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Search - "this must be hell"
Confessions of a Programmer
If a client is an unbearable asshole during the initial communication, I look for every excuse to pad on the hours for the estimate to get paid more. If a client goes above and beyond in their douchbaggery, I tack on an additional $40/hour.
Sometimes I will present an elaborate solution to a client, but really I'm just reading off the features of a plugin or library I'm going to download or buy after the call. Not because I can't build it myself, but because I'd rather spend more time on other/my own projects.
Clients assume because I know one language, I know them all. Rather than turning down the work, I take a crash course to work in that language, or outsource the work and clean it up afterwards, whichever is more practical at the time.
I use cPanel on a dedicated to manage our client websites. I'm not paid enough to bother with setting up everything manually.
Certain projects I build have a 3-day backdoor built into it. If the client doesn't pay upon completion, a unique hash triggered as a GET variable deletes a core file in my work, rendering the work useless. If it wasn't triggered by the 4th day, the file allowing me to trigger this backdoor is removed. This is only used for clients where the project must be launched on their servers, or if there has been a previous issue collecting payment.
I slip in the initial contract that all preceeding phone calls will be monitored and recorded, and that they acknowledge the recordings are admissable in court. This has saved me from losing money twice now.
I have never used an IDE. (I know, I know, it's really inefficient and dumb, but I'm just more comfortable with Sublime. Plus I often find myself mobile and without my computer, so I have to program from my phone.)
Each day resembles a betting spectacle of which work will be late, which will be rushed out and which will never see the light of day.
I have used "sick" and "family emergency" as an excuse to just sleep in far more than I can count.
When a client from hell crosses over the line in their conduct (such as getting very nasty and personal, or sending threats), I anonymously report them to the BBB and on RipOffReport.22
LONG RANT AHEAD!
In my workplace (dev company) I am the only dev using Linux on my workstation. I joined project XX, a senior dev onboarded me. Downloaded the code, built the source, launched the app,.. BAM - an exception in catalina.out. ORM framework failed to map something.
mvn clean && mvn install
same thing happens again. I address this incident to sr dev and response is "well.... it works on my machine and has worked for all other devs. It must be your environment issue. Prolly linux is to blame?" So I spend another hour trying to dig up the bug. Narrowed it down to a single datamodel with ORM mapping annotation looking somewhat off. Fixed it.
mvn clean && mvn install
the app now works perfectly. Apparently this bug has been in the codebase for years and Windows used to mask it somehow w/o throwing an exception. God knows what undefined behaviour was happening in the background...
Months fly by and I'm invited to join another project. Sounds really cool! I get accesses, checkout the code, build it (after crossing the hell of VPNs on Linux). Run component 1/4 -- all goocy. run component 2,3/4 -- looks perfect. Run component 4/4 -- BAM: LinkageError. Turns out there is something wrong with OSGi dependencies as ClassLoader attempts to load the same class twice, from 2 different sources. Coworkers with Windows and MACs have never seen this kind of exception and lead dev replies with "I think you should use a normal environment for work rather than playing with your Linux". Wtf... It's java. Every env is "normal env" for JVM! I do some digging. One day passes by.. second one.. third.. the weekend.. The next Friday comes and I still haven't succeeded to launch component #4. Eventually I give up (since I cannot charge a client for a week I spent trying to set up my env) and walk away from that project. Ever since this LinkageError was always in my mind, for some reason I could not let it go. It was driving me CRAZY! So half a year passes by and one of the project devs gets a new MB pro. 2 days later I get a PM: "umm.. were you the one who used to get LinkageError while starting component #4 up?". You guys have NO IDEA how happy his message made me. I mean... I was frickin HIGH: all smiling, singing, even dancing behind my desk!! Apparently the guy had the same problem I did. Except he was familiar with the project quite well. It took 3 more days for him to figure out what was wrong and fix it. And it indeed was an error in the project -- not my "abnormal Linux env"! And again for some hell knows what reason Windows was masking a mistake in the codebase and not popping an error where it must have popped. Linux on the other hand found the error and crashed the app immediatelly so the product would not be shipped with God knows what bugs...
I do not mean to bring up a flame war or smth, but It's obvious I've kind of saved 2 projects from "undefined magical behaviour" by just using Linux. I guess what I really wanted to say is that no matter how good dev you are, whether you are a sr, lead or chief dev, if your coworker (let it be another sr or a jr dev) says he gets an error and YOU cannot figure out what the heck is wrong, you should not blame the dev or an environment w/o knowing it for a fact. If something is not working - figure out the WHATs and WHYs first. Analyze, compare data to other envs,... Not only you will help a new guy to join your team but also you'll learn something new. And in some cases something crucial, e.g. a serious messup in the codebase.11
I so fucking hate mosquitoes. At this point I'm seriously willing to lure all those bitches in and guide them straight to an electrical death. Problem is, I know how to generate super high voltage to char the fuckers right into smelly dust, but I don't know how to lure them in, or even find them manually, so let alone automatically. Even a chemical reaction we can electronically dispense to lure in the fuckers, but I have no idea what that chemical stuff would be. I'm not a chemist (yet). But if I can build it, fucking hell.. I would build a ton of them, weaponize my entire home and even build some spares to send off to fellow ranters. Because those parasitic bitches must DIE!! The only reason why they still exist after thousands of years is because we didn't kill the fuckers yet. I want to fucking kill the leeches, preferably in the most gruesome way possible.
So yeah. A shout for help to my fellow ranters this is.. perhaps even a collab. I have no idea about the stuff that draws those fuckers into their death. Any suggestions? Whoever can guide me to the demise of those parasitic pieces of shit, seriously.. if at all feasible, I'll build it for you and ship it!! Death to those parasitic blood-sucking bitches!!!24
Yesterday I wanted to go to the theater with my girlfriend. It was her idea because as a student you can get reduced tickets for the play, but only via the online store exactely two hours before the play starts. We had already tried two weeks before but with no success. So this time I said i want to be on my pc with a proper browser and not a mobile version like last time. So we are sitting at home me in front of their website on one screen and with a clock on the other screen. Two minutes realy i hit refresh and I get a selection for the reduced tickets, nice.
You would think.
After selecting the amount. ERROR: Can not get your tickets. I was like fuck they are already sold out because it's a popular play. But hey let's try again. I got one ticket but not the second one, okay strange lets try again, same ERROR again. WHAT the FUCK, no feedback what so ever. My girlfriend had then the idea that they maybe restricted the amount for reduced tickets to one (does not state this explicitly but hey lets give it a shot). Use second browser select one ticket. ERROR can not get you the amount of seats. Rage level near to a 1000 why did it work two minutes before but not anymore. Trying around for five more minutes finally got the second ticket.
Now the real fun begins.
Proceeding to checkout should not be that hard you would think, but you need to be registered for that. Okay so let's do that. The salutation is not required neither is the address for the tickets but you need to have a company name??!!!!! The fuck?? I am not self employed and neither are a most other people around here so why is this field mandatory? Beeing a little under stress I decided to found the "asdf" company with my girlfriend.
Now one would think checking out is easy. Not so fast.
After accepting the terms of service another ERROR, unable to accept your data. What data? I did not input anything new? Where does this come from? Ok never mind I am going to pay with credid card that must work!
ERROR: Internal paymentservice initialization failure! Sorry what? I thought maybe I was to long idle in this browser and they do not reserve the tickets for so long (which would be no surprise to me at this point). Let's try again. Nope same error.
Now my rage level was really over 9000 but we really wanted to go so I decided to call the customer SUPPORT. Or better to say I had a answering maching telling me for ten minutes how sorry they are that this takes so long, yeah you bet. Then and this is now really great: the support guy asks me: "What error do you see? Internal paymentservice initialization failure?" I was like, okay he knows this so they need to know how to handle it. FUCK NO. "Sorry I can't help you. This is our payment system maybe they (IT) are doing some maintenance I can't halp you. Call the theater directly good day." Sorry what just happened, you fuckers are the vendors for the tickets for nearly all big events around here and the theater explicitly states to call you for tickets but you can not help me? Like hell.
This process took 25 very frustrating minutes and I was really angry and wanted to quit, then I saw that there is also a paypal option which I had not tried. With very little hope i selected everything for the payment, registered with paypal and they told me I already had an account. So reactivated this five year old account payed with all the mobile passwords and tans to finally, after 30 fucking minutes, get a pdf file for a ticket. Repeated the last step for the second ticket and with some time left to get there we were off.3
So this fucktard decided to write the most inefficient way to collect thousands of records.
The system I am working on allows users to book facilities. There is one feature where an admin can generate reports on the bookings made between any two dates. A report for bookings made between January and April generates 7878 records.
So this shithead, after making a call to the server and receiving 7878 records decides to put it through 4 fucking foreach loops (this takes around 44.94 seconds).
After doing that, he passes it to the controller to go through ANOTHER foreach loop to convert those records into a JSON string, using..string..manipulation. (this takes bloody 1 minute and 30 seconds).
Now, my dear, dear supervisor is asking me to fix this saying that there must be a typo somewhere. Typo my arse. This system has been up for more than a year. What have they been doing all this time??? Bloody hell. Fucking idiots everywhere. I now have to refactor
About 2 years ago, our management decided to "try outsourcing". I was in charge for coordinating dev tasks and ensuring code quality. So management came up with 3 potential candidates in India and I had to assess them based on Skype calls and little test tasks. Their CVs looked great and have been full of "I'm a fancy experienced senior developer." ....After first 2 calls I already dismissed two candidates because they had obviously zero experience and the CV must have been fake. ..After talking to the third candidate, I again got sceptical. The management, however, started to think that I'm just an ass trying to protect my own position against outside devs. They forced me to give him a chance by testing him with a small dev task. The task included the following statement
"Search on the filesystem recursively, for folders named 'container'. For example '/some_root_folder/path_segments/container' " The term 'container' was additionally highlighted in red!
We also gave him access to a git repo to do at least daily push. My intention was to look at his progressions, not only the result.
I tried the task on my own and it took me two days, just to have a baseline for comparison. I, however, told him to take as much time as he needs. (We wanted to be fair and also payed him.)
..... 3 weeks went by. 3 weeks full of excuses why he isn't able to use git. All my attempts to help him, just made clear that he has never seen or heard of git before. ...... He sent me his code once a week as zip per email -.- ..... I ignored those mails because I made already my decision not wanting to waste my time. I mean come on?! Is this a joke? But since management wanted me to give him a chance .... I kept waiting for his "final" code version.
In week 5, he finally told me that it's finished and all requirements have been met. So I tried to run his code without looking at it ..... and suprise ... It immediately crashed.
Then I started to look through the code .... and I was ..... mind-blown. But not in a good way. .....
The following is what I remember most:
Do you remember the requirement from above? .... His code implementing it looked something like this:
Go through all folders in root path and return folders where folderName == "/some_root_folder/path_segments/container".
Alone this little peace of code was on sooooooo many levels wrong!!!!! Let me name a few.
- It's just sooooo wrong :(
- He literally compared the folderName with the string "/some_root_folder/path_segments/container"...... Wtf?!?
- He did not understand the requirement at all.
- He implemented something without thinking a microsecond about it.
- No recursive traversal
- It was Java. And he used == instead of equals().
- He compares a folderName with a whole path?!? Wtf.
- How the hell did he made this code return actual results on his computer?!?
Ok ...now it was time to confront management with my findings and give feedback to the developer. ..... They believed me but asked me to keep it civilized and give him constructive feedback. ...... So I skyped him and told him that this code doesn't meet the requirements. ......... He instantly defended himself . He told me that I he did 'exactly what was written in the requirements document" and that there is nothing wrong. .......He had no understanding at all that the code also needs to have an actual business purpose.
After that he tried to sell us a few more weeks of development work to implement our "new changed requirements" ......
Footnote: I know a lot of great Indian Devs. ..... But this is definitely not one of them. -.-
Management wants to outsource to India and gets scammed.9
So my HP laptop got a weird problem lately.
It doesn't charge when I plug in the charger(yes, i turned on the switch). So I began searching forums for a solution and then found out that there are so many people like me out there.
Then I was like ok, chill. There are many people like me, there must be a solution somewhere.
And after doing lots of research and trying all the solutions in the internet, the only thing that worked out is this ....
Step1 : turn on and the laptop and plug in the charger.
Step 2: Turn off the laptop.
Step 3: Now turn it back on and poof there you go, the laptop's charging.
And then I improvised the solution myself, which is u can replace the switch off part with Sleep which saved me some time.
And then whenever I try to show something my friends somethjng on my lap and the battery gets low, I do the ritual. For a brief moment their face becomes like dude I'm gonna kill you off, why the hell did u bring me here and now u r turning that off. And then I explain the history of my laptop.
Why HP whyyy ?12
Post Anger Rant (Beware, Long rant ahead)
So there is this project we have been working for months, most of the devs involved are jr students so I was leading them in the architecture and what to do and they were doing it, the progress was slow but safe and fun.
On the team there was this guy, someone I trusted and in who I had special interest for his skills, so I let him own the github repo.
So the day of the first demo I pull the backend changes ( I had been working on front end ) and I realize that the code was different, so I started using my super awesome forensic skills to find what happened,and when I say different I mean a totally different architecture different database connections, different service pirts, basically other project, so during my criminal investigation I found out this guy I trusted had never really worked with us, from the beginning he went solo working on his own project and changing everything because of some tutorial he found on the internet, so I decided to reset to the previous version just to find out that he had already deployed the code and that a lot of fixes that we should have were only on his version.
So I went and confront him telling him that he did wrong and he had to learn team work and that I was trying to teach them good practices and he waits and asks me "so, my code was wrong?" Seriously what da hell dude? I'm talking about team work and all you can think about is your code.
Finally he admitted his mistake and repented (I think), but seriously how arrogant must you be to ignore a whole team, specially when on your first real project.8
I have spent about an hour trying to re-assign the assessment I started, as i'm due to leave the company in a few days, to the guy taking over from me.
1. There is a “generate shareable URL” button, with the ability to click a button that says “replace me with the logged in user who opens this”. All it does is duplicate the name and description fields and send a new copy to that person, with no access to any of my other content or answers.
2. I did find a re-assign button eventually, again all it does it create a duplicate, and throws and error saying names must be unique when I try to save it.
3. While I couldn’t find a way to do that, I did find another button to at least assign the reviewer. It told me i’m forbidden to change the reviewer on assessments i’ve created.
This is THE WORST piece of nonsensical shit on earth. The entire application is absolute garbage and sssssssooooooo slow.
When you first create an assessment it brings you to a page that has all the questions, makes sense right? Wrong. All the questions are in read-only mode, and they are simply there as a "this is what you can expect to see later on", telling you whether or not they will be freeform, multiple choice etc.
The way to actually answer the questions is to click the "start survey" button hidden in the "status" dropdown.
I don't have much advice to anyone around GDPR, but please stay the hell away from TrustArc.
Today - you son of a bitch.
It all started with a 2 hour flight out of town for business, and I mean started as in I needed to be at the airport at 4:30am!
Despite 2 coffee's to get me out of bed I proceeded to indulge myself in the magic juice, 3 cups later and it felt like my heart belonged in a Grand Prix.
Now here is the sticky part, we where briefed that we would only be doing 2 site meetings and that was it.
Low and be hold it got worse, turns out that we would be pitching our product to 3 highly regarded CEO's, now bare in mind that my position on this trip is as the lead developer, and don't get me wrong I am well up to date on every aspect of the business, hence why they sent me.
So more coffee down the gullet, and eventually the conversation leads back to a project that I had developed to allow authorization of debit orders online, now usually I'm quite a well presented person in these types of situations, but you don't realize how quick this can change.
A quick jump to the geography of the location I was doing business. Johannesburg, South Africa - its as dry as hell, smoggy and at a very higher altitude "as in above sea level".
Now unfortunately none of the above factors where helping me much at all.
Now back to where I am being asked about my project, and never in my life have I tripped over my own words, I went completely blank, I'm surprised I didn't pass out to be honest.
Now despite the death stare and my colleague kicking me under the table, I am feeling pretty terrible, fortunately I had a kick ass team that was able to cover my ass!
Luckily I was able to recover ( 2 muffins and about 3 bottles of water later). We where able to salvage the meeting and it turned out pretty well, I regained my energy and we made it happen!
Must say the flight back was amazing! Almost empty and we all had a row of seats to ourselves, which resulted in some major comfort stretching!
Thanks for tolerating my essay, I'd love to hear if anyone has had anything of the sorts happen to them.2
Was forced to do some work on Windows this week (CAD tools that runs only on Windows). I spent a few days just setting up the tools. There were quite a few things I realized I forgot about Windows (as compared to Linux).
1) Installation times are down right horrific. What exactly are the installer doing for 10 minutes?
2) .NET is a cluster fuck. Not even Microsofts repair tool can fix it, but rather just hangs. I ended up using another tool to nuke it and reinstall.
3) Windows binary installs are insanely huge, thus, takes forever to download.
4) The registry is a pointless database that must have been written in hell with the single intent of destroying users will to live. The sole existence of the registry is another proof that completely incompetent engineers designed Windows.
5) Rebooting is the only way to solve many problems. This is another sure sign of a fundamentally fucked up OS design.
6) What the heck is wrong with the GUIs designers? The control panel must be the worst design ever. There are so many levels to get to a particular setting I'm getting dizzy. Nothing gets better by the illogical organisation.
7) Windows networking. A perversion of the tcp/ip stack that makes it virtually impossible to understand a damn thing about the current network configuration. There are at least 3 different places that effects the settings.
8) Windows command prompt. Why did they even bother to leave it in? The interpreter is as intelligent as retarded donut. You can't do anything with it, except typing "exit" and Google for another solution.
8) Updates. Why does it takes hundreds of updates per month to keep that thing safe?
9) Despite all updates that is flying out of Redmond like confetti, it is still necessary to install antivirus to keep the damn thing safe. That cost extra money, and further cost you by degrading performance of your hardware.
10) Window performance. Software runs like it was swimming in molasses. The final stab in the back on your hardware investment, and pretty much sends performance on your hardware back a few hundred bucks more.
11) Closed source is evil. If something crash consistently, you might find a forum that address the issues you have. Otherwise you're out of luck. On the other hand, it might be for the better. I imagine reading the code for Windows can lead to severe depression.
I'm lucky to be a Linux dev, and should probably not complain too much... But really, Windows, go get yourself hit by a truck and die. I won't miss you.14
Client stated at the beginning of the project that they wanted a modern, pretty website that essentially had everything on one page.
Okay no problem, design is done and approved, weeks ago.
Today they come in after having the site for THREE WEEKS to review and do they come back with feedback on the functionality of the site? Oh no all they want to know is 'how will the user know that they need to scroll down to see more of the site?'...2
Client from hell, next chapter.
As money comes in, project won't be canceled.
Only madness comes for free.
Newest insanity.... We had to explain that in a warehouse system a unique article number as an identifier is a must.... This discussion took 20 minutes.
The reason? Saving 2 secs as they don't have to enter the supplier item number....
Article Number can be...
Integer, automatically assigned
String, Supplier Name and Supplier Item Number seperated by a delimiter....
The argument that stopped this insanity... Costs.
We argued that if we are forced to implement something which we believe will be a high costs, no value, nonsense feature we won't do the necessary migration and programming after reversal as in 'find someone else who unbreaks this insanity'...
Did they understand that a warehouse system without article number for reference is dumb? Nope.1
Anyone else get super pissed when people go out of their way TO LEAN DOWN to look at your phone screen, especially when you don't want them to? I'm on devRant minding my own business, and people will FUCKING WALK OVER AND STARE AT MY SCREEN, and then will START ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT I'M DOING, READING, WHAT WHY WHEN WHERE HOW! Why, the fuck, do people think this is ok? Then you get that one guy who decides to fucking start asking me about what I'm on as I am reading, obviously busy (what are you reading? Rant? What? Hey what is this? It must be Reddit. Reddit is better. What is on this app? This is stupid. Wait no, go back- you upvoted that? Why? So what is this again?) Or how about when you're texting or writing an important email, and someone fucking walks over and stands there and starts reading?! The hell? Am I the only one that this makes want to punch a wall (or the person)?2
That's it, where do I send the bill, to Microsoft? Orange highlight in image is my own. As in ownly way to see that something wasn't right. Oh but - Wait, I am on Linux, so I guess I will assume that I need to be on internet explorer to use anything on microsoft.com - is that on the site somewhere maybe? Cause it looks like hell when rendered from Chrome on Ubuntu. Yes I use Ubuntu while developing, eat it haters. FUCK.
This is ridiculous - I actually WANT to use Bing Web Search API. I actually TRIED giving up my email address and phone number to MS. If you fail the I'm not a robot, or if you pass it, who knows, it disappears and says something about being human. I'm human. Give me free API Key. Or shit, I'll pay. Client wants to use Bing so I am using BING GODDAMN YOU.
Why am I so mad? BECAUSE THIS. Oauth through github, great alternative since apparently I am not human according to microsoft. Common theme w them, amiright?
So yeah. Let them see all my githubs. Whatever. Just GO so I can RELAX. Rate limit fuck shit workaround dumb client requirements google can eat me. Whats this, I need to show my email publicly? Verification? Sure just go. But really MS, this looks terrible. If I boot up IE will it look any better? I doubt it but who knows I am not looking at MS CSS. I am going into my github, making it public. Then trying again. Then waiting. Then verifying my email is shown. Great it is hello everyone. COME ON MS. Send me an email. Do something.
I am trying to be patient, but after a few minutes, I revoke access. Must have been a glitch. Go through it again, with public email. Same ugly almost invisible message. Approaching a billable hour in which I made 0 progress. So, lets just see, NO EMAIL from MS, Yes it appears in my GitHub, but I have no way to log into MS. Email doesnt work. OAuth isn't picking it up I guess, I don't even care to think this through.
The whole point is, the error message was hard to discover, seems to be inaccurate, and I can't believe the IRONY or the STUPIDITY (me, me stupid. Me stupid thinking I could get working doing same dumb thing over and over like caveman and rock).
Longer rant made shorter, I cant come up with a single fucking way to get a free BING API Key. So forget it MS. Maybe you'll email me tomorrow. Maybe Github was pretending to be Gitlab for a few minutes.
Maybe I will send this image to my client and tell him "If we use Bing, get used to seeing hard to read error messages like this one". I mean that's why this is so frustrating anyhow - I thought the Google CSE worked FINE for us :/
I can't stand Swift's initializers. No other languages have the problem with constructors/initializers that Swift does. It's a complete failure of a feature and to hell with safety if it comes with this cost.
Just to illustrate how ridiculous it gets, I want to have a class where my initialization logic can be split among reusable parts. That is, the logic that initializes the class with no parameters has logic that I want to reuse in my other initializers. Simple DRY stuff. Well, the only way I can do that in Swift is if I use a convenience initializer that calls another one. But convenience initializers have completely different rules from designated initializers (again, something only Swift does).
For example, you can't access "self" until you call a designated initializer. You can't chain designated initializers, and if you want to chain anything in the same class you have to handcuff yourself by using a "convenience" initializer (there's nothing convenient about them, I might add).
So now I want to subclass my class and initialize myself using one of my superclass initializers. Oh but the one I want to call is a *convenience* initializer so I can't, unless I turn my new initializer into a convenience initializer. Except wait, a convenience initializer must delegate with self.init(), so it can't even call a superclass initializer!
And it just goes round and round and round. I don't know if I should try to convert all of my initializers to convenience initializers or the other way around.
Why all this nonsensical madness? Get rid of the distinction and go back to nice clean powerful initializers like Objective-C. I mean what does it have to take? This is a complete nightmare.13
I subscribe to many copywriting newsletters. Here's an article that shows how it's like on "the other side", marketers struggle, too.
How Kevin's Massive Mistake
Completely Changed His Life
Kevin H. made a huge mistake.
The biggest, he would say, if he could tell you himself.
And he knew it immediately.
It was, he said, "instant regret."
Within milliseconds, he was asking himself "What have I done..."
Kevin, see, had just jumped the rail of the single most popular suicide spot in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge.
On average, the site gets another distraught jumper every two weeks. Kevin was one of them.
It wasn't like he hadn't tried to quiet the voices in his head. Therapy, drugs, hospitalization.
Time to die, those voices still said.
And yet, in the minutes his bus dropped him off at the bridge, he hesitated and paced with tears in his eyes.
"I told myself if just one person comes up to me and asks if I'm okay... if one person asks if they can help... I won't do it. I'll stop and tell them my whole story..."
But nobody did, so he jumped.
It was in those next milliseconds, he would later say, he knew it was the biggest mistake of his life.
He didn't want to die.
But now, he was sure, it was too late.
From its highest point, it's a 245-foot plummet into the icy bay waters below.
Out of the 1,700 people that have jumped from the bridge since it first opened in 1937, only 25 have survived.
Kevin, against all odds, would be one of them.
He slammed into the water like hitting concrete. Three of his vertebrae instantly shattered.
When he surfaced, he couldn't hold his own head above water. But, incredibly, a sea lion kept pushing him up.
The Coast Guard soon arrived and pulled him out.
From there, he began a long recovery that required intense surgery, physical therapy, and psychiatric care.
While still under treatment, a priest urged him to give a talk to a bunch of seventh and eighth graders.
Afterward, they sent him a pile of letters, both encouraging and full of their own pained thoughts.
He also met a woman.
Today, Kevin lives in Atlanta and he's been happily married for the last 12 years.
And he tours the country, sharing his story.
So why re-tell it here?
Obviously -- I hope -- you don't get lots of copywriters looking to snuff it after a flopped headline test.
Just the same...
We've talked a lot in this space about the things one needs to get by in this biz.
My friend and colleague Joe, over at the publishing powerhouse Agora Financial, likes to list requirements.
You need intense curiosity...
You need a killer work ethic...
And you must, MUST have... resilience.
Meaning, you must have or find the capacity to bounce back from failure and flops, even huge ones.
Now, again, Kevin's story is an extreme and in this context -- I hope -- a hyperbolic example of somebody giving up. In the worst way possible.
It is also, though, a metaphor.
See, I get a lot of notes from some of you guys... and at conferences, I get to talk to a lot of people...
And I often get the sense, from some folks, that they're feeling a little more overwhelmed than they let on.
Some are just starting out, and they've got a lot on the line. For some, it's everything. And some are desperate to make it work.
Because they have to, because their pride or livelihoods or a family business is at stake, because it's a dream.
And yet, they're overwhelmed by all the tips and secrets... or by piles of confusing research or ideas...
For others, even had some success, but they're burned out, feel antiquated, or feel like "imposters" that know less than they let on, in an industry that's evolving.
To all those folks... and to you... I can only say, I've been there. And frankly, go back there now and again.
Flops happen, failures happen. And you can and will -- even years and decades into doing this -- make the wrong choices, pick the wrong projects, or botch the right ones.
The legendary Gene Schwartz put it this way, according to a quote spotted recently in fellow writer Ben Settle's e-letter...
" A very good copywriter is going to fail. If the guy doesn't fail, he's no good. He's got to fail. It hurts. But it's the only way to get the home runs the next time."
Once more, nobody -- I hope -- is taking the trials of this profession hard enough to make Kevin's choice.
And believe me, I don't mean to make light of the latter. I just want to make sure we hit this anvil with a big hammer. To drive home the point that, whatever your struggle, be it with this biz or something bigger, that you don't want to give up. Press on.
As Churchill put it, "Success, is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."
Or even more succinctly when he said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."
Because it's worth it.
My work product: Or why I learned to get twitchy around Java...
I maintain a Java based test system, that tests a raster image processor. The client is a Java swing project that contains CORBA bindings to the internal API of the raster image processor. It also has custom written UI elements and duplicated functionality that became available in later versions of Java, but because some of the third party tools we use don't work with later versions of Java for some reason, it's not possible to upgrade Java to gain things as simple as recursive directory deletion, yes the version of Java we have to use does not support something as simple as that and custom code had to be written to support it.
Because of the requirement to build the API bindings along with the client the whole application must be built with the raster image processor build chain, which is a heavily customised jam build system. So an ant task calls out to execute a jam task and jam does about 90% of the heavy lifting.
In addition to the Java code there's code for interpreting PostScript files, as these can be used to alter the behaviour of the raster image processor during testing.
The server isn't much better though. It's a tomcat based application that was written by someone who had never built a tomcat application before, or any web application for that matter and uses raw SQL strings instead of an orm, it doesn't use MVC in any way, and insane amount of functionality is dumped into the jsp files.
It too interacts with a raster image processor to create difference masks of the output, running PostScript as needed. It spawns off multiple threads and can spend days processing hundreds of gigabytes of image output (depending on the size of the tests).
We're stuck on Tomcat seven because we can't upgrade beyond Java 6, which brings a whole manner of security issues, but that eager little Java updated will break the tool chain if it gets its way.
Between these two components we have the Java RMI server (sometimes) working to help generate image data on the client side before all images are pulled across a UNC network path onto the server that processes test jobs (in PDF format), by reading into the xref table of said PDF, finding the embedded image data (for our server consumed test files are just flate encoded TIFF files wrapped around just enough PDF to make them valid) and uses a tool to create a difference mask of two images.
This tool is very error prone, it can't difference images of different sizes, colour spaces, orientations or pixel depths, but it's the best we have.
The tool is installed in both the client and server if the client can generate images it'll query from the server which ones it needs to and if it can't the server will use the tool itself.
Our shells have custom profiles for linking to a whole manner of third party tools and libraries, including a link to visual studio 2005 (more indirectly related build dependencies), the whole profile has to ensure that absolutely no operating system pollution gets into the shell, most of our apps are installed in our home directories and we have to ensure our paths are correct for every single application we add.
And... Fucking and!
Most of the tools are stored as source bundles in a version control system... Not got or mercurial, not perforce or svn, not even CVS... They use a custom built version control system that is built on top of RCS, it keeps a central database of locked files (using soft and hard locks along with write protecting the files in the file system) to ensure users can't get merge conflicts by preventing other users from writing to the files at all.
Branching is heavy weight and can take the best part of a day to create a new branch and populate the history.
Gathering the tools alone to build the Dev environment to build my project takes the best part of a week.
What should be a joy come hardware refresh year becomes a curse ("Well fuck, now I loose a week spending it setting up the Dev environment on ANOTHER machine").
Needless to say, I enjoy NOT working with Java. A lot of this isn't Javas fault, but there's a lot of things that Java (specifically the Java 6 version we're stuck on) does not make easy.
This is why I prefer to build my web apps in python or node, hell, I'd even take Lua... Just... Compiling web pages into executable Java classes, why? I mean I understand the implementation of how this happens, but why did my predecessor have to choose this? Why?2
So my schol has this softwarecenter site from which all software must be installed (if you aren't admin). That's fina and all, i mesn they want to conteoll what we can install, and provide some paid software, BUT WHY THE HELL DID THEY DECIIDE TO USE SITE THAT ONLY WORKS IN IE!? EVERY TIME I OPEN IT I HAVE TO COPY THE LINK FROM CHROME (default browser) AND THEN OPEN IE! IT DOESN'T EVEN SUPPORT EDGE! (Btw all the software found on this site is out of date.)
Looking at @striker28 's rant made me think of my time I did my MSc and I think it needs it's own separate rant so here it goes:
So I did an MSc at one of the big league unis in London. First clue was during week 1 where in one of the class a mature student asked whether there would be actual coding during the course. There was an audible gasp from everyone else! Once the lecturer said the unfortunatly they wouldn't be you could hear the sigh of relief from the students...
Next up was all the lectures being placed in the freakin' basement of the university in crap, smelly rooms with annoying ticking A/Cs whereas all the social siences, business and other subjects had lecture halls and classrooms above ground. The contempt for CS from the university's direction was palpable.
Then there was the relegation to the theory-only (i.e. abstract with pen/paper) "tutorial" to the hand of T/As with bugger-all teaching experience. In short most were terrible and should've found a way to abscond themselved from this obligation which was part of the terms of their phd grants unfortunatly.
Further into the course there was the "group project". Oh boy! Out of the 5 in the group my now mature student friend and I were the only one commiting to the repo. There was either no code and a lot of bullshit from the others or crap code that didn't even compile despite their assurances it was all good.. Someone clearly never actually coded and pressed "run" in their lives which is fucking surprising since they've managed to graduate with a BSc and get into a MSc somehow. None of the code "made" by the other 3 persons made it into the master branch for release.
The attitude was that of "We (hahahah) wrote loads of code. We'll get a great mark!". At that stage the core wasn't even complete and the software didn't work yet.
Some of the courses where teaching things already 10 years out of date and when lecturer where pressed on that the few mature students that happen to be there the answer was always "yes, we are planning to update it for next year". Complete bullshit. Didn't help that some of the code on the lecture slides was not even correct! I mean these guy are touted as "experts" in their field...
None of the teory during the entire year was linked to any coding. Everything was abstract with no ties to applied software engineering. I.e. nothing like the real world.
The worst is that none of the youger students realised they were being screwed over and getting very little value for their money. Perhaps one reason why these evaluation forms have such high scores given on them. If you haven't had a job and haven't lived outside academia yet there is nothing to compare it to. It tends to also fall into confirmation bias (hey it's a top UK university, it must be worth it afterall! Look how much they ask for).
By the end of the year I couldn't wait to get the hell out. One of the other mature student sumed it quite well: "I will never send my children here."
Keep in mind that the guy had just over a decade of software engineering experience in the industry and was doing this for fun.
In the end universities are not teaching institutions. The lecturers's primary job is research and their priorities match that. Lectures tend to be the most time efficient teaching format for the ones giving them but, on their own, are not for the consumer.
To those contemplating university for CS: Do the BSc. Get your algo/datastructure chops and learn the basic theory. It is interesting. Don't get discouraged by the subject just because it is taught badly.
Avoid the MSc unless you want to do a phd and go for an academic carrer. You are better off using that year and the money to learn more on your own and get into colaborative projects (open source) on top of some personal ones. Build up your portfolio. It will be cheaper and more interesting!2