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My theory is that Fabrice is not human and most likely a creature not of this world. Seriously, how the hell can someone be so talented and amazing and above all remain such a nice guy? Fabrice is a down to Earth and amazingly talented individual who will go down in history; text books will reference him, heck he'll have a movie one day (maybe not). I don't care if this is an old article, Bellard deserves to be on the frontpage of HN multiple times, he's earned it.

For me, the LTE/4G base station running on a PC that he did is mindblowingly amazing: http://bellard.org/lte/




I've met a few very accomplished (maybe not quite as accomplished as Bellard) people who are kind and not at all arrogant about it. I think a lack of arrogance and a generous view of those around you can really help someone to accomplish a lot.

Arrogance is generally a hindrance to learning. If you already know the "best" way to do something, your less likely to learn a better one. If someone shows you a better way of doing a thing, you're much more likely to take it as a challenge (someone is showing you that you don't know everything) and get defensive about it, instead of being receptive to improvement.

If you take a generous view of those around you, you're much more likely to be able to learn from them. If you are kind, people are much more likely to give you assistance. If you are willing to teach, you end up learning more, as having to explain things also forces you to clarify your own thoughts.

And it's not just a uni-directional relationship. The more secure you are in your own accomplishments, the less feel the emotional need to tear down others. The more you can honestly see that you've been helped in your intellectual endeavors (through advice, teaching, resources, etc.), the more you feel motivated to give back.

Being kind and humble isn't the only path to accomplishing great things, of course, but I've seen enough examples of it to conclude it's a very viable path. And it has the added benefit that if you don't quite make it to greatness (most of use won't), you won't have a whole bunch of people thinking that you're an egotistical jerk.


> Being kind and humble isn't the only path to accomplishing great things, of course, but I've seen enough examples of it to conclude it's a very viable path.

It is a very viable path and on top of this, they naturally create little coves of open-hack spaces where like-minded geeks hang out :) I was lucky enough to have met a few and spent time in their company. They were all very accessible, if not shy at times. Visibly detached from the career path concerns and fully immersed into technology, building and tinkering.

On the opposite side, I had a misfortune to meet less talented types, yet with egos only matched by the senior management. They fervently protected their turf and enjoyed dispensing condescending remarks.

I will never forget as a junior dev, I was trying to understand how a piece of the system works and in my search came up to a stellar DBA asking about a stored procedure of interest. After a couple of minutes of witty pokes at my expense, he concluded: "Listen, you don't need to know this. It's not your concern. Go away."

Well, eventually, I got access to the guarded secrets and figured it out :)


apart from which, i've noticed that most arrogant people are obsessed with the need for other people to defer to their accomplishments, rather than the need to actually accomplish anything. for people like bellard who just quietly get things done, the accomplishments are their own reward.


> Seriously, how the hell can someone be so talented and amazing and above all remain such a nice guy?

There are a lot of those kind of people, from all walks of life. They're just not on HN.


> There are a lot of those kind of people, from all walks of life. They're just not on HN.

I am sure there are more such people. Can you please point to some that you know of?. It is inspiring to read bios/accomplishments of such super productive programmers.


I'll nominate Julian Seward, who among other things created both bzip2 and Valgrind, wrote parts of GHC (the Glasgow Haskell Compiler), and now works at Mozilla building and applying various analysis tools to Firefox/Gecko code.


Steve Wozniak. I feel like a dork saying this, but sometimes I'll randomly page through his autobiography because I know I'll be inspired/amused from reading it:

http://www.amazon.com/iWoz-Computer-Invented-Personal-Co-Fou...

It's hard to think of many others who are as unequivocally good-natured as Woz...accomplished or not.


+1 I met him in Edinburgh last year and he's one hell of a nice guy.


Dan Bernstein, developing software without bugs and hardcore cryptographer: http://cr.yp.to/

Ricardo Quesada: https://github.com/ricardoquesada

- Cocos2D for iPhone (more used 2D game engine)

- Cocos2D Javascript Bindings

- Cocos2D for Python

- SqueakNOS: http://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/5727

- Driver for an obscure wireless Lucene device (new protocol reverse engineering)

- TEG (Tenes Empanadas Graciela)

- Batalla Naval


I'd recommend you to read _coders at work_ from Peter Seibel. It's some interviews with top programmers such as jwz, Peter Norvig, etc.


andrew tridgell (rsync, rzip, samba)


Reading his accomplishment is humbling for any programmer. The fact that he doesn't act like an asshole should serve as an example for the rest of us.


Everyone is an asshole in someone's mind. You'll never please all people, and when you don't, they'll think you're an asshole. That's life. Don't let what they think bother you.


If one person calls you a jackass, ignore him. If two people call you a jackass, think about it. If three people call you a jackass, buy yourself a saddle.


Well, I'd rather 50 people hate me and 50 people love me than 100 people have a neutral opinion towards me. Those aren't necessarily the only options, but a lot of personality traits/beliefs tend to be highly polarizing.

For example, I hate it when people spend a long time deciding where to eat. It drives me crazy. So if it goes on for more than 5 minutes, I'll say "I'm going to (insert restaurant here.) Anyone who wants to join me should come" and leave. Some people love this, some think I'm an arrogant prick, and most are just happy they don't have to wait 45 minutes to eat.

So really, you should ask why people think you're a jackass. I know some people hate my tendency to unilaterally make lunch decisions, but I have no intention of changing it.


I like this proverb, but I think maybe it should be updated to 1% of people who know you, 2%, 3% or some such.

I mean, if thousands of people know you, 3 thinking you are a jackass isn't bad.


Ah, but it's 3 telling you.


Though, one person out of ten is less significant than 100/1000. We should work out the probabilities of someone telling you you're a jackass given that you are/are not one, and update the proverb to use likelihood ratios.


Replace asshole by douche and you'll get a more accurate version of what I meant.


>> Everyone is an asshole in someone's mind.

That's a nice one, have to remember that :-)


I always find that the most talented people are relatively pretty down to earth given their accomplishments, while the higher the mediocrity to the position the more arrogant a person is, like a middle manager who only got the job because his in-law sits at the board.


Just a note about his 4G/LTE base station project, you can replace that relatively expensive USRP with one of these: http://www.nuand.com


there are these kinds of people for one ilya grigorik http://igvita.com


You mean, like Nicolas Bourbaki?


Are you really suggesting Bellard is the collective pseudonym of a group of people and not a single person?


You know Bourbaki was a group, not an individual, right?


I don't know about you, but I'd watch the heck out of a dramatization of his Pi speed breaking record.


Plus one. I think it's really the total lack of selfishness that makes him so great.




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