The lost art of choosing the right tool for the job

The debate that never happens leaves those ignorant enought to speak the default victor

I still remember the joy of figuring out how to boot a disk on the first PC my family owned. This ain’t no stinking Apple IIc green screen folks, it was a Commodore 128D with an over the top 131,072 bytes of blazing fast memory. Did not have the optional hard drive, but this was quite the machine in the day. I was disappointed when I plugged it in, and it just blinked at me.

It's alive!!!]

After several weeks passed I even figured out how to play games off of the 5.25 inch floppy drive. I wandered around in Ultima V drooling over the smoothness of the text based animation. I was 10 years old and the instruction manual here:
https://www.commodore.ca/manuals/128_system_guide/toc.html got me geared.

The DIR command. Yeah, pretty much does the same thing as dir or ls.

I had learned basic command line tasks, and my parents thought I was a real life boy wizard… I moved on to a Sega Genesis shortly thereafter, where Mortal Kombat was MORTAL FUGGIN KOMBAT, blood and all.

The next year, my eleven year old self learned how to code basic C program’s from those ubiquitous ‘Teach Yourself In 24 Hrs’ which was forgotten again until Sophomore year of College where knowing how to code C would make the first two semesters of my Computer Science Coursework boring.

Who needs Rust when you have Sam! man!

I prided myself on making and linking code from the command line (on Windows using the Borland Turbo C Compiler, ghack!). Then the usual Data Structures and Algorithm’s courses wiped out half the declared Computer Science major’s. We moved on to C++, the world moved on to Java and .NET I focused as much on making music and hanging out with friends.

I burned out like a fire sparkler. Two years of 15+ credit hours of 300-400 level Computer Science, Physics, and Math combined with a refusal to change my Play Station2playing, bong toking, LSD imbibing ways made jack a dull boy.

Fuck Grad School, Safeway is hiring, you can have the divorce for free son, welcome to the fold

My studies were in tact. I knew my runtime analysis, could use induction to reason about recursion and program, solve PDEs, could derive the kinematics equations and from there special relativity but I honestly didn’t give two shits. I was burnt out and none of this was fun anymore. And so I flipped produce, for minimum wage in some sort of bizarre healing ritual.

Not working those particular brain muscles for three years,particularly at any level approaching where I had been left me in an odd place. My proficiency dropped from ‘able to teach others the concepts’ to ‘couldn’t pass as even a bad TA’.

I finally got a job ‘in my field’ – databases on a green screen emulator doing RPG / SQL on iSeries mainframes for a company that is now the largest Auto Parts store in the US.

You make HOW MUCH as an electrician doing prevailing wage work

The disconnect between the education I had received and the realities of creating production code and changing production code in an environment where mistakes could cost in the millions was not what I was doing in Compiler Theory using scheme to parse an LR grammar.

You are now a highly paid drone on an assembly line

This is what most software development has come to. I expect that trend to continue. Reducing problems to such small increments of work that little to no creative leeway can be exercised, your output can be tracked, and you will become either fitter, happier and more productive or find another career.

It’s still a great job no doubt. Making a six figure income should come with some sort of ‘have actually lived’ some requirement. If I didn’t like the general tone here, I wouldn’t lurk and read all the great and brilliant and interesting and valid data flying about here.

Rambling graybeard actually does have a point something about evolution and… ah fuggit I’ve read this far

It all started with the DIR command and an Atari 2600. Things evolve. The dir command still has it’s place. DOS is still around, that god-awful syntax from Powershell isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Bash is a downright powerfull tool. A relational database for datawarehouse pipelines will never have an equal map reduce (for that matter, store relational data in a RDBMS, that’s what they are for kids!), graybeards like me have moved on from Frogger,used a variety of command line tools (honestly, you have no right to call yourself a dev if you haven’t)and yes, I’m spoiled by the IDE. I’ve been through hell, and I’m happy to have it make my life easier.

You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s easy to admit. It’s the unkown unkowns that as they hit you in your life, career, doggie catering subscription prices (fucking seriously dude) one starts to understand how to minimize. I know what to expect from my tools. It is a way to minimize risk, which is important (and a lesson that if I’d learned it earlier, I might be working on meshing algorithm’s at nvidia instead of writing SQL for an enterprise).

I figure either way at least I won’t be doing crud apps (ahem, nearly entire javascript ecosystem, ahem) the rest of my life :slight_smile:

Picking the right tool to do the job will keep you employed longer than picking the coolest. And fads go in and out of style. When javascript gets abstracted out of the web, I’ll be right there with you developing on the front end… :stuck_out_tongue:

Sadly, I used to think if you didn’t code the interpreter in assembly you weren’t a real dev. One day, you’ll come to the same conclusion I have. You are not a special flower, just a bit wet behind the ears. It will probably happen sooner than you think (or whenever you get tired of random jack asses introducing security vulnerabilities into your dependency tree).

And guess who just learned markdown and actually likes it, god dammit

Pax,

cj