Does anyone here know a programmer? What's their "attitude"??? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Even if my sig says otherwise, I prefer not to think of myself as a "pointy haired manager." I'm just an old (almost 48) long-haired programmer, with a beard <:)=

But I have noticed something in the "new" generation of people, not just programmers. This is in no way an "attack" on the youngsters! I was young once, and still try to always keep my heart that way.

I'm the tech support guy, so it usually ends up in my lap. A few weeks ago, we had an important problem, with one of the conversion programs moving stuff to our hot new Y2K compliant systems. It showed up late in the day. Important because we had people coming in from out of town to review the "status" of the new system. We had a demo the next day.

Customer service showed the problem to the programmer. He came to me.

"Can you take a look at this? You've looked at this program before, right? I've got go and pick up my wife, and we've got to go get the kid. Leave me a note. I'll look at it in the morning. Thanks."

A few years ago, things were different:

"Are you going to be here for a while? Let me call the old lady. I'm going to run to Burger King. Want anything? I'll be back in about 1/2 hour. OK?"

Am I that old? How are things in your office? What do you see? What about your Dilbert?

Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (, September 12, 1999


Sure, a guy who used to be an application programmer and is now a network specialist for this company my aunt used to work for for 40 years.

Let's be clear here, the guy doesn't have a college degree, all his computer skills have been learned on the job. As a network specialist he's pretty good at maintaining PC networks. He has no idea about things like poisson distribution, queing theory. He's never dealt with things like machine code. He doesn't know how to program in C (or fortran or cobol or any of the other funny languages).

He's still tweaking the networks with y2k compatiblity upgrades. that was six months ago.

As my aunt worked for this outfit for 40 odd years I can tell you they are completely at the mercy of the electric company and the shipping providers (they've got some generators to keep some boilers running, but that's all, none to keep the office going.)

So to summarize, yeah my friend has been really busy, but I wouldn't take his word about where they are in remediation since he's not coding it.

Not all programmers are created equal. Some dont really count as "programmers" despite what their titles say.

-- hunchback (, September 12, 1999.

yeah, i'm a coder, taught by some of the best michigan bell had to offer back in the mid-eighties. folks, if you're out there, i miss you.

i have seen the attitudes change, my own included, and in my case it's 'right sizing' that turned me around...hard! i saw loyal folks with 25+ years, others with less time on title but no less valuable, all being turned out with much pain and heartache.

i'm a contractor now, loyal to whoever is paying me but only for as long as they're paying me. i still try my best to do my best, and i'll hang in there for overtime in an emergency. but for the most part, i leave when my eight hours are up.


-- maggie huntone (, September 12, 1999.

I know one guy, heavy duty consultant-- quite pessimistic on Y2k.

I know another guy, major database applications-- bump in the road, at most.

The Bell curve on this applies to all trades.

-- Tom Carey (, September 12, 1999.

The new "programmers" just seem to lack that special magic anymore. If you get a full days work out of them count yourself lucky. Between the wife, the dog, the kids, the spotted owl discussion group, that doesn't leave much time to fit that pesky job in there! :)

And heaven forbid that you should demand they work 8 solid hours. My goodness you would think you had accused them of being the devil or some monster. They start in about how they feel that it's not fair to them and they need to have that quality time each day to take care of their personal business. Am I ranting here? Yes I am!!!! I don't care about your kid, your dog, etc. I want that program finished and working tonight before the batch updates!!!!!!

Point is this: many "younger" IT folks think that they can come and go when they please and don't even think about telling them different. So when us "older" (47) folks have to put up with this BS many of us just say to hell with it and move on. Frankly I don't need the hassel and it's not my problem anymore. Are their coding skills any good? In most cases they write what I call bloat code and it's sloppy and buggy. Seen how big microsmurfs code releases have gotten? The kids wrote it.

soapbox mode off.....:)

-- (, September 12, 1999.

Let me add a little balance here. I'm 38 and I still work too many hours. But I personally know of at least 2 programmers that are maniacs, too.

One is 25 the other is 21. The 25 year old is hands down the best I know at what he does - which is software drivers for Mac & PC. The other is less skilled, but works very hard and puts in the hours to figure it out. He's an applications level guy.

I had the fortune to have these two work for me on a project a couple of years ago. They were a pleasure to work with.

On the other hand, another applications guy who was 36 was an absolute horror to work with. I won't go into all his antics, but suffice it to say, that we all ended up working harder because of that clown.

My point, is that the work ethic is still there. The next generation (of programmers at least) still have the spark, and drive to do great things.

The only caveat that I would put on them, though, is that it is less necessary for most of them to have a "gestalt" or "global" view of their work. In other words, they work on smaller segments of their particular systems, and just assume that Windows, or Mac, or UNIX or whatever will "just work".

And this lack of global vision is why most of them don't see Y2K as a problem. There are simply too many dots to connect. And the problem is so simple on the surface.

Finally, some of the shortcomings mentioned above may be attributable to boredom on the programmers' parts. It's very difficult to keep them motivated to finish up projects toward the end because they're bored with it after working for 18 months (or more) on the same thing. Finishing a project requires much more management, motivation, inspiration, and drive than anything else (of course).


-- Jollyprez (, September 12, 1999.

I'm in my late 20's, am self taught with absolutely no computing degrees of any kind. I can code in several different languages over several different platforms. When working I put in at least 50 hours a week and I'm on call 24 hours a day all on just a Salary.

I work for an Internet Access Provider as a Network Administrator, I set up the whole system initially and I keep it running. Most tech support calls are handled by me. I'm also able to troubleshoot most PC hardware problems.

I love my work and don't mind in the least when I have to put in anywhere from 10 to 20 hour days, I take about 10 minutes for lunch and tea and just get back right into it.

So yes some of us 'youngies' have got the same work ethic, there are others that don't and yet others where it puzzles me why a Uni or College would give them a certificate proving that they have a degree.

I usually don't get paid for overtime, it is sufficient for me that the boss goes and buys a meal for me like Chinese or Pizza. That keeps me happily chugging away. :-)

I don't have a wife, girlfriend or mistress nor do I have any kids. Which does make it easier to work long hours, I have no family ties to restrict me.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are young workers out there who are dedicated and who will put in the time. These are worth every single penny they get paid and more.

Regards, Simon

-- Simon Richards (, September 12, 1999.


I don't think dedication/reliability are generation-dependent. When I first began programming (as the snot-nosed-fresh-out-of-college-new- kid), there was ONE veteran who gave the job his all, one guy who slept all day and one guy [grin] that kept a second pair of shoes at the office and would put them in a bathroom stall, lock the door and go off to the park.

Update to 1999: As a contractor for some 10 years now, I've seen veterans sleep on the job, turn off their beepers [contractors were next in line for support], and one guy hid out in an empty office playing solitaire while the rest of the team did his share also on production installs.

Selfishness, laziness, and lack of dedication were NOT recently invented.

-- Anita (, September 12, 1999.

I know this ex-programmer called Alan Greenspan. Used to code in assembler many many moons ago and has admitted that if he looked at his own code now it would be unlikely that he could decipher it.

Alan is now some sort of CPA... or something.

Anyway he recently appeared before Congress and testified as such, and when asked about the solidity of the code within the context of the international banking system of systems he said, and I quote, "99% isn't good enough, it must be 100%" - referring to the data interchange question.

Must be getting senile, the old coot. Should have retired ages ago.

-- Andy (, September 12, 1999.

I have been a computer consultant for over 10 yrs and I am also in that late 40's group. Like several of you I have no loyalties, it has never gained me anything. Also at my age I can not get a permanent position - I tried - I have been interviewed by people in their late 20s, early 30s and they don't want someone their mom's age (and probably looks like their mom) working for them.

I had a permanent position about 13 yrs ago for a family owned company that was purchased by a corporation that after the purchase demoted or fired all of the women managers (including me- I was fired) and over the next 6 mos lost 30% of the workforce ( and couldn't figure out why). I went to consulting and never looked back except once and I took a perm position for about 7 mos and decided that was enough of that. The lack of caring by companies about their people was what got me and why should I work 60-80 hours a week for the same pay as I get for 40? As a consultant I get paid for every hour I work and I get paid at least 30% more per hour than those in permanent postions.

There are younger programmers willing to put in the long hours, but they also write terrible code. Unfortunately, in the client-server arena, companies feel that younger must be better and treat some of these kids like gods - and then hire someone like me to fix the whiz kids code after the fact (and still give the whiz kid credit for the great program).

Here in Iowa many companies hire these young kids, work them to death for bad pay and then get upset when they get married and finally get a life outside of work and refuse to work the horrible hours any more and quite often quit to work somewhere with more pay and better hours.

A lot of their older workers are beginning to do the same thing - after working their behinds off to get a project done, they get no thanks from the company. Then the company tells everyone that the Big6 consulting firm that brought the product in is just wonderful (full of kids that write the above mentioned "bloat code") and never mentions their own employees. This company also doesn't allow the employees "comp" time at all - they had better work 8 hrs a day or take vacation/sick time to cover it or their pay will be docked - it doesn't matter that they put 14 hrs a day in on Mon-Thurs, they had better be there for 8 hrs on Friday. (This is a specific company, but I have seen this in way too many companies)

Companies no long want to pay for knowledge, experience or expertise, they just want the quick fix and the glitz.

Like someone else did

-- Beckie (, September 12, 1999.


I just wanted to add something to your post. I don't think your problem with obtaining a permanent position is due to your age. I've also been contracting for over 10 years, and know others who have been at it even longer. Companies FEAR hiring consultants. For one thing, they're afraid we'll jump ship for more money after a short time, and secondly, they feel we're too independent.

In the DFW area (where I live), the Y2k work has been done or contracted out now for quite some time. One job opened up recently for my roommate...Y2k work for ONE month at a low rate. It seems a Peoplesoft install failed to replace the original system in time. Outside of failed reengineering projects, firms have put a freeze on system modifications and there's even a freeze on hiring new employees, so TWO classes of programmer are unemployed.

Fall has ALWAYS been a bad time to be in search of a contract (as you know), so we may have to wait until the January/February timeframe before openings occur.

-- Anita (, September 12, 1999.

As an old programmer (I turn 89 in October) I too notice a degradation every couple of years in the newbies work ethic. It doesn't get me angry as much as it makes me sad. These young whimpersnappers have so much to work with, and for the most part they do so little with it.

Back in the day when I was a young buck fresh out of prison with a chip on my shoulder bigger than the vacuum tubes used on the computers we were working with at the time, we knew how to work!

We had to, we had no other choice. I mean this was back in the days before they invented electricity. We had to do everything by hand.

And let me tell you that we did not have the perks that this younger generation has today. For instance, I worked on the 82nd floor of a skyscraper, and when we had to use the restroom we had to use the stairs to go use the outhouse down on the street below. You see, not only did we have no electricity we also had no running water.

Although I'm 88 years old, I still work at least 18 hours a day 7 days a week. Do you think any of these 23 year olds do this? No, and when they do even bother to show up to work you probably won't see them do anything productive. They just toss water and paper airplanes at each other. A couple of the bigger ones even stage mock WWF wrestling matches in the middle of the office floor. Let me tell you this has destroyed more than one computer in our office.

And then the music these youngsters blast as loud as they can get it. Back in the day we listened to the old standards like Glenn Miller and Lawrence Welk but now days these kids (and I do mean they are kids) only care about their disco music. I mean what's the deal with all of these guitars and some idiot screaming This is what it's like when worlds collide. Are you ready ready, Are you ready ready, Baby, Baby?

Well thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

-- Butt Nugget (nubutet@better.mousetrap), September 12, 1999.

Mr. Nugget,

you're a brain dead moron - you should simply have let loose from the 82nd loor - done an "airborn"... if you get my drift...

-- Andy (, September 12, 1999.

My Dear Simple Andy, I forgot to mention that this was before they had invented a window that could be opened from the inside.

-- Butt Nugget (nubuttet@better.mousetrap), September 12, 1999.

I work with dozens of programmers and only a couple that I know of get it. As Sydney said on another thread, its like the Candid Camera skit where I guy gets on an elevator and everybody is facing the back of the elevator. After a few secs, he also turns and faces the back if the elevator.

-- a (a@a.a), September 12, 1999.

I'm 47 in December. Here's my take on now versus then.

We (my generation of IT professionals) will take a project and finish it and say "I dare you to find something wrong with it."

Todays generation rushes through it and says "Is it good enough to pass?"

01/01/ "good enough" going to be good enough?

Worried in SoCal,

-- Uncle Bob (UNCLB0B@Y2KOK.ORG), September 12, 1999.

Sysman, Who are you calling old ??Hell,apart from Y2K,life just beginning.I'd hate being young again...all that angst !!1

-- Chris (, September 12, 1999.

Yeah, one of my first clues that all was not well in computerland came from a guy i've known for about 3 years. He's always struck me as methodical and un-emotional about troubleshooting our networks. Turns out he used to code in Fortran and Cobol and some other stuff I don't really care to know about for big oil before I knew him. He now does database and some PeeCee support. Great guy, family man, works hard. When I asked him about Y2K a year ago he told me he didn't think to much about it and that it wouldn't be a problem.

Then about 6 months ago, someone who I got to know through mutual interest in Y2K (he's a former spec forces guy whose active duty friends tell him all is not well) tells me that our mutual programmer friend has bought land in the mountains, built a cabin, dug a well bought thousands of dollars in MRE's and layed in solar power etc. etc. Turns out he talked with his codehead buddies from the old days and they seem to think this isn't going to be a "three day storm". I was shocked to say the least. He hadn't admitted to me that he was stockpiling as he didn't wan't me to think he was a kook. (little did he know that I'm a super kook myself, King of all Tinfoil, Gatherer of Beans and Rice...)

-- Gordon (, September 12, 1999.


Great topic! And it may help explain why the Y2K "bug" is so prevelent in newer non mainframe systems.

The attitiude is derived from the requirements that are expected from them.

Take microsoft- Until reciently they would only hire recient college graduates.

Also big businesses got the idea that IT's were junior Bill Gates. Th name "IT" itself became synonamous with "computer geek" and computer genius.

The fact that those who did the hiring had no clue as to what "those" geeks did, they had buzzwords that they compared the applicants resume with. It became popular to be an "IT", replacing Lawyers and Doctors as the carrier to get into. Instant richess. It does not matter that 14 year olds can teach themselves the same thing, often with better understanding because of learning it from the ground up~ It was "known" that "IT's" would bring the companies into the 21st century.

So you have gotten some who just go through the motions, doing exactly what they were taught, never coming up with any unique ideas, indifferent, working for that paycheck.

Meanwhile along came those "brilliant" downsizers, who looked at the businesses and saw money in getting rid of those (programmers) who "crated" the software the "information technologests'" (data processors) used to do their high paid - high status - no brainer jobs.

Do not get me wrong, there are some IT's who learned more than the basic's and can program with the best of them, but there are too many who do not have the ability to do a flow chart.

Why has the Y2K "bug" been incorperated into every system in every business with virtually no-one questioning it? Because the "IT's" were not "raught" about it, or told about it and do NOT have the education or ability to understand how it could be a problem. They did not know enough to know HOW it could be a problem.

I had a project once that entailed me using an operating system feature that even the head software engineer said could not be made to work. When I asked why they said it could not work I was told that no-one had ever been able to do it and they had been taught that it could not.

I not only got it to work but wrote applications that I called "rooms within rooms" that made a job that previously required 20-30 people into one done by me. I had top management of major airlines coming to me for help and getting it within minutes where it had previously taken days of searching and checking to get it.

I enjoyed what I did, it was a challange and I learned it "on the job" from the ground up.

I have always considered myself lucky that I was not "taught" what I could not do, so I did not have that monkey on my back restricting my efforts.

Unfortunatly the generation you are questioning was brought up in the spirit of self indulgence where they come first and the job only exists for them to get their paycheck. Not all remember! But so many do not believe in doing more than they think they should unless they get something for it. Not only is this a loss for their employers, but a loss for them because they do not get the personal satisfaction that comes with knowing they have done a job to the best of their abilities and can take pride in what they have done.

Now as to why these attitudes are so prevelent. Take a good look at childrens programming. They are taught from the beginning that using their brains will make them unpopular, will cause them scorn. That being a good student is less important than what they wear and what they "own". They are taught a lack of respect for their parents, teachers and persons of authority. They are shown iver and over how kids are "smarter" than them. Watch a few hours of kids TV. On top of being shown that the superficial is more important than substance, they are being shown that they don't need the personal standards and principles that will enable them to develope the drive that brings them satisfaction in their efforts.

Watch those people like the one you mentioned. See what exactly is they do. Do they spend more time attempting to "show" everyone how much they do then doing it? How do they speak of others? Do they belittle the works of others while exagerating their own? Do they have a sense of priorities that is detremental to the operation of the business? And most important, does management fall for these games? It is so pathetic that so many people enjoy what they do. These day people are not trying to live up to the Jones next door, they are trying to live up to the Gates in Belleview.

-- Cherri (, September 12, 1999.

Good gremlins, Cherri, one thoughtful post after another!
Did DiETer de-Pod you ;^?

We were really enjoying your post until we stumbled on this sentence: "It is so pathetic that so many people enjoy what they do." Uh, assuming that's a typo? LOL

Otherwise that would be ultra quasi-Doomer walk-in. The Forum Turns ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 12, 1999.

Ashton & Leska,

Thanks for pointing that out! You are correct, it should read: "It is so pathetic that so many people do NOT enjoy what they do." Did I ever mention that I'm a lousy secretary?

As for the post above being off the wall...Well I did work on vacume tube computers, and we used bubblegum and bandaides to keep it running, we didn't have very many tools, and I did have to leave the building to go, I was the first female to work in that building (at Homestead AFB Fl.) and the closest female restroom was two blocks away. Until I became pregnant at which time I put a lock on the inside of the mens room and a reversable sign on the door (male/female). I would open the door a few inches and yell in asking if anyone were in there. If they were (squeeks and yells exploding in thin air) they would be out real fast, and I could use it. Oh the "war stories" I could tell ya about being the first female in my job, everywhere I went!

-- Cherri (, September 12, 1999.

Sorry folks, been busy in another thread all day. Hoff and Flint teamed up on me! Whew!!!

Thanks for all your comments. Good to see that some "youngsters" do hang in there! I was never implyimg that everyone has this attitude, just that there seems to be more of it lately. But some of the comments from other "old timers" are kinda sad. Everyone should at least enjoy what they do, and be proud of it. Happiness is more important than loyality. I don't know what I'ld be like if I didn't "love" my job (and my hobby). <:)=

-- Sysman (, September 12, 1999.

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