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The Boy Who Couldn't Ride A Bike

News outlets around the world covered my hiring of DVD Jon to contribute to our soon-to-be announced Oboe project. I actually started assembling the necessary team of engineers long before Jon came to work for me. Another key programmer on the team is Cody Brocious. His name may sound like the lead character from an action novel, but it's his real name.

I first met Cody because of his work on PyMusique. Apple has yet to release a Linux version of

Check out Cody learning to ride a bike!
iTunes, so Linux users have been locked out of the iPod/iTunes world. Since one of my goals is to bring Linux to the mainstream market with Linspire, it's critically important that a Linspire desktop/laptop user can do everything that a Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X user can (except for virus propagation - I'm happy for that to remain a Microsoft specialty). PyMusique lets Linux users listen to their iTunes songs and burn them to a CD. It doesn't let them bypass purchasing the songs, but it does let them burn the music once they purchase them on a Linux computer. (Linspire is working on an comprehensive open source library that will allow iPods to be used seamlessly on Linux. Watch for this to be released shortly.)

After reading about PyMusique, I sent an email to Cody and we became net acquaintances. I was stunned to learn that Cody was just 17 years old. He surely didn't talk or program like a teenager. We talked about some of my ideas for the future of digital music and he had some good ones of his own. He had never been on an airplane so I bought him a ticket to San Diego for a few weeks in the summer to visit me and the rest of the team at MP3tunes. After an hour or two in the San Diego sunshine, he made up his mind that this was where he wanted to be. On his return, he got the OK from Mom and Dad to move 3,000 miles away. He packed a single duffel bag and left his family and friends in Pennsylvania to relocate to San Diego.

I've grown to know Cody well over the last few months. What I learned was that Cody was one of those lucky humans who finds his calling early in life. Most people need the generalities of high school and college to expose them to the variety of the world in the hopes of stumbling onto that task, subject or activity they are specially suited for. Cody tells his life story starting with, "At four, I essentially lived in front of my parents' 386, which I fell in love with."

While other kids were out playing kickball and freeze tag, Cody was inside coding. "In kindergarten, I first started coding in BASIC on an Apple ][e." He did miss out on some of the stereotypical milestones like riding a bike. It was an unconventional childhood, but one Cody thanks his parents for letting him have with no regrets. "My older brother was the athletic one -

Apple ][e
all I wanted to do was code." Now more than a decade later Cody possesses world-class skills at complex engineering tasks.

For specialists like Cody, high school can be a harsh and unforgiving four years. The acceptance of the business world, which respects his engineering prowess, is a refreshing change. He's definitely found a home at MP3tunes and is playing a key role on Oboe. But we haven't forgotten he's still a kid. And kids need to know how to ride a bike! So we took a lunch break to teach Cody to ride a bike. After the near miss of the forklift, unnerving questions about the workers compensation policy emerged and we realized that was enough for the first lesson. Plus we can't risk losing a key engineer if we're going to deliver Oboe on time!

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