and colleague Paul Erdos of Erdos number fame were known to consume copious amounts of the stuff. With work at PaperCut occasionally requiring a brain cell or two, it is no coincidence that the location for PaperCut’s R&D facilities was chosen to be in close proximity to a strategic source of this magic potion that fuels all activity in making, supporting and maintaining Print Control Software: Cafe Vermeer.
Not officially on PaperCut’s payroll due to the secretive, high priority nature of their mission, Cafe Vermeer’s Rosalina and Eric are on stand-by 8 hours a day wielding advanced machinery to whip coffee beans into a state consumable by PaperCut’s demanding and discerning coders should their BCC* drop below minimum comfort levels. Caffeine demands tend to culminate in twice-daily coffee pilgrimages, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, although a debate on whether coffee should be consumed French-style right after lunch or English-tea-style later in the afternoon has been causing a division in the office population along lines of provenance (Being of German origin, I subscribe to the former).
Haunting memories linger at PaperCut from when Vermeer was closed for a day forcing the indignity of sourcing second-tier material from so-called ‘other cafes’ in the area. This shows that the consistent quality of the caffeinated and the occasional cocoa-flavored beverages fabricated in Cafe Vermeer is a secret ingredient in the consistent quality of PaperCut’s software and support. So is their effort of maintaining the coffee preference chart mapping our developer’s names to their default coffee order so one can stay focused on semantics of the ‘volatile’ keyword in Java version 1.3 which …. ah but this story will be told another time.
So what about the 21st century corollary to the mathematician coffee thesis: “a software developer is a device for turning coffee into code”? Were our Hungarian mathematicians alive today, they would surely agree.
*blood caffeine concentration
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I’ve just arrived back from the USA where I spent a week at the Novell Brainshare conference – Novell being the newest platform PaperCut supports. As the main Linux & Novell developer I had the task of tripping over to Salt Lake City in the USA and manning the PaperCut stand. Rick also joined me from PaperCut’s US office. Novell, both the the company and the user community, is an interesting environment. Many people think of Novell as an “aging platform”, however it’s very different today. Novell today is more focused on services sitting on top of the OS. The base OS is now Linux and the focus on open source has really changed the environment. The community today very much has a “Linux feel” – full of lots of smart forward looking administrators and managers.
As a developer I loved this conference. Because the crowd was so technical all discussions were very interesting. Less time talking about how glossy the brochure is, and more time talking about “tech stuff” like, clustering, the process-level isolation design used in PaperCut’s OES Linux version, and how cool PaperCut’s new advanced scripting feature is! There were lots of organizations on legacy Netware and PCounter installs looking for more modern alternatives. I think we impressed lots of people here. I regularly heard comments like, “PaperCut is the best 3rd party application to come the Novell platform in years”, both from existing and potential new users.
I also got the opportunity to catch up with many of our Novell users from around the world. It was great to put some faces to some names and speak to people using our German, Korean and Portuguese versions. Fortunately everyone spoke English! Many also came with lists of ideas for future releases, some of which we’ve already started work on.
One story that I think summed up the conference occurred on the third day. I’d been flat out on the stand talking to people all morning. Finally there was a lull so we took the opportunity to pop out and grab a quick coffee, only to return to the pavilion to see a group gathering around the stand. I thought, “Typical. Everyone decided to arrive at the exact 10 minutes we’re not there.” As I got closer I noticed they were all looking at the computer and playing with the software. It turned out that one in the group was already a PaperCut user, loved the software and wanted to show a few others he’d met. No one was on the stand so he decided to give his own demo. Wow! If I had of known it was that easy I would have just set up the stand and went skiing for a few days instead 🙂
And yes. It briefly snowed while I was in Salt Lake City. A interesting experience as an Aussie coming from a long hot summer!
“Mr iPrint” and Chris
Ted (Novell’s main iPrint developer from Provo) and Chris at the PaperCut stand.
PaperCut on Novell users from the UK
Me with Simon from Cambridge University and Richard from Brighton & Hove College.
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