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Posted on: Sunday, 12 November 2006 by Rajiv Popat

A few months ago, I was presenting in a New Employee Orientation Seminar. I was expected to speak about my professional experiences in past 7+ years of software development and 4+ years of work @ eFORCE. It was the last presentation in a three day program and everyone looked a little tired and bored so I decided to speak about my stupidities in the past 7+ years of software development and 4+ years at eFORCE instead. It was all about all the stupid mistakes I had made in the past 4+ years and what I had learnt from them. It was fun giving that presentation and the audience was great.

During the presentation I asked a few fundamental questions to the audience:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why do you do it?

Answers like - "I'm a Tester", "I am an Engineer" or "Because it's what my job requires me to do" were not allowed. It's always interesting to hear some other answers. Some of the other answers I've heard are quite interesting. Once you remove the standard answers out, the question becomes as interesting as "Why do people write open source software?" (ok, that post is for some other day :)).

Michael Hunter seems to answer the first question right on his blog title. What does he do? He has been Making Developers Cry since 1995. That's the kind of answer that makes my day! :) Seriously!

People writing / testing / coding / designing and analyzing software today, are here for different reasons. I've discussed this with friends, strangers, colleagues, acquaintances and pretty much anyone who has anything to do with Software, that I've had a chance talk to. What do you do? And Why do you do what you do?

Most answers are interesting. Not all sound as interesting as Hunter's blog line, but I "get them". They make sense. I've been lucky. I have never met a programmer, tester, technical architect, project manager or business analyst who is really sorry that he is, what he is. Most of the ones I've met or talked to, like what they are doing.

Some haven't really thought about it. That's ok. But I've not yet met a software-person who's sorry or apologetic about being a programmer or what-ever he / she is. Maybe it's just because of the place I work at. Maybe it's because our interview process kind-of makes sure you like what you're doing before you get in!

So, long story short - I don't know any programmer who's pathetically sorry about being a programmer and I don't know what it would be like to meet one.

A couple of days ago however, I received this email forward which had been sent by a Senior Engineer I know. This was just a casual forward of a random poem he had found somewhere on the web. It was sent to a dozen other good developers, good testers, good business analysts and other people who were pretty good at what they do. You know, the kind of forwards that you get, and then you forward them to others because you find something in it interesting, funny or casually amusing. Yes I did find it a bit funny which is why I guess it was sent to all of us so that we could get some kick out of it! Here is the poem from the email which was signed by the name of "Author Unkown":

If I could meet the guy who wrote this poem, I would have a lot to say to this "Author Unknown". Here's how it would go:

"Wow! You sound so pathetically helpless, you're almost funny!! Dude! You joined Software Development for all the wrong reasons! Actually, you would have written similar poems for anything else that you might have done in life.

Let's Analyze the above lines a bit, shall we? On one hand you claim that the software world has made you wealthy and on the other you 'need' the money this profession pays you! Even you poem lacks logic, I'm sure your code is no better.

You need to stop everything else and start learning how to code. Now! But I don't think you'll do that, because you don't seem to like anything that requires any form of hard-work anyways. Which kind-of explains why you can't get away and find something else to do.

You're just a good for nothing, confused little cry-baby. But don't worry, if you keep composing contradicting poems like these, which we all find funny, and can forward to each other, we'll all have a charity fund for you so that you can go out and have fun with your honey and not have to work too hard!

On a side-note: I think there are plenty guys in India who could genuinely use that charity fund. So cancel that idea. You don't deserve it, you depressing insect who doesn't even have a name!!" :)

Jokes apart, that just sounds like a mean and controversial thing to say and I'm not a mean person. And of course, there was no way I could meet this "author unknown" guy and fix him like a major bug resulting out of bad design should be fixed. So I decided to pack my objectivism in a box and not even try to think about what I would say to this guy if I could meet him. It was nearing Friday and I had builds to push and work to do!

It was within a few hours, yet another email dropped from in my inbox. Apparently, I was not the only person who had problems with this poem. This was from a mentor, who also happened to be in that list of all people who just happened to have received that email. He had seen the poem, and had hit the reply-to-all button.

His email was a really motivating poem he had composed in a short span of time (I'm not sure if he would be ok, with me posting his poem on my blog. So, I'll just wait till he says it's ok to post it here or till he posts it on his blog or something and then I'll update this post with the text / link or something more about it.)

Okay, now that we had a discussion going, and my build had been pushed, it was time to hit a reply-to-all and post my very own personal version of this poem, which would have otherwise remained in my personal journal. Here's how my poem / email went:

After seeing the poems, this one was mostly composed for my personal journal. But since we have 2 versions of the same poem already – here’s mine. It’s a little long though… I get carried away when I write for myself :)

I start my mornings
Thinking about last night's error-codes and warnings

It's an hour's trip to the workplace.
The streets are like a mad rat race.
But I am happy, a smile on my face
Because last's night bug...
Oh, that was just the database!!

I figured it out!!
I'm a better coder now.
When I see the same bug again,
I'll know the “why” and the “how”.

With 32 new emails, my laptop is finally on.
Good! I say. 32 new battles that can be won.
Time is short; I must pick the wars I fight,
And just like my life, keep my code,
Processes and philosophies light :)

I must manage, I must learn,
Make mistakes, and definitely earn,
No, not money! The money will come!
Let me chase something that's chased by none.

The crazy day moves on, I take a pause.
To look back at the day that "was".
Teachers, Friends and strangers say,
That I should follow their way.

But I took a turn I wanted to take
For No-one else, but my own sake.
I think It was the monitor's light,
Or maybe the curly brackets and the semi-colon’s might :)
But it felt, and still feels like, love at first sight.

With no big degrees and no big college names to write,
I knew it would be a difficult fight,
But why do easy crap, I thought...
I'll simplify and get the difficult stuff right!

Then I snap out of reflections and stop thinking about the past.
It's time to get up and move ahead. Steady, yet fast.
Mustn't think way too much,
Just solve anything, that’s thrown my way, as such!

Give Presentations, Contribute, Argue, Write Blogs, Articles, Code, Document,
Design stuff and be an Analyzer.
The day moves on and I'm just a little wiser.

Its late at night and the street-dogs bark at my car.
As it speeds towards my home that's far,
I wake my family up at midnight,
And on their faces, I see a smiling light.

We laugh, we joke, we eat and talk.
The weekend's near, we’re planning a long walk.

The day finally ends…
With a tired body, a heavy head,
I go to sleep and sleep like the dead.

But the sleep brings me bliss.
Because doing my karma, is what I didn’t forget or miss.
Tomorrow is going to be another day,
And if you've got a thousand new battles for tomorrow…
well, bring them on, my way!

The way the divine and me choose together,
And at times, it’s a little bumpy just like bad weather.
But fighting the bad weather is just a part of the game.
If I did anything else I would go insane.
Little, but Quality time, spent with the ones I Love,
tell me that my efforts aren’t in vain.

(Ok, that was the philosophy part – now, just like life, let’s have some raw objectivism… :))

And then there are guys that say –
“But you work for money and fame”
“Yes”, I say – I bloody well do!
Money, fame and a big fat name,
And I wish anyone, who loves what he does,
just the same! :)

It’s not “just a profession”! It’s who I AM!

And It goes on and on for many more lines… but I think I’ll stop here! At the end of the day it’s all about the perspective :)

Cheers,
Rajiv.

P.S. – I think I’ll blog this! :)

And then I received more than one emails telling me that I should in fact, seriously, blog this.  I’ve seen other poems in the past that are a little depressing, (some of them are even cute or funny in their own way and they mean no harm) but this one was just way too depressing to not criticize blatantly. So, here it is. Officially blogged. My poetic reply, thoughts, views and stand on the so called, Programmer-Poetry from Mr. "Author Unknown" who is nowhere close to being a programmer. Something that would otherwise go to my personal journal, published live.

This poem, which started as a fun-email-forward, helped. Becuase it gave a chance to everyone in the mail trail, to take a pause, and ask themselves the two important questions, which I'm going to ask again, to everyone reading this post.

So, what do you do? Why do you do it? Have an interesting answer? Drop me a comment poem! :)

posted on Sunday, 12 November 2006 17:21:40 UTC by Rajiv Popat  #    Comments [5] Trackback
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