The Passionate Programmer

I read The Passionate Programmer over the weekend:


I had three thoughts:

Much of the book is for people who never got a mba (not for the course content, but for the ethos of the environment) who don’t understand how to package their own labor.  In one sense, the IT industry was an easy place to identify as a topic because of the nature of the people and work in the 1970s and 1980s. My colleague Rob Seder had the same ideas in his coding best practices course – you name is your brand so you better control it, etc…

In our company, there are two types of developers – “real” developers and “business developers”.  The real developers use java, the business developers use .NET.  The real developers work on enterprise systems, the business developers work on toy systems.   The ironic thing is that the business developers are where the real developers are moving to – they are already engaging in a quasi-Agile methodology (some still cowboy) and business developers know about the domain.  Reading the Passionate Programmer, the #1 way you can offshore-proof you job is to becomes an expert in the industry of the company your IT supports.   It was also ironic that Fowler points out that both java and .NET are so prevalent in India that knowing that language is irrelevant in terms of commanding a premium salary.

The other pieces of his advice are much like an economist view – your name is your brand, you cost the company X amount and therefore need to generate X+1 is money for the company.  There is subtlety that he misses that most people don’t understand in IT.  Savings money is EASY using computers – we automate repetitive tasks so that the low level workers that are doing the project can be laid off, we shift work from higher costing workers to lower costing places using systems, etc…  When I talk to a business owner, I don’t talk about how much money I am going to save them (all of the low fruit has already been picked anyway) but how much money I am going to make them.  If I don’t talk dollars, I talk customers.  If I don’t talk customers, I talk items sold.   In 2010, businesses are looking for revenue and (even better) increased margins. 

On a separate note, my 10 year old daughter wrote her 1st C# application last night.  She thought it was great.  I picked out this book for her to work through:

I enjoyed watching her eyes light up when the Console.ReadLine() worked.  I still remember when I had that feeling (7th grade, using an Apple 2C, in summer computer camp)…

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