Technophile: Markus Rex of Novell

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

What’s in your pocket? Right now I’m carrying three cell phones: a European GSM, an American GSM and an American non-GSM phone. Each with their own phone number, I never know which one to answer when I hear a ring.

First crush? My dad’s Philips tape recorder in the early 70s. Its capabilities (to record voice and music) just blew me away.

I was amazed by the IBM PC, funnily enough. Its focus (back then) on business, non-gaming software really attracted me.

I did have a flight simulator on it, in text mode on a green display, with text-based commands, like “THRINC10” for Thrust Increase 10 per cent.

But it made you really focus on programming and application software.

Between those two things I fell in love with big capacitors. Preferably big electrolytic capacitors.

After building simple circuits I had far more fun hooking them up to 220V and blowing them up. Not healthy, but fun.

True love? The prototype of the optical storage system which saves data on a plastic tape.

Latest squeeze? This spring I bought the newest graphics card ATI had to offer. I was amazed at the raw computing power these things have.

What makes you mad? Mobile phones ringing in great restaurants.

What was your biggest tech disaster? We once had to scrap and reproduce 300,000 CDs because of a mistake in two lines of code.

If money were no object? A smart, voice-recognising computer which is capable of understanding real sentences, is small so it can be carried, has optical, holographic storage (like this plastic stripe, or a plastic block), and is fully networked. It would synchronise completely with the network, and has a laser keyboard or a roll-up keyboard.

I could ask it “what time is my appointment with Doctor Smith?” and it would recognise the “what time”, “appointment” and “Doctor Smith” and figure out the answer, e.g. “at 10:30 tomorrow morning”.

And it speaks all kinds of protocols needed for doing various things like home control, data transmission, and so on.

The device would take care of various networks, phone numbers etc. And I am reached just through this.

PC or Mac? PC. It’s more flexible as a platform. And it started my passion for computers.

Linux or Windows? Both. For everything except games, Linux; for games, Windows. I believe in using the best tool available for the task at hand. But I certainly have a strong affinity to Linux, having built a couple of Linux distributions.

Google or not? Yes, Google. But with cookies disabled.

How wrong have you been? I was wrong a long time ago when I thought that GEM might win over Windows and become the dominant desktop for the PC. At that time, GEM was vastly superior to Windows from a technical perspective. But the best product doesn’t always win.

I was also mistaken about CD-R’s - I couldn’t imagine why people would ever want to write 650MB on to one disk. Well . . . 

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.