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Author Topic: On developer's block, and calling it quits. Being a programmer is hard  (Read 6145 times)

urlwolf

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Hi guys,

I just wanted to bring to your attention a thread that got me thinking.
Vitaly, the developer of spider player, a player that sounds surprisingly good (nobody knows why; it uses BASS and 32-bit processing, which you can find in others that don't sound as good) has decided to switch careers, partly frustrated with how difficult programming is:

thread

I have to admit that programming is hard. I'm right now chasing a bug that has driven me crazy for 3 weeks straight. I have written a 30-page-long paper with results I was suspecting were wrong. Now (IF I catch the bug!) I'll have to rewrite most of it.

There are many ways in which programming can be NOT fun. I wonder if we realize this.

Again, a 'thank you' to Vitaly and to all programmers around the world that make our lives more pleasant with their software.

superboyac

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I have an enormous amount of admiration for programmers, and I still feel like I take it for granted.  You guys make my life so much easier, it's no joke.

mouser

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I am still in the process of experiencing the existentialist heartbreak of realizing that it's not enough in this world to just do good work and be productive.

The aspects of life and making a living can be painful for many programmers, myself included, who somehow grew up believing that if we just focused on being good programmers (or good academics) and weren't interested in being rich, that everything else would just fall into place on it's own.

The shock of having to worry about irrational chaotic business issues, when these are things you really want nothing to do with, can be very frustrating.  And in this economy, with the current trends towards giant-corporations and advertising-based revenues for everything, it can feel like you are all alone out there.

As a programmer there are lots of things we have to work on that aren't fun -- fixing bugs, writing documentation, etc.  These things are worth it in the end if your program proves useful to people and you have the time to spend on them.. But working on such things and feeling like you are just digging yourself a bigger hole can feel paralyzing -- and even then it often feels like you can't stop digging once you start.  In that sense -- maybe the best thing to do sometimes is to put down a project and try to get some perspective.  So perhaps vitaly is taking the a step in a positive direction.

cranioscopical

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The shock of having to worry about irrational chaotic business issues, when these are things you really want nothing to do with, can be very frustrating.

It's not just programming is it?

I always wanted to do whatever it was that I started my businesses to do.
Then I had to devote time and energy to running the damn things.
The trick is to find good people and delegate, which is fine with a healthy revenue stream.



urlwolf

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I wonder how much of most jobs is actually enjoyable. Although research is supposed to be fun, there are healthy amounts of bullshit involved (paperwork, repetitive menial tasks, meetings, dealing with rejections etc). Resistance to boredom is actually useful for research (realizing this was _very_ counterintuitive). Some productive researchers do take their job as something boring the have to do. And they get it done, whereas if you are idealistic and try to work only on the fun stuff, your boring but needed parts will drag you down forever.

Dormouse

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Well, it is very hard to make a substantial (reasonable) income out of producing a consumer application as a single coder. Most people do it on top of other work, or get a lot done when they are otherwise un (or under) employed.

That said, all jobs have their boring, nitpicking, detailed, repetitive side. The real trick is to have a job where you actually enjoy (most of) these parts as well as the 'interesting' stuff.

steeladept

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Another point is to realize just what and why you enjoy doing it.  I know for myself the reason I liked doing deskside support had nothing to do with the work which was quite repetitive and boring and had a lot to do with the fact that I got out and met nearly everyone in the company.  I didn't realize this until they forced us to start using LanDesk (remote control desktop) when I started to realize just how boring and repetitive my job really was. The part I liked facilitated the completion of the part I didn't like as much. Go figure.

Now that I am doing a completely different job, I don't have either of those factors.  Instead, I had to find a new like (still looking for those interested) and a whole new set of drudgery.  That is why I am looking at going back to school and looking both internally and externally for another job.

tomos

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I am still in the process of experiencing the existentialist heartbreak of realizing that it's not enough in this world to just do good work and be productive.

The aspects of life and making a living can be painful for many programmers, myself included, who somehow grew up believing that if we just focused on being good programmers (or good academics) and weren't interested in being rich, that everything else would just fall into place on it's own.

The shock of having to worry about irrational chaotic business issues, when these are things you really want nothing to do with, can be very frustrating.  And in this economy, with the current trends towards giant-corporations and advertising-based revenues for everything, it can feel like you are all alone out there.

I think that's the case for anyone who isn't employed (i.e. for the self employed) and possibly these days for employed people too.

I used never think about money, I always scraped by, but you got to value your work, no matter what you do. And I mean value it many ways - appreciate it, enjoy it if you can, and realising it's monetary worth is part of that too. Personally I find that financial valueing difficult at times (amongst other things :-\)

What was that trashy advertising campaign - "because I'm worth it"    ;-)
Tom

zridling

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I think Vitaly's frustration also demonstrates the adage that what got you [here] won't get you [there]. He needs a change because after a certain point, further success is dependent on behavioral changes.

Except for stocking books at Barnes & Noble (a class company), every other job I've ever had sucked, as in really sucked. Even if I liked it after learning the job, I got bored with it and moved on. Thus I've never made money, just wages. I've never flipped the switch in my brain to become a corporate guy. I tried a few times, but my jobs were like working at "The Office" -- lose-lose whatever I chose!

cranioscopical

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Except for stocking books at Barnes & Noble
Not to mention "Suspenders Weekly" magazine...


cmpm

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Re: On developer's block, and calling it quits. Being a programmer is hard
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2009, 06:16:30 AM »
Being appreciated and helping others is a big part of the attitude in any job I believe. Along with good people to work with helps a lot.

It don't matter if you are selling or service or giving things away. It's the giving that counts, and the satisfaction of the one being gave to is thankful. Because whether or not you get paid for it, you are giving your time, talent and energy into whatever you are doing. It's not a waste, as others benefit from it. And it's nice to hear about it too.

I'm a custodian/janitor at our local school system. And hardly hear anything except when something got missed or is dirty or some other mess. I used to be self employed and made 3 times as much as I do now. But after 9-11 the window cleaning I was doing was for residential mainly and it killed it for the rest of that year. I held on for 2 more years till I had to get another job. Over 20 years of doing windows, which is still a bit active, a few calls a year. Time for a change I think. Looking back.

Anyway there was immediate appreciation and results seen in window cleaning, but not so much in what I'm doing now. It was a big change in my life. But as I became more thankful, I put more in to what I was doing and it shows to the others I work with as well as the teachers, but they still don't say much. But when they do I'm thankful to hear it.

So anyway I guess what I'm saying is there is satisfaction that can be gained in any job. Try not to get held back by the amount of money made or what you are doing, but how much of you is going into it will be seen.

More money would be great, but that we don't have full control of.

There is hurtles in every occupation. Be it programming or whatever. New ones too. If we think about what we have to do too much it's like we already did it, and that is tiresome.

cranioscopical

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Re: On developer's block, and calling it quits. Being a programmer is hard
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2009, 06:36:18 AM »
I'm a custodian/janitor at our local school system. And hardly hear anything except when something got missed or is dirty or some other mess.
Without you and your colleagues the entire system would soon grind to a halt!
It's good to see people sustaining a positive attitude in the face of little appreciation.


mrainey

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Re: On developer's block, and calling it quits. Being a programmer is hard
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2009, 12:18:22 PM »
Quote
Even if I liked it after learning the job, I got bored with it and moved on.

That's me too.  I went through twelve jobs in twenty-eight years.  Laid off twice, all the other job changes were by choice.
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