Monthly Archives: May 2008

Vilification of the 5:01 Developer

 

I was listening to the Alt.NET Podcast the other day (which I recommend to anyone interested in this sub-community), and something Chad Myers said really resonated with me.  To paraphrase, developers for whom programming is simply a job do not deserve our scorn.  As satisfying as it may be to rant about the abysmal level of knowledge of best practices in the .NET community (or any programming community), care needs to be taken not to alienate those developers.  It is not our place to make that kind of value judgment.  A person who we may call a “5:01” developer may have a sick family member that needs care.  They may be passionate about something else, like church missions or other charitable work.

 

And whether any of those things is true about each of those developers or not is irrelevant anyway.  No matter what, we will always have co-workers who don’t share our near-obsessive level of dedication to the craft of software development.  If any movement like Alt.NET is to ever have any real impact on the overall .NET environment, the 5:01 crowd has to be reached.  As Chad said, dedicated developers need to “work inside their motivation.”  5:01’s are (by definition I suppose) at work for a whole eight hours.  If we can’t reach someone in that amount of time, it’s our failing, not theirs.

 

In addition, I think some people may be underestimating the level of professionalism of 5:01’s.  In my limited experience, when I show someone else at work a better way to do something, more likely than not, they’ll say, “Oh, OK. That’s cool, I’ll do it that way from now on.”  Just because someone doesn’t go home and blog every night doesn’t mean that they’re dumb, lazy, or not concerned about the quality of their work.

 

If the Alt.NET community truly wishes to become more “democratized,” as was mentioned in the podcast, that has to include a strategy for reaching out to workday developers.  It can’t be seen as cliqueish, or it will drive away the proverbial “80%” and never really achieve its stated goals.

New Job Update

I’m on my third week at my new job, and I’m starting to get a better idea about what it’s like to work there. Every place has it’s quirks, but I think I’ll be able to live with the ones here.

After I successfully reconfigured my machine’s development environment, (since the first time I had some trouble with the Active Reports designer) my new boss said, “Hey, now that you know how to do this, why don’t you refresh a couple of our test VMs to get them current with production.”

Epic. Fail.

It wasn’t actually that bad, but I was a bit disgruntled to be doing admin work when I was hired to be a developer, and the company has two full time admins plus a remote part-timer. But wait, it gets better. A few days later, when I had another error that was occurring on my machine but not on the one belonging to the developer I was working with, we decided that my machine was just crap, and we just needed to get me a laptop. The image used for laptops is different (needing different drivers, after all), so we figured there must just be something wrong with the desktop image.

Turns out it wasn’t that after all, but I’m glad I got the laptop anyway. That way I can work from home if I need to. Needless to say, with all the starting over I had to do, I’d had quite enough by the time I was done.

After my admin stint, however, I got into making real changes to the site. Actual user requests, too, not “Alphabetize all the procedures in this program.” Even though, most of my changes were in the Active Reports designer, I got a glimpse at how things are structured here. All of the data access (and it seems some of the business logic) is in SQL Server stored procedures. This is an interesting concept for me, since my former employer didn’t use any stored procedures. I suppose it’s good thing that the first certification I’ll be working on is for SQL Server.

I’ve had all kinds of idea for blog posts over the past couple of days, but with things as hectic as they have been, I just haven’t had the opportunity. Since my wife is up in Arkansas and I’m down in Louisiana for the rest of the week, I’ll probably get an opportunity to post a couple more times. Perhaps that will help alleviate the guilt of infrequent posting!

My First Week

I just finished my first week at my new job. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot to tell about the differences in development experience at this point, because I haven’t gotten the development environment totally set up yet. I thought we were there at the end of Thursday, but Friday we found out that my machine wouldn’t display the ActiveReports designer correctly, no matter what we tried. So I’m going to have to go through the whole setup process again (not to mention reinstall all my pet tools like VIM) on another machine. Looking forward to actually being productive sometime next week.

The first day was mostly signing stuff and meeting everyone. There are about 50 or so developers, contrary to what I may have told people earlier. Enough that it will still take me a while to remember everyone’s names. One thing that was kind of disappointing that I discovered was that I’m not allowed to do paid consulting work outside my job, since this would be a conflict of interests with my employer. I can still do things for free, though, so I can help out whatever church I end up attending.

That’s it for now, I suppose. I’ll post again when I have a better picture of what the development experience is going to be like

Dallas Tech Fest 08

I’m so glad I decided to go to Dallas this weekend. Since I’m starting a new job this Wednesday, I almost skipped out to clean the house more in preparation to sell it. In the end, though, my wife and I decided that we’d gotten enough done already that it would be okay if I went.

I got to hear some great talks, participate in an alternate languages open spaces, and sit in on a .NET Rocks episode recording on building community. And on top of that, I won a Mac Mini and a copy of Vista to dual boot on it! That’s right, I’m composing this blog post from that very computer. Makes the $60 in gas to get down and back up seem like a good investment, huh? 😉

I’ve got material for several posts from the stuff I got to do there, so stay tuned!