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Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

Emperor Shaddam IV Developing isn't just coding... (232 comments)

"As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.' "

I think us older developers bring a lot to the table young padawan.

First of all, development isn't just about coding and what languages/skills you know. How you USE those skills is important and comes with experience. Countless times I start a new job or contract and see younger developers making the same mistakes with the following:

Insufficient or non-existant logging.
Bogus error messages ( HTTP 500 anyone? ) or no error handling at all
Bad SQL and File system I/O leading to performance issue.
Over reliance on tools to generate code/in-ability to understand generated code.
No bug tracking.
Poor source control or no source control.
Lack of testing methodology/skills - nobody wants to QA, only unit testing.
Poor change management - things thrown into production.

Secondly, Wow, really? We don't learn new skills? I am in my 40's and I frequently encounter developers in their 60's and 70's still out there coding with modern languages. As for myself, I'm in my mid 40's and I've only managed to learn and use and put into production code written with the following languages: ( Note I still like to work in the yard and do things outside of work. )

Cobol,
C,
C#
C++
Java,
Java Script
Python
Visual Basic
Various Unix shell scripts ( SH, KSH, Bash )
I also know HTML/CSS well enough to build a web site, I just don't really like web side programming - I'm more of a server side developer.

I have also done some coding in the following languages and tools but decided not to use them either because I didn't like them, they are obsolete, or they were not very relevant to the work I am currently doing:

Assembly
Basic
Perl
Ruby/Rails
TCK/TK
Visual Basic

Third, why is being a Google or Facebook considered a sign of success these days? Yes, the salary and benefits might be good, but experience has taught me that usually the only people that really benefit are the founders and the first or second wave of developers. Then everyone "jumps" on and the stock equity gets diluted. Besides, not everyone wants to live on the West coast and spend 1 million for a house and pay some of the highest state taxes in the nation.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Change Tech Careers At 30?

Emperor Shaddam IV Become an MS Office expert (451 comments)

If you like Microsoft and you don't want to program but you like teaching/training. Why not become an expert at Excel, Word, Powerpoint, etc. I'm sure a ton of small businesses might need help and training in that area. You could also learn Windows Server inside and out and maybe train people at small/medium companies how to setup email servers, web servers, FTP, Firewall's etc.

Just some ideas.

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Command Line Interfaces -- What Is Out There?

Emperor Shaddam IV I heart C-64 Command line (383 comments)

LOAD “$”,8 - Now that was useful!

about 10 months ago
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Obamacare Website Fixes Could Take Two Weeks Or Two Months

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Still faster / easier to apply than it used to (382 comments)

Have you ever worked on a health care project?

HIPPA regulations and the contracts between the government and the contractors would most certainly prevent anyone that is not directly involved in the project from touching the code.

Dude, this isn't open source, its a federal government project with all the rules and regs that apply.

Besides, I doubt they would listen even if suggestions came forth. Inside some of the larger corporations and consulting companies, I think the attitude that open source = Hackers/Anarchism still prevails.

1 year,11 days
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Arduino Gaming: Not So Retro Any More

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:I just do not understand the market for this (53 comments)

Well, sometimes its cool to use tools and program on something that most people aren't coding on. I coded a text based 21 Blackjack game on a TRS-80 Model IV back in the day. I also coded a game using Simon's Basic on a C-64. Hardly anyone else did, but it was still cool and I learned a lot.

I don't think its so much for playing or coding the latest games as it is to learn about micro-controllers and low-level game programming AND not everyone is "doing" it. Like everyone that jumped on the Java bandwagon years ago for enterprise apps. Or the .net bandwagon for Microsoft apps. Or like everyone is currently jumping on the "Android" or 'iOS" bandwagon for mobile gaming. :)

1 year,16 days
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Another Science Facility Bites the Dust, Temporarily

Emperor Shaddam IV So the government is a victim of itself? (193 comments)

Both sides won't compromise so its both party's fault. Meanwhile, there are the funds and staff to update various websites to say they are shutdown, close down parks, blockade monuments, etc. And the healthcare.gov website is dysfunctional for almost a week?

And we are supposed to feel "sorry" for the government and its employees because they are a victim of the incompetence in Washington and they depend mostly on the federal government for funds?

Those of us in the private sector working outside of government still have to pay taxes and make our payroll deductions, or the IRS will come after us with a vengeance. When our "companies" and "businesses" get shut down, we get laid off or lose our jobs or investments or even our homes, instead of just being "furloughed".

I would say the rest of us that aren't in government or directly working for government are the real victims here.

1 year,20 days
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Outsourced Manufacturing Plant Maintenance Creates IT Opportunities (Video)

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Labor will never be what it was (67 comments)

Yeap,
That's why they manufacture BMW's in South Carolina and BMW has expanded the plant and hired more workers over the years. Last time I took a tour of the facility, they were making all the X3's, X5's, and X6's for the world market, including the ones being sold in Asia.

Yeap, we can't compete with anyone.

about a year ago
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Remember the Computer Science Past Or Be Condemned To Repeat It?

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Back to BASIC (479 comments)

Basic ain't that bad.

I worked at a very large retailer that used Business Basic running on Data General mini-computers in the early 1990's. Of course, they also had IBM iron running MVS with tons of CICS/COBOL programs. Its surprising how much "could" be done with Basic back in the day.

I also still remember the C-64 games, a lot of which were written in basic and would use a bunch of "pokes" to load assembly routines into memory.

And what about good old Access Basic and Visual Basic? The easiest way to code a windows GUI program back in the day. Much easier to use than that Visual Studio/MFC C++ junk back in the 1990's. :)

about a year ago
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Can Older Software Developers Still Learn New Tricks?

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Of course not (365 comments)

As an older guy - I have no problem helping younger guys out. I have had a lot of mentors over the years and I still learn from those more experienced then I am. I just get a little torqued up when someone young comes along and thinks they know all the answers and starts trying to "boss" everyone around. Usually these guys are the first ones laid off or forced out, as they are not team players.

about a year and a half ago
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Can Older Software Developers Still Learn New Tricks?

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Of course not (365 comments)

I don't consider myself to be an old fart, yet I know how to do most of the things you mention there.

I know a tiny bit of COBOL; just enough to hate it. I could muddle through assembly if I had to. (True story: In college, my Intro to Computers instructor forced us to read and write System/360 machine code by hand.) C and C++: I'm rusty, but not incompetent. Java, C#, and SQL (any dialect) are my bitch. Log files don't terrify me; grep was made for a reason. Memory leaks are a pain, but not insurmountable. Test plans are for people who actually test (just kidding!).

Age: 33. (Not old, dammit!)

If you are over 30 and a programmer, your walker will be arriving shortly. Security will be on hand to escort you out.

Uh actually - I just turned 45. I was coding mostly C and some C++ when I was 30 and Java was just starting to get noticed.

Anyway, at 45 I probably get contacted by anywhere from 1 to 5 recruiters a week. I also haven't gone more than 2-3 weeks without work in the last 20 years without either a job offer or the next job lined up. In fact, at this point, I have to avoid recruiters just to get a little time off between contracts or jobs.

I don't consider myself the best or a genius. I'm probably in the top 20% of coders - but definitely not the top 5%. Yet I find myself arguing the same arguments and solving many of the same issues from company to company because so many folks fail to see the bigger picture. Yes, I have been let go a few times in my career, but its mostly because I wouldn't convert from contractor to a perm position or because of political reasons. I don't think I've ever been let go in a true lay-off, and most of the time I choose when I leave my job and move onto the next one.

As for the walker - thankfully not yet. I still manage to lift weights and hike/run/bike in my spare time..

I guess 45 is the new 29. :)

about a year and a half ago
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Can Older Software Developers Still Learn New Tricks?

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Of course not (365 comments)

Yeah, this old fart knows Cobol, Assembly, C, C++, Java, a little C# and several other languages. I enjoy when you younger guys come to me for help because you can't read a log file, resolve a memory leak, write a test plan up, or optimize your SQL. :)

about a year and a half ago
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The Eternal Mainframe

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Deep (225 comments)

Mainframes aren't so "specialized". Maybe you are confusing Mainframes with Supercomputers which tend to be much more specialized and focused towards scientific and research usage.

I worked on IBM big iron back in the day and a "mainframe" can run Linux Partitions as well as other mainframe OS's. Unix boxes aren't so generic either. A unix box running Linux is different than a Unix box running HP-UX or Solaris and requires some different sys-admin skills. There are other issues with shared library linking being different, different compiler's, different shells, etc.

MVS is now z/OS and it supports multiple programming languages - its not just your grandfather's COBOL anymore:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z/OS

about a year and a half ago
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H-1B Cap Reached Today; Didn't Get In? Too Bad

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:They're not who you think (512 comments)

I'm not so sure about the reciprocity. In India, the Indian nationals were being treated as badly as I was. I mean, my god, why does a passport have to be checked 5 or 6 times when exiting India by every other armed guard? I have stood in immigration lines coming into the US and it was nothing like the process I saw in India. It seemed almost as difficult to get out of India as to get in.

Likewise, in the Philippines guys from the UK, Europe and other countries that I knew had to go through the same BS as us Americans.

about a year and a half ago
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H-1B Cap Reached Today; Didn't Get In? Too Bad

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:There IS a talent shortage. (512 comments)

Talent has nothing to do with it - until a company is burned and a bunch of unmaintainable code with variable names like "foo" and Class names like public UtilityClassThatDoesEverything, which is full of memory leaks is crashing the servers every day or 2.

Then they call in the people with real talent and pay decent salaries. Or they hire consultants and contractors to fix the mess.

Talent does matter. It just takes some companies a little time to learn that doing things correctly with talented people often is a lot better strategyin the long run than hiring based on the lowest prevailing wage.

about a year and a half ago
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H-1B Cap Reached Today; Didn't Get In? Too Bad

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:They're not who you think (512 comments)

@Kumiorava,
I went to the UK a few times as part of my job employed by a US company. I usually arrived via Gatwick. I had a US passport, but no Visa since I was working for a US company temporarily at their offices. I was "grilled" at the airport in Customs by a british custom/immigration agent for around 10 minutes. I even told her I had a house in the US and I wasn't going to be there more than 2 weeks. But I still had to answer all these questions and I was treated like I was trying to "sneak" in to the UK.

I also went to the Philippines several times and went through some of the same mess and I had to get multiple Visa's to stay beyond 2 weeks each time, even though I was working for a US company based in the Philippines and had no intention of staying or taking jobs from local residents. I was in fact there to train staff.

I went to India one week to conduct training working for a US based company. I had to get a letter of introduction from someone that worked as my office, a visa that cost a couple hundred dollars from the Indian Consulate, fill out a bunch of papers with my personal information, and then I got treated like crap and ordered around by security in the Bangalore airport a few times by security officers brandishing assault rifles. I was there to train consultants from India. If anything, I was helping to train the local staff, not taking any jobs from anyone, but I still had to jump through all these hoops for 1 week. Only 1 week.

In my experience, I think the US is probably not as much as a hassle compared to other countries. I dispute what you are saying.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails?

Emperor Shaddam IV "An anonymous reader writes" (282 comments)

"An anonymous reader writes" - What? I've been on Slashdot for a while and enough is enough. "An anonymous reader" shouldn't be able to submit articles. "Anonymous" cowards are already trolling Slashdot to dead. If you don't have the guts to post under your username, then why should you have the right to post anything?

Just my opinion.

about a year and a half ago
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Code.org Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas?

Emperor Shaddam IV Re:Point being? Noise-signal ratio? (226 comments)

Agreed. Pointless post. Code.org is probably irrelevant anyway as people who want to code will learn how anyway, and most other people probably don't care.

Besides coding is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge difference between teaching a kid how to code in school and actually writing quality code, understanding relational databases, coding for real-time transaction processing, understanding source control, having the patience to sit in front of a monitor for 8-10 hours a day, etc, etc.

Most of the people I took coding classes ( Basic on Apple II's ) with in high-school aren't even coding or in IT at all now. In fact, some of the people I went to college with have even left the field.

about a year and a half ago

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Recruiters in the IT Industry

Emperor Shaddam IV Emperor Shaddam IV writes  |  more than 4 years ago

I would just like to take a little time to vent about recruiting in the IT industry. Once upon a time, you used to actually be able to find "recruiters" that you could work with. These guys or gals would call you periodically, take you out to lunch every now and then and just keep in touch. They were honest, hard working, and if they said they had a job for you to consider - they were usually serious.

Today in 2010 I'm finding that:

1. Recruiters don't know anything about the technology they are recruiting for.
2. Bug you for resumes and even cover letters and then don't return you phone calls or respond to emails.
3. Want you to doctor your resume to fit the job.
4. Don't read or pay attention to the skills on your resume and then try to pitch a job to you that has nothing to do with your skill set.
5. Lie about the going rate or salary for a position - either tell you its going to be much higher and then lowering it about 4-5 times or trying to low-ball you.

And the recruiters wonder why they can't find good people. Maybe its because they have ticked all the decent people off and we don't want to deal with them anymore.

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