I’m not the smartest programmer out there. I’m certainly not the best. I don’t work for Google, Microsoft, or Amazon. I didn’t go to MIT, Yale, or Stanford, and I didn’t even major in Computer Science. I don’t know how to write a compiler, and I get fuzzy brained whenever I see a video game, knowing that there are programmers out there that can do that with their eyes closed.
I read The Pragmatic Programmer,Code Complete, and every book that gets recommended. I read about 20 programming books a year. I read 20 different blogs, and I participate on Stack Overflow. I am in awe of what some people know about C#. I know Perl, C#, and am learning C and Lisp. I make mistakes daily, and some days I feel like I’m climbing Mount Everest.
I know my constraints, and I work each day to push past them. With that in mind, I know that I’ll never be the guy that comes up with a new cryptographic algorithm, or finds a faster way to display graphics. But even with those limitations in mind, I can make a difference in programming:
I can make software that people love to use.
That’s my mantra, and that’s what I judge my work against.
Do you ever feel like programming is like climbing mount everest?
If there’s one gift I want to give the world in 2011, it’s to suck less in programming, every day. Doesn’t sound hard, until reality gets in the way.
There are so many ways to suck: a comma out of place, a dataset that’s larger than you were expecting, an errant configuration file setting that throws the entire application into a tizzy, a memory leak that is impossible to find; these are just a few ways that I’ve sucked at programming this year. And to think that I’ve learned so much this year. If I were to see the George of yesteryear, I’d probably groan at his ineptitude.
With any luck, next year’s George will do the same thing to me.
Is your programming job a house or a home?
If it’s a house, then you probably don’t care about whether the market goes south, or whether the neighborhood kids play baseball in the street. You also probably don’t care as much about the landscaping. As long as you don’t get cited by the Homeowner’s association, you’re ok. It even takes a good return on investment for you to stay in that house.
If it’s a home, then you spend all of your free-time making sure that you’re maintaining your home with new items, ideas, fixtures; and you probably spend your free time reading up on how to improve your landscaping. No amount of money could keep you from leaving your home. You care if the market goes south, because you don’t want to lose your home.
If your job is a house, then you should be actively looking for a home.
If it’s a home, then congratulations: You’re in the lucky minority.