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Who Wants To Be a Billionaire Coder?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the will-settle-for-billionaire dept.

Programming 318

theodp writes "Computerworld reports that 60-year-old billionaire John Sall still enjoys cranking out code as the chief architect of JMP ('John's Macintosh Project'), the less-profitable-but-more-fun software from SAS that's used primarily by research scientists, engineers, and Six Sigma manufacturing types. 'It's always been my job to be a statistical software developer,' explains SAS co-founder Sall. So if you didn't have to work — and had more money than George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — would you be like Sall and continue to program? And if so, what type of projects would you work on?"

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Grow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480499)

I would grow weed.

Re:Grow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480553)

My cock grows when I think about using linux.

Re:Grow (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480585)

No Jail For Pot [nojailforpot.com]

Re:Grow (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481265)

You can do that without a billion dollars. Which goes to show you, there's nothing more useless than a billion dollars.

Now, 10 million dollars, that's PLENTY useful. All kinds of shit you can do with 10 million dollars. None of them worth doing more than once though.

But growing weed is free, and it will always be free.

heh. (2, Insightful)

SinShiva (1429617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480511)

PulseAudio.

Re:heh. (2, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480823)

PulseAudio

Something so easy? With all that time and money, I would expect you to take on an challenge of Olympian difficulty.

Me, I'd offer to fix Slashdot's CSS.

(in before "web design isn't programming")

Re:heh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480979)

We'd all be a lot happier if you fixed the sites server side page code.

Open Source (5, Interesting)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480513)

I would work on open source alternatives to software which currently only has good commercial options. Anything which I didn't have the knowledge to work on myself (artwork, interface design, low level algorithms, security...), I would hire experts to work on.

Re:Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481069)

I would write programs for me. In fact, I would hire programmers to write all the crazy programs I want, that no one else would ever care about.

I have and idea for a web app development product I'd like to write.

There are a few games I would like to write.

It's all about time. I've never had the time. I could trade dollars for other peoples time.

It is more than just code for me, things like graphics get in the way as I'm particularly skilled at the pretty images that mean so much in a game.

I'm not sure I'd even work on code that much, but would direct others to do the things I'm interested in using, but not crafting.

Who needs to be a billionaire? (5, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480517)

I quit my 100 hour a week job and picked something a little bit less stressful. Now I'm only working 35 hours a week and don't program for a living. I live 5 minutes from work. I have plenty of time to do whatever I want including coding. I hate this attitude that you need to have more money that many small countries in order to do what you want. There are many routes to happiness. Programmers are supposed to be good problem solvers -- find a solution that works for you!

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (5, Insightful)

Fourier404 (1129107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480547)

Programming something I'm not particularly fond of is better than spending 35 hours/week I'm probably even less interested in. Obviously you have to put in those hours in order to make a living, and the point of this article is "if you didn't have to do it for a living (i.e. you already have more money than you need), what would you be programming?", not "what would you do with a tons of money?"

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480581)

I feel you are deliberately misinterpreting the question, and changing to subject to congratulate yourself on your life. The entire premise is set up to eliminate one common consideration in evaluating the many paths to happiness, and then asking if coding is in the remaining options.

For me, a person who also lives close to work and does 35-40 hours a week in a job I'm happy with and well-paid for, the answer is...no. I would probably not code. I probably wouldn't go back to school for physics, either, but that's at least in the realm of possibility and would be above coding on the list of things to do, despite the difference in time commitments (I mean, I might put together a batch file or something for myself to make my life slightly easier, but no significant coding).

The vision in my head is of an eternal weekend, and it is a glorious one. The only thing that could persuade me to code again would be the prospect of meeting people that I have something in common with. Like many slashdotters, I'm not naturally very social.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (5, Funny)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480755)

You should definitely work on the Linux kernel then.

Lots of polite discussion with people of similar interests.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (4, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481239)

It's strange. Eternal weekends start to get boring after a while. You start running out of stuff to do. Then you don't do anything. Then a month down the line, you wonder what just happened to the month before.

Having a job isn't simply about money. It's also about the accomplishment, and feeling accomplished. Some people loathe their jobs. That's unfortunate. But for those who do something they like doing, that they feel is worthwhile doing, the money's just icing on the cake. Or it's really, an extra bonus for what they'd be doing for free anything.

What happens to people on an eternal weekend after a while is an accelerated mid-life crisis. Life itself becomes meaningless.

As to answer the question myself, I probably wouldn't code if I didn't have to. I have other interests and hobbies that I'd be interested in pursuing. It's nothing terribly grand, mind you, just things that I'd rather be doing that's not coding.

Re:Who needs to question a billionaire? (0, Offtopic)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481261)

I feel you are deliberately misinterpreting the vision in my head: of an eternal glorious thing that could code people, Like many slashdotters I'm not.

Say what Hamlet?

A Billion super lotto scratchers and the important question is "To code or not to code?"

"Is there a pulse?" Great Dork from York!

Big blue balls for wee willy winky's tiny slinky? It comes to this?

Over achievers? Or just under developed?

No wonder they have so little...time...on their hands...

"Alas poor, (your dick) I knew him swell!"

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (3, Interesting)

NoName Studios (917186) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480715)

Same kind of deal here as well. I left my old stressful job and went with one that has me working the standard forty hour work week.

Friends ask why I would continue to code outside of work, since that is all I do all week, especially with the minimal budget I live on.(I could quit and live for a few years before I ran out of savings.) They think I should relax and enjoy myself.

Why? I come up with ideas I wish to try out and that is how I enjoy myself. Most end up in a folder of projects that may never get used again. In some cases a friend comes to me and we start working on a project together. This has led to successes such as a web site that received around one million hits within the first month.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (5, Insightful)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480747)

you don't need a billion dollars to be happy, but if he loses his job, he still could continue doing whatever he wants to do for the rest of his life, and his children (if he has any) don't have to work a single day of their lives. You might be happy, but you're happiness hangs on the state of the company you work for. If they start downsizing, or go completely bust, you could say goodbye to your 35 hour/week job that's 5 minutes away from home. I don't know about you, but my happiness being beholden to a third party I have no control over adds a certain level of stress which eats away at that happiness. A billion dollars to relieve that stress would be nice.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480951)

That's what most people who are not billionaires (and some billionaires) think. In reality, you'll only be replacing your problem with a billionaire's problems. Admittedly, money makes things easier, but it's really the attitude that matters. It is also how you define your happiness. Since we are all social animals, your "happiness" will always be dependant on some third party regardless whether you have money or not. In the above example, if GP lost his job, he can always find another one, or move somewhere he can find one within 5 minutes of his home. There are more options available to people who are open-minded.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480997)

"and his children (if he has any) don't have to work a single day of their lives."

Why is that a good thing? Paradoxically, in America, for a country that works as many as as it does, which is a lot for a developed nation, it hates the idea of working. Having a job and/or doing what you love gives meaning and purpose to many people's lives. The key is to do what you love, not stop working altogether. There are people who are in situations where they don't have to work, i.e. trust fund babies, and some of them are just miserable because they don't feel the need to finish anything. Simply finishing something or accomplishing something often have psychological boosts that outweigh the market value of the task itself.

Re:Who needs to be a billionaire? (4, Insightful)

DoctorPepper (92269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480791)

I totally agree. I used to program for a living, now I'm a middle-ware systems engineer on Unix systems, for a large U.S. corporation. I get to work from home, play in Unix and Linux all day, make a pretty good living, and still code for myself.

Am I a billionaire? hardly. Do I enjoy my life a bit more then I did? Most assuredly.

YES! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480533)

I don't know about what project I'd do, but yeah. I'd keep working for sure. Yes, sometimes it's a big pain, but ultimately there's just so much of not doing anything valuable that one can take. It's why a job where you go in and browse the internet for 8 hours totally suck. You need to do something. Might as well do something you know or you like.

Though, it would be nice just to take any job offered and not have to worry about how much it makes. Likewise, doing some community projects would be equally rewarding.

Wow (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480549)

The man's 60, and the clock is ticking. The number of good years he has left could be 10 or 20, or it could be 1. If you could do anything you wanted, but were sure to die in a decade or two, would you really spend time programming computers? Programming can be fun, but there's more interesting things to do in life.

Re:Wow (5, Insightful)

Sylos (1073710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480595)

To each their own. Yeah, if I had 60 billion dollars and 20 years to spend it on doing things I wanted..I'd travel the world, visit the people, etc. But at the end of the day? I'd log on to check my emails, read slashdot (:o), mod someone flamebait for GP, then wander off and program. Just because someone is wealthy as sin doesn't mean they have to stop enjoying certain things. Programming is fun. No need to stop programming. If anything, it removes the stress from deadlines or certain requirements and lets you program completely on your own terms. It would mean that all those things you ever wanted to do, you could do. You could wander off to 'theoryland' and think things through without someone breathing down your neck asking for "results" or a deadline that forces a hack job. It'd truly let someone do what they wanted.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480745)

You'd really be able to peel yourself away from the tropical island with 10 servants on the clock 24 hours a day to serve you 200 year old wine, your private library larger than Google's (except all in hardcover first editions), baths of gold coins, a private jet with built in casino, and your 200 square foot bed covered with silk sheets and priceless animal furs and dotted with down-fluff pillows to just browse slashdot?

OK I probably would too. I'd do it with the processing power of my private botnet which I paid Microsoft to build into every NT-based OS since NT4.

Nah that isn't right either. TBH I think I would buy a nice, small house in some suburb with FIOS. It'd be mostly bare except for ludicrously expensive art I liked which I'd hang inconspicuously in my bedroom. And I'd have a couple of machines which I'd keep updated. Maybe I'd buy some of those $50,000 cisco clunkers to play around with occasionally. I'd browse slashdot, read wikipedia, and learn everything there is to learn.

And for some reason when I imagine myself rich I see myself doing daily tasks (mail, slashdot, irc) on the very latest MacBook. I just might.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

alexburke (119254) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480993)

You'd really be able to peel yourself away from the tropical island with 10 servants on the clock 24 hours a day to serve you 200 year old wine, your private library larger than Google's (except all in hardcover first editions), baths of gold coins, a private jet with built in casino, and your 200 square foot bed covered with silk sheets and priceless animal furs and dotted with down-fluff pillows to just browse slashdot?

OK I probably would too. I'd do it with the processing power of my private botnet which I paid Microsoft to build into every NT-based OS since NT4.

Nah that isn't right either. TBH I think I would buy a nice, small house in some suburb with FIOS. It'd be mostly bare except for ludicrously expensive art I liked which I'd hang inconspicuously in my bedroom. And I'd have a couple of machines which I'd keep updated. Maybe I'd buy some of those $50,000 cisco clunkers to play around with occasionally. I'd browse slashdot, read wikipedia, and learn everything there is to learn.

And for some reason when I imagine myself rich I see myself doing daily tasks (mail, slashdot, irc) on the very latest MacBook. I just might.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly second this. (The infomation-sponge and CCNA in me both approve, too.)

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481099)

Aye, in fact, my wealth would enable my programming. You can be darn sure that wherever I went, if I wanted access to a computer, I'd have it.

Being in the middle of the African deserts is no excuse to not having a working computer around if you've got a mountain of money and the desire to code.

I would be guaranteed to have a lab (read warehouse) crammed with all the computers I could ever want, and a few dozen extra in case something broke.

The never ending weekend concept is fun, until you try it for more than a few weeks. Then it's boring as hell, especially for people who create as a part of their existence.

I'd never stop working (read: creating and building) I would just build vastly different things.

Re:Wow (1)

Tolkien (664315) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480705)

That's subjective.

Re:Wow (1)

CharlesEGrant (465919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480729)

Well it is a matter of taste, but bear in mind that it doesn't say he's coding 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. He may very well be enjoying some of the more obvious pleasures in life along with his coding. Some folks would happily spend years laying naked on a Tahitian beach drinking Pina Coladas, other folks would find that nice enough for a week or two, but then want to go back something more engaged with world. There is a pleasure and satisfaction all its own in exercising skill, particularly if the product of your skilled work is in high demand from other folks who's work you respect and admire.

Re:Wow (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480735)

"Programming can be fun, but there's more interesting things to do in life."

Maybe he enjoys it? Some people enjoy painting or writing, but I'd hate to spend my entire life writing or painting. And who says he doesn't travel the world and have fun?

Re:Wow (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480773)

If I felt I had a fraction of those finances, to fund and produce the software I always wanted to make, I would spend my last breath trying to do so. Just as I am now, but I'm not quite wealthy enough.

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480859)

I don't enjoy coding all that much but, there is a great deal of problem solving, expressive creativity in the solutions, intense neural stimulation and satisfaction from a well crafted application. Whilst I would not make it my happy, I certainly wouldn't make a blanket statement that it is undesirable. Things are would rate coding far above in terms of qualitative life experience and contributing to society.

Sticking my penis non-reproductively inside as many people as possible.
Aimless global travel, pretending I'm someone special and, deserve to be waited on hand and foot.
Excessive drug abuse, both legal and illegal.
Politics as a satisfaction of ego.
Strutting around with a charitable foundation that only gives away the absolute legal minimum to sustain it's legal status each year.

I admit I really enjoy learning and using new software applications from games, to office suites, CAD, graphics, databases etc. thanks to all those open source coders who enjoy coding and the value it brings to society and sincerely thank you very much indeed.

Re:Wow (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480999)

This guy is obviously statistically speaking deviant.

John Sall! Leave that keyboard and get a life!

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481075)

I've met him. He's a nice guy, and he does do other things with his life.

Jim Goodnight, the other co-owner of SAS Institute, also still codes.

No. (5, Funny)

pizza_milkshake (580452) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480555)

No, I would buy a nice, quiet island out in the middle of nowhere. And blow it up.

Re:No. (5, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480687)

Australia has a glorious future ahead of it.

Re:No. (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480819)

Oppenheimer, is that you?

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481031)

Oppenheimer, is that you?

"Nope."
- The Ghost of Edward Teller, Posting as AC

Hmm. Buy small island/reef in the middle of nowhere, unilaterally declare sovereignty, and as a non-signatory to the NTBT, my nation would approve the charter of a shell corporation that would gladly rent the island out to any shell corporation set up by an NTBT signatory (Sorry, only the first 5-6 members of the club are invited :) that wants to blow my island off the map in an above-ground test!

/more I think about it, if I were in my 60s and worth $2B, it'd be worth about a billion to have a seat close enough to an above-ground test to get a suntan from it :)
//adds it to the Bucket List.

the patient tasks (4, Interesting)

tlord (703093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480565)

I've been programming for, like, uh.... about 27 or 28 years. Arguably longer if you wanna go back to really little kid stuff.

If I had that much money - was basically (if I wanted to be) in the leisure class - what I would like to believe about myself is that I would try to secure my family's material conditions really well, try to make as efficient as possible my wealth management program, and, as to hacking.....

There are *so many* really great and valuable potential projects that (a) nobody is investing in; (b) have an investment horizon that is tough because these are projects that will take a good 5 years, let's say, to get to where seeing a return is on the table. A good 10 years before you start to see the possibility of "done".

I would start an R&D lab but a very small one - perhaps 10 people - and while we'd try to have some positive income spin-offs each year from 0 onward, the goal would be to create the kind of environment where we can take off some of the bigger, long-neglected problems.

You kids these days don't know what's possible in a GUI framework. You don't know how to do language design, systems software generally, databases, file systems, or a whole lot of other basics. You've inherited really mediocre crap and you take for granted that that's where things are at. And the industry has ceased production of grey-beards. (Also: get off my lawn!)

"like tears in the rain", -t

Re:the patient tasks (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480711)

Your first paragraph is preposterous. Even as little as 1 billion dollars doesn't particularly need to be managed to secure a nice future for dozens of people (let's say you put it in bonds earning 1% (which would be hilariously bad), that's 10 million a year, it takes an utter jackass to successfully squander that much money (you could send 10 people to Harvard, buy a nice house and a Ferrari, and still have to decide to do with the other 7 million), never mind that you could, in an emergency, touch (probably a lot more than) 50 million of the principal without really causing a problem).

Re:the patient tasks (3, Interesting)

tlord (703093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480807)

You misunderstand. By "managing wealth" I very much include not leaving *too* much of a legacy for kids, making sure as little as possible goes towards evil, and getting as much of the surplus doing good works. Buffet is schematically the right idea here, even if I don't agree with all of his particular decisions. My selfish thing is that I wouldn't want to spend 60 hours / week managing various investments. Nor would I want to just hand most of it over to the Gates foundation. $1B today, if you can make a lot of it liquid quickly, is -- I agree -- more than is reasonably needed. It's just a big responsibility and my selfish take is that I'd make a priority of reducing the amount of time I had to personally spend managing that responsibility. There are some causes I'd want a hands-on role in because I think I have intellectual contributions to make but there's a lot of grunt work in responsibly handling that large an amount of money/nominal wealth that I would want to delegate in order to concentrate on what I'm good at.

-t

Re:the patient tasks (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481187)

(paraphrasing) "Leave kids enough money to do anything; just not enough to do nothing"

Warren E. Buffett

Re:the patient tasks (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480817)

I don't know about you, but I'm not throwing my billion dollars into some bonds- that's ridiculous. Making sure you stay a billionaire isn't as easy as stuffing mattresses with cash. Do you keep your money tied to the US economy? I wouldn't- I'd probably invest in Euros. Actually, I'd hire a team of specialists to manage my assets, and I'd hire the best, and I'd keep them on indefinitely. They'd pay for themselves. After acquiring a billion dollars is not the time to play internet-trained armchair investor.

What happens if the recession starts spiraling downward and your banks close? Bonds aren't insured by the government, not that you'd want to be depending on the government in an economic crisis anyway. What happens if credit markets stretch to their limits when there's just not enough value being created to go around? Paranoid ramblings maybe but it's your money.

Re:the patient tasks (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480987)

And who cares? Even if you lose 99% of it you can live comfortably for the rest of your life. Its not worth worrying about. Just spread it in bonds from more than 1 country and company. Then only the en of civilization could bankrupt you, and if that happens money won't mean shit anyway.

Re:the patient tasks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481011)

Do you keep your money tied to the US economy? I wouldn't- I'd probably invest in Euros.

I must say, being a real investor, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing yet another generation of naive fools such as yourself are sprouting up ready to throw their money away to people like me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Re:the patient tasks (3, Insightful)

seifried (12921) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480893)

You contradict yourself:

have an investment horizon that is tough because these are projects that will take a good 5 years

But then go on to say:

and while we'd try to have some positive income spin-offs each year from 0 onward, the goal would be to create the kind of environment where we can take off some of the bigger, long-neglected problems.

So immediately you're pushing to have immediate spin offs, with immediate returns which sort of puts pressure on your people (and you only have 10...) to make money fast, er I mean to show immediate results. Good luck with those long term projects. Stuff coming out of IBM's research lab has in some cases taken 10 or 20 years, but resulted in things like hard drives larger than a gigabyte, etc.

Re:the patient tasks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481275)

time to die?

Does he program in SAS, though? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480579)

If he does, he's one sick masochistic sonofabitch. Gawd, SAS is some nasty ass looking code. I once had to replace a SAS program with a much more efficient (and infinitely easier to read) COBOL program. Yes, you heard that right, C-O-B-O-L. COBOL kicks SAS's ass. BAM! Take that, John Sall!

Now, where'd I leave my beer...

Re:Does he program in SAS, though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480827)

Hey, why'd this post get modded -1? I've seen SAS too and the parent ain't lying. SAS *IS* "some nasty ass looking code". Geesh, speak the truth and get called a "troll". What's the world coming to? I'm sure all you Perl lovers would agree with me.

- Big Mike

Ask the retired (4, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480589)

I retired eight years ago. I write code almost every day. Being ultimately lazy, I try to automate everything that I see. If it's a function that has to be performed more than once, and some aspect can be simplified with software, I write the code.

Most everything is for my own use, and not generally applicable. A few things are more broadly useful, and those I've released under the GPL. Even those only get a few hundred interested people with the same niche interests.

Some people are carpenters, and they work in their shops. Some people are artists, and they work with their medium. People that are really programmers must write code.

Re:Ask the retired (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480787)

Retired, eh? So I take it you write ADA-95 ;)
Seriously, though, what do you primarily write code in these days? Do you find that you have less of a desire to learn new languages and more of a desire to just Get Things Done?

I'm only 25 and I've found recently that I have a growing disdain for "shiny-language-of-the-month" and really I'd just like to use whatever works. I'm not sure if this is just a preference at this moment or something that will continue with time.

I'll get off your lawn now.

Re:Ask the retired (4, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480981)

Seriously, though, what do you primarily write code in these days? Do you find that you have less of a desire to learn new languages and more of a desire to just Get Things Done?

I mostly use scripting: bash and tcl/expect. Over my career, I learned and used about four dozen languages. I see them now as being more the same than they are different. There is rarely an inherent benefit in one over the other. Bash is always available on the platforms I use. When I need more complex code tcl/expect provides command interaction and timer-based processing.

In both cases, the code executes more than fast enough on a single user modern desktop. Compiling code is unnecessary, especially when the majority of the heavy lifting is being performed by highly optimized GNU utilities.

I don't have a problem learning new languages, I just see less of a reason to. Just as fewer people see a need to write assembly now (I did that for 15 years), I imagine in another couple of decades (if that long) compiled languages will seem antiquated to most. You'll be telling someone on Slashdot that you coded in a compiled language for 15 years then. And it will seem just as strange. :)

Re:Ask the retired (1)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480837)

I write code almost every day. Being ultimately lazy, I try to automate everything...

Lazy? Really? You're lazy enough to be unsatisfied with inefficiency, but ambitious enough to effect a change. That curious duo is the coal and fire of progress.

I think it's wonderful that you still code after retirement - you probably liked your job. All jobs are somewhat means to an end, but some are ends in themselves as well. You really have a good head on your shoulders.

Re:Ask the retired (2, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481047)

I think it's wonderful that you still code after retirement - you probably liked your job.

I thought of work in a somewhat reversed manner than most. I like learning, mostly the sciences. My primary interest is in computers and networking. I worked at the places I worked because of what I could learn - I probably would have done the same for free. That they paid me was really a bonus. Fortunately, they didn't know that. :)

I started reading about computers when I was in elementary school, at a time when that meant mainframes (that few people even knew existed). There's always the discussion of whether programming is an art or just a job. It's both, just as some people are artists and some are house painters.

That doesn't make me a great programmer (on the contrary, I'd rate myself mediocre), just as every artist doesn't have a painting in the Louvre. It's just something that's inherent in the way I'm wired. It makes me happy.

Why stop doing what you love (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480883)

I think that there's a big difference between loving your job, and loving your work. I quite enjoy coding, maintaining servers, and all sorts of things technical. In my last job (Sr SysAdmin position), I found that the days could fly by when I was engaged in a complex task, whether it was coding or re-optimizing a server. However, being woken up to fix a downed server (often because somebody uploaded improperly tested code etc) or having to continually cancel my weekend plans due to unforeseen "issues" really sucked.

My current job leaves me with a lot more free time, and isn't often as exciting as the last. With more free time, I have more time to work on learning/re-learning coding. I'd imagine if I had enough money to not need a "day job" I'd continue along the same path, although I'd probably be buying a few books, dev-kits, or course-hours as well.

For those that entered tech/coding, I'd imagine it would be a similar situation (it is for those I know). There are those who entered the market more the cash, or no longer like what they do, but there must be some who feel the same.

Re:Why stop doing what you love (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481081)

However, being woken up to fix a downed server (often because somebody uploaded improperly tested code etc) or having to continually cancel my weekend plans due to unforeseen "issues" really sucked.

That's what "production practices and procedures" and "change control approval processes" are really for. To keep people from interrupting you while you're having fun. Or sleeping. :)

obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480591)

If you're old, and loaded, you'd obviously focus on creating algorithms to improve the efficiency of locating and receiving \/ i a g r a.

("It's been 24 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment"

Whoa, this will be only my 2nd post so far this entire day, so I must slow down there cowboy else this avalanche of data I'm submitting might overwhelm the floppy disk that Slashdot runs off of?)

Re:obvious (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480831)

It's not as bad as YouTube. You weren't a spam bot 15 seconds ago, but let's double check..

And the captchas are inscrutable. Someone should write some automated software that can solve captchas for you.

Yes, yes I would (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480603)

Sure, I would spend time programming my robotic sex slave OR my predator drone to hunt convicts I have brought to my private island OR my self aware blender to make me drinks.

I'd program two projects at the same time (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480613)

It's every programmer's fantasy.

Re:I'd program two projects at the same time (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480919)

I'd program two projects at the same time

It's every programmer's fantasy.

Come work where I work, you could probably even get three or four if you wanted.

And yeah, it really cuts down on the boring dead time waiting for people to clarify requirements or get various dependencies in order.

Probably something like Carmack is doing. (4, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480621)

If I was financially independent, I'd probably be working on flight control systems for UAVs.

-jcr

Re:Probably something like Carmack is doing. (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480757)

Why would you have to be financially independent to do that? Plenty of government contractors pay a fair wage...

Re:Probably something like Carmack is doing. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481121)

When you write software on a government contract, you do it their way. I want to make UAVs for civilian purposes.

-jcr

Re:Probably something like Carmack is doing. (1)

Game_Ender (815505) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481143)

Currently there is no such thing as UAV's for civilian purposes. The current FAA restrictions are such that its basically impossible to certify them to fly in the same airspace as other aircraft.

the list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480631)

I believe production engineering would be a natural next step, and from there implementing earth fortifying resources, and then social art and culture advancement, and than time machines, in no particular order.

I'm confused... (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480633)

It's always been my job to be a statistical software developer...

Does this mean his code only probably runs correctly?

Re:I'm confused... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480825)

Sort of. 68% of the time, the result is within 1 standard deviate, and 95 percent of time time it's within two standard deviations. And you can be pretty darn sure that it's going to be within 3 standard deviations, but you never do really know for sure....

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480865)

The real question is - what is "correct"? :)

Re:I'm confused... (2, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480871)

That's useful... probable primes [wikipedia.org] are much easier to test for than true primes, and the error is small enough to be acceptable for RSA. There's a whole branch of complexity theory dedicated [wikipedia.org] to probabilistic algorithms.

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481175)

It's more like one-sided. When it fails, it's 100% wrong. When it works, it's only about 25% correct.

Work on! (3, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480637)

I am jobless at the moment, and the most difficult thing about that is keeping yourself busy. In today's crisis, job-searching isn't a full-time occupation, so there is plenty of time to do other things. The problem is: most of these things can be done tomorrow. So I really have to force myself to do them today. When you work, most of the time someone is waiting for the results of your labour, which is very motivating. So I'd rather work on than 'enjoy' my pension when I'm 65 and still healthy enough to work.

Re:Work on! (1)

TriZz (941893) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480683)

I don't code for a living (with the exception of the occasional batch script to automate certain tasks) -- but I maintain that if I didn't need the money, I'd do my job for free. I love it.

...and THAT is why I can relate to your post. I've taken staycations and after a few days of doing hobbyist things that I'd been neglecting, found that I get bored REALLY easily.

Maybe once I reach the golden years (currently 29) -- I'll have found more things that I find as interesting hobbys, but until then...I'll just keep making my office a better place, one server/computer at a time.

Re:Work on! (0, Troll)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480907)

I guess I'm happy that you're happy..

It's pretty sad though that you're so boring you can't even think of interesting things to do. Even if you just look at consuming, you have so much excellent television that you couldn't watch it all in your life, thousands of hours of excellent anime, millions of volumes of good literature, at least thousands of hours of really really excellent video games that at least someone claims to be the best ever, countless works of art... almost every one of those accessible from your computer

Well... (1)

oljanx (1318801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480667)

I'm a poor guy. I come home from the coal mines every night and write code for stress relief. As a billionaire, I might have trouble finding time for things like travel, dining, or whatever billionaires do. I'd rather write code in a dark room.

Of Freakin' Course! (5, Interesting)

Rary (566291) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480695)

Of course I'd program if I didn't have to work for a living. I mean, I didn't get into this business because I thought it would be profitable. I got into it because it's want I enjoy doing. The fact that I happen to get paid fairly well for it is just bloody awesome, but if it wasn't profitable, I'd have some crappy day job I hate and would code in my spare time. Likewise, if I simply didn't need the money, then I wouldn't need the crappy day job, but I'd still code in my (much more significant) spare time — in addition to all the other things that I enjoy doing.

The tougher question is what projects I'd work on. I suppose I could do anything I want, so I'd probably do less useful coding. I'd build things that have already been built just because I want to see how I would do it. I'd build things that are silly just because the idea popped into my head. I'd probably start tons of projects that I'd never get around to finishing.

Re:Of Freakin' Course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480795)

did you use a forward slash as an italicized I?

Re:Of Freakin' Course! (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480915)

No he didn't, although that would have been awesome.

Re:Of Freakin' Course! (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480895)

I'd probably start tons of projects that I'd never get around to finishing.

Me too... but if I had that much money, when I got a project to the point that I didn't want to finish it, I'd hire a team to finish and polish it for me, diving in whenever it looked interesting. I'd probably annoy the hell out of the team :-)

Oh, and everything I and my teams produced would be Free Software.

Re:Of Freakin' Course! (1)

ProfMobius (1313701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480953)

Welcome to the academic world.

It's a social activity (1)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480771)

>So if you didn't have to work....would you be like Sall and continue to program?

One aspect of programming that has gone unacknowledged (except in Extreme Programming [wikipedia.org] ) is that programming is inherently a social activity. Coding is both a form of authorship (which requires an audience) as well as a hobby (which requires collaborators).

Thus, to ask if I'll be coding in old age, is like asking if I'm going to be restoring old Chevy big-blocks. If I'm the only one doing it, then no. There are an infinite number of creative activities that can be performed alone, and all of them are equally tepid under that restriction.

Of course, the OP did not specify 'alone,' but I would say the rest of society has a lot of catching up to do before computer programmers can be considered anything other than the rarest breed. How many Hemingways were there? And did his books feature occlusion and specular highlight?

I do! (1)

aqk (844307) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480775)

So where do I apply?
Familiar with XHTML strict, PHP, some Python and MS/DOS command-lvl.
Plus a buncha even older mainframe languages! Hey, big bucks there!
I expect the first $billion up front.
I guarantee results. Or (most of) your money back.

Of course. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480783)

Money buys one the freedom to do what makes one happy.

Re:Of course. (1)

rickkw (920898) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480909)

People who program with passion write the best code because they care.

Planetside (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480805)

Given effectively unlimited resources and time, I'd love to buy up the rights and source to the release version of Planetside, before SOE patched it into the dirt and released horrible expansions. Setup a free server with a generous population cap, and sponsor a few pro gamer teams (how hard could it be to find 100 high school gamers willing to play for minimum wage?) to keep the server active. Hire a small team of coders to help me debug what Sony should have, and tinker with whatever gameplay aspects seem promising.

It might be easy to screw up just like Sony did, (giant bipedal mechs?! how could it go wrong!) but then i could just dump the project and switch everything over to another forgotten video game. A modern X-Com remake or a Tribes2 MMO port could be interesting, and possibly even done right with no deadlines getting in the way

Re:Planetside (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480927)

I think you'd be disappointed with games against high school gamers paid to practice the game. Even against normal high school gamers you'd probably be helpless :)

Commercial art vs. art that feeds your soul (4, Interesting)

kurisuto (165784) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480815)

At my day job in the software industry, I often feel like a musician who has to make a living writing advertising jingles. At least I get do use my talent, but it's not what I'd create if I had complete freedom.

I often dream about having the freedom and unlimited time to code whatever I want, on my own schedule, to my own standards, without any concern about whether the product could make money or not. One lifetime would not be long enough to code all of the cool ideas which I'm constantly thinking up.

Re:Commercial art vs. art that feeds your soul (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480971)

I often dream about having the freedom and unlimited time to code whatever I want, on my own schedule, to my own standards, ..

Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. The Giant Redwood. The Larch. The Fir! The mighty Scots Pine!

Re:Commercial art vs. art that feeds your soul (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481221)

Curious. What would you (or anyone that happens to read this) want to code?

I'm not much of a coder, but I've written code for fun before (because it is fun). But honestly, I get 80% of the way there encounter a few interesting problems, overcome them, get 90% of the way there, encounter some pain in the ass problem and stop. After all, the code technically DOES most of the interesting things I want it to do, just not without a small manual tweak here and there. Am I the only one that gets bored like this? Seems that coding at work, pain in the ass that it is, provides me the only real incentive to complete projects.

I haven't been able to complete a full project ever. I just get bored, think of something new and move on to that...

"You don't need million dollars to do nothing." (1)

sitarlo (792966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480885)

If I had a huge fortune I would continue to develop software, but I'd probably pay younger folks to code. After you've written a few zillion lines of code the practice becomes trivial and modern tools are just boring to use. It's the design and the creative aspects that really light me up these days. I think it is also wise for people to share their wealth with open source developers. A lot of these cats get very little reward for their work. I make it a point to click the PayPal donate button whenever I download something useful. If I had a billion quid I would donate a whole lot more to the open source community.

Well... (1)

Roogna (9643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480889)

Would I continue to code? Of course, but I'd be quite happy to be back to more like my teenage years where I coded things because I simply had an idea, whether I felt the idea could pay bills or not.

X-wings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29480913)

'Nuff said.

AI (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29480973)

If I had enough money that I didn't need to work, I'd spend my time working on my oft and long delayed AI project. My goal would be to create a benevolent AI so that humanity has a fighting chance against SkyNET.

OK, that last part was a lame joke but that's exactly what I'd do.

LK

They'll have to pry my keyboard (1)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481017)

... from my cold dead fingers.

If I were a billionaire, though, I wouldn't just be hacking visualization software -- I'd have an AI/quantum computing research lab.

I'll tell you what I'd do, man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481043)

two chicks at the same time.

Re:I'll tell you what I'd do, man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481129)

two chicks at the same time.

You mean, two _virgins_ at the same time.

I'll tell you what I'll do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481045)

I'll tell you what I'll do if I had a billion dollars...two chicks at the same time...always wanted to do that, and I think with a billion dollars, I could pull that off.

'tis the gift (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29481053)

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right

legacy enabler (1)

fadethepolice (689344) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481085)

Sometimes it is of value to just push the stone a few feet forward for humanity. This man enables other people to advance their science and correct errors. Could there be any more valuable endeavor. I salute my friend.

I Like What I Do (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481195)

I like what I do (programming) and have loved it since I first discovered computers in 1970. It has never grown old and I would enjoy continuing to do it even if I didn't have to.

Hmm... (1)

Antarctic Pirates (1640435) | more than 4 years ago | (#29481233)

If Sall is such an ace at programming, why are we still typing on our archaic pads of keys instead of walking around the internet in perfect virtual reality?
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