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Thread: The decline of programmers in the U.S.

  1. #1

    The decline of programmers in the U.S.

    This is an interesting article I read in the Huffington Post. Things have changed since the 1980s when PCs first came out. One had to learn to program if he or she really wanted to use these computers. I dare say that this was the best generation of programmers that we have had. You had to write tight, clean code when you only had a few Kb to work with.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...ef=email_share
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
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  2. #2
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
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    I've been writing programs for 50 years...I think I've touched just about every computer system ever made, and I write 90% of all computer languages.

    The major problem I see today is that hardware capability has far surpassed program quality. Hardware is so fast, that even down right crappy code runs fast enough that users don't notice.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by SCIfor55yrs. View Post
    This is an interesting article I read in the Huffington Post. Things have changed since the 1980s when PCs first came out. One had to learn to program if he or she really wanted to use these computers. I dare say that this was the best generation of programmers that we have had. You had to write tight, clean code when you only had a few Kb to work with.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...ef=email_share
    I have been hiring software engineers since 1995 and right now is as bad on the hiring front as it was during the peak of the dotcom boom. It almost impossible to find good programmers at all, regardless of their origin or visa status in the bay area. I have been looking for months to staff up a project requiring very strong C/C++ skills. I just decided yesterday to contract it out to a small company in Israel for 3K a month per person. That is a less than quarter of what I was offering in salary and benefits, and according to the person that recommended them to me the work product is phenomenal. It is less than ideal, I place great value in engineers all being in one room, arguing on a white board, eating lunch together, etc. At the end of the day, our education system is not putting out the people we need and California has priced itself out of being a place where a young couple can get a good job, buy a house and raise a couple kids. Google, Apple, Oracle, Ebay, Twitter are all staffing up in places outside of California because of the housing prices and high taxes.

    On a tangential note, google released a thing called "Google Hangout" you can setup a video conference with up to 10 people, it is really cool and great for working with remote people.

  4. #4
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t8burst View Post
    . I just decided yesterday to contract it out to a small company in Israel for 3K a month per person.
    There's the heart of the problem. This trend has been going on since the early 90's. Managers who think that code is code and anyone can write it. If you can offshore the job for 1/4 the price, who cares if the end product is 1/10 as good...the glossy front end and the super fast hardware behind it will make the end user think its a work of art. So, now that all the best and brightest have moved on to PoliSci degrees instead of Computer Science, you can't find anyone locally.

    Ever hear of the "chocolate donut" theory. If all you've ever had is chocolate covered donuts from you local quickie mart, they're all equally satisfying. But, once you get your hands on an Amy Joy, you'll realize what you've been missing.

    Same thing with programmers. The offshore people may give you a sparkling product...but...it will be unmaintainable without their help. The comments, data names, metaphors, etc. will all be in their native tongue...or, perhaps a variation of english that's just as bad.

    Take your other 3/4 of allocated cost and find some entry level people. Train them. Sure, it will take longer from start to market, but the end product will live on...and the cost to improve it will decrease by 80%.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by willingtocope View Post
    I've been writing programs for 50 years...I think I've touched just about every computer system ever made, and I write 90% of all computer languages.

    The major problem I see today is that hardware capability has far surpassed program quality. Hardware is so fast, that even down right crappy code runs fast enough that users don't notice.
    At last count, I had used 13 different languages beginning with Fortran. I agree that the available memory and speed are supporting the crappy programming that ends up buggy and is such a mess that the bugs cannot be found.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

  6. #6
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
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    Yeah, my native tongue is Fortran. (I won't admit to knowing RPG).

  7. #7
    I'm a software project manager and work with people around the world. Things sure have changed....and pretty quickly. I have to say that I've had pretty good luck with offshore technicians and QA folks. We still keep our business analysts and PMs onshore.

    I think browsers are the biggest challenge with internet-based apps. They're in constant motion and hard to keep up with. The code may be good but in the end you're at the mercy of the browser's interpretation. Just when we think we've figured it all out, Safari pitches us a new snafu.

  8. #8
    This is so true.

    My father (L3 para) has been a programmer since the 60's. I remember going to his work at one of the National Labs, and I would play with the punch cards. He programmed for the super computers (ex. Cray) back then. He was an artist with code, and could save incredible amounts of computer time with elegant code. He says the stuff that people write now is atrocious. Especially if you get out into the private sector. In general, people are lazy. They do what they can get away with.

    My Dad used to say that a desk top PC these days has more computer power then existed in the ENTIRE WORLD, when he started programming. Something like that..... Crazy.....

  9. #9
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    I've been touting the decline of the white collar American IT worker for years. I saw it happening with the hardware and networking side of the house in the mid 90's. Kids graduating from high school with a couple of industry recognized certs (i.e. MCSE, etc). It was only a matter of time before the programming turned into a commodity, also, to be gotten for the cheapest price.

    I had wonderful luck with offshore programmers. India, Philippines, Malaysia, etc. where wonderful places to work with.

    YMMV, but when using international resources my focus was always on methodology and PM. With a high quality SDLC and good oversight off shore programming doesn't automatically mean substandard quality! (With strong change management and quality assurance processes, most any group of competent programmers can turn out a good product, IMHO.)

    If you let them have too much rope...though...it can/will be a disaster!




    Quote Originally Posted by willingtocope View Post
    There's the heart of the problem. This trend has been going on since the early 90's. Managers who think that code is code and anyone can write it. If you can offshore the job for 1/4 the price, who cares if the end product is 1/10 as good...the glossy front end and the super fast hardware behind it will make the end user think its a work of art. So, now that all the best and brightest have moved on to PoliSci degrees instead of Computer Science, you can't find anyone locally.

    Ever hear of the "chocolate donut" theory. If all you've ever had is chocolate covered donuts from you local quickie mart, they're all equally satisfying. But, once you get your hands on an Amy Joy, you'll realize what you've been missing.

    Same thing with programmers. The offshore people may give you a sparkling product...but...it will be unmaintainable without their help. The comments, data names, metaphors, etc. will all be in their native tongue...or, perhaps a variation of english that's just as bad.

    Take your other 3/4 of allocated cost and find some entry level people. Train them. Sure, it will take longer from start to market, but the end product will live on...and the cost to improve it will decrease by 80%.
    __________________

    He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one.

  10. #10
    I am not a professional programmer. I learned to program out of necessity. Too many people told me that what I wanted could not be done so I did it myself. Sometimes even people in the science and technology community become rigid thinkers.

    Programming is a great career for wheelchair users. It is sad that even many in the CC struggle to find a viable career and yet these jobs are sitting there begging to be filled. It is not that difficult to learn. All my programming skills have been self-taught. Once you master one language, it is not that difficult to move on to the next. It seems that the tech schools and the universities are offering the training but mostly the foreign students take advantage of it.
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

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