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Beards and glasses

The recent "sex" thread reminded me of a comment Joel made once that 0.01% of people can figure out Microsoft ATL programming, and all of them, without exception have beards and glasses. (3/4 of the way down the page)

He even links to a picture that proves his point:

I know it was meant to be humorous, but part of the humor comes from the feeling that it's fairly accurate.

Am I way off base here, or is there some correlation between beards, glasses, and highly technical subjects?

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

ATL -> geek
geek -> more concerned with code than appearance
Less concerned with appearance -> glasses. Because contact lenses require too much maintenance.

I think as Lasik becomes mainstream you'll see the geek->glasses thing go away, since most geeks can afford laser surgery. :-)

I'm not so sure about beards - maybe a counterculture thing, maybe starts as "I don't feel like shaving this week"?


Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Well, I wasn't on the cover of that book, but I did figure out ATL programming. I don't have a beard. I do wear glasses, because contact lenses hurt too much (and cost a small fortune; bad prescription).

Chris Tavares
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

These are the things I KNOW because I have observed them and made a scientific analysis:

VB programmers wear kakis and cheap shirts they got from devcon.

Java programmers wear loose painters pants and have hairdoos like sideshow bob.

C++ programmers wear hiking boots and ride bikes to work.

C programmers have pony tails and links on their hompage to EFF, freedom for Tibet petitions, and the jargon file.

Web Designers wear shiny shirts and buy cars that are way too expensive. They occasionally don horn rimmed glasses and sip crappaccinos.

Marketers are similiar to web designers except they have no actual skills and spend most of the day in FRIENDLY YELLING sessions on the phone.

CEOs are in way over their heads and can only remain cool because they wear the same cool-suits that race car drivers and astonauts wear.

Accountants drive Volkswagen Passats and leave exactly at 5:00 every day with no delays on the way to the car. Any delay will be debited from your account.

Lawyers wear trenchcoats to cover up their shotguns full of whup-ass. Pray you never see one of these.

QA personnel have absolutely no care what so ever about software.

A data entry team member will kill you if you look at them sideways. Be careful of these people. They don't talk much but we know they all hate their jobs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Most excellent post trollbooth.

May I add that AS/400 programmers wear short sleeve button up shirts (with collar), polyester pants (before it was alternative), and bifocals at a minimum.  Often trifocals.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

don't forget:

hardcore wizard unix sysadmins smoke, have tattoos, curse like sailors and generally seem more like they should be working as motorcycle mechanics

bad unix sysadmins go to the renaissance faire, are hugely fat, wear black jeans, elfish boots and a "got root" t shirt

NT sysadmins wear cheap khakis, cheap shirts, and look like guys that coach the church basketball team on weekends

serious network administrators kind of look like NT administrators, only they smoke like the hardcore sysadmins

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

I couldn't grow a full beard if I wanted to, but I do wear glasses....Having someone make incisions into my eye after signing a release form that states "I understand I could go blind from this procedure" doesn't appeal to me very much.

I once worked closely with some Unix folks at a Verio office in Dallas. Their "lair" was a huge dark room with the only light coming from the monitors and the occassional desk lamp. They seemed to be divided into two groups:

1. The fat ones with beards, glasses and suspenders. These were typical older and held more senior positions.

2. Younger ones clad in black, often leather, with tatoos and so many piercings it looked as if they had fallen face first into a tacklebox.

There were one or two that didn't fall into either category, but they were the exception to the rule.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

...hardcore wizard unix sysadmins smoke, have tattoos, curse like sailors and generally seem more like they should be working as motorcycle mechanics

bad unix sysadmins go to the renaissance faire, are hugely fat, wear black jeans, elfish boots and a "got root" t shirt...

This is absolutely frightening!  I KNOW these guys.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

I'm amazed.
I happen to be a C++ programmer, and ride bikes to work. I'm not sure what "hiking boots" are, but I may wear them.
So much for the stereotypes :-)
I should try and meet other C++ programmers, to see what they look like.

Oh, and I used ATL a couple of times - I can grow a beard "on demand".

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Zounds troolbooth, you've really laid it all out there. It's true. All of it.

Tony Chang
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

These are hiking boots by my definition:

I bet you have those type OR a pair of Doc Martens. If I am wrong I will update my stereotype ;-)

I wear Doc Martens btw; all that I said above is total BS but funny anyway. It's wierd how the brain tries to classify people and things into predefined groups.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

A guy that I worked with dubbed the term "fat guy with beard", or eff gee doubleu b (FGWB) - to describe one type of stereotypical hard core techie.

The inspiration for this was the imagery connected with smaller technology company brochures from the mid to late 1980s that showed a krusty, fat, bearded guy (almost always with glasses) glaring back into the camera as he sat in front of a stack of 17 monitors on his desk. The beard *had* to be the bushy, unshaven, uncivilized type that resembled advanced pubic or chest hair - a neatly trimmed goatee doesn't count at all. This kind of "candid workplace photo" inserted into company brochures was always intended to denote technical competency and solidity.

(By contrast, a somewhat larger company brochure of the time would either show a stock photo of white shirted office types in a NASA control center type scene, or some clip art of generic PCs and mainframes with tape reels. The point seemed to be that a larger company was always more than its FGWB staff members.)

It was generally assumed by managements in that time that the fatness, the beard, and the 17 monitors were a sort of preordained set of genetic and behavorial markers that always accompanied high technical competency and seniority. No beard, or normal weight, or relatively few monitors - ALWAYS denoted a lightweight poseur. Absolutely no exception.

And I really think it was true. I don't make this stuff up. I can't.

FGWB Observer
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

[It's wierd how the brain tries to classify people and things into predefined groups.]

It isn't weird at all; that's how the brain works.
Our conscious minds can over-ride the stereotypes to some extent, but the subconscious mind depends on a system of categories, in order to make sense of anything.
The way people dress is really a communication system, and can be studied by semioticians.
Our decisions about clothes and hairstyle result at least partly from our ideas about how we want to be perceived. Even a person who dresses carelessly can be sending a message - "I am too smart to waste time worrying about clothes." On the other hand, careless dressing can mean the person is mentally ill or poor. You have to consider various factors. Also, the stereotypes constantly evolve and change. Long hair on men doesn't have the same meaning now as in the 60s.

The Real PC
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Is there any place in IT for those with the chain-drive billfolds?

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Trollbooth, I must confess that I have hiking shoes (I do not wear them at work though), so your stereotype still holds, as far as I'm concerned.

Actually, my daily shoes look more or less like these :

If you think you're a free individual, don't read JoS forums...

(By the way, same style of shoes for my fellow Java programmers -- and they ride motorcycles).

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

ooh GP those are dangerously close to Dr Martens. I think I might have hit close to the bulls eye on that one. My Doc Martens look very similiar to those.

One of my fellow Java programmers also drove a motorcycle, a Honda Interceptor. So let me make a guess on the type - I am guessing not a Harley but maybe a ricer Harley like a Honda Shadow style cruiser OR a laid back sport bike like a Honda Interceptor. Extreme rice bikes aren't comfortable for long rides so that wouldn't appeal to their sense of logic for an all around value bike BUT they still want to haul ass so somewhere in between.

Some would opt for a BMW, Ducati, or Aprilia simply for the name but not a Java programmer. Indeed those types are reserved for Web Designers and script programmers (asp, php, etc).

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

This is very disturbing. In the last five years (since I entered the IT industry and started programming), I've gained sixty pounds. And I have been thinking seriously about growing a beard lately.

Too Ashamed to Use My Regular Name
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

"Long hair on men doesn't have the same meaning now as in the 60s."

Yikes! Clue me in so I know what I'm projecting! I had a buzz cut by whole life until i met my girlfriend -- she thinks long hair on asian dudes is sexy so I've let it grow out and found out she's not the only one who thinks so -- I get hit on a lot more now, which she finds amusing.

Tony Chang
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Humm... I do web design, multimedia, and C++ but I don't seem to fit any of these stereotypes. I must be that "there's an exception to every rule" person. Being female, I'm already an odd-ball so what the heck! ;)

Wednesday, April 2, 2003


I resemble none of these steriotypes.  I do not wear glasses, have a beard, or dress in any particularly offbeat way.

Maybe I'm just not cool enough.  Maybe this will come in time or something.

But at least I've been to a party where there was more than one non-transvestite and non-scottish guy wearing a kilt. 

flamebait sr.
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

I think the Tolkien has a lot to answer for with regard to all those beards.  They all want to be Gandalf.

I've notices that most of these sysadmins also name there servers after middle earth entities, or possibly Aruthurian legend.

For example, our bearded sysadmin has provided us with Lancelot and Parcifal.  At a previous gig if was Bilbo and Frodo.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 3, 2003

Come to think of it, the generation divide between beard and leathers described above could show when required SF&F reading shifted from Fantasy to Cyberpunk.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, April 3, 2003

sounds you're right again, these Java programmers drive a Honda and a Suzuki.

Friday, April 4, 2003

Yes, hardcore unix sysadmins have tattoos, smoke, wear leather jackets... et al. But how many have tattoos that are unix related? I'm going to be getting my first tatoo soon, and it will decidedly be very unix/linux related (with a dash or perl syntax). Although I am quitting smoking, it contributes to my image of the young wizard (21) with short hair, scruffy beard and able to command all shells to do my bidding at the drop of a dime.

Devin Teske
Friday, February 27, 2004

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