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Comment Learned with books and notebook paper (Score 1) 515

I was about 14 or so and bugged my parents so much about computers, they didn't buy me one, but somehow I got some books on basic. The I would "write up" basic programs on notebook paper when I was bored during class at school. My first 2 complex programs were a black-jack program and a D&D character generator program that would randomly generate D&D character stats. Of course, no graphics, just text in these programs. Then whenever I had access to a computer I would type them in and debug them and make corrections on the notebook paper. The computer would usually be an Atari 400 or Atari 800 on display at Sears or a Single TRS-80 Model I that was in my Junior High school's Math classroom.

Then when I was 15, I talked them into taking a college level programming course where I coded on TRS-80 Model II and wrote some business programs, basic stuff. Finally, I talked them into getting a Commodore 64 for me and I learned to write complex code "typing" in numerous basic game programs that could be found in some magazines at the time. The C-64 came with quite a manual and by coding all those games and looking at the "Peeks" and "Pokes" I learned about Bytes and Bits, memory addresses, the CPU functions and registers, sprite graphics, etc. I then did some Simon's basic coding of some simple games I came up with and did some assembly coding for the C-64 chip. Also got my first modem, a 300 baud, and learned about communications, uploading, downloading, etc.

Took a few more classes in high school and coded on the Apple-IIe and TRS Model 3/Model 4 and I was on a roll. Sailed through college and learned Cobol/RPG/Pascal/C and some other languages and I just keep coding in whatever seems to be in demand that someone will pay me to do and is also fun.

Been coding almost 35 years now and still keeping up I hope.

Comment Do this instead. (Score 1) 376

I'm in my forties and I have found over the years there is no technical career path at most companies for a programmer/software engineer/developer as a perm employee past the senior or lead software engineer/developer position, except for a few architect positions that seem to be difficult to get.

Everything else above the senior developer level seems to be project manager, director, or CIO positions where there is a lot more management/meetings and it is much less technical.

So, I would say consider setting up your own company and doing independent consulting. That way you can just help companies out when they need it and continue to stay on the technical side of things. Depending on what your skills are, your rate as an independent consultant will probably exceed what you would make going into management anyway.

I've been doing nothing but contracts for almost 4 years now and almost every week a recruiter or someone is asking me if I'm available for a contract. I haven't noticed any age discrimination yet. I've seen guys in their 70's still working contracts along with me and doing fine. I think the key to keep going is "attitude" and the willingness to learn new things. As long as you keep that, I wouldn't worry. It might also help that as a contractor, I carry my own insurance for health and disability, so whatever company hires me for gig doesn't have to worry about the higher health/disability premiums I might have if they hired me as an employee.

Comment Developing isn't just coding... (Score 1) 232

"As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.' "

I think us older developers bring a lot to the table young padawan.

First of all, development isn't just about coding and what languages/skills you know. How you USE those skills is important and comes with experience. Countless times I start a new job or contract and see younger developers making the same mistakes with the following:

Insufficient or non-existant logging.
Bogus error messages ( HTTP 500 anyone? ) or no error handling at all
Bad SQL and File system I/O leading to performance issue.
Over reliance on tools to generate code/in-ability to understand generated code.
No bug tracking.
Poor source control or no source control.
Lack of testing methodology/skills - nobody wants to QA, only unit testing.
Poor change management - things thrown into production.

Secondly, Wow, really? We don't learn new skills? I am in my 40's and I frequently encounter developers in their 60's and 70's still out there coding with modern languages. As for myself, I'm in my mid 40's and I've only managed to learn and use and put into production code written with the following languages: ( Note I still like to work in the yard and do things outside of work. )

Java Script
Visual Basic
Various Unix shell scripts ( SH, KSH, Bash )
I also know HTML/CSS well enough to build a web site, I just don't really like web side programming - I'm more of a server side developer.

I have also done some coding in the following languages and tools but decided not to use them either because I didn't like them, they are obsolete, or they were not very relevant to the work I am currently doing:

Visual Basic

Third, why is being a Google or Facebook considered a sign of success these days? Yes, the salary and benefits might be good, but experience has taught me that usually the only people that really benefit are the founders and the first or second wave of developers. Then everyone "jumps" on and the stock equity gets diluted. Besides, not everyone wants to live on the West coast and spend 1 million for a house and pay some of the highest state taxes in the nation.

Comment Become an MS Office expert (Score 1) 451

If you like Microsoft and you don't want to program but you like teaching/training. Why not become an expert at Excel, Word, Powerpoint, etc. I'm sure a ton of small businesses might need help and training in that area. You could also learn Windows Server inside and out and maybe train people at small/medium companies how to setup email servers, web servers, FTP, Firewall's etc.

Just some ideas.

Comment Re:Still faster / easier to apply than it used to (Score 1) 382

Have you ever worked on a health care project?

HIPPA regulations and the contracts between the government and the contractors would most certainly prevent anyone that is not directly involved in the project from touching the code.

Dude, this isn't open source, its a federal government project with all the rules and regs that apply.

Besides, I doubt they would listen even if suggestions came forth. Inside some of the larger corporations and consulting companies, I think the attitude that open source = Hackers/Anarchism still prevails.

Comment Re:I just do not understand the market for this (Score 1) 53

Well, sometimes its cool to use tools and program on something that most people aren't coding on. I coded a text based 21 Blackjack game on a TRS-80 Model IV back in the day. I also coded a game using Simon's Basic on a C-64. Hardly anyone else did, but it was still cool and I learned a lot.

I don't think its so much for playing or coding the latest games as it is to learn about micro-controllers and low-level game programming AND not everyone is "doing" it. Like everyone that jumped on the Java bandwagon years ago for enterprise apps. Or the .net bandwagon for Microsoft apps. Or like everyone is currently jumping on the "Android" or 'iOS" bandwagon for mobile gaming. :)

Comment So the government is a victim of itself? (Score 1, Interesting) 193

Both sides won't compromise so its both party's fault. Meanwhile, there are the funds and staff to update various websites to say they are shutdown, close down parks, blockade monuments, etc. And the website is dysfunctional for almost a week?

And we are supposed to feel "sorry" for the government and its employees because they are a victim of the incompetence in Washington and they depend mostly on the federal government for funds?

Those of us in the private sector working outside of government still have to pay taxes and make our payroll deductions, or the IRS will come after us with a vengeance. When our "companies" and "businesses" get shut down, we get laid off or lose our jobs or investments or even our homes, instead of just being "furloughed".

I would say the rest of us that aren't in government or directly working for government are the real victims here.

Comment Re:Labor will never be what it was (Score 1) 67

That's why they manufacture BMW's in South Carolina and BMW has expanded the plant and hired more workers over the years. Last time I took a tour of the facility, they were making all the X3's, X5's, and X6's for the world market, including the ones being sold in Asia.

Yeap, we can't compete with anyone.

Comment Re:Back to BASIC (Score 1) 479

Basic ain't that bad.

I worked at a very large retailer that used Business Basic running on Data General mini-computers in the early 1990's. Of course, they also had IBM iron running MVS with tons of CICS/COBOL programs. Its surprising how much "could" be done with Basic back in the day.

I also still remember the C-64 games, a lot of which were written in basic and would use a bunch of "pokes" to load assembly routines into memory.

And what about good old Access Basic and Visual Basic? The easiest way to code a windows GUI program back in the day. Much easier to use than that Visual Studio/MFC C++ junk back in the 1990's. :)

Comment Re:Of course not (Score 1) 365

As an older guy - I have no problem helping younger guys out. I have had a lot of mentors over the years and I still learn from those more experienced then I am. I just get a little torqued up when someone young comes along and thinks they know all the answers and starts trying to "boss" everyone around. Usually these guys are the first ones laid off or forced out, as they are not team players.

Comment Re:Of course not (Score 1) 365

I don't consider myself to be an old fart, yet I know how to do most of the things you mention there.

I know a tiny bit of COBOL; just enough to hate it. I could muddle through assembly if I had to. (True story: In college, my Intro to Computers instructor forced us to read and write System/360 machine code by hand.) C and C++: I'm rusty, but not incompetent. Java, C#, and SQL (any dialect) are my bitch. Log files don't terrify me; grep was made for a reason. Memory leaks are a pain, but not insurmountable. Test plans are for people who actually test (just kidding!).

Age: 33. (Not old, dammit!)

If you are over 30 and a programmer, your walker will be arriving shortly. Security will be on hand to escort you out.

Uh actually - I just turned 45. I was coding mostly C and some C++ when I was 30 and Java was just starting to get noticed.

Anyway, at 45 I probably get contacted by anywhere from 1 to 5 recruiters a week. I also haven't gone more than 2-3 weeks without work in the last 20 years without either a job offer or the next job lined up. In fact, at this point, I have to avoid recruiters just to get a little time off between contracts or jobs.

I don't consider myself the best or a genius. I'm probably in the top 20% of coders - but definitely not the top 5%. Yet I find myself arguing the same arguments and solving many of the same issues from company to company because so many folks fail to see the bigger picture. Yes, I have been let go a few times in my career, but its mostly because I wouldn't convert from contractor to a perm position or because of political reasons. I don't think I've ever been let go in a true lay-off, and most of the time I choose when I leave my job and move onto the next one.

As for the walker - thankfully not yet. I still manage to lift weights and hike/run/bike in my spare time..

I guess 45 is the new 29. :)

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He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.