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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.

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.  

Programmers often tend to be sedentary people. Sitting in a chair and pressing keys, testing code, and planning out one logical step-wise strategy after another to get the computer to process data the way you want it to is just what life as a programmer is all about. But, is being too sedentary hindering a programmers max potential? In other words, will getting up, moving around, and getting the blood pumping make us better programmers? To answer this question more efficiently, we will need to consider the impact of exercise on various aspects of programming.

Alertness And Focus

It is no surprise that working up a sweat makes the mind wake up and become more alert. As the blood starts pumping, the body physically reacts in ways that helps the mind to better focus. And improving our focus might make us better programmers in the sense that we are more able to wrap our mind around a problem and deal with it more efficiently than if we feel sluggish and not so alert. However, improving one's focus with exercise can be augmented by taking such vitamins as B6, Coleen, and eating more saturated fats rather than so many sugars. Exercise alone may be a good start, but it is important to realize that the impact of exercise on overall focus can be enhanced when combined with other dietary practices. However, it never hurts to begin a day of programming with fifteen minutes of rigorous workout to give the mind a little extra push.

Increase In Intellect

Does exercise cause a programmer to become a smarter programmer? This is perhaps a trickier question. In some sense, it might seem as if exercise makes us more intelligent. But, this may be more because our focus is sharper than because of any increase in actual knowledge. For example, if you don't know how to program in Python, it is highly doubtful that exercising harder will all of a sudden transfer such insights directly to your brain. However, exercise might have another indirect impact on a programmer’s intellect that will help them to become a better programmer. The more a person exercises, the more stamina and energy they will tend to have, as compared to programmers who never exercise all that much. That additional energy and stamina might help a programmer to be able to push themselves to learn things more efficiently, simply because they aren't getting tired as much as they study new languages or coding techniques. If you have more energy and stamina throughout the day, you will likely be more productive as a programmer as well. Greater productivity can often make one program better simply because they actually push themselves to finish projects. Other programmers who do not exercise on a regular basis may simply lack the energy, stamina, and motivation to follow through and bring their programming projects to completion.

Memory

The ability to remember things and recall them quickly is key to being an efficient programmer. Getting up and getting real exercise may be central to making sure that one does not lose control of these cognitive abilities. According to the New York Times, article, Getting a Brain Boost Through Exercise, recent research studies on mice and humans have shown that, in both cases, exercise does in fact appear to promote better memory function as well as other cognitive factors like spacial sense. (1) Consequently, if a person intends to be a programmer for a long time and wants their mind to be able to remember things and recall them more easily, then exercise may need to become an essential part of such a programmer's daily routine.

As much as one might want to resist the need for exercise and be sedentary programmers, the simple fact is that exercise very well could improve our ability to program in numerous ways. More importantly, exercise is critical to improving and maintaining good health overall. Even if a person does not have much time to get up and move around during the day, there are exercises that one can do while sitting, which would be better to do than no exercise at all.

 

What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody ever mentions?

What Options do Freelance Consultants Have with Large Corporations

Facebook has recently released a collection of C++ software modules that it uses to run the popular website.  With Facebook releasing Folly (the name it designated for the collection), more of the internal programs could become open source since they need different parts of the collection.

 

Jordan DeLong, a Facebook software engineer, said one concerning holdup to releasing additional work is that any open source project had to cut away from the dependencies on non-released internal collection code.

 

Tech Life in Arkansas

Software developers throughout the 29th state Arkansas, enjoy a rich culture. The City of Little Rock is a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government. Although the primary form of business in this state is agriculture, according to the US Census Bureau, approximately 35 percent of residents in Arkansas engage in management, business, science, and arts occupations.
Computer Science is the only discipline in which we view adding a new wing to a building as being maintenance. Jim Horning
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Arkansas that offer opportunities for Web Services developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Murphy Oil Corporation El Dorado Energy and Utilities Gasoline and Oil Refineries
J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Incorporated Lowell Transportation and Storage Freight Hauling (Rail and Truck)
Tyson Foods, Inc. Springdale Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging
Dillard's, Inc. Little Rock Retail Department Stores
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc Bentonville Retail Department Stores
Windstream Corporation Little Rock Telecommunications Telephone Service Providers and Carriers

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 Arkansas 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 Web Services programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Web Services experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Web Services 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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