Showing posts from 2009

Rock Star vs Rock Solid

Lately I've been interviewing a fair bit; checking out my options (Insert "should I stay or should I go now" Kylie lyrics) ....

I've seen a few places asking for "rock star programmers" or the like. I've been wondering do they really know what they are getting themselves into, or asking for. Lets look at two different approaches, as there seems to be in life and just about any situation out there.

The "Rock Star"programmer
Firstly I'm not knocking people who have awesome abilities (actually quite the opposite) or rock music, as along with funk it's by far my favourite.

Here we are trying to describe the individuals who identify themselves as rock stars, a key point being that they do.

There are a few areas of their behaviour  that are predominate. The overwhelming self belief that they can do anything, instantly and it will be perfect (a.k.a conceited), hey who needs testing or documentation ....... combine that with the attitude of the…

Cooks and coders .......

C&C for some would be command and conquer, and rightly so it's a great game.

Though here I'm talking about Cooks &Coders. It would seem that there is a high correlation between people who enjoy building technical systems and preparing meals ....... and I think I've found a few commonalities as I've been a professional chef and a coder, and have been doing both for a while now !

Either process is a form of managing ingredients/components, getting the right things in the right place at the right time and in the right condition.

The Menu a.k.a. Design and Requirements

Now some things go well together, like web browsers and xhtml, gravy and steak, PHP and web servers, pasta and white sauce, etc. Other things do not, javascript and MySQL, ice cream and lobster (well maybe not .......), cobol and anything (ok ok I know it's good at things, just not near me).

So there are obvious compliments in both areas, some things work well in the situations they are either su…

Burnout and how to deal with it

Unfortunately I'm not talking about the driving game, I'm talking about the all too common and serious condition experienced by many creative professionals who find themselves in situations that promote it.

Who either don't get out, don't protect against it or work for an organisation that is ignorant (or even worse don't care) about it.

[UPDATE : When you're done there is  Part two, preventing burnout in the first place]

What is it, how does it feel

Well there are two sides to it, firstly there is what the individual experiences and second there is what others see (and how they commonly mistake it, or write it off as something else).

For the individual it is wholly depressing, life robbing, exhausting and  frustrating.

According to a Dutch study GPs have one of the highest rates of burnout, though I dare say software engineers are a close second ! Maslach who studied this created a Burnout Inventory that uses three measurements to identify it

Data migration : Part 1

Having written and looked after ImpEx for vBulletin I've dealt with a few matters regarding users and their identification, along with their data, and moving it about. I thought I'd share some thoughts that I've had on the matter as most people seem to balk at the idea of data migration due it it's "messiness", it dosen't have to be like that.

First an overview

There are just over 120 source systems for ImpEx now and growing.

They are split into three tiers, sorting themselves into these three groups on a criteria of most commonly used, most requested (by customers) and frequency of change.

For example the most common and used importer is top of Tier 1, it gets a lot of use & attention from moi. Tier 2 ones are on tick over and Tier 3 are in the grave yard, the most common reason being that the version supported no longer is in active development, there for the importer will never change.

The moving target has stopped moving, much like playing Unreal Tourn…