A Moving Experience

Nov 1, 2015

I am in the process of moving halfway across the country so I won't be able to write much until I am settled in the new place and all my stuff gets back to me. This has been a long process that took most of my time.

For the first time in my life I am actually taking a full-time job in another state, after living around here for all but one decade or so, one year in high school and a year in the Bay Area 20 years ago. I had a number of folks who wanted to hire me here but basically nothing was all that interesting any more. The new job is quite worth the effort in getting there.

Even better will be that my commute will drop from 2.5 hours per day to just 30 minutes total and eventually when we move only 20 minutes. That's the shortest commute I've ever had outside of working at home. The idea of not being exhausted when I get home from work will take getting used to.

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Programming Is Not A Dying Profession

Oct 24, 2015

While reading the post Coding Academies Are Nonsense I came across the statement that coding academies aren’t worth any investment because it’s a dying profession.

The author goes on to say “I see coding shrinking as a widespread profession. Not because software is going away, but because the way we build software will fundamentally change. Technology for software creation without code is already edging toward mainstream use. Visual content creation tools … will continue to improve until all functionality required to build apps is available to consumers — without having to write a line of code.”

Someday, maybe, but long after I am dust and ashes. I’ve been hearing this type of thinking for all of my 34 years as a programmer. Generation after generation people have been promising that programming will go away and be replaced by filling in forms, dragging around icons or connecting symbols, and so far none of them ever pan out as practical for anything other than pretty demos.

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The Art of Failing A Phone Screen

Oct 14, 2015

Currently I am helping my soon to be former employer in finding a replacement and it’s been an eye-opener.

Although recruiters are bringing the resumes, I am reading them, picking who to phone screen and doing the phone screens. My questions are based on what I know of the 4 apps we have (one a major update) and are all basic stuff any working senior level iOS Objective-C programmer should be doing almost every day. Nothing strange or tricky at all. I also wrote the job description as well.

Some days I just want to scream. Out of all the resumes and maybe half as many screens one person correctly answered the questions. They had a good interview as well but couldn’t come to an agreement unfortunately. The rest—not pretty.

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Software Estimation Is A Crock

Aug 19, 2015

After 34 years of being a programmer I still get a kick out of people thinking there is a magical way to make software estimation work. All during my career I’ve heard person after person declare estimation is broken but that they have some way to make it work better.

They don’t. Correctly estimating how long something will take to code is unlikely at best. I’ve never been able to do it and every time I see someone try it’s always wrong.

In fact it’s difficult to even know how bad your estimations are. After all you are trying to guess how long something will take that is not perfectly defined to be done by imperfect people in circumstances that are likely to change in a generally continuous fashion. If it takes longer than you estimated, was it because your estimation was wrong or because you did not have enough information when you started or because the estimation time became a deadline that changed the development process itself? Software development is an iterative activity, where each step influences the following ones. Outside influences like management demands, market changes, personal changes and external changes like tools or framework updates all have an effect on how you get to the finish line.

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I Remember the Day The Internet Started But I Fear For the Future

Aug 10, 2015

Twenty years ago this week Netscape went public. I've always thought of this as the day the internet really started.

I was contracting at a company nearby that had also recently gone public (before I got there) and I remember we watched the IPO looking at a page Netscape had set up for this purpose. We knew something amazing was happening but not exactly what. Little did we realize how significant it would become. We also had no idea how twenty years later the promise of the internet would be sitting on so many land mines.

The first decade had so much promise. So many new opportunities, new ideas and new directions. We all thought that truth would finally win out, that information would flow free and progress would be unabated. Sure DotCom was insane at times but the rapid evolution of the internet seemed like a dream.

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