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What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

Companies have been collecting and analyzing data forever, pretty much.” So what’s really new here? What’s driving the data-analytics revolution and what does it mean for those that choose to postpone or ignore the pivotal role big-data is currently having on productivity and competition globally?

General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt explains it best when stating that “industrial companies are now in the information business—whether they like it or not.”  Likewise, digital data is now everywhere, it’s in every industry, in every economy, in every organization and according to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), this topic might once have concerned only a few data geeks, but big data is now relevant for leaders across every sector as well as consumers of products and services.

In light of the new data-driven global landscape and rapid technological advances, the question for senior leaders in companies now is how to integrate new capabilities into their operations and strategies—and position themselves globally where analytics can influence entire industries. An interesting discussion with six of theses senior leaders is covered in MGI’s article, “How companies are using big data and analytics,” providing us with a glimpse into a real-time decision making processes.

 

As someone who works in many facets of the music industry, I used to seethe with a mixture of anger and jealousy when I would hear people in more “traditional” goods-based industries argue in favor of music content-based piracy. They made all the classic talking points, like “I wouldn’t spend money on this artist normally, and maybe if I like it I’ll spend money on them when they come to town” (which never happened), or “artists are rich and I’m poor, they don’t need my money” (rarely the case), or the worst, “if it were fairly priced and worth paying for, I’d buy it” (not true).  I always wondered if they’d have the same attitude if 63% of the things acquired by customers in their industries weren’t actually paid for, as was conservatively estimated as the case for the music industry in 2009 (other estimations put the figure of pirated music at 95%). Well, we may soon see the answer to curiosities like that. Though one can say with tentative confidence that music piracy is on the decline thanks to services like Spotify and Rdio, it could be looming on the horizon for the entire global, physical supply chain. Yes, I’m talking about 3d printers.

Before I get into the heart of this article, let me take a moment to make one thing clear: I think these machines are incredible. It’s damn near inspiring to think of even a few of their potentially world-changing applications: affordable, perfectly fit prosthetic limbs for wounded servicemen and women; the ability to create a piece of machinery on the spot instead of having to wait for a spare to arrive in the mail, or en route if your car or ship breaks down in a far away place; a company based out of Austin, TX even made a fully functioning firearm from a 3d printer a few months ago.

If these machines become as consumer-friendly and idiot-proof as possible (like computers), it’s possible that in a matter of decades (maybe less), a majority of U.S. households will have their own 3d printer. There’s also the possibility they could take the tech-hobbyist path, one that is much less appealing to the masses. Dale Dougherty of Makezine.com estimates there are currently around 100,000 “personal” 3d printers, or those not owned for business or educational purposes. I don’t think they’ll ever be as ubiquitous as computers, but there are plenty of mechanically inclined, crafty hobbyists out there who would love to play around with a 3d printer if it was affordable enough.

That being said, is there reason to worry about the economic implications of consumers making what they want, essentially for free, instead of paying someone else to produce it? Or will the printers instead be used for unique items more so than replicating and ripping off other companies’ merchandise in mass amounts? The number of people working in industries that would be affected by a development like this is far greater than the number of people who work in content-based industries, so any downturn would probably have a much larger economic implications. Certainly, those times are a ways off, but a little foresightedness never hurt anyone!

Being treated like a twelve year old at work by a Tasmanian-devil-manager and not sure what to do about it? It is simply a well-known fact that no one likes to be micro managed. Not only do they not like to be micro managed, but tend to quit for this very reason. Unfortunately the percentage of people leaving their jobs for this reason is higher that you would imagine. Recently, an employee retention report conducted by TINYpulse, an employee engagement firm, surveyed 400 full-time U.S. employees concluded that, "supervisors can make or break employee retention."

As companies mature, their ability to manage can be significant to their bottom line as employee morale, high staff turnover and the cost of training new employees can easily reduce productivity and consequently client satisfaction.  In many cases, there is a thin line between effective managing and micro managing practices. Most managers avoid micro managing their employees. However, a decent percentage of them have yet to find effective ways to get the most of their co-workers.  They trap themselves by disempowering people's ability to do their work when they hover over them and create an unpleasant working environment. This behavior may come in the form of incessant emailing, everything having to be done a certain way (their way), desk hovering, and a need to control every part of an enterprise, no matter how small.

Superimpose the micro manager into the popular practice of Agile-SCRUM methodology and you can imagine the creative ways they can monitor everything in a team, situation, or place. Although, not always a bad thing, excessive control, can lead to burnout of managers and teams alike.  As predicted, agile project management has become increasingly popular in the last couple of decades in project planning, particularly in software development.  Agile methodology when put into practice, especially in IT, can mean releasing faster functional software than with the traditional development methods. When done right, it enables users to get some of the business benefits of the new software faster as well as enabling the software team to get rapid feedback on the software's scope and direction.

Despite its advantages, most organizations have not been able to go “all agile” at once. Rather, some experiment with their own interpretation of agile when transitioning.  A purist approach for instance, can lead to an unnecessarily high agile project failure, especially for those that rely on tight controls, rigid structures and cost-benefit analysis.  As an example, a premature and rather rapid replacement of traditional development without fully understating the implications of the changeover process or job roles within the project results in failure for many organizations.  

Tech Life in Texas

Austin may be considered the live music capital of the world but the field of technology is becoming the new norm in the The Lone Star State. Home to Dell and Compaq computers, there is a reason why central Texas is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the south. It?s rated third on the charts of the top computer places in the United States with a social learning and training IT atmosphere. Adding the fact that Austin offers fairly inexpensive living costs for students, software developers may take note as they look to relocate.
Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. ~Anthony J. D'Angelo
other Learning Options
Software developers near Dallas have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Texas that offer opportunities for Blaze Advisor developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Dr Pepper Snapple Group Plano Manufacturing Nonalcoholic Beverages
Western Refining, Inc. El Paso Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Frontier Oil Corporation Dallas Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
ConocoPhillips Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Dell Inc Round Rock Computers and Electronics Computers, Parts and Repair
Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. Houston Transportation and Storage Transportation & Storage Other
GameStop Corp. Grapevine Retail Retail Other
Fluor Corporation Irving Business Services Management Consulting
Kimberly-Clark Corporation Irving Manufacturing Paper and Paper Products
Exxon Mobil Corporation Irving Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Cameron International Corporation Houston Energy and Utilities Energy and Utilities Other
Celanese Corporation Irving Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
HollyFrontier Corporation Dallas Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Kinder Morgan, Inc. Houston Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Marathon Oil Corporation Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
United Services Automobile Association San Antonio Financial Services Personal Financial Planning and Private Banking
J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Plano Retail Department Stores
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. Dallas Energy and Utilities Energy and Utilities Other
Atmos Energy Corporation Dallas Energy and Utilities Alternative Energy Sources
National Oilwell Varco Inc. Houston Manufacturing Manufacturing Other
Tesoro Corporation San Antonio Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Halliburton Company Houston Energy and Utilities Energy and Utilities Other
Flowserve Corporation Irving Manufacturing Tools, Hardware and Light Machinery
Commercial Metals Company Irving Manufacturing Metals Manufacturing
EOG Resources, Inc. Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Whole Foods Market, Inc. Austin Retail Grocery and Specialty Food Stores
Waste Management, Inc. Houston Energy and Utilities Waste Management and Recycling
CenterPoint Energy, Inc. Houston Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Valero Energy Corporation San Antonio Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
FMC Technologies, Inc. Houston Energy and Utilities Alternative Energy Sources
Calpine Corporation Houston Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Texas Instruments Incorporated Dallas Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
SYSCO Corporation Houston Wholesale and Distribution Grocery and Food Wholesalers
BNSF Railway Company Fort Worth Transportation and Storage Freight Hauling (Rail and Truck)
Affiliated Computer Services, Incorporated (ACS), a Xerox Company Dallas Software and Internet E-commerce and Internet Businesses
Tenet Healthcare Corporation Dallas Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Hospitals
XTO Energy Inc. Fort Worth Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Group 1 Automotive Houston Retail Automobile Dealers
ATandT Dallas Telecommunications Telephone Service Providers and Carriers
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Spring Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Apache Corporation Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Dean Foods Company Dallas Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
American Airlines Fort Worth Travel, Recreation and Leisure Passenger Airlines
Baker Hughes Incorporated Houston Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Continental Airlines, Inc. Houston Travel, Recreation and Leisure Passenger Airlines
RadioShack Corporation Fort Worth Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
KBR, Inc. Houston Government International Bodies and Organizations
Spectra Energy Partners, L.P. Houston Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Energy Future Holdings Dallas Energy and Utilities Energy and Utilities Other
Southwest Airlines Corporation Dallas Transportation and Storage Air Couriers and Cargo Services

training details locations, tags and why hsg

A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Texas since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Blaze Advisor programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Blaze Advisor experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Blaze Advisor programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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