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'I Just Need a Programmer'

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the next-step-solve-all-problems dept.

Businesses 735

theodp writes "As head of the CS Department at the University of Northern Iowa, Eugene Wallingford often receives e-mail and phone calls from eager entrepreneurs with The Next Great Idea. They want to change the world, and they want Prof. Wallingford to help them. They just need a programmer. 'Many idea people,' observes Wallingford, 'tend to think most or all of the value [of a product] inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details. It's just a small matter of programming, right?' Wrong. 'Writing the program is the ingredient the idea people are missing,' he adds. 'They are doing the right thing to seek it out. I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.'"

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Ooh ooh! I know this one! (5, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456260)

Geocities in apps format.

beer (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456268)

I just need a beer...

Re:beer (2)

Mordie (1943326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456286)

you mean more beer

Re:beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456494)

No, I'm on call and I would just like A beer.

As a programmer (5, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456294)

I disagree. A terrible idea with a beautifully executed development goes no where. A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world.

That said I think having solid developer(s) is a really good thing. It costs less, makes for a more reliable product, and enables you to say "yeah, we can add that" vs. "hah, you'd have to rewrite everything" when further great ideas come along.

But saying that the importance of programming is on par with the idea.. it's not. Much as us programmers like to think we are _the_ critical component.. I really don't think we are in a lot of cases. The idea and the marketing are what makes the product successful. HR tends to think of programmers as production line workers.. and as much as I hate to admit it, there really is truth in that. We turn ideas into something tangible so they can be sold. If we produce better products or produce them more efficiently, we make the company more money.. but we arn't as important as the guy's who tell us what to make, or the guy's who get people to pay for it.

As for idea people learning to program.. I don't buy it. Might work for some people, but I think programming/working with technology is either something you enjoy or you don't. Most good programers I know don't care about the end product as much as the code. The end product is a necessary evil.. a reason to justify their code poetry. Learning programming as a way of achieving and end goal sounds like some bad code about to happen. And I thought the whole "managers can write code thing" died with COBOL.

Re:As a programmer (5, Insightful)

Ndkchk (893797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456330)

A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world.

Not quite. A great idea that is hacked together will almost certainly be "borrowed" and better implemented by someone else, making them a fortune. The world still gets changed, I suppose.

Re:As a programmer (4, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456446)

Unless your product is catering to developers, your customers don't give a damn what the code that powers your product looks like (and even if your customers ARE developers, they probably still don't care). Unless your implementation is at least an order of magnitude better than the competition, the first one with traction wins. Look at Twitter, and the dozens of twitter clones that came out shortly thereafter - none of them went anywhere because they didn't have the users, but I'm sure they were implemented better (since Twitter exposed a lot of the original problems). And yet bit.ly ended up killing off tinyurl.com, because it's a) 45% shorter to start and b) offers analytics on link usage which really did make it an order of magnitude more useful than what it replaced.

At least, that's the case for startups and new ideas. When your idea is to win the Netflix challenge and hit the million dollar payoff, then it's 100% down to implementation.

Re:As a programmer (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456464)

A great idea that is hacked together will almost certainly be "borrowed" and better implemented by someone else, making them a fortune.

Enter software patents. Which allow you to patent your idea that you hacked together, so if someone else tries to "borrow" the idea or concept from you and implement it properly, you will shut them down, and/or get paid for all the trouble, by surrendering fruits of their labor to the patentholder.

Re:As a programmer (4, Insightful)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456470)

If it works, and works well enough, that will make up for the tangled web of code, so long as it is not too horribly mangled. Sometimes the perfectly designed and combed over implementation loses to the patched together monstrosity because the first one is never released, or is released late, and the second one is out early enough. Sometimes economics trumps an implementation whose code could be read as poetry.

Re:As a programmer (3, Insightful)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456338)

I would have to disagree. The difference between wealth and having a second job isn't in whether you can code the idea. Any 15-year-old idiot can probably code an idea, unless it's very complex. How well you can do it is nearly paramount. You know, for example, that most sort algorithms max out at an efficiency of Clog(n)[element_count], as a rough description. You know who makes six figures a year? The guy who can reduce "C" by five percent. And no, you can't do that with shell scripts and lines of spaghetti code.

Re:As a programmer (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456492)

You know who makes six figures a year? The guy who can reduce "C" by five percent.

No... the guy who gets a big enough dataset where the Clog(n)[element_count] efficiency even begins to matter.

To a large extent that can be dealt with by coding a scalable infrastructure, that can be expanded by adding more servers to make up for sort inefficiency.

Re:As a programmer (2)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456500)

Only if he can demonstrate the business case for expending the effort to do so, and market himself to the companies that need him.

It's not all about technical skill, business ability is just as important

Re:As a programmer (4, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456654)

I specialized in C reduction for years (and was very successful at it), but I started making 6-figures after I gave that up and just started building business applications.

Re:As a programmer (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456340)

I would argue that programmers are equally important. after all, what good are the idea people, and those who can manipulate the public into paying the idea people, if there's nothing to buy?

Re:As a programmer (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456536)

Unfortunately you really do need both. At least as far as ideas involving softare goes. iD software is probably one of the best examples out there. The main reason why we're talking about them 20 years later and that they're still relevant is that they've had good fortune in both areas.

It's unfortunate because it's much harder to pull off than if you just need one or the other.

Apple computers is another an idea guy plus somebody that knew the technical details really well.

Re:As a programmer (5, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456358)

Ideas are ten a penny, it's the implementation that matters.

Re:As a programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456390)

I disagree. A terrible idea with a beautifully executed development goes no where. A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world.

True. But the phenomenon is not limited to programmers. "Idea people" always need some form of specialist to turn their ideas into reality.

Otherwise you just end up with a bunch of "Wouldn't it be great if...." ideas.
"If only I knew how to mold plastic..."
"If only I knew how to forge metal..."
"If only I knew how to write software..."

Difference being... (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456422)

Most of these people with 'great idea', but *just* need a programmer (i.e. people who have obviously never talked to a developer about their idea and obviously know next to nothing about the nuts and bolts of how things work) have ideas that are terrible, impossible, and/or uselessly vague (many cases of do 'something' with the 'cloud').

If a developer acts as a production line worker, they will frequently turn out irrelevant product. It's one thing to read the specs handed down by someone who knows what they want and write strictly to the requirements listed, it is another thing entirely to really internalize the need and apply your advanced knowledge of what is possible to deliver a perfect fit above and beyond the specific requests. People will prescribe awkward workflows due to perceived technology limitations and/or steer clear of very sensible features they presume impossible.

Clear delineation between developer and 'idea' people just doesn't make much sense except in the most straightforward cases, and none of those straightforward 'ideas' are valuable (mostly one-off customized solutions of common setups required to work with a customers uniquely evolved system).

You really need both a solid idea and a developer who is more than just an assembly line worker to get good results of significant value.

Re:As a programmer (3, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456438)

I honestly don't think either is true.

Programming is not a production line, and trying to turn it into that leads to inefficient programmers, bad code, and maintenance nightmares. Programming is an art, a creative process, and a science, and there are definitely people who do it better than others, and platforms which make it easier than others.

That's important. Think about a typical ad agency, special effects company, or pretty much any design field where you can hire a contractor for a project. You hire them based on their work, because their work is recognizable and valuable. You also hire them based on prior experience working with them, how well you can communicate your ideas to them, and so on. You can pretend they're replaceable if you want, which is partly true -- there are always other design companies you can go to -- but you certainly don't think of them as cogs in an assembly line.

You sure as hell don't try to design your process so you can replace a single artist at any time.

However, ideas are valuable. I can't speak for other programmers, but I'm absolutely lost on the business side of things. From my perspective, sales, marketing, ideas, and so on are just some of the things I'm very glad other people do, all as part of the Development Abstraction Layer [joelonsoftware.com] . I'm hopeless without them, to the point where on one-man projects, I usually end up asking every prospective customer, investor, or just friends and family, for advice on things like naming a price.

I'm not sure how I feel about idea people learning to program. They try anyway, with spreadsheets. Sometimes it ends well, but often it ends in disaster. It's usually not a good idea to hire a dedicated full-time programmer to work on spreadsheets, and the whole point of spreadsheets is to enable end-users to do these things. Still, a few basic programming concepts would go a long way, even if they are in spreadsheets.

(No, I don't mean VBA. Either program or don't, but to half-ass it by crawling up out of excel into VBA is only going to end in tears.)

And I do like to think I'm working on something really cool. I certainly want my "code poetry" to have a point. It's not that I can't appreciate idea people or their ideas, it's that I'm not much of an idea person myself -- or at least, my ideas don't tend to be the sort that are likely to make me money.

Re:As a programmer (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456440)

I disagree. A terrible idea with a beautifully executed development goes no where. A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world.

A terrible idea that is beautifully executed can also go somewhere.

But it is extremely rare to find a terrible idea executed well. The idea will almost certainly be revised (to something better) in the process. Thus great execution can make up for having an originally poor idea, as long as the idea changes in the process of the execution.

As for a great idea... if the execution is poor enough, it will never come to fruition.

A mess of shell script and spaghetti code will suffice for a good enough idea. But in practice, there are very few ideas thought up that are that good.

Most ideas thought up will lie somewhere in between terrible and great, and most executions will lie somewhere between terrible and great.

The most terrible execution possible cannot be made up by the best idea possible, and vice versa.

Real world efforts always lie somewhere in the middle.

There are massive amounts of good ideas, however. Executions and business plans are in short supply.

So it is the execution that is valuable.

And if you "just want a programmer" to implement your idea, you should probably be expecting to sell the idea to the programmer who will provide the execution, in exchange for a small share of the profits from their great execution..

Otherwise, how would it be worth their while, when there are millions of other idea mean they can find a good idea from? :)

Re:As a programmer (5, Interesting)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456496)

The idea and the marketing are what makes the product successful.

As much as I agree that programmers tend to overestimate their importance -- a trait that pretty much every job category shares to one degree or another -- I think the idea is of negligible importance compared to the marketing.

A lot of people like to think that having a good idea and having it first is terribly important. And while that is occasionally true, it's mostly wishful thinking. Henry Ford didn't get rich by inventing the automobile. Someone else did that. He didn't even get rich by inventing the assembly line. Someone else did that, too. He got rich by extending credit to his customers: he invented the car payment. And once he did all this, a bunch of other companies came along and did more or less the same thing, and they made vast sums doing it, too. And the story repeats itself through the following century with radio, television, computers, refrigerators, and all the other technological advances we presently enjoy. Even with patents, inventing something and inventing it first just doesn't matter all that much. (Which is not to say that it doesn't matter at all.)

The same applies to the myth of the indispensable man (or woman). By himself, Henry Ford couldn't have done squat. He needed a considerable number of people with a broad range of skills just to get off the ground. And quite likely, any or all of them could have been replaced by other people without materially affecting the outcome.

Those of us who aren't magnates believe these myths because they allow us to believe an even bigger myth: that we can, as lone individuals, change the world. This is almost never true, allowing for rare exceptions like assassinating an Austrian archduke. Those who are magnates believe these myths because they allow magnates to believe that they are self-made men, ignoring the labor and intelligence of the thousands who helped put them there.

If good ideas were all it took to strike it rich, almost everyone would be rich already.

Re:As a programmer (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456522)

That's why I try to the be programmer who comes up with the great idea.

Re:As a programmer (4, Funny)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456556)

That's why I try to the be programmer who comes up with the great idea.

Ah, my next great idea: a web text editor for the dyslexic.

Re:As a programmer (2)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456526)

HR tends to think of programmers as production line workers.. and as much as I hate to admit it, there really is truth in that.

Except that it's easy to see if an assembly line worker isn't doing a good job. I know virtually nothing about making automobiles, but I could watch someone painting body panels and have some idea of whether or not he's doing a good job.

And I thought the whole "managers can write code thing" died with COBOL.

LOL. You think the COBOL died?

LK

Re:As a programmer (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456610)

LOL. You think the COBOL died?

What I meant was that the idea of having a language/tool be so intuitive that non-technical people could just write out what they wanted died when COBOL failed to deliver on that goal.

I know COBOL is still alive and well.. unfortunately :(

Re:As a programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456570)

A terrible idea with a beautifully executed development goes no where.

Really? Try telling that to whoever invented Farmville.

Re:As a programmer (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456680)

What are you talking about.. Farmville is brilliant.

I know people who have been _fired_ for playing it at work.. constantly.. AFTER BEING TOLD TO STOP!

Every aspect of that game is cored around getting people addicted and playing continuously.

Pre-emptive: No I don't play farmville.. I don't have a facebook/myspace/twitter account either.. but I can appreciate the pure brilliance behind these things. The pure number of people hooked on this stuff like crack is a testament to it.

Re:As a programmer (2)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456586)

If we produce better products or produce them more efficiently, we make the company more money...

Now, if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime. So where's the motivation? And here's another thing, Bob. I have eight different bosses right now!

Re:As a programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456592)

How did this get modded insightful??

A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world.
  - - Not so much. Think about the world-changing ideas, the internet, email, internet search, spreadsheets, relational databases, etc. The people who get rich (and change the world) have the code and the idea. And frequently the idea doesn't seem like much at the time. Can anyone think of a great idea that was hacked together, and actually made a big impression?

And I thought the whole "managers can write code thing" died with COBOL.
  - - Umm, COBOL is _the_ classical example of a language that hasn't died, despite decades of predictions.

Great ideas don't change the world, effectively implemented great ideas change the world.

This is addressed in article. (1)

Bamafan77 (565893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456594)

"I disagree. A terrible idea with a beautifully executed development goes no where. A great idea that is hacked together with shell scripts and kilometers of spaghetti code can make someone a fortune and (lame as it sounds) change the world."

From the linked article

"Many "idea people" tend to think most or all of the value inheres to having the idea. Programmers are a commodity, pulled off the shelf to clean up the details. It's just a small matter of programming, right?

On the other side, some programmers tend to think that most or all of the value inheres to executing the idea. But you can't execute what you don't have."

So the professor definitely understands the value of the idea (though if one only read the slashdot summary, one might think he didn't). IMO ideas are "easier". It takes less effort and time to come up with one. It might takes months or years to implement it however.

That said, it doesn't mean ideas are not important. An example that people here can probably understand is id Software before and after Romero. To paraphrase, Romero was the "idea" guy and Carmack was the implementor. Carmack places/placed very little value in things like design/story (i.e ideas) in video games, while Romero put almost ALL value in ideas (see: Ion Storm, "design is law").

Using this example, one can surmise that a great idea in the absense of a good implemenation may result in a bad product (Daikatana)...or no product at all (Duke Nukem Forever). However, a bad/mediocre idea with a good implementation will result in a "good", but uninspiring product (Doom 3).

If you had to choose one, better to have the latter than the former. You just have to accept that fewer people will accept your product as being "great". The trap that many programmer fall into is in translating this to mean that ideas are not important at all. Not true. If you think this, you will be passed by your competitors just as id Software has (yes, I know some people still think id still makes the best FPS, but this is the minority opinion, these days).

Re:As a programmer (2, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456596)

As a programming non-programmer, I think I kind of fall under the category the post is talking about.

My background is an aerospace engineer, but I've been coding since I was about 10. My job is spacecraft navigation, and much of my free time is spent helping manage a conference and a non-profit organization. My job is a lot of analysis and simulation, and the way its set up, it ends up being a lot of code (Python tying together a bunch of C objects,) and for my non-profit work, I have the skills that have led me to end up doing a lot of the web work -- particularly developing a complex web-based app to manage speakers, schedules, volunteers, etc.

Since I spend a lot of my time in code, and I'm an engineer at heart, I'd say I've learned how to do decent coding -- modularity, MVC, properly normalized databases, small well-defined functions, OO when necessary (and recognizing when its necessary). Now I won't claim to be at all skilled in anything lower level -- I can handle memory management, but I have no handle on things like compilers, operating system design, fancy algorithms and basic computer science theory -- but I feel confident in saying that I have a good if amateur grasp of software engineering. Its never bullet-proof code, but its adaptable and expandable and does its job well.

I enjoy coding a lot, but I'm an engineer, and I like to build working systems for a purpose. In my work, being able to script together exactly what I need to do is a huge help, and compared to my older colleagues who don't take advantage of the newer scripting capabilities (I'm the first person trained entirely on our new system), I'm able to do a lot of new and creative things quickly. In my non-profit work, having worked on the conference before and writing the software to run it without having to trade back and forth as much with the customers makes it great. Basically, I am one of my own customers when I write this code, which helps a lot.

I guess what it comes down to is that you don't want the managers coding, but having technically-minded but non-CS/CE be able to write good prototype code can be great. People like me won't write code that will scale past a certain point, but it can prove the concept and be quite useful at small and medium scales.

Re:As a programmer (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456618)

You may disagree, but that's merely one perspective. You probably have a set of experiences that lead you think that that very much are in line with the philosophy. Nothing wrong with that. I've had some very opposite ones -- where the "idea guys" were a dime a dozen.

People who are passionate about their work change the world. No one wants to stress grueling over spaghetti code and shell scripts for that great idea if they aren't integral to the idea process.

Many companies have seen a lot of success by abolishing such ideas and opted for more of a flat structure than hierarchical. I'm sure you've heard of Google. I think Apple is another example (though I'm not sure how their structure works). Still the point is, the ideas are obvious and simple, but the implementations have made great success for those companies.

Also, very few people ever work on the next big idea. Rather, most ideas, to me, seem like obvious rehashes and copies of things that came before them. The implementation of the idea that finally gets it right is what often makes the difference. In my opinion, chasing "the next big idea" is a fool's errand for marketers and naive investors.

Re:As a programmer (1)

m509272 (1286764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456628)

Your statement "programmers as production line workers.. and as much as I hate to admit it, there really is truth in that" is about as accurate as your spelling.

There are people called programmers and there are programmers. The former represents the bulk of outsourced programmers and a good amount of local staff, the latter represents the people who actually understand what the designer/business wants/needs and are skilled enough to accurately and efficiently deliver that. They ask questions, they suggest alternatives/enhancements/etc. The former generally produces garbage that falls apart in days after being delivered late while the latter produces a quality product usually on time and on budget.

That's the problem using outsourcing, thinking programmers are like sewing machine operators. It's pretty much a scam in large corporations where all they are interested in saying is "we spent less this year on IT". They ignore the fact that things aren't delivered on time, fail when delivered and the requester has spent a significant amount of time trying to explain what they need, test more times than they should have to, etc. Back in the 70s and 80s IT told the user community what they will get, the late 80s and perhaps up until about 5-10 years ago the users told IT what they expected. Sadly, the 70s are back and the users once again get the shaft frequently getting nothing for their money.

Re:As a programmer (1)

thermal_7 (929308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456634)

In some cases I think you are right, but in other cases the developer is handed a relatively loose concept to implement and the genius in the minor details comes from the developer.

Re:As a programmer (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456650)

I would say it is more complex than that.

If a product requires an idea and an implementation, then they are both necessary. If someone can do one, but not the other, they should value those able to do the specialist work that they themselves could not do. If some deluded entrepreneur comes up with a semi-coherent or unoriginal idea that a programmer could have thought up, but the product is successful because of the solid implementation, then credit should completely go to the programmer. If the programmer churns out some uninspired spaghetti that could have been done by anyone with six months of training, that despite it's bugs, idiosyncrasies, incompatibilities and terrible interface becomes a success because of its original concept, then the programmer deserves none of the credit whatsoever.

The other important thing is separating "design" from idea and implementation as a skill. Design is hard, it involves thinking through the user's expectations, requirements and workflow in a product that isn't being used yet and nobody has seen. The interesting thing about programmers however, is that the very best programmers tend to amass experience in software design as well as implementation and in many cases become proficient at it, simply through exposure to what users ask them to change and what they enjoy. If what the "ideas man" has produced is suitable as a requirements spec that can be shipped to the lowest bidder in India, China or domestically and implemented to the letter, then "just a programmer" will suffice. If not then what is needed is a designer as well as an implementer, though they will often be the same person. Most ideas need to be shaped into a product by prototyping, testing, observation and deep contemplation. An excellent developer can do that, but an average one cannot. What anyone must ask themselves is "do I have a design, or do I just have an idea". If you have a design, then ship it away to be built by tradesmen and take the blame if what they built meets the letter of the spec, but isn't any good. If you just have an idea, then the creative and inspired work is not done yet and you need to find someone talented, inspired and committed to carry that load.

Re:As a programmer (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456664)

I disagree with your take. Programmers are far more important. And it's very easy to show: the price of a programmer versus the price of an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. Every person I've met has had a great idea. Programmers cost a lot of money. The difference between the ideas that remain only thoughts and the ideas that become reality is entirely in execution. Without execution, ideas are practically worthless. A fantastic idea can overcome shoddy implementation, and be worth a fortune. A fantastic idea with no implementation is worth nil. A programmer is absolutely critical. But having a good programmer is not.

It is true that the people who know how always work for the people who know why. This might lead one to think that the idea is more important than the implementation, but that's a result of something entirely different: those who don't know why (or why not) quickly lose all their capital. In either case, the person with the idea and money requires the implementers.

All that being said, what is more important than either the idea or the implementers is the person who knows why an idea is good or not. These are the people who best manage the scarce resource of programmers. Of course, all the roles may be embodied in the same person.

Re:As a programmer (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456666)

That's not entirely true though. Aside from the fact a lot of these poorly implemented programs run into major stumbling blocks further down the track and get wiped out by better implemented copycats who can actually add new functionality to their programs, you're not actually contradicting the need for a programmer.

When someone implements something with shell scripts and spaghetti code they're programming, maybe not well, but they're still programming. You can certainly make a lot of money hacking together something dirty(see pretty much any application written for a specialist field), but it's a no brainer that if you can afford to hire(or bribe with stock options) a good programmer to make sure your implementation is good you'll be better off in the long run.

Re:As a programmer (1)

pestilence669 (823950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456684)

Everybody has ideas. They're a dime a dozen. Even original ones are near worthless when standing on their own. Most ideas are bad. Many are mediocre. The rest are expensive and time intensive to build.

It's bologna (5, Insightful)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456300)

If someone says that, "they just need a programmer", they haven't vetted the idea. If they really knew what they wanted, they wouldn't need a programmer - they'd need a contract fulfilled for a specific task. If you say that crap, you're just a bullshit marketing guy.

Re:It's bologna (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456648)

I'll call bull on that. I had two separate games I had to abandon because of crappy programmers. One was so bad I had to debug his code and I'm not even a programmer I just have an eye for spotting issues like redundant lines of code and syntax errors. Another programmer after nearly three months never delivered anything. He spend three months trying to replicate what I did by modding an existing demo game and failed. He was supposed to be the best in the area and was well respected on the forums. A third one it took longer to install and debug the modules he built than what it took him to write the stuff in the first place. I'm talking 3X as long. I found most programmers were far more trouble than they were worth. I'm not saying this about every programmer I'm saying my experience is finding a decent one is really tough. I'd love to see a system in place for vetting programmers so I wouldn't waste so much time and money. The one who I had to debug his code blew off work for a week after I prepaid him and used the money to buy a game box and a bunch of games then expected me to go on paying him. He seemed confused that I fired him. There's an ocean of programmers out there but decent ones are worth their weight in gold.

An idea with ability is a fantasy. (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456302)

Really ideas are cheap.
A better social networking site than Facebook...
An electric car that can charge in 5 mintes, go 300 miles on charge, and costs $20,000
A no fat chocolate.

Re:An idea with ability is a fantasy. (5, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456328)

An electric car that can charge in 5 mintes, go 300 miles on charge, and costs $20,000

My words exactly! But whenever I ask for an engineer who has some spare time to build that for me, people start laughing. Odd...

Re:An idea with ability is a fantasy. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456352)

Ideas may be cheap, but they can end up providing the greatest ROI because of it.

Some ideas are quite revolutionary and take very little in terms of time and money to realize (relatively speaking).

Re:An idea with ability is a fantasy. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456462)

Those ideas need to be plucked from a ginormous haystack of repetitive stupidity.

Ideas are cheap. Brilliant ideas are worth a mint!

Re:An idea with ability is a fantasy. (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456512)

Clearly you are a marketroid!

In my previous incarnation the Marketing DIrector would call me every couple of months about a great idea he had and when I tried to estimate a budget to turn the idea into tangible software, he would say "What? It's simple, you just push the BUTTONS on the computer and it gets DONE"

Let's try your theory: I have many great ideas, you put the money to develop them and we split the proceeds.

Re:An idea with ability is a fantasy. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456662)

No ideas alone are just fantasy.
It takes knowledge, skill, tallent, and hard work to make them worth anything.

It really is all about the execution. Now if you have an idea and then build a plan around it that maybe worth something.

i just need 15 minutes of absolute peace and quiet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456306)

As a coder who works in a modern office, it becomes impossible to sustain creativity after long hours wearing earphones to drown out the ambient phone calls, conversations, meetings, and other noises. I just want a sphere of silence for just 15 minutes in my work day wherein I can close my eyes and hear nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ahhh...I can just imagine the feeling...

A spartan environment is best to focus the mind (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456428)

This one will do [slashdot.org] .

Re:i just need 15 minutes of absolute peace and qu (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456454)

Can't telecommute?

I know the feeling, though. Even noise-cancelling headphones aren't a substitute for actual silence.

I'll settle for relative quiet, though -- take a walk.

Re:i just need 15 minutes of absolute peace and qu (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456480)

I find I like the noise when doing slog work.. i.e. just hacking out code/flushing out designs/reviewing stuff. I almost always have music playing playing through my noise canceling headphones.

That said, when I get stuck on something, the "noise canceling" part becomes quite relevant. Flip off the music.. nothing but that damn voice in my head...

Wrong and wrong (4, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456314)

Success is 1% inspiration, 9% perspiration, and 90% marketing (of which "timing" is a significant but minority component). The inspiration is cheap (obviously, since this professor has already amassed quite a portfolio), the perspiration is, yes, a commodity, and the marketing requires Emotional Intelligence, something which, ironically enough, does not often come naturally to perspirers.

So... the real question should be: what it would be like if marketers could implement ideas (not necessarily their own)?

Re:Wrong and wrong (2)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456334)

what it would be like if marketers could implement ideas (not necessarily their own)?

God I Don't Believe In, help us all...

Re:Wrong and wrong (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456516)

Amen, you end up with Ponzi or Madoff

Re:Wrong and wrong (1)

IronSight (1925612) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456498)

Hell, with good marketing you don't even need an original idea. You just need some guy with an almost biblical aura to stand on stage and call it magic. Look at apple. Did they invent the smart phone? Did they invent the tablet pc? No, these were things that were on the market for years before they touched the idea. Marketing turned it from blah to a "OMG! I need that thing now!!!" mentality. There are 19-20 year old millionaires now that did as people are doing to this proffessor. Come up with an idea, hire some cheap programmers out of india, throw it on the itunes store. If it was all about the programmers everyone would use *nix. Look at the xbox, technically speaking, not an awesome device. Hype drives those sales (another form of marketing). Technically the games aren't (programming wise) better than say a directx 11 game, but there is much hype behind every halo or call of duty that comes out. Not saying those products are terrible, but far more technically robust (code wise) games exist like Eve online, Everquest 2, Crysis, Metro 2039, etc. I mean those have insane levels of detail, or servers that can hold a few thousand people at a time, or extremely complex scripting engines or lighting engines or whatever. If I were to start a new business I would aim for the better marketing department if I wanted to make my millions.

summary makes a good point but nothing new (5, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456320)

idea people often take the form of upper management. they always assume their ideas are workable, and if their employees are having trouble rewriting reality to make them happen, then it's due to the employees' ignorance and not their own. classic ivory tower syndrome.

How is this different than other production jobs? (0)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456326)

If you work to produce things, get used to it. Just because you're the one providing a specialized skill set to a project doesn't mean that you are special and deserve extra praise or something.

The ideas ARE what is valuable. Having the vision to come up with something new, and figuring out the ways to aggregate all of its parts into a finished product is what makes things happen. Granted, some person that simply says, "AHA! I have it! Now, all of you, get to work!" isn't going to be as successful as the person who does the same, while also contributing and seeking all the questions and answers each of their workers may have.

The programmer doesn't get special treatment, just as the marketing person, or the graphic artist, or the supply guru doesn't get special treatment. You have chosen a specialized field, deal with it.

Re:How is this different than other production job (1)

Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456364)

We'll see how this works out, now that the Chinese are providing all the ability to get things done as it were. Maybe they REALLY do need somebody to come up with the neat idea, but somehow I suspect that the guy doing the sweating is more valuable, even if he isn't paid as much.

Re:How is this different than other production job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456574)

I have an idea for a great building. I just need a mason...

Ideas are just people who don't know better wishing for things that cannot be done to be done in a way they should not be done without any idea of the resources required to accomplish and later maintain in working order such task or slightest clue of its usefulness once it might possibly be done. If I said what I said above, anybody with half a brain would tell me: "No, you first need to talk to an architect, investor and possibly a city planer." We seriously need to make people understand there is a difference between one computer guy and the other, but most people still lump Call Desk, IT, Security, Programming, Software Architecture and Hardware Design under one big box called "Works with Computers". It is quite as ridiculous as saying that "Mason, Electrician, Carpenter, Civil Engineer, Architect, Plumber, Building Manager, Repair Man and bunch of other professions" are people who "Work with Buildings" without any distinction.

Re:How is this different than other production job (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456600)

The programmer doesn't get special treatment, just as the marketing person, or the graphic artist, or the supply guru doesn't get special treatment.

And the "idea maker" doesn't get special treatment either, when programmers and others are involved, because they have merely provided a starting point for the design aspects of programming... providing the starting point has some importance, but it is not equivalent to "defining" the product.

Well, if the product is a piece of marketing, then, yes, the marketing person does get special treatment.

If the product is a piece of graphic art, then, yes, the graphic artist does get special treatment. As they are (essentially) the sole creator of the product.

If the product is a building design, then, yes, the architect does get special treatment

Now, if the graphic art is just part of the product, then of course, the situation varies.

Programmers, Architects, Designers, and Graphics artists all define the actual core of the product they make. Whether they get special treatment or not in regards to compensation, will depend on how good a deal they negotiate

Really good Architects, Designers, and Graphics artists are much more plentiful and easy to find than good programmers who can really execute and implement an idea, so yeah, programmers have and are expected to have special treatment.

Re:How is this different than other production job (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456670)

No, implemented succesful ideas are worth something. Unimplemented ideas are risky stuff that might as well take you for every penny you've got as make you a profit. Telling good ideas from bad is usually harder than coming up with ideas in the first place.

"Just" (5, Insightful)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456370)

Really, I am already re-thinking my earlier reply. The issue here is summed up in one word - "Just". You think you need "Just" a programmer, or "Just" a marketing guy, or "Just" a salesman? You have already told me that you don't really value their contribution to the effort, and additionally that you don't really understand fully what goes in to the work they're doing. Yeah, you have a genius idea. You don't want "Just" a programmer. You want a genius programmer, preferably either with a passion for your cause, or a resume of working in coding similar things. Otherwise, your operating system is being written by "just" a database programmer, and while you will have great search times, you may find other areas coming up short.

Not the only side of the problem (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456372)

I've met people who have excellent working software, and have had it for years, and simply aren't able to make a business out of it. They think I just need an investor! And this when it would take them hundreds of dollars to actually start their business, after which they'd have a lot more value to an investor, if they decided they still need one.

Hundreds? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456456)

Hunh? Did you mean hundreds of thousands? Hundreds is lunch money.

Re:Hundreds? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456504)

No, I think he meant hundreds of dollars. Things like business licenses, business cards, a web presence. Something to give the sense that they're at least a little bit serious about this, I guess.

Re:Hundreds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456538)

That's his point.

Re:Hundreds? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456540)

Hunh? Did you mean hundreds of thousands? Hundreds is lunch money.

Lunch money? For whom? Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore? I have spent that kind of money at the bar however.

How much does it cost to set up a website for your "Consulting Business" and buy a copy of Quickbooks Pro? Hundreds of dollars, depending on the kind of business.

LK

Re:Not the only side of the problem (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456550)

Well that's a business.

I get, once in a while, people interested in buying into the "next-great-thing", so perhaps we can swap data and get investors together with the people with great software and charge them a percentage of the proceeds.

  1. 1) Great working software
  2. 2) Investors
  3. 3) Profit!

BTW, I'm not joking.

As someone... (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456388)

I come up with a lot of ideas, but I don't have the knowledge or skills to implement them. I know what needs to be done and how to do it, but lack the skills to do so. For instance I know that X thing can be done with a customized Y script, but have no clue how to set Y script up. Or I know that by adding a servo or two I can make a tool work better for me, but have no clue how to program the functions for it.

*million dollar idea*

It would be nice if there was a website where newbs, (not noobs), and regular folk, could for a reasonable price "hire" a programmer (or 4) to make a page/script/app/whatever. Kinda like an ebay/craigslist mix, where people can post jobs (WTB), and programmers can post offers (WTS).

As far as I know nothing like that exists. But, I'm probably wrong.

Re:As someone... (3, Informative)

nine932038 (1934132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456444)

...seriously? Elance, Guru.com, vWorker.com... just Google 'freelance programmers'. There are loads.

Re:As someone... (1)

jemmyw (624065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456450)

It would be nice if there was a website where newbs, (not noobs), and regular folk, could for a reasonable price "hire" a programmer (or 4) to make a page/script/app/whatever. Kinda like an ebay/craigslist mix, where people can post jobs (WTB), and programmers can post offers (WTS).

If only you could find a programmer.

Re:As someone... (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456468)

Yes, it does exist: Elance [elance.com]

If you can imagine it, then someone has already done it or is working on it

Re:As someone... (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456506)

Thanks, I'll bookmark that for future use.

The billionaires are the ones who imagine stuff nobody else has, and then do it...

Re:As someone... (1)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456604)

You're welcome.

Make a note of my email address and drop me a line. I might be interested in working on something new.

I'm not rich by any definition of the word but I choose my projects depending on how interesting they are; I have over 30 years experience in IT and software development, so normally I can tell if something is worth doing or if there is too much competition or the market is too small or any other reasons why it is just not worth it.

The best thing is that if I find it interesting, I would work for a cut of the proceeds... so you don't need to put money up front.

Re:As someone... (3, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456564)

You're either being sarcastic, or you've never heard of the countless craptacular freelancing sites all over the net, mostly dominated by inexpensive 3rd world programmers, if we can even call them such. Script kiddies with a language barrier, really.

The biggest problem I see with such sites is they encourage sending work to the lowest (or 2nd lowest) bidder, with no regard for quality or consistency. You get stuck in a loop where the product isn't complete (or of acceptable quality), then have to haggle back and forth with the guy to get it in a usable condition. You're faced with a chunk of cash already wasted on a non-working product, where it can be difficult to cut your losses and start over elsewhere. It doesn't matter how concise your specs are, or if you provide them with ready-made test suites, they won't bother and when the tests fail, you're treated to a stream of excuses. I'm not saying they're all like that, but of the dozen or so I've tried in the past few years, no good has come out of the experience, and I've usually had to finish or redo a significant portion of the work myself. Now the good news is I'm a programmer, but the bad news is I was subcontracting because I was too busy to do it myself in the first place, whether it was a one-off job for an app platform I didn't care to learn, or a small half-week job trumped by a high-priority client. So I got doubly screwed.

I guess if someone has sufficiently low standards and/or technical knowledge, these freelance boards could be tolerable. Better than no programmers at all, I guess. But then I look at the shitstorm of "I want a Facebook clone" followed by "I'll do it for $500" posts, and it's hard to resist the urge to set my cable modem on fire.

The best is when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456392)

I see an ad looking for an app developer from a self-pronounced idea guy who can't offer pay -- only a share in the profits that won't come -- and the ad says something like "It's like , but with a couple of cool things." As an iOS developer, the want ads for that particular platform are by far the most blatant in their stupidity.

Even better: "CompSci expert needed" (3, Interesting)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456404)

This might be limited to universities, but on job ads posted around the campus, "computer science student" tends to stand for "cheap coder". Every now and then some hot-shot (possibly a marketing, media or finance student) with a bright idea for a new dot-com (sorry, Web 2.0 site) puts up flyers asking for "computer scientists".

It's funny because technically, we can be cheap coders (and will be, often), but it would sound less bull-shitty if the ad actually said "programmer".

Programming is skilled labor and should unionize (5, Interesting)

wagadog (545179) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456408)

We should unionize. Conservative rhetoric aside, labor unions provide training, institute quality standards and work procedures.

The partnership system in the steamfitters and pipefitters unions could be emulated as pair programming is often much higher quality than code produced by lone programmers, or ad hoc hastily-assembled teams.

Think of it as a contracting outfit, only with the hefty cut that normally goes to the contract brokers -- going directly into your pension plan -- a REAL pension plan -- which you get to take with you from job to job.

Training, standards, a partner system, pensions, health plans. All the things we could get small businesses off the hook of having to provide.

And, union labor could actually undercut the likes of TekSystems and Adecco in a fair fight, lol.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (4, Interesting)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456474)

I think the current situation that programmers are in industry wide is exactly the sort of thing unions are designed to prevent. And I say that as a republican.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456562)

Unionization would be complete unsuccessful in an industry where entires countries of scabs can easily cross the virtual picket line. You can't off-shrore plumbers, electricians or jobs like that, though

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456546)

That wont happen while the public doesnt understand what you do.

Steamfitters and pipefitters can point to the pipes in the ceiling and say "I did that. To do it safely and correctly every time in every job, I am part of the union and their work rules." Its something tangible that people "get".

As a programmer you write non-tangible stuff, that the general public doesn't "get". "Its all just numbers and stuff, you just sit in front of the computer, why do you need a union to just sit around?"
Until that opinion has been dispelled, unionization will fail.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456698)

Must suck to work for people that unknowledgeable.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456576)

And, union labor could actually undercut the likes of TekSystems and Adecco in a fair fight, lol.

or be outsourced to India in record time. I think I know which is more likely

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456696)

There's more to Unions then striking you know? There's voting as a block for economic interests. Right now the trouble with the middle class is they're easily frightened by social issues. A Union gets them back on track and voting for a protectionist agenda that's needed to keep work in your country.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456620)

skilled labor does not unionize. i have no desire to support you when i can make much more money off of people who fail to perform.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456630)

Ahh.. there you go. Send even MORE programming jobs to India.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (2)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456644)

We should unionize. Conservative rhetoric aside, labor unions provide training, institute quality standards and work procedures.

I wish I had points to mod this funny. Have you ever had to deal with a Union? Unions enforce the supremacy of seniority, how many times have you had a boss or manager who couldn't find his ass with both hands but he had been there forever so he still had a job? Unionizing would compound this problem a hundredfold. In technology, you know as well as I do, that Rockstar programmers are out there and of all ages. Union rules will absolutely prevent a workplace from bringing in a younger worker above an older that they are better than. You can't have thought this idea through.

The partnership system in the steamfitters and pipefitters unions could be emulated as pair programming is often much higher quality than code produced by lone programmers, or ad hoc hastily-assembled teams.

Think of it as a contracting outfit, only with the hefty cut that normally goes to the contract brokers -- going directly into your pension plan -- a REAL pension plan -- which you get to take with you from job to job.

Training, standards, a partner system, pensions, health plans. All the things we could get small businesses off the hook of having to provide.

Where do you think all of that comes from? Small businesses will be paying for it one way or the other. There will be increased labor costs and as a result, fewer jobs available in our chosen career field. It's not just rhetoric, it's economic fact. Look at Detroit. When the rest of the nation was maxed at about 10% unemployment, they were looking at 15%. Southern states that are often "Right to Work" states and they can't force people to join unions are booming.

And, union labor could actually undercut the likes of TekSystems and Adecco in a fair fight, lol.

How? By magic? For the sake of argument, let's say you succeed in unionizing the IT in a workplace. What's to stop them from offering to double the salary of your best people to become "Managers" and then having a bunch of scabs telecommute for 40% less than they were paying the rest?

LK

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

MichaelKristopeit135 (1947022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456668)

riiiiiiiiiiight... because corporations have clearly shown they WILL NOT outsource programming to the lowest quote regardless of quality or country of origin....

you're a programmer and not making more than you think you're worth?

you're an idiot.

Re:Programming is skilled labor and should unioniz (1)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456678)

You either do not live in the US or have fallen for the idea that unions here express without ever having to live by them - I have *never* seen unions here work that way. In other countries I have certainly see them do that, but in those unions have to compete for your membership (and you don't even have to belong to one) *and* compete within the strictures of the people hiring them. That is a fairly decent system and is why so many non-us workers are so confused over why the US has such a backlash against unions.

I come from a mostly blue collar worker family (like many in East Tennessee - lots of high tech white collar workers but most from out of state). Of the myriad relatives I have I know many that have tried to rely on those union provided niceties and I can count the number that have had them work better than the federal provided one (say, medicare or medicaid) on one hand and have five fingers left over. That is to say none whatsoever. In every case when the time came the money was elsewhere and the union higher ups didn't know where it went or it was coming along shortly (and 30 years later after they died it was the unions to keep).

If we were to have a European version of unions I would be fine with it, most people around would too. For most of us in the US we have seen your noble ideas crash into the dust and the reality of Big Money (otherwise known as Unions in the US) come to play. I'm highly reminded of someone at my parents camp ground that ran out of savings last year - she is wondering where all her years of savings sent to the union went, why she has to strike for things she doesn't want, and what good this is going to do when they finally reach an agreement. Unless you want a long document you can find elsewhere don't ask me what I went through at Oak Ridge National Labs with the teamsters, electricians, and carpenters with changing a simple ethernet card (short version: teamsters move things, electricians plug/unplug anything electrical, and carpenters take screws in and out - and yes they are strict about that and no it doesn't matter the purpose - if your screw is holding an ethernet card you need the carpenters to remove it. Further you have to pay for two at a time for a minimum of one hour each nor could you schedule them in succession as you could only know a window of time they could come out that may or may not be fulfilled).

I'm reminded of how my mother dealt with the union when she works at a steel factory - she reminded them she also had a gun and knew how to use it. Our system blows - bringing the tech industry into it will not solve anything.

I don't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456432)

I like to think of my service as a commodity.

I don't really care how half baked someones idea is (as long as it isn't illegal or immoral). If they have the money and can distill their idea down to a concise view, I will code it for them and they can pay me for it.

I'm not their coach. I'm not their sales person. I create it for them and exit.

An example of something like this... (3, Interesting)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456434)

My father is a professor at a major university who for years has been listed as a "Alternative Fuels expert". He gets calls just about daily from whack-jobs who are positive they've invented some perpetual energy source and they just need some PHD to lend them the credibility to get funding. The vast majority of the people simply don't know what they are talking about, but a fun minority is downright insane, like the hobo who wandered into his office and explained to him where to find the aliens in the early 90s.

Re:An example of something like this... (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456614)

Did he even take a glance though? A lot of university folk (esp the PhDs) are so full of themselves they dismiss anything that doesn't match their worldview. I know the kind of people you're talking about, and while many truly are insane, there are a few with good ideas. Heck, Marconi, Tesla, Bell, Wright; at some point they were all considered "insane" by their peers, yet look at us today,

A bit unrelated but (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456448)

'They are doing the right thing to seek it out. I wonder what it would be like if more people could implement their own ideas.'"

This. I've met people with great concepts but extremely afraid of doing the coding parts, or art, or whatever. It bothers me.
I have what I consider good ideas, and people I talk to seems to agree to some extent, but I found out that unless I made them, nobody would.
Having the idea and bringing it to execution is perfection.

If I just had one impossible component! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456472)

This thing would work.

Ideas are cheap... (5, Insightful)

nine932038 (1934132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456510)

Implementation is something else. What so-called 'idea people' don't realize is that without implementation, ideas are worthless. And you know what? Implementation is hard.

Starting a business is hard work!

The intangible benefits are pretty great, of course - freedom to set your own hours (clients permitting), freedom to set your own priorities, that sort of thing. That's all great. But the costs are pretty hefty. It's not just the money - though the money is a big problem too!

It's about the stress of getting a business off the ground. It's about taking half pay, living expenses, or no pay whatsoever while the business gets off the ground. It's about hiring someone new and wondering if they're actually a fuckup who's going to pull you down. It takes grit! And after the first year, you end up wondering if you did the right thing - if working for someone else might not seem so bad after all.

I used to guard my ideas jealously, but these days I don't even care. Go ahead, 'steal' my ideas. Then, whether you fail or succeed, I'll watch what you did. And if I have the opportunity... I'll give it my best shot to do it better.

Being a programmer is like being an Artist. (2)

bferlin (642337) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456584)

We are implementers. And like all artists, there are true innovators and there are people who just slap things together. It isn't the idea that makes piece of work great, and it isn't the method of creating that work that makes the idea great. Would the Sistine Chapel be quite as impressive if it had just been another set of paintings commissioned by some bored king instead of a breathtaking ceiling three stories up?

Both the idea, and the one who renders it are important, and both lend to the success.

i hate "idea people" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34456624)

if they want "just a programmer", this programmer just want cash, a sexy brunette for casual sex and if the idea becomes successful a share of the profits.

Programmers = glorp (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456626)

My work has tried 3 or 4 times to make programmers generic glorp since 2000.

Our main system has 3 to 4 million lines. Our overall system is composed of over 10 systems this size (but the rest are owned by businesses so we don't actually code them but we do interface with them and each interface can have 300 to 500 entry/exit points).

They really just don't get it. At least a couple times a year something breaks and it comes down to 1 or 2 people who actually can fix it. It gets hard for those 1 or 2 people to maintain their skill level when they keep getting put on unrelated stuff.

ideas are a commodity... (1)

MichaelKristopeit163 (1939476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456632)

to be pulled off the shelf only when the old idea doesn't sell anymore.

I'm full of ideas, thats why I became a Programmer (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456660)

Idea #1: Graphical MMORPG for PC on internet before UO came out. Even though I didn't finish, thousands of hours of code is always good for a man.

Idea #2: An online auction site. I heard of people selling stuff on usenet and thought there's room for one online auction site.

Idea #3: Instant messaging before it was on PC Internet. I was too busy writing a MMORPG to pause to do this.

Idea #4: Looking at Slashdot and Fark, I figure theres room for a general news site with unlimited voting, I tried to code something like Digg for a while before I heard of it, then gave up when I found both Digg and Reddit.com

I just assume most tech savvy programmers know stuff like this. I don't think I'm special to come up with multibillion dollar ideas and see them succeed under other people's development. I figure most people know what is gonna get big and just don't have the resources to code it all. Like I'm back on the horse to make a MMORPG, and I should have it done 2011. We're negotiating a contract with a publisher now for the single player version which is finished aside from a bug or two, and publisher requested changes. I'll be happy to post this free to play Flash game on Slashdot when we get it up on a publisher for January or February release.

I've had many propositions (3, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34456682)

I'm a college student. Not even a Distinguished Professor. Or even a working programmer. Occasionally, I'll meet a recent business grad who will discover that I know how to write code, and say, "I have this great idea, I think there's a market for it, we should totally do that."

Well, they know I'm cheap, so at least part of the scheme works for them.

Mostly it involves them talking up a vague notion, which is somehow the Next Big Thing. "It's like eBay! Except it's on your iPhone! And I know eBay already has an iPhone app, but they haven't been successful with it and I will be!" And then it involves me doing all the work and them taking their big cut for the "inspiration." It's fairly easy to come up with an idea that's "like X for your Y." And so I smile and nod and discuss it a bit and then go on my merry way.

If said recent business grad were really able to present me with an idea that really were All That and a Bag of Chips, and could be done by one college student with a twelve-pack of Mountain Dew, I'm not sure what I'd need them for. If I could implement it, I would probably do so and then, if it turned out to really be successful, hire someone else to do the "businessy stuff." Why, I mean, once you've got a product, all there is to do is market it, right?

Fortunately, our friend doesn't need to worry about me stealing his ideas and cutting him out of the picture, because I don't think his ideas are all that hot to begin with.

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