Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




"Programmer Folkways"

The recent threads posted on quality of life balance, software overcomplexity (which diminishes job satisfaction), and the repetitive nature of SW practice, impels me to comment.

Basically, it seems that when topics like this arise, the opinions that most programmers contribute all tend toward pretty much the  same set of conclusions and values. (note, I didn't say "all". The insightful few who question the status quo are usually torn to ribbons and personally attacked.)

My conclusion is that most programmers are personally half satisfied to miserable, but due to peer or self imposed pressure decided a long time ago that beating their heads against a brick wall was the only honorable thing to do. It's kind of a Spartan code of ethics, among an occupational group that never seems to have any profile with anyone outside the field.

Basically, it's the falling on a sword and impaling yourself while nobody else gives a sh*t.

And the sameness of most people's opinions forces me to conclude that we're a bunch of robots. Most of us adopt the thinking of our age group.

A few gems that always come up:

- Career "should be" about survival through a series of projects, not about growing personally, self satisfaction, fulfillment, or feeling that the work is ultimately important.

- Burnout doesn't and shouldn't count. If you are burned out it's because you are too stupid to find cool new things to do. Keep doing your job even if you hate it.

- "More" technology and newer technology is always, invariably better. If the newer technology is more fragile and less reliable than legacy technology, then deny that the older technology ever solved worthwhile problems or was cost-effective.

- Countless hours of self-directed learning that is only an arbitrage against a *POSSIBLE* (not even a likely) future job is expected. We can't ever know what the next technology fad will be, so we are expected to devote training time blindly.

- Overwork, 24x7 standby, and long hours for nominal salary are your duty.

- Abstractions are always good. More abstractions and levels of indirection are better than fewer. The reason for this is that the more abstract code becomes, the more that you feel that you're the lord and master of an intricate little universe. The "best" code in this vein is written around the platform that assures you that you have absolutely no idea what a programming statement will do in the real world.

- Identify people's value and personalities with their implementation technology of choice. IE: An Access guy is shallow. A COBOL or RPG developer is too stupid to learn new stuff. A device driver or kernel developer is a weirdo.

- Anyone older than you in this field, with more experience, is always a dated loser. They are "jaded", "negative", not with it, and are complaining because they have been screwed because they really deserved to be screwed.  And, because everything is altogether different today, their opinion on past projects is *NEVER* to be considered. After all, much smarter people develop J2EE or Win32 applications today than those who developed COBOL in the old days.

- Anyone younger than you has no right to their own opinion. Someone younger than you is shallow, lacking wisdom, hasn't worked on enough dozens of projects to finally develop the chops to be able to comment. Once that person does "ascend bodily into heaven", they drop into the "old loser" category described above.

.....

My personal opinion is this: everything f*cked about this industry is due to the set of "programmer folkways" above. EVERYTHING.

Most of these erroneous beliefs and the overall value system of "survivor mentality" that pervades programming as an occupation makes us quick to turn on each other, blinds many of us to seeing the dead hole that many careers in this industry turn out to be, and gives employers "wonderful" tools with which to torment us.

And this is absolutely *perfect* for the HR types to do their thing with people as the ultimate commodity" to be shaped as business conditions dictate.

Now, please hate me for saying this! Please!

:-)

Bored Bystander
Thursday, October 30, 2003


I think the biggest problem with developers is the victim mentality. It's always been there but it seems to be getting worse.

This is the mind-set where bad shit that happens in a project is inflicted on us by unjust gods and we are:

1) Not responsible
2) Unable to change things

Oh, but we do like our whining and complaining though. Can't spare a minute to actually try to alter our predicament, but we have plenty of time for bitching.

We all love Dilbert and laugh at pointy headed bosses. Many of us completely miss the fact that Dilbert is, in fact, a loser who has long since given up control of his life.

Bottom line: if you think software is only about code then your life is going to be at the mercy of those who decide what code is to be produced (and how). If you don't want that, then you're going to have to drag yourself out of your cubicle and start to play nice with others.

anon
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Agree with both posts.  Engage those who specify the work to educate them on the development process and limitations of the team.

If too much work is demanded, then get in a position such that  you can push back.  This could include getting another job, saving up so that losing the job is not a big deal, etc.

Scot
Thursday, October 30, 2003

IMHO* Our industry's got too much potential and too little control.  We constantly underestimate our projects** until we have become too cynical to even pretend to trust them anymore.  That, combined with the low entry cost and the ensuing strong competition (like the dreaded hordes of cheap programmers from my native land), can make a programmer pretty desolate pretty quickly.

I think one of our root causes of trouble is the belief that so many problems can be solved technically.  New tools, technologies, etc., are no substitute for basic managerial understanding and discipline.  Software projects are quite possibly the most volatile kind of project done today.

--

* Disclaimer: I'm a young programmer who's only been suicidal once during a software project.

** Our estimation methods suck and suck hard.  COCOMO (I/II), function points, etc., just don't cut the mustard.

H. Lally Singh
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Yes!  Can't say how many times fellow programmers have turned on me for "not being true to my calling," when it seems like all they really mean is that they only respect masochistic Dilbert clones.  (While my masochism has survived the years in the real world mostly intact, I'm nothing like the Dilbert clone I graduated college as anymore.)

I am more than just a programmer.  If that makes some overworked, overstressed victim of technology consider me a lesser being, I'll survive.  But he may not.  And the software industry I want to be part of may not happen while he and the thousands like him create a bubble-level ridiculous employment environment.

Mikayla
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Ditto, bored bystander.

Bob Ng
Thursday, October 30, 2003

I must be reading the wrong board.

To me, BB's "conclusions" are arrived at through a *cynical* reading of the posts here. But IMHO there is a lot of good advice given that is contrary to his "foundations" - suggestions that one should NOT "just put up with it", to figure out how to solve a problem and get it fixed, etc, etc.

Go read the thread where a guy was asked to take his cellphone on vacation - the overwhelming response was various shades of "no." Doesn't sound like a victim mentality to me.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bicycling.  That's all you really need to know.

Hey look, anyone who is a developer or in the technical field after 20 years is going to be both jaded and and survivor of some sort.  So what?  Somehow that is equated with lower social status or needs improvement?  Screw that. 

Hell, screw this.  What is JoS?  Its a place to vent.  Its a subtitute for kicking the cat, and I won't feel bad about it.  If you think its more than that - you're taking yourself way too seriously.

Why did I like EE (yes, EE, not CS) because it was fun.  Ham radio was fun, and being a developer is fun.  If it were't fun, I wouldn't be doing it.  If you think software is about making loads of money - you'd do better getting an MBA.  The odds are much better.

So have a hell of a lot of fun.  You don't have to arrive at any particular hour, you don't have to carry a bunch of tools - so you can ride a bike to work.  So have fun, and if its not fun, find something else to do.

Above all, quit whining.  I just turned 42 this month, and still having a hell of a lot of fun

nat ersoz
Thursday, October 30, 2003

"You don't have to arrive at any particular hour"

I was with you right up until this.

Not only do I have to arrive at a particular hour, I have to wear certain clothes and schedule my lunch at a certain time and ...


Thursday, October 30, 2003

What a ridiculous collection of straw men.  Troll, anyone?

Michael Eisenberg
Thursday, October 30, 2003

I'm not exactly saying that "victim mentality" is the only aspect of "stinkin' thinkin'", although that's certainly part of it.

I am saying that honest self-examination in our field is shortcut by various kinds of demagoguery: elitists, "survivors", and various other kinds of posturing seem to be more part of the discussion on boards like this than for other areas of business. And, asking another person in this industry "I'm at my wit's end, what should I do" is generally asking (begging) to be insulted.

One example of this (many to be found) are the frequent rants of a certain individual here on JOS who has stated that he has retired from the SW industry. When someone states (to the effect) that the results to be gained don't appear to be worth the effort, this person blasts the other poster with a vitriolic spew of venom that amounts to character assasination, with claims of laziness, poor character, entitlement thinking, etc. Now, it strikes me as ironic that someone who has essentially voted themselves out of this field with their feet is *always* ready to insult the honor and parentage of someone else who is on the precipice of the same decision...

I post to these boards mainly for catharsis, and some commiseration. The commisseration is often tainted by the tendencies we're discussing. I read these boards also to get a barometric reading of areas of concern to myself and my own career.

The last thing I ever do is take the "tail end of the bell curve" value judgements of individuals here very seriously, although a really hot, nasty flame war is fun from time to time.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, October 30, 2003

To clarify, "straw men" is idiomatic English for ascribing opinions to others when nobody has actually espoused them, then attacking these supposed opinions.  I certainly don't mean to call any of my esteemed colleagues who posted to this thread names!

Michael Eisenberg
Thursday, October 30, 2003

BoredB,

In no way contrue my comments to be targeted in any way whatsoever.  When I find that cat, there is going to be hell to pay...

nat ersoz
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bored, the problem is that programming is just about the only high expertise occupation whose practitioners work mostly as employees rather than as independent professionals.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bored,

I think there is a lot of truth in your rant.

A couple of causes:
1) Companies tend to promote sucessful techies to managers. The Peter Principle applies. This goes along with the comment on estimates and schedules.

2)Geeks in general have been proved to be missing key social skills. Some of the most talented technical people that I know have the worst people skills. They are their own worst enemies in the social/political/management heirarchies in the office.

pdq
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Two things:

Nat, no offence taken. We'll have to agree to rumble over something else. And my cats are just fine. ;-)

>> Bored, the problem is that programming is just about the only high expertise occupation whose practitioners work mostly as employees rather than as independent professionals.

WOW - you said a mouthful. Excellent observation.

Strawman assertion coming: the mentality of most SW dev people is a combination of college professor elitism combined with blue collar, working class resentment over being shortchanged in life.  We *know* how the world could be better for us (and even for the people we work for) but our opinion is regarded as low as the grounds maintenance guy  - maybe even lower.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Very well articulated Bored.

And I think everyone has taken everything too seriously.

sedwo
Thursday, October 30, 2003

"Bored, the problem is that programming is just about the only high expertise occupation whose practitioners work mostly as employees rather than as independent professionals."

Very well stated.  What baffles me is that although programmers are intelligent in one area (programming), programmer arrogance leads to ignorance in other areas of professional development.  Other established professions have standard body of knowledge, advance educational requirements, accreditation, professional societies etc. 

If programmers have such little respect for their profession why would others respect it.  If programmers want to be treated as professionals, they should act/be professionals.

Cletus
Thursday, October 30, 2003

This is about to go against everything that Bored stated, but what the hell, let me be the one to be "torn to ribbons and personally attacked". ;)

I must have been reading a different forum as I've always felt that those comments and writers worth listening always talked about:

* Career is the be all and end all. If you're unhappy in your role, find a better role. From recollection there have been numerous topics and posts about saving a percentage of money and taking breaks, finding a more fulfilling programming stream, or finding something outside of work to make it all worthwhile.

* don't let burn out happen. working 24x7 doesn't help anybody. If you're in that position refer to the point above.

* don't listen to the hype about new technology. Use technology that fits the problem.

* countless hours of pesonal study to stay in this unstable career path. Well, that's HAS come up a lot. Personally, I don't do study. I research what I need when I need it.

* Don't overwork, 24x7 standby, and long hours for nominal salary are your duty. Alot of people have stated that they do, but the replies I remember have been about not accepting that and ways to make a change.

These are the things that I have seen and taken from this board. I haven't run the forum through some topic and response parser so it's all just personally opinions and tainted observations.

Ps. Life's too short not to enjoy the little things.

Jack of all
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Bah, the first point should read "Career is NOT the be all and end all"

Jack.

Jack of all
Thursday, October 30, 2003

My conclusion is that most programmers are personally half satisfied to miserable, but due to peer or self imposed pressure decided a long time ago that beating their heads against a brick wall was the only honorable thing to do. It's kind of a Spartan code of ethics, among an occupational group that never seems to have any profile with anyone outside the field."

I think these issues are faced in any line of work. Given a choice most people would not work if they didn't have to, though I'm sure more than a few programmers would make some sort of software for fun if they didn't have to work.

As you say, it occurs in other occupational groups, though I don't think it's confined to groups that don't have a profile with anyone outside the field.

I think it occurs in all occupations that have a greater worker pool than job pool. I was watching a documentary on dams and when the Hoover Dam was built, it was so easy to replace workers because of the depression that people did amazingly dangerous things, like hang from rock walls on ropes and small wooden seats while jackhammering the wall.

When someone died, they were simply left on the floor because the project had to go on. People were literally lined up waiting for someone to die so they can take their job. Imagine working under those conditions, knowing that your job can be taken away at any time....

No wait, you don't have to imagine it, you just have to read one of the threads on outsourcing overseas.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, October 30, 2003

That whole first paragraph should be a quote...

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Maybe you should add to your list:

* We're great at pointing out the problems, but horrible at coming up with solutions.

Because you've just fit that stereotype perfectly. A beautiful explaination of the problem (and mostly correct too), but not even the hint of a solution.

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, October 31, 2003

Sum Dum Gai, the first step in creating a solution is to know there's a problem, and then to understand what it is. Bored's exposition is a good part of that process.

Cletus, be wary about this professional accreditation thing. There's a difference between looking after your own interests, which is what programmers need to do, and acceding to externally defined measures that imply there's something wrong with programmers and programming.

A lot of the drive behind accreditation comes from hangers-on who want to decide the directions for a profession they have never been able to enter. There would be no benefit to imposing more requirements and more responsibilities if it results in no greater benefits.


Friday, October 31, 2003

I would like to offer my most humble and obvious observations on this matter.

You see if you LISTEN very carefully to what everyone has said about their programming careers, you can hear this:

-  I am coping with my job the best way I know how and I just feel like telling someone how crappy my day was.

-  I'm influencing my work environment in my own small way to facilitate improvement, however it just got too much and my options were to tell you guys about it, or drink myself silly

- I mustn't hate my job that much because I'm still here, but that's only because I havn't checked the classifieds today, and I'm sure that I can find a place where I'm respected and treated like the great resource I am

There's only a small amount of cynicism in my tone, I actually do think that if people look hard enough they can find (or create) an environment that they don't mind (can even enjoy) working in.

But that's just what I think.  I'm not even worthy to be here (I think you would describe me as a "fluffy" programmer) :-)

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

Bored, your story makes a lot of sense to me.
Lots of recognition over here.

We all have some strange attitudes:
It is all right to say your boss is an inflated MBA dombo.
But when you complain too much, you are shooting in your own foot.
Because when he is really such a disaster, why do you work for him?
Most people realise this so they hold their horses a little.

When you do not like your job, you are a loser.
Hey find another job! Or are you afraid to go outside, you with your great intelligence and skills everyone is dying to hire.
You as a tough cookie, hell with them, you are in charge.
Macho thinking, macho talking.
The problem is: after a while you confront everyone in your environment with your superman attitude. You know the tough approach also applies to yourself and that's when you start to accept all kinds of nasty things you do not like. Because even when you are quite confident about your own capabilities, big changes are always risky.

I heard a story:
On a university they had a cruel experiment with a frog.

They threw a frog in a pan with water
of 50 degree Celcius. (quite warm)
What happened: the frog immediately jumped out.

Then they threw the same frog in a big pan with cold water
and placed the pan on a stove. The water got
hotter and hotter until the water boiled.
The frog died in this process.
The fog however did not jump out of the pan
during the cooking.
The same applies to most people,
they stay in their jobs until they are cooked.
So be a bit gentile to your colleques,
they might have reached their boiling point :)

kind regards

John Fisher
Friday, October 31, 2003

I know where you're coming from with the professional standards thing.

It certainly is a problem being an employee, but I would feel far from confident trying to start my own business. I expect hard-core entrepreneur types will now beat me about the head with the Survival Of The Fittest Stick. But I think that a lot of people who have legitimate talents would be unequipped to become entrepreneurs, and I don't think that means we deserve to be downtrodden.

OTOH in the professions, and I admit I don't really know much about this, isn't it possible to set up a practice, and/or join a practice with the ultimate aim of becoming a partner, WITHOUT being a raving entrepreneur?

And isn't this for two reasons: a) you have the credibility, deserved or not, of belonging to a recognized profession with verified standards, and b) there are already structures and procedures in place so that you aren't totally going out on a limb when you try to establish a practice?

I'd genuinely like to know, because it's possible that programmers could learn from the professions in that respect. Ping Philo, you've got a background in law, haven't you?

But then you come up against the barrier of professional standards. Many programmers resist the idea of imposing compulsory standards, often for the very good reason that we know we wouldn't be employed ourselves if we'd had to go through years of expensive study first. I have to count myself in that group. One of the great things about programming IS that you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and succeed with nothing but raw intelligence, perseverance, and someone to give you a chance.

And yet I don't 100% agree with the attitude of some programmers who seem to insist that their assertion that they're l337 haX0rz should be enough for anybody and they don't need no stinkin' standards.

Is there a way we could establish objective standards for a programming profession, but without scaring people off with levels of expense and years of study that would be out of reach of the nonwealthy or nonyoung?

Or is there a system already out there that would work if we signed up to it, but which not enough people will sign up to for it to be worthwhile? (I'm thinking maybe BCS?) If so, is that because of a flaw in that system, or is it because of programmers' love of anarchy?

Finally, is anarchy so much a part of the programmer mindset that disabling it would amount to disabling the putative "profession" of programming itself, so that the whole idea of "professional standards in programming" would cancel itself out, possibly taking us with it?

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, October 31, 2003

Although there's no average programmer that fits exactly all of Bored's characteristics of the community, there's certainly truth there. Before posting, I kept weighing up how to state my case when opening the Life and Career thread, so that no-one could label me with a failed programmer who can't take it, or worse, just a moaner.

As for aspiring to standards, accreditation etc. ... I wonder if this is possible.

It's not possible to standardise development itself - thinking here of 'No Silver Bullet', the multitude of metholodogies, different languages for different purposes.

Plus, a lot of creativity goes into development: we actually enjoy is thinking about the solutions and not being told how to do them.

Now this does not mean a "standardization of the profession" is impossible, because to put in place a formal institution would not need to address these problems. But a charter for that institution might take 537 years to be agreed: what is considered to be necessary for entry and do you have to do something to retain your membership... just for starters.

And then remember that the existing culture - already serving corporate entities - is well established. Those who are really successful in this system might see no need to back a new one. While those who fail, might be concerned that accreditation is burning bridges to the old one.

Shodan
Friday, October 31, 2003

I think we need our own country. Who wants to go buy a plot of land and start buiding underground in Manitoba?

Start a country
Friday, October 31, 2003

Start a country,

I'm from Manitoba and I think that you would find the permafrost somewhat forbidding.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, October 31, 2003

The impression I always get is that IT people, in all their many and varied forms, are less like the classic professions and more like the old tradesmen (or craftsmen).  This includes the devisions based on technology and fine degrees of skill, the contempt for end users and the resentment of management. 

Ask a c++ developer if he does websites and he may be mortally offended.  Similarly years ago calling a stevedore (a skilled trade who loaded ships) a "docker" (an unskilled trade who unloaded ships) was to invite a punch in the mouth.

What I'm not sure about, is whether IT people tend to come from families of tradesmen or it says something more general about skilled people. 

Just for the record , my dad's side of the family were all mechanical tradesmen, mum's were all stevedores, and I'm an all singing all dancing IT generalist at a small organisation.

A cynic writes
Friday, October 31, 2003

[The impression I always get is that IT people, in all their many and varied forms, are less like the classic professions and more like the old tradesmen (or craftsmen).  This includes the devisions based on technology and fine degrees of skill, the contempt for end users and the resentment of management.  ]

I dislike the old "craftsman" analogy, even while I recognize some truth in it. The reason is that calling our profession a "craft" allows developers to cop out on questions like providing reliable estimates, improving quality, repeatable results, etc. Yes, there are craft-like aspects to programming, but there are also engineering-like aspects as well.

One of the reasons some organizations are looking at outsourcing/offshoring is that they figure if they can't control the beast they might as well just dump the problem on someone else. If we want to avoid that, we have to show the people who make decisions that software can be delivered on time, on budget, with acceptable quality. "It's done when it's done" isn't going to cut it.

anon
Friday, October 31, 2003

I'd prefer to be a profession  too - the better money, higher public esteem and professional self-government are clear advantages. 

I wasn't putting forward the opinion that "we are a craft" rather noticing cultural similarities between myself & my peers and my parents & their peers.  It's also worth noting that I'm speaking in a British context and that of the British class system.  My dad's generation became tradesmen by serving an apprenticeship - up to 7 years in some trades - which could provide a barrier to entry just as strong as that of the professions. 

What I am interested in, is whether the similarities say more about our backgrounds or about skilled people in general.  Which has little to do with the value of our skills.

A cynic writes
Friday, October 31, 2003

> What I'm not sure about, is whether IT people tend to come from families of tradesmen or it says something more general about skilled people

My Dad's a plumber. I left school, did the required 5 years apprenticeship and worked with him for 10 years. Whilst doing that I was coding in the evenings. Eventually I jumped ship and became a full time programmer. At the time I was disheartened by the lack of recognition that people had for the skills required to be a good plumber, I got fed up with being tarred with the same brush as all the 'cowboy' builders who ripped people off and didn't do good work... Also, there wasn't the same money in plumbing then as it seems there might be now...

Now I find that I have similar feelings about being a C++ programmer; many people you need to deal with on a day to day basis can't tell a good one from a wannabe. Ho hum.

Len Holgate (www.lenholgate.com)
Friday, October 31, 2003

>Now I find that I have similar feelings about being a C++ programmer; many people you need to deal with on a day to day basis can't tell a good one from a wannabe. Ho hum.

This probably relates to many trades.  But you can't expect laypeople to know the difference between a real programmer and a poser.  The level of fear and reverence regarding the IT industry, because of its complexity, makes it difficult for non IT related persons to spot a fake.

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

> This probably relates to many trades.  But you can't expect laypeople to know the difference between a real programmer and a poser.

Agree, totally. I was just wondering at my naivety when I originally decided that plumbing wasn't for me ;)

Len Holgate (www.lenholgate.com)
Friday, October 31, 2003

I have a story about a frog as well. Well, its a theory actually.

I train frogs to jump on command. Call it a hobby. Anyway. When I tell a frog to jump, it jumps. If I cut off a leg and tell it to jump, it jumps (somewhat less well, I admit). If I cut off a second leg and tell it to jump, it still jumps. This is still the case with the third leg. However when I cut off the fourth leg, the frog goes deaf.

Apropos to nothing in particular
Friday, October 31, 2003

Which part was that, the bit in relation to the sewer lines, or crawling around in roofs?  I have a great deal of respect for plumbers, it's not a pretty job :-)

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

I should have clarified my comment was for Len.

What a horrible frog story :-(

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

My Dad loves drainage work, takes all sorts I guess... I wasn't especially keen. I also saw that he was in his 50s, tired and still working outside in the freezing cold all winter digging up leaking pipes; I didn't want to be like that.

In general I liked the new build stuff and the larger jobs that we did and disliked the small, 'maintaining other people's mistakes', aspect; you'd turn up to fix X, but X should never have been done like that and to fix it properly  you needed to do Y and Z and people often didn’t want to understand or pay for the Y and Z parts. It's possibly worse now, what with the newer Gas regulations in the UK which means you can be called in to fix X but if you happen to see Y you have to stick a sticker condemning the appliance and disconnect it... Makes for interesting discussions with customers. :)

And software's pretty much the same, only I can't stick a "condemned" sticker on a code library or database schema... Still, at least I'm in the warm and I do the heavy lifting with my brain... ;)

I find that I still enjoy doing plumbing and building work for my own projects ( http://www.thecanalbuilding.com/ ) but I have no interest in doing it for other people; sometimes I feel that my interest in software could go the same way, or perhaps I'll finally get off my backside and do the 'produce and sell the application' thing ;)

Len Holgate (www.lenholgate.com)
Friday, October 31, 2003

---"Bored, the problem is that programming is just about the only high expertise occupation whose practitioners work mostly as employees rather than as independent professionals. "------

Together with brain surgeons, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, cartographers, airline pilots, college lecturers, as well as a not inconsiderable proportion of architects, lawyers and accountants.

Don't you mean that programming is about the only high expertise occupation whose practioners never bother to put the brain into gear before opening the mouth?

Stephen Jones
Friday, October 31, 2003

>perhaps I'll finally get off my backside and do the 'produce and sell the application' thing ;)

Know what you mean.  We are at that point now where we have some great applications and are negotiating with clients.  There's a lot of business stuff that goes with that, but at the end of the day you have something to sell, and they need to purchase it.  A little bit daunting, but worth the leap.

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

Sorry TES. It was meant to be a joke. Used to be my favourite when I was a kid :)


Friday, October 31, 2003

It's 1pm in the morning here, please don't mess with my mind.  I'll read it tommorrow, it may make more sense then.

TES
Friday, October 31, 2003

"In general I liked the new build stuff and the larger jobs that we did and disliked the small, 'maintaining other people's mistakes', aspect; you'd turn up to fix X, but X should never have been done like that and to fix it properly you needed to do Y and Z and people often didn’t want to understand or pay for the Y and Z parts. "

That sounds an awful lot like program maintenance, too. :)

MR
Friday, October 31, 2003

>> ---"Bored, the problem is that programming is just about the only high expertise occupation whose practitioners work mostly as employees rather than as independent professionals. "------

>> Together with brain surgeons, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, cartographers, airline pilots, college lecturers, as well as a not inconsiderable proportion of architects, lawyers and accountants.

>> Don't you mean that programming is about the only high expertise occupation whose practioners never bother to put the brain into gear before opening the mouth?

Consider the list of occupations you listed. Every one of them either embodies some collegial aspect of mutual protection, or has some concept of tenure, or otherwise is simply a "job". MEEs have engineering societies; brain surgeons MAY be someone else's employees but are hardly underpaid. As for the rest... lawyers abused? OK, accountants are pretty abusable, but accounting is rote knowledge and accountants aren't expected to work miracles on a day to day basis either.

Programming is an occupation that carries a lot of responsibility and demands a very dense level of knowledge to practice, but is simply and absolutely not respected as a profession, and is almost always amenable to divide-and-conquer tactics by employers. No other occupation with so many requirements and so much built-in obsolescence allows itself to be f*cked with so much.

My original point was that we eat each other for breakfast and lunch and don't practice any aspect of mutual protection.  It's the worst aspects of blue collar and tradesperson mentality combined with the worst aspects of academic elitism.

BTW, that's the answer to the objection that I am exemplifying programmer tendencies to bitch w/o saying anything constructive.

If there's anything I would tell my fellow programmers, it's these things:

-Show some solidarity.
-Quit letting yourself be f*cked with.
-Quit badmouthing people with slightly different experience.
-Wake the hell up and quit worshipping your own tech as a private little masturbatory religion.  Realize that it is simply a means to an end, that it is worthless to most other people and will probably disappear in a few years.
-Protect yourself.
-Then protect each other. (You can't protect ANYONE else when you're too much of a candyassed wimp to protect yourself.)
- When you're asked for the moon and the stars, stick to reason, and don't let yourself be railroaded.
- Demand that people in other business roles treat you and your person with respect, not contempt.

Almost every one of these actions arise from healthy self-respect and self esteem. 

And if almost nobody in this occupation exercises self respect in the real world, then it becomes a *grave* liability to be the one person who sticks out because you won't be pushed around.

A real problem is that programmers gripe and yet are oblivious to these concepts. They talk a great game and fold under any pressure.  So the miserable coder who is pushed around takes it out on peers.

As soon as I "feel" as established and respected as a lawyer or brain surgeon, I'll let you know. Expect to wait awhile.

Bored Bystander
Friday, October 31, 2003

BTW -- if you put a frog in a pot and slowly raise the temperature, it *will* eventually jump out.

The whole thing is just another urban legend.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, October 31, 2003

Bored,

I'm getting 70's flashbacks. Maybe flashback isn't exactly the right word. ;-)

Anyway, I have a friend who's a doctor. Not a brain surgeon, but a pedatriction. He works for a large healthcare organization and has a quota on how many patients he has to see a day. It works out to one every 15 minutes.  He has similar feelings about being abused in his job.  Doctors are being squeezed too. About the only good thing I can say on his behalf is that his job probably won't be outsouced to India any time soon.

So, it's not just programmers.

Having said that, I basically agree with your post.

pdq
Friday, October 31, 2003

"As soon as I "feel" as established and respected as a lawyer or brain surgeon, I'll let you know. Expect to wait awhile. "

You guys are goofs. This is what I don't understand. These "What can WE do about our shitty profession" posts are all about some weird professional "RESPECT." I could give a fuck about respect. I just want to make more MONEY.  These threads never end up with a lively discussion about how to "consistently make more than $300K." It all ends with "we need to form a UNION to get the RESPECT we deserve, i.e. the same respect as a lawyer or a brain surgeon." 

First of all, unless you are living in some alternate dimension bizarro world, most non-lawyers view lawyers as parasitic greedy scumbags who will invoice you for answering the phone. Second of all, I'm not sure how a professional organization will increase individual respect AT ALL. I never hear any stories of mothers with tears of pride and joy streaming down their cheeks, breathlessly saying "I'm so proud of RZ, he finally made it into the Pipefitters Local 351". 

But then again, I don't care about respect. I just care about my billing rate. That is one of the reasons I got into this business. The fact that I can charge a lot, and the fact that before I was involved with the business aspects, I was already a COMPUTER NERD. Yes, a COMPUTER NERD.

Folks, do you not remember that computer programmers are first and foremost COMPUTER NERDS? It is sort of hard to re-build some imagined "respect" for your role in life when there is already a well defined stereotype: THE COMPUTER NERD.  Now, people have computers. And they have to do stuff with them. And, suprising as it may seem, they often try to find a COMPUTER NERD to do this kind of stuff, because those COMPUTER NERDS ARE GOOD WITH THE COMPUTERS. And if they are the right people, and you know what you are doing, (and often even if you don't really know what you are doing) you can just say "sure I'll do that it will cost about XXXXXXX.XX" and the people will say "THANKS!" and you probably won't get invited over to the CEOs yacht on the weekend but you will receive the check and you can use it to buy more computers, platinum hub caps, round the world plane tickets, or WHATEVER YOU WANT. You also get the advantage of NOT HAVING TO HANG AROUND WITH ALL THE OFFICE FUCKOS WHO GIVE A FUCK ABOUT "PROFESSIONAL RESPECT."

rz
Friday, October 31, 2003

Where all this whining about "respect" comes from, I have no idea. I imagined a scenario. For examples sake, let's use the example of a young girl named "yasime bystander" (YB). Yasmine is 10 years old. She is in her 4th grade class. It is career day, when other children's parents  She purposely arranged to sit at the back of the group, in hopes that the teacher will not notice her.

First off, Billy, the son of the local Tax Attorney, goes to the front of the class. He explains that his father helps rich people avoid taxation by creatively checking off different boxes on various forms, and filling in different sums here and there on said forms. Bravo! shouts the class. A young girl missing one of her front teeth from an unfortunate playground accident, says "When I grow up, I want to be a Tax Attorney!" The teacher (a trim, 35 year old recent divorcee) shoots Mr. Tax Accountant a flirtatious glance. Mr. Tax Accountant returns the glance with a glance of his own, however his glance says "Miss, you are a fine woman, but I am a well respected tax attorney, I hope you understand that I must decline your flirtations out of professional obligation." And she does understand, because he is a well respected tax attorney. He walks back to his seat, and gives the young girl a "Tony the Tax Accounting Tiger" coloring book, encouraging her future dream.

During the remainder of the class period, other respected professionals and trades persons present their occupations to the sea of wide-eyed youngsters. There is a pipefitter, a longshoreman, a physician's assistant, the regional manager for all the local GAP stores, an occupational therapist. Each member of each occupation brings cheers from the class, and the male professionals each elicit winks from the teacher. However, as much as poor Yasmine Bystander wanted to hide herself from the teacher, the rest of the children had already presented their respectable parents, and the list of presenters had been exhausted. It was Yasmine's turn.

The teacher asks, "Yasmine, where is your father?" She replies "oh, even though it is only Tuesday, my father has already had to work 72 hours this week. He is either still at work, or sleeping under his desk, as he often does." The teacher replies "How awful. However, your father must have an incredibly important job, if he is required to work so many hours. He must be a commercial airline pilot, or perhaps a brain surgeon. Which one would it be?"  Yasmine becomes very quiet. She considers making up a lie... "he's a CIA agent...no wait...he's an executive chef" but she is too upset to concoct a good story - her mind is blanking out. She is trying to hold back the tears. She says, very softly "My father....*sob*...he's....an IT PROFESSIONAL."  The class, students and parents alike, collectively gasp. There is another moment of silence. The children start laughing, taunting poor yasmine. "YOUR DAD'S A COMPUTER NERD!" The professional mothers in the class have looks of sympathy for the child on their faces, which fluctuate with looks of disgust and contempt when they imagine what kind of horrible father she has.  The teacher tries to assume control of the class. She wonders if there is something she can do to assist this poor girl. Call the state social services, perhaps? Maybe the girl could be put in a foster home? The Tax Accountant offers Yasmine a coloring book. Yasmine's sadness and embarrassment are temporarily assagued. But she begins to seeth with contempt for her father. This wasn't the first time society had spurned her for being the daughter of an IT professional, but it would be the last. At lunch, she slipped one of the butter knives into her backpack, and began to formulate a solution.

rz
Friday, October 31, 2003

Stephen Jones, while there is a proportion of architects, lawyers and accountants who work as employees, their status, salaries and degree of control over their work are buttressed by the existence of a separate structure of independent firms controlled by those professions.

The existence of the separate firms ensures that salaries, especially for experienced practitioners, are quite high. For example, to poach a (good) partner from a law or accounting firm, you have to offer a sign-up around $1 million plus a salary that's very high.

The existence of the professional firms also ensures that many aspects of those professions are run in ways that suit those professions, rather than business managements.

Brain surgeons work as consultants to the hospitals, I thought, and their incomes are pegged to be higher than that of GP's. See above.

Pilots are employees, that's true, but for some reason exercise very high control over their job. Perhaps it's the strong air force background.

Engineers are the one group that's like programmers.


Friday, October 31, 2003

Fernanda Stickpot, lots of programmers have in fact gone through the years of study, or alternative years of experience that are equivalent.

Again, as I mentioned to Cletus, you should not get tied up in the idea that "professional standards" are to lift standards in programming. Their main value is to restrict work to people who have put in the investments, and prevent undercutting. That's what happens in other occupations.


Friday, October 31, 2003

A few words about "respect".

First, I treat respect or lack thereof as a symptom more than a goal in itself. If other occupations, business managers, recruiters, etc do not respect us (either personally or as a group), that tells me that we lack certain important attributes of a real profession, either individually or as a group.

Money - you can't eat respect, true. But widespread flippant attitudes and comments toward SW people indicate trashed earning power, weak ability to find work, and poor PR about our field. Again, respect is a barometer of deeper causes and issues.

Lastly, what about quality of life? It gets to be a grind to work for companies and for individuals who *do* pay but who don't really consider your opinion or judgement to be of any consequence unless it's involved directly in hands-on labor, shutthefuckupandthankyouverymuch.

I don't look for anyone to kiss my ass. But it's been quite difficult for me to find even a grudging degree of respect for past accomplishments. With other professional occupations, deferential respect is accorded almost blindly in advance.

Just my opinion...

Bored Bystander
Friday, October 31, 2003

Oh, yeah, two more things.

There's just too many programmers. I think there have always been too many programmers, even going back 10+ years.

And too many people in general looking for the proverbial "good salaried office job with an established company", who are willing to lick any boot that comes along. Programming almost always epitomizes that mentality. 

Bored Bystander
Friday, October 31, 2003

Are you guys talking about two different kinds of respect?

Personally I don't mind if general people 'out in society' accord me less respect than, say, a doctor.

But they will respect my opinion when I say that the deadline they want to dictate to me is not achievable unless we sacrifice some of the project scope.  That is professional respect.  If they don't give it, then I will deal with the matter in a professional fashion, which does not include excessive overtime.  (This is just an illustration.)

So you can see, rz, that the teacher may not flirt with me, but I will be there with my daughter.  I think this is what Bored is talking about?  Not sure.

Scot
Friday, October 31, 2003

I still think you guys are in some sort of alternate universe.

"For example, to poach a (good) partner from a law or accounting firm, you have to offer a sign-up around $1 million plus a salary that's very high."

This is perhaps true for 1% of all law or accounting firms. If that! I've never heard of ANY accountant at any level getting a 1 million dollar sign up, or making a salary anywhere close to a million dollars.

Where are you getting those numbers from? You can get a look at what lawyers actually make at http://careers.findlaw.com.  Here is the base salary hours per dollar worked for law firms in manhattan:

http://www.infirmation.com/shared/search/payscale-compare.tcl?city=New%20York&usps_abbrev=NY&base_per_hour_p=t

So it appears, before you make partner, the most anyone makes is around $100/hr. After 8 years. In Manhattan. The average pay of lawyers is less than $80K per year. There are some insanely rich lawyers. I would propose a theory that there is the same percentage of insanely rich programmers. That is, about 1%. Or less.

rz
Friday, October 31, 2003

"The "best" code in this vein is written around the platform that assures you that you have absolutely no idea what a programming statement will do in the real world."

This statement is so brilliant I can't even speak to it. I didn't agree with everything BB had to say, but man this was dead on.

sell out
Friday, October 31, 2003

You missed the Part 2 of RZ story:

Billy, the son of a tax lawyer and Mary the daughter of a doctor are consoling Tabitha Rz.  Seems that Tabitha Rz can no longer attend the nice prestigous school that her dad was able to afford with his "high billable" hours.  Tabitha goes on to explain to her friends that she overheard mommy and daddy talking that daddy's job had been "outsourced".  Billy, the ever sharp kid, explained to tabitha that "outsourcing" meant that her dad was being replaced by someone who would work for cheaper.  Tabitha asks her friends if that had ever happened to their dad's.  Mary replies, "Heavens no that would never happen to my dad.  My dad is job is very important."  Billy replies, "Not my dad, but it happend to my cousin Tommy's dad, who was a programmer.  He was replaced with some college dropout that they call a 'Hacker'" .  Tommy's dad didn't finish college either.  He said college degree was not necessary because he was smart enough to make it on his own.  Like how far he had gotten with out a degree".  Tabitha asks "Billy, are you afraid that your dad would be replaced with a 'hacker'?"  Billy replies, "Naw, my dad is to smart for that.  Anyways, he belongs to somethng called the State Bar Association.  They look out for my dad and would never let something like that happen."  Mary responds "My daddy belongs to the AMA, and they look out for him too.  They would not let my dad's job be 'outsourced'."  Billy and Mary ask Tabitha rz, "Doesn't your dad belong to some association?"  No, but he's always on the computer on something called "Joel On Software".
Weeks pass by and Tabitha Rz and her family move in with her grandparents and Daddy Rz is now working in the computer section of Best Buy.  But, the story repeats again, this time daddy Rz is being outsourced from bestbuy.  Looks like he is being replaced by some highschool dropout who likes to play with computers in his sparetime.  Daddy Rz, fustrated, decides he may go back and finish college.  This time he decides that get a degree in plumbing.  At least plumbers are treated with more "RESPECT"!

Cletus
Friday, October 31, 2003

Cletus, you're killing me! Stop! ;-)

Bored Bystander
Friday, October 31, 2003

Actually, Tabitha RZ is going to a completely different private school, using the money daddy RZ put into a college savings plan 4 years ago during the dot-com boom when Daddy RZ made twice as much money per year than Grandpa RZ, the general practice physician.

Since Daddy RZ has been going to grad school in art history part time, when his network of tech executives in the Big Metropolis had no more work for him, he decided to get a job teaching art history at the local private liberal arts college in his home town, and start a coffee shop with his two high school buddies who happen to be the town motorcycle mechanic and a comic book illustrator. They also build a big skateboarding ramp in the back of the comic book illustrators house, and have a leisurely middle age, due to the fact that Daddy RZ read a financial planning book in high school and decided on some goals in life early on.

rz
Friday, October 31, 2003

Actually, the thread started well, but is descending into a "my dicks bigger than your dick"  type conversation.

I know what you mean Bored, sometimes I don't like my work, typically when I've been at it for a long time without a decent break. Then I start something new and suddenly it's fun again.

Feelings of being undervalued and vunerable cannot be solved easily. I'm guessing that what really worries you (us) is that we will be devalued to such an extent that we won't be able to get a decent wage or afford a decent standard of living. Fear, plain and simple.  I currently work for a large multi national, as a developer, but at the moment I'm working in a business department, not the IT department, and I think that everybody feels equally vunerable, when you strip away all the bullshit most people are in the same boat.

It's just a normal fear Bored, and, not wanting to sound too philosophical, the answer lies within.

Realist
Friday, October 31, 2003

rz, you want to try dealing with the real world instead of thinking you get everything from the internet. My figures for salaries stand.

Bored, the way I see it, law and the other arrangements long ago created their walled gardens that deliver benefits to those who enter. As a result, it attracts the ambitious and the reasonably smart, and keeps out the illiterate as well.

Personally, I would really value such an arrangement in programming. Morons keep out.


Friday, October 31, 2003

Programmers will first shout that they are so good that they don't need any "walled garden" to protect their careers, while at the same time they secretly shudder because they realize they wouldn't be good enough to meet the standards required to get within the "walls" if they existed.

T. Norman
Friday, October 31, 2003

"First, I treat respect or lack thereof as a symptom more than a goal in itself. If other occupations, business managers, recruiters, etc do not respect us (either personally or as a group), that tells me that we lack certain important attributes of a real profession, either individually or as a group. "

Well, just to comment on this generally from my experience:

I really have found that programmers and IT people are viewed as not having _any_ working definition of "business," and in fact the term "business" is thrown around a lot in the faces of IT staff as a form of elitism.

There's really a lot of jive floating about in this industry about how "business" is challenging, and "technology" is easy, and therefore the "real" challenges lie on the business end and the rest is just labor-intensive muck.

Hence railroading, hence the lack of respect:  technology is a problem that's already been solved.  There's no need to discuss it. 

The attitude I percieve is this:

Having technology problems?  Well, just go fix them, dolt!  We're working on "business" here, which you clearly don't understand!

There's a lot of industry literature about "technologists" who prefer technology to the business, and following from that, industry leaders feel the need to corral IT professionals around like so many cattle since they clearly don't understand "business" (which is a vague, undefinable term when used in its derogatory context; it's just "everything that management percieves as not easy").

Frankly, what makes me tired in the industry is not overtime.  If I were, God willing, self-employed, I'd work 80 hours/week with no problem.  What irritates me is the persistent idea that software is just a black box:  money in, technology out, because technology is easy.  And within that black box are people who are impervious to anything outside, and must be whipped into shape.

For all the high-minded talk in software engineering circles about the value of requirements engineering, I would like to point out that "lack of requirements" is not the leading problem in software development.  I believe it is actually the prevalent idea that so-called technologists don't even "percieve" requirements; we're just all here to play around with computers.

Surely, the programmer attitudes prevalent during the dot-com bubble have exaggerated this problem.  But it's ultimately the fiduciary duty of managers to see past bullshit preconceptions, and respect their professional hires for the sake of getting what they pay for:  value. 

On another note, I think programmers and IT professionals are hampered by our high salaries.  We are too rich too young, and get locked into a standard of living that is not amenable to taking risks.  And risk, ultimately, is what leads one to a position of power, because it's at the heart of most entrepreneurship.  On a more basic level, it's also a key element of being able to speak up to one's superiors.

Generally, management has risen to a position of high income by taking risks and being heard.  Software development is still basically a career that starts at the bottom with a high salary, and so one doesn't need to "be heard" or instigate change to better one's financial position.

So at the bottom, there aren't any real incentives for change in this industry.  Yet.

I think when the job situation worsens, and it will, the volume will increase.  If not, then perhaps this industry deserves to fade away.

it_ranter
Saturday, November 01, 2003

> the term "business" is thrown around a lot in the faces of IT staff as a form of elitism.

Spot on. It's this curious idea that programming expertise is mutually exclusive of other expertise, when it often enhances it. Again, it's one of the challenges to be assertive when necessary.

I think there's also a trend going on where more narrow technical people are being preferred and hired - contrary to the stories in the magazines - and that this is really part of a dumbing down of the discipline.

Greenspun has a good take on this somewhere. Programmers used to earn more than managers; now they earn less and balance has been restored.


Saturday, November 01, 2003

Rich too early? Not sure that's common. Certainly the average starting salary for a recent graduate in an IT field is roughly equal to that of one in any other field. If we're ignoring the few years of the .COM boom that is.

The salary growth in IT is fairly low compared to some other fields though.

I agree with the perception that technology is easy though. There's certainly a culture of "this is the business requirement, make it work", where IT people are given no say on whether the requirement is even reasonable or practical because what would they know about business?

Personally, I've seen it in action when raising objections to a very poorly thought out feature by being told "that's not how business people think". Yet that was merely the best guess of the manager, no scrap of research was done on the feature. Managers always know the business better than the plebs in IT, that's the perception. If an IT person ever says otherwise, it's obviously because they're misguided.

I think it's right to compare that to doctors and lawyers, or even a plumber. If the doctor tells you that you need to take medicine, you might get a second opinion, but if that doctor also agrees, you damn well do it. Same with law and even plumbing. But if a programmer tells you that a feature is unworkable, you just assume it's because they're a computer geek and don't understand how business works and make them implement it anyway.

I think that kind of respect is inevitably tied to monetary compensation. If you don't trust someone's professional judgement, it shows you think any chump on the street can do their job. So you'll get any cump on the street to do their job.

Ultimately that worries me more than money. I don't really care if being in IT means you earn less than a doctor or a lawyer. I do care that is seems to mean you're treated as ultimately a code monkey, regardless of your skill or talent. And that's you're lumped in with people who ultimately aren't even fit to even be within 10 feet of a compiler, because some manager who can barely even find the on button of a computer saw fit to hire them because they wrote a pretty resume.

Sum Dum Gai
Saturday, November 01, 2003

it_ranter,

I've coined a term for the syndrome of which you're speaking. I call it "business earnestness". The behavior of management and non technical business people acting worried, unsmiling, nervous, and/or just plain earnest. The attitude projected is basically intimidation. The managers into "business earnestness" behaviors want to impress upon underlings the heavy, wearying load that they constantly and selflessly carry. And of course, in this scheme, the programmer is just some jackoff off the street playing in his immature stupid little sandbox who is paid to play and twiddle nonsense.

Sum dum gai, spot on:

>> I think that kind of respect is inevitably tied to monetary compensation. If you don't trust someone's professional judgement, it shows you think any chump on the street can do their job. So you'll get any cump on the street to do their job.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, November 01, 2003

Two quotes on repect

1.Respect is earned, not taught.

2. Respect yourself first before others respect you. (Translated from Chinese)

Rick Tang
Saturday, November 01, 2003

Bored Bystander:

"Business earnestness" is indeed a pithy and accurate term for what I've described.

And on the point of "business" versus "technology:"

A businessperson who seeks to create castles in the sky that provide no value to customers, in pursuit of his own egotistical vision, is no less a "technologist" than an IT professional who "plays with computers."  In fact, I think the entire dot com bubble could be characterized by businessmen-cum-technologists who wanted to "play" with markets, and create companies that provided no value other than their own self-aggrandizement.

The trend in this century has been to turn business into a technology:  a quantifiable science based on turnkey operations.  Yes, there are soft skills and judgement calls and leadership involved; but that's how it is with all technology.  IT professionals, for instance, don't just type all day.

What IT people need to reject, wholesale, is the idea that they are not businessmen.

It seems like, in academia, progammers have "math envy."  Computer Science is not a "hard science"; and therefore software developers are relegated to the status of wannabe-mathematicians.

And then in the marketplace, there is a sense of "business envy."  IT professionals are not "real businessmen."  Hence our current dilemma.

We should act like businesspeople.  I frankly think that, in large part, that means taking business into our own hands.  This industry is built upon "defection capital"; that is, using the fact that software has a low barrier to entry to become an entrepreneur.  At the very least, more of us should become independent contractors and wreak havok upon the current structure of full-time employment, where loyalty is expected but never earned.

Will that lead to greater offshoring?  Perhaps.  But that will likely happen anyway.  At the very least, we will have more options for advancement in tomorrow's markets by establishing ourselves now, rather than being wage slaves forever.

it_ranter
Saturday, November 01, 2003

I think this is definitely the way things will develop. Good developers will more and more start refusing to accept crap employee roles and employee pay rates.

The popular response will be that outsourcers will fill the gap, but the reality is that they can't and won't. This has already started to dawn on managements.

So when the correction sets in, and managements come looking for intelligent developers to fix the messes, expecting to pay very little, those developers will have become hardened by the treatment they've seen these last few years, and they will apply the screws.

Should be an interesting decade.


Saturday, November 01, 2003

blank, i'm interested in where you are sourcing your salaries. I have three collegaues from college working as lawyers for decent firms in manhattan, and they don't make shit. In fact they are looking at maxing at about $180K a year (which is ok, but not a million dollars, as you suggest) unless they make partner. 

And, the notion that an accountant anywhere, even a partner (unless they are the founder of Ernst and Young) making a million dollars is absurd.

Unless you own the show, you aren't making a million dollars a year, no matter where you are working. The CEO of the division I'm contracting with only makes $290K a year, and he was obtained via a merger.

rz
Sunday, November 02, 2003

Personally, I'd settle for a little extra respect. I don't care if the business people make business decisions about business things. It's when they start making decisions about IT.... they don't ask me, they don't consult me, they just make decisions.

I consulted for a company once. I wander in, I ask "Why do you not have a revision control system?"

"Ah. Them upstairs are trying to decide between CVS or ClearCase. They have been for the last few months..."

"Well, I've used both, I could offer views -- clearcase is expensive, but is the ultimate nuclear weapon of choice. CVS is free and cheerful and will do what needs to be done."

"Ah, well. Grateful for the offer and all, but none of the people on the committee even have a login on any of the development machines and they're not interesting in talking to people who do. We think they're trying to decide which comes in the nicest colour box."

In fact, I'm sort of planning on changing jobs for one with less money and less management..

Katie Lucas
Monday, November 03, 2003

rz, $1 million was the sign-on to poach a partner, not the salary.


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home