Ron Avitzur and Greg Robbins wrote the Graphing Calculator that ships
with the Apple Macintosh. However, Apple didn’t want them to
write the application, and then put the program in their system
software. The story
of how this happened is a hilarious lesson on what young motivated
engineers can do without official support, and how unofficial support
can sometimes be just as important.
This story is a nice bit of inspiration to help me deal with my current
frustrations at work. I’m a contractor at a large company, and
the client has decided to clamp down on security by keeping us off the
main network, restricting us to very limited access through a VPN, and
prohibiting unapproved software (this part is for everyone, not just
contractors). Which means, technically, I can’t do my job as a
Java Developer. The Java Development Kit is not on the approved
list, and neither are a modern IDE nor a CVS client. So, how am I
supposed to do my job within the rules? Of course, I don’t know
exactly what rules I’m breaking, because we don’t have access to the
policy pages of the intranet through our VPN filters.
I’ll get my work done, and I will do nothing unethical to compromise security, but it’s getting ridiculous.