Just do it
Earlier this month, I taught a class of high school kids at Stanford for a weekend of learning. My course was specifically about how they should handle college in regards to getting a job in the video-game industry. But as the class went on, I found myself repeating the same message, over and over: Just do it.

If you want a job in the games industry, I said, make games. If you want to be a programmer, teach yourself to program. Don’t sign up for a class that starts in five weeks. Go home and Google up a tutorial right now. If you want to design video games, then you’d better go play a ton of them. And learn by doing.

Of course, I told them where to find the right tools and books to help them, but the fundamental message is one that I find myself ruminating upon. When I was the age of these kids, I remember the boundless energy and interest I could bring to bear on a topic. I sometimes miss that dedication, but I also realize that it was my love of computers in those years that got me where I am today.

So to the parents of all those kids, I apologize if they turn into basement-dwelling, game-addicted programmers. Hopefully they’ll get rich and take care of you in your old age. — Alex Handy

Last call for Symbian stuff
Dec. 17 will be a sad day for Symbian devotees as the Symbian Foundation shuts down its websites, including the main website, developer sites, and blog and ideas sites, which were used for suggestions to improve the Symbian mobile operating system.

According to the foundation’s blog, anyone interested in the source code for the current version of the operating system, kits, wiki, bug database, or reference documentation should download it before Dec. 17. If anyone tries to access the content afterwards, expect to wait until Jan. 31, 2011 when the content is done being prepared, the foundation said.

In addition, people will have to pay for the content that will most likely be on a DVD or USB hard drive. This move is part of the non-profit foundation’s transition to a licensing body, which it announced in November. Nokia will continue the development of the operating system. — Katie Serignese

This is too easy/hard
Microsoft recently announced that it is removing Drive Extender functionality for Windows Home Server. Drive Extender basically allows users to insert drives into their system to increase capacity, as well as providing redundancy to protect against catastrophic failures.

The reason given? Drive Extender was “not meeting our customer needs.”

I’m not sure what kind of customer feedback Microsoft is basing this decision on, and as I don’t use WHS, I can’t say if this is really a sound idea or not. But commentary I’ve read reflects a disappointed attitude toward this move, to say the least.

Even without knowing the exacts of this technology, though, I am always dubious when a company chooses to remove a feature from something. Judging by the description of Drive Extender, it looks like a nifty function that wouldn’t impede anyone’s use of WHS (and I have been unable to find any complaints about it). So where were the complaints coming from?

Perhaps Drive Extender was considered too difficult for WHS users to handle, though why Microsoft would reach this conclusion is beyond me. I’m of the firm belief that features should not be removed unless they actively disrupt the user experience, or if they’re so seldom used that nobody would notice if they were removed. That Microsoft felt compelled to announce this seems to discount both points.

Whatever reason Microsoft actually has for this, I hope it doesn’t spread to its other products. — Adam LoBelia