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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.

 

I suspect that many of you are familiar with the term "hard coding a value" whereby the age of an individual or their location is written into the condition (or action) of a business rule (in this case) as shown below:

if customer.age > 21 and customer.city == 'denver'

then ...

Such coding practices are perfectly expectable provided that the conditional values, age and city, never change. They become entirely unacceptable if a need for different values could be anticipated. A classic example of where this practice occurred that caused considerable heartache in the IT industry was the Y2K issue where dates were updated using only the last 2 digits of a four digit number because the first 2 digits were hard-coded to 19 i.e. 1998, 1999. All was well provided that the date did not advance to a time beyond the 1900’s since no one could be certain of what would happen when the millennia arrived (2000). A considerably amount of work (albeit boring) and money, approximately $200 billion, went into revising systems by way of software rewrites and computer chip replacements in order to thwart any detrimental outcomes. It is obvious how a simple change or an assumption can have sweeping consequences.

You may wonder what Y2K has to do with Business Rule Management Systems (BRMS). Well, what if we considered rules themselves to be hard-coded. If we were to write 100s of rules in Java, .NET or whatever language that only worked for a given scenario or assumption, would that not constitute hard-coded logic? By hard-coded, we obviously mean compiled. For example, if a credit card company has a variety of bonus campaigns, each with their own unique list of rules that may change within a week’s time, what would be the most effective way of writing software to deal with these responsibilities?

Getting involved with the IT, or Internet Technology industry, is a way for you to break into a variety of potential coveted career paths and job openings. Whether you prefer working with the back-end of programming or if you enjoy improve user experience while browsing online, there are many different in-demand IT skills that are useful to obtain today if you are seeking a career in the tech industry yourself.

Cloud Computing

Working with cloud computing, otherwise known as "the cloud", requires you to work within various types of servers that store and access data globally from any location. With the increase in mobile usage, cloud computing is becoming even more prevalent in today's society. When you want to work with cloud computing, understanding the basics of programming and network security is a must. Working in cloud computing is a way to help with building new applications, expanding companies online as well as allowing anyone internationally to locate and access a specific blog, website or mobile app.

UX Design

UX Design is also known as user experience design. A user experience designer specializes in understanding the usability and overall experience a web visitor has when browsing on a site or blog. UX design is essential to ensure that all visitors on a website are capable of navigating the blog properly and accessing the site's content with ease, regardless of the browser they are using or the type of device that is being used to access the site itself. Cross-browser compatibility and ensuring that all websites you are working with are accessible via mobile platforms is another responsibility of many UX designers today. Working in UX design is highly recommended if you believe you have an eye for "good" web design and if you have an interest in improving the overall experience web users for a specific audience have when visiting the blog or website you represent or that you are building for yourself.

IT Security

IT security is one of the fastest-growing positions throughout the entire IT industry and field. IT security requires you to understand network infrastructures as well as how to properly manage each server individually to provide security and protection from potential hackers and online thieves looking to steal sensitive data and information. Maintaining the security of a network and all servers for a company is only becoming more popular with the expansion of mobile phone usage along with the growth of the Internet altogether.

Understanding the variety of IT skills that are in demand today can help you to better decide on a path that is right for you. The more you understand about various IT skills, the easier it is to find a position or career in your future that is most suitable for the type of work you enjoy. Whether you are looking to develop new apps or if you are interested in managing the security of company servers, there are hundreds of positions and skills that are in demand in the IT industry today.

Password Management Tools

What are the best languages for getting into functional programming?

Net Neutrality for the Layperson

What little habits make you a better software engineer?

Creating an enum in Python prior to Python 3.4 was accomplished as follows:

 

def enum(**enums)::
      return type('Enum',(),enums)

then use as:

Animals=enum(Dog=1,Cat=2)

and accessed as:

Animals.Dog

The new version can be created as follows:

from enum import Enum

class Animal(Enum):
    Dog=1
    Cat=2

Tech Life in California

Largely influenced by several immigrant populations California has experienced several technological, entertainment and economic booms over the years. As for technology, Silicon Valley, in the southern part of San Francisco is an integral part of the world?s innovators, high-tech businesses and a myriad of techie start-ups. It also accounts for 1/3rd of all venture capital investments.
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. Douglas Adams
other Learning Options
Software developers near Simi Valley 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 California that offer opportunities for VMWare developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Mattel, Inc. El Segundo Retail Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores
Spectrum Group International, Inc. Irvine Retail Retail Other
Chevron Corp San Ramon Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. Pasadena Real Estate and Construction Construction and Remodeling
eBay Inc. San Jose Software and Internet E-commerce and Internet Businesses
Broadcom Corporation Irvine Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Franklin Templeton Investments San Mateo Financial Services Investment Banking and Venture Capital
Pacific Life Insurance Company Newport Beach Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
Tutor Perini Corporation Sylmar Real Estate and Construction Construction and Remodeling
SYNNEX Corporation Fremont Software and Internet Data Analytics, Management and Storage
Core-Mark International Inc South San Francisco Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
Occidental Petroleum Corporation Los Angeles Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Yahoo!, Inc. Sunnyvale Software and Internet Software and Internet Other
Edison International Rosemead Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Ingram Micro, Inc. Santa Ana Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Safeway, Inc. Pleasanton Retail Grocery and Specialty Food Stores
Gilead Sciences, Inc. San Mateo Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Pharmaceuticals
AECOM Technology Corporation Los Angeles Real Estate and Construction Architecture,Engineering and Design
Reliance Steel and Aluminum Los Angeles Manufacturing Metals Manufacturing
Live Nation, Inc. Beverly Hills Media and Entertainment Performing Arts
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Sunnyvale Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Pacific Gas and Electric Corp San Francisco Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Electronic Arts Inc. Redwood City Software and Internet Games and Gaming
Oracle Corporation Redwood City Software and Internet Software and Internet Other
Symantec Corporation Mountain View Software and Internet Data Analytics, Management and Storage
Dole Food Company, Inc. Thousand Oaks Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
CBRE Group, Inc. Los Angeles Real Estate and Construction Real Estate Investment and Development
First American Financial Corporation Santa Ana Financial Services Financial Services Other
The Gap, Inc. San Francisco Retail Clothing and Shoes Stores
Ross Stores, Inc. Pleasanton Retail Clothing and Shoes Stores
Qualcomm Incorporated San Diego Telecommunications Wireless and Mobile
Charles Schwab Corporation San Francisco Financial Services Securities Agents and Brokers
Sempra Energy San Diego Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Western Digital Corporation Irvine Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Health Net, Inc. Woodland Hills Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech Other
Allergan, Inc. Irvine Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Biotechnology
The Walt Disney Company Burbank Media and Entertainment Motion Picture and Recording Producers
Hewlett-Packard Company Palo Alto Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
URS Corporation San Francisco Real Estate and Construction Architecture,Engineering and Design
Cisco Systems, Inc. San Jose Computers and Electronics Networking Equipment and Systems
Wells Fargo and Company San Francisco Financial Services Banks
Intel Corporation Santa Clara Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Applied Materials, Inc. Santa Clara Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Sanmina Corporation San Jose Computers and Electronics Semiconductor and Microchip Manufacturing
Agilent Technologies, Inc. Santa Clara Telecommunications Telecommunications Equipment and Accessories
Avery Dennison Corporation Pasadena Manufacturing Paper and Paper Products
The Clorox Company Oakland Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Apple Inc. Cupertino Computers and Electronics Consumer Electronics, Parts and Repair
Amgen Inc Thousand Oaks Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Biotechnology
McKesson Corporation San Francisco Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Pharmaceuticals
DIRECTV El Segundo Telecommunications Cable Television Providers
Visa, Inc. San Mateo Financial Services Credit Cards and Related Services
Google, Inc. Mountain View Software and Internet E-commerce and Internet Businesses

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the hartmann software group advantage
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 California 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 VMWare programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized VMWare experts
  • Get up to speed with vital VMWare 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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