Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Programming Sucks, Implementing Unicorns, and Other Professional Insights

This article by Peter Welch, "Programming Sucks",  is probably the best description of our profession I have ever read. Those of you who are computer scientists will read it and say, YES, EXACTLY; those of you who are not computer scientists but think we are mystical beasts from mordor will realize we are not actually mystical beasts. (Though may indeed come from mordor).

Peter's article is so good, I am loathe to quote the clever, funny bits because they're so much better in context; but I have to at least post some some teasers:
Not a single living person knows how everything in your five-year-old MacBook actually works. Why do we tell you to turn it off and on again? Because we don't have the slightest clue what's wrong with it, and it's really easy to induce coma in computers and have their built-in team of automatic doctors try to figure it out for us. The only reason coders' computers work better than non-coders' computers is coders know computers are schizophrenic little children with auto-immune diseases and we don't beat them when they're bad.
Most people don't even know what sysadmins do, but trust me, if they all took a lunch break at the same time they wouldn't make it to the deli before you ran out of bullets protecting your canned goods from roving bands of mutants. 


  1. Sorry, I don't think you're from Mordor. But, reading all that rekindles that nasty part of my brain that feels smug that I actually know how to do smelting, smithing, carpentry, and how to recognize various ores and chose what kind of timber to use for what projects and why. It also reminds me of the futility of trying to really understand why somethings happen on our network or my desk's silicon paperweight. We have a fantastic sysadmin here. He is not appreciated nearly enough.

    That description of the bridge? I've been on projects that are at risk for becoming like it. It is usually the spawn of a Joint Venture that is under a Design-Build Contract...maybe even a P3. I work in foundations and tunnelling -- ie: My work is always at the physical bottom of whatever project it is -- and I both see the worst of the messed up conflicts and avoid the majority of them.

    Good luck!

    1. I think a healthy dose of nerd-pride smugness is ok ;-)