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Programming: Love It or Leave It


David W. writes:
But, damnit, I simply can’t keep throwing out everything I
learned every other year just to remain current in this

You won’t throw anything out. I am 42, and am keeping up just fine.

The trick is to discover that the more everything changes, the more everything stays the same.

I am getting the opposite impression from you in fact, and am dismayed how the majority of fresh grads seem to know nothing.


I love being a programmer. I write programs as a hobby. I love learning new languages and keeping up my skills on languages I don’t get to use. That’s why I hate hearing some of my coworkers talk about how they need to get out of this business. How they hate to write code all day. Well you know what - do it! Stop raining on those of us who actually enjoy what we do.

Don’t you have any other hobbies or interests besides sitting in front of a screen 24/7? You do realize that you’re wasting your time when you keep up skills on languages that you don’t use, right?


Hmm… Your views are true on the other side of the globe as well. I believe programming is more about passion rather than a just a JOB. Well, fortunately enough I joined an open source project and soon going to be a Committer with Apache Software Foundation.


153 comments, and I’m surprised nobody’s pointed this out. Jeff, you’re misusing the dot-com bubble metaphor. The bubble was when things grew out of control, and everybody thought they could become a millionaire and many of them were right. What happened in 2000 was that the bubble burst, as bubbles (literal and metaphorical alike) are wont to do, and suddenly there wasn’t a bubble any more.

So, no, the present situation is certainly not another dot-com bubble. Nor is it the burst of another dot-com bubble, because there wasn’t really a bubble to burst. (What it is, however, is in part a burst of some sort of bubble on Wall Street.)

your friendly local language pedant. :slight_smile:


The second point I would like to make is that anyone saying they are programmers because they love writing code - that is very immature, I’m talking World of Warcraft / Dungeons and Dragons immature. Programming is a job, and not a hobby.

Hey buddy, what’s wrong with Dungeons and Dragons?!


Consider yourself lucky gentlemen… I’ve applied… And never, ever once had an interview…


My hope is that the cheerleading, blindfolded, fanboys like you and Joel, leave the industry. When’s the last time either of you debugged a race condition? You manage programmers and therefore have a vested interest in keeping the illusion alive. Programming is a JOB. It is often HARD. It is very STRESSFUL.

I can relate. But success is such a destination that comes from something. These guys apparantly reached it! So…


My observation about the trouble with working as a developer is due to people above, so called Managers. Most of the time anyone who can’t be very techie starts thinking of getting into management and then suddenly we have people making technical decisions, who in first place left it for not able to cope with complexity and competition. Same people then make life difficult for everyone around them and people start thinking to quit or do something else.


Get a life, will you people?

It’s… it’s just a TV show!


Couldn’t agree more with this post. Being a good programmer requires an enoromous amount of practice and patience for the rest of your career. If you don’t love it, you’ll either 1) fail or 2) waste a lot of time doing something you hate.


Excellent post. I agree that programming / software engineering is a field which works for those love it.


The greatest thing about programming is a solo performance. Programming is an art. The job-thing Spolsky is talking about with his ridiculous $75K claim (you can’t buy a new Mac with that money every year), is the teamwork-cubicle job that became industry standard when herding people into VB started in early 90s. At some point, somebody realized that VBfication of programming is actually a piece of junk and GoF threw out a book of songs many already knew, but many didn’t, so it became a bestseller. For reference, the GoF stuff was known to programming community in mid 80s. The GoF book appeared a decade later. A true innovation.

Solo performances are indicative of most art performances. I don’t know about salary, I never had one. I do what I love for those who have the do-re-mi.


Garbage collection is a field which works for those who love it.

Sheep herding is a field which works for those who love it.

Plumbing is a field which works for those who love it.

Debt collection is a field which works for those who love it.

Human resources is a field which works for those who love it.

Toll Booth collecting is a field which works for those who love it.

Prostitution is a field which works for those who love it.

Prison guard is field which works for those who love it.

Drug muleing is a field which works for those who love it.

Narcissistic blog writing is a field which works for those who love themselves.


@Jake H

Many Americans have explained here that one of the reasons they love their job is that it pays so well in America (I didn’t know that). It is not all narcissism, it is not denied that money is also an issue.

Have the posts of Jeff Atwood become more or less self referential over time? I don’t know, I guess I could find out by doing some statistics but frankly I don’t really care.

Almost everyone wants or needs some optimism and self esteem (what ever that may be?), this includes acquiring self esteem by your job life. Those few developers who don’t want or need self esteem can read Houellebecq’s Extension du domaine de la lutte. Luckily there is choice on this planet.


LOvE iT !!


After reading the disgruntled posts here from long time programmers and hearing so much about ageism and outsourcing, I’m thinking of leaving the industry. What is a good industry to get into where your programming skills would put you at an advantage?

A. Web design. Live where you want, work when you want :slight_smile:


I’ve been in the business for 25 years. I’ve been screwed over for more than 4 Million in unpaid royalties. I’ve worked for the biggest games companies in the world.

All that happens is they work you to death and then you get screwed over.

If they can’t roll you for a LOT of money they don’t give you the job. It’s as simple as that. It’s not how good at programming you are (I was among the best in the early days) It’s will you hit their selfish, greedy and impossible deadlines and how easy is it to rip you off.

I have half a dozen number one selling titles under my belt and am friends with the biggest names in the industry (the older ones).

Games companies want anonymous youngsters, who will remain unknown, work on a sallary, no royalty payments, work 24 hours a day and cope with visionless Producers who are on the same money as them if not more.

A simple test:

Name a musician… any one you like.
Name a book author.
Name an Actor again any one you like…

Now. Name a video games programmer.

Obviously this test only works for prople who arn’t IN the games industry. But considering the video games market makes more money than Hollywood and the music industry combined, I think its shocking that no member of the public could name a single games programmer.

Not one.

Instead of promoting programmers (the talant) they promote the business exec.

Now we interview Terry from accounts…
Tell me Terry, how did you manage to develop that fantastic game
…well er… I sorted out the finance, got some people who think they know what they’re doing (called producers) had them sit on an infinite number of monkeys and hey presto…


I briefly considered a different career, mostly due to idiotic management that had me stuck in development hell. It had nothing to do with economic circumstances, but more with being fed up with incompetent bosses.

My actual thinking was that I enjoyed programming more when it was a hobby than when I started doing it as a career, so maybe I should turn it into a hobby once again.

Thankfully, rather than pursuing a different career, I found a better job with competent management and am quite happy. So your career might not be the problem, it might just be your current job.


In France, software engineering seems to annoy the managers a lot.

We have an elite culture that basically explain that your manager knows as much as you do, and even more. He/She is always right, including when wrong (Dilbert would feel at home). And software engineering explodes this simplistic (simpleton-minded) model.

So the software engineer is expected to continue his/her career as a manager, even manager in other fields.

So, growing experienced as a software engineer is just seen like being unable to evolve, even if you prove the contrary (to avoid becoming obsolete, the engineer must always learn new technologies). So, don’t expect increase of salary beyond some limit, because beyond, it is a manager salary.

And managers are always better than everyone else, aren’t they ?

Daniel Glazman ( http://www.glazman.org/weblog/ ) wrote a whole blog about that:
(in french, sorry… the title can be translated as All the [BAD] shapes of french computing industry)



This explains that, even as I like computing, even as I do program at home, just for the fun of it, I wonder, sometimes, if I should either move away to other countries, or move away from an interesting career just to avoid being seen like the old geek wanabe from cubicle 13.


I spent Christmas Eve setting up servers.

Haha!! Me too!!!