Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why We Code

Why do we write code?

Not why are we working for Company X, writing accounting software, but why do we write code at home, on our spare time.  Why do we do it?

My reasons are as follows, in no particular order:

  1. The love of creation - I lack true artistic skills - can't paint, can't draw, can't sculpt.  My woodworking is truly bad.  But I can create programs that make a computer do all sorts of things.
  2. The joy of learning.  When I have the chance to learn about a new language, or a new library, I have a good time.
  3. Problem solving.  Finding a way around an obstacle and producing a program that solves that problem is just a kick.
So I guess I agree with this, but I'd say it a little differently.

One of the phrases I used early on in my career is "Writing programs is like sculpting with bubbles"

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

They See Me Codin', They Hatin'

I ran across this yesterday.

What load of crap.  The whole thing starts by claiming "nerds and programmers" are elitist assholes, then proceeds to show how the other cliques from high school and later life are not as bad, because it's only the "bad" ones that are mean to people - the "good" ones are the real artists/writers/athletes/whatevers.

But all the faults of the few truly antisocial nerds are laid on the backs of all of us.

A few counterpoints:

It claims that nerds take pride in alienation - well, after a decade of teasing (the years leading up to high school), you have to start finding something to hold onto, much like the gay community "taking back" the word queer - if the outside world spurns you, you need to make that a good thing.

It claims that "take one jock and put him in a group of nerds, and he'll start talking to them".  Yes, he will, as will a nerd in a group of jocks.  But as soon as there are more jocks than nerds, the pack mentality can arise, and the jocks start reverting to the behavior protrayed in the media - they pick on the nerds.

It claims that nerds will reject invitations from popular kids - many will, because they suspect the motives - they are being invited as comic releif, or because a parent insisted that all the class be invited.

It disparages Internet memes like Portal's "The cake is a lie" as elitist and "non-local".  That's the beauty of the Internet!  It allows the geographically distant to become a community, instead of being stuck with the random draw of physical location.

It takes to task a number of programming communities without noting that most online groups, nerd or not, fall prey to the perils of faceless communication.

All and all, I find the post to be a big sour grapes whine.  We nerds are a diverse group, and by virtue of the Internet boom, much of our interests have moved into the mainstream, getting co-opted as "normal".  Well, let me hasten to remind everyone - we invented RPGs before MMORPGs, one of us invented the Web, and we're making it better everyday.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two Sides of the Coin

It's always interesting when you find advice on opposing sides of an issue.  There's even a wiki page for it (the original wiki).

So I was amused to find this and this, concerning keeping code you like, and keeping code you hate.  It's a real issue - sometime you need to get rid of something you think is good, because it's blocking progress - it's a local maximum that's keeping your system from getting to a global maximum.  But sometimes you need to toss it all even against the advice of never re-invent the wheel, because the wheel you have sucks.

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