When all you have is a hammer, make your own tools?
Posted Wed, 29 Feb 2012
The "ops folks need coding skills" groupthink is lame. Software requires extra coding because it is shitty, not because people are unskilled
I will lead with this: I want more people who use technology to grow and learn better skills for bending that technology to their needs. An ops guy with programming skills is, to me, more valuable than one who cannot - programming in any language or platform lets you extend an otherwise static system.
Anyway, back at the post in question, I'm not trying to say people (ops or otherwise) shouldn't want stronger programming skills. I'm saying the equipment we use is pretty shitty.
I am part of the generation raised near devices ever blinking "12:00". Devices which have no business caring what time it is, nor any sane reason to make the state of "I don't know what time it is" a high priority alert worth blinking forever.
It's 2012, and this problem persists - my microwave refuses to cook food unless it has the time *and* date from user input. Now I have to program it every time it has a power disruption (which is has frequently due to some bug in the hardware causing it to power off randomly with certain dishes at home).
Now I have to learn to program or configure these devices before they'll stop irritating me. And, damn it I hate that. If, instead, this were enterprise software, I could report these irritations to the vendor who would kindly offer me training and consulting for extortionate piles of money.
I love coding. It's fun, and many times lets me solve problems I couldn't otherwise. Allowing me to abuse an analogy, "When all you have is a hammer, you can sit down and build whatever tool you need to repair the delusion that everything is a nail."
But despite being able to solve my own problems in software, I don't think this is a great pattern of work. I write code, most of the time, because the solutions available are terrible or don't meet my requirements. With a new software popping up every day, I see a strong correlation between software availability and people asking for more programmers.
So, the more software we have, the more programmers we need to work around limitations in the available body of software. I think that's pretty lame :(
And regarding my microwave problems, I want some confidence that the problems being solved are meaningful problems, not programming learned for the sake of working around bugs and misfeatures in software we're suffering with.