CodeStock 2012

First of all, kudos to Michael Neel and everyone that put on CodeStock.  This was my first time attending CodeStock and to see such a well-run conference is always a pleasure. I know from experience that there’s a lot of work that goes in to making things run that smoothly.

I got to attend a few very interesting sessions.  Mike Falanga’s session on using F# and MongoDB for analysis of large datasets was very interesting.  Daniel Mohl’s session on F# and Web Development was also good—and it was really nice to meet Daniel in person and get a chance to gab with him a bit.  There were a few folks from the Nashville area at the conference and they must have some major-league brain power out that way.

Also Rob Gillen’s talk on how buffer overflow attacks work was both fascinating and a bit scary. I can just imagine how many unpatched vulnerabilities there are running around in all the publicly deployed sites I regularly depend on.

Finally, here’s the slide deck for my F# Shell Scripting Talk.  I’ll edit this post later to share sample code.  I’ve posted the slide deck as a PDF file to maximize the number of people that can see it.

Note: Thanks to Dennis for pointing out to me that I got the name of the presenter for the buffer overflow attack talk incorrect. 

The Mythical Enlightened Employer

I was having a conversation with a fellow developer the other day and we we chatting about the lack of foresight of many firms regarding functional programming.  This naturally led to a discussion of how chaotic many workplaces are. This, of course, led to the old saw—if you don’t like where you’re working, look elsewhere.  I’ve heard this advice repeated often—if your current job isn’t doing it for you, look around.  There’s a dream job out there somewhere. 

I have to say that I’ve been writing software and working in IT for nearly 25 years and if there’s a place where things are truly at an enlightenment level north of CMM Level 1, I’ve yet to find it.  I use CMM Level 1 simply as shorthand for the level of controlled chaos which seems to prevail almost everywhere.  Perhaps they should change the name from CMM Level 1 to “Typical Workplace.”

The thing is, talking to my fellow software developers, the complaints about unrealistic deadlines, software death marches and so forth are so common that I really wonder if the “enlightened employer” actually exists.  I used to work for a firm that was once upon a time voted on of the best places to work in the country for IT and I knew several members of a team that worked 60 hour work weeks for a few months, at least, and were never compensated with either bonus pay or comp time—and the product still shipped late by the way. I’ve heard rumors about Google (I mean who hasn’t in the IT world?) but given the number of “Why I Chose To Leave Google” blog postings one begins to wonder if even that bastion of enlightened software development is just a myth too. 

I want to make a suggestion to those who feel that the pasture is greener on the other side of the fence.  Seriously consider if you can’t make the pasture greener under your own feet.  If you really cannot improve things in your own workplace (and certainly there are some truly benighted places in this world) then move on.  Otherwise, maybe you can transform your own company into the Mythical Enlightened Employer that we all seek.