C-Suite Talk Fav Tech: Rafael Laguna, Open-Xchange

Rafael Laguna thinks programming should be taught in schools as a 'second language'.

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Rafael Laguna

 Job title: CEO & Co-Founder

 Company: Open-Xchange

 Industry: Software

 Location: Nuremberg, Germany

 Years’ of experience: 25


What is your favourite personal gadget?
That is a tough one, as I have too many… The best answer is the way I pack my backpack so that all my phone, tablet, laptop (all Apple) headphones (Bose, Apple) speaker (Phillips, UE) and accompanying cables fit alongside three days’ worth of clothing.

Do you have a favourite piece of personal software?
My personal OX account with mailbox.org and my business account with OX, all very personal as nobody fools with my data! But I also couldn’t live without Google Maps...

What was the first piece of technology you got really excited about?
At age 12 I discovered digital electronics, NAND/OR gates and such and eventually bumped into a thing that could emulate all of these on one chip, a microprocessor that was programmable. I built a computer from a kit using the SC/MP processor from National Semiconductors - with an unbelievable 128 bytes of RAM!

What device improves your life most at work?
I can’t remember how I ever lived without this little portable computer called a smartphone. The first one I really loved was the Treo, and I haven’t left home without one ever since. Now it’s an iPhone.

What software keeps you most productive at work?
I really, genuinely love email. I can write one whenever I want. I can read it whenever I want. I can reply whenever and however I want. While there are a number of bad things about email, it’s still the most efficient way for me to communicate. All the real-time stuff is way too distracting and imposing.

Is there any technology that has become extinct that you would like to resurrect?
Yes, the Smalltalk programming language. While languages like Swift have learned quite a few things from it, I am still looking for something as elegant and simple as the good old Smalltalk.

Is there any technology you would personally recommend that you don’t think enough people know about? (Hardware or software, work or personal)
There are so many. As the world is now run on computers, I think programming should be taught in school as a ‘second language’ right from the beginning. Then hardware tinkering - the whole maker culture - should be added, including electronics. Later pupils should be encouraged to select advanced courses on things like 3D printing, laser cutting, FPGA hacking etc. The same should be available for older people who haven’t have exposure to these technologies.

Do you think anything about your personal use of tech would surprise your colleagues?
It might be quite hard to surprise them! All of my modular synth, analogue computers, FPGA, Arduino, 3D printing, electric cars, cooking and wine ‘nerdism’ is well known in the company… Most of my colleagues are cut from the same cloth!