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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.

Python is an incredibly powerful and useful computer programming language that many of the biggest websites in the world rely on for their foundation. Python provides reliable results that are functional and involve a variety of dynamic scripted and non-scripted contexts. And because it is free and open source, it has remained a popular choice for a variety of different developers who are looking to build new sites on one of the most reliable languages available. Here is a look at 10 of the most famous software programs that are written in Python and what they do.

YouTube
If you love watching hours of homemade and professional quality video clips on YouTube, you can thank Python for giving you that option. The foundation for Python helped YouTube integrate streaming videos into their pages, as well as the ability to like videos and embed certain information. YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet, and it runs off of one of the most powerful languages in Python.

DropBox
What started as a powerful app, DropBox is now used by a variety of individuals, businesses, companies, organizations and more. This program lets you save files to a cloud-based service, that you can then access from anywhere in the world. With Python at the root of DropBox, there is no longer a need for USB sticks or blank CDs, since you can now save and share everything with your cloud-based account.

Google
It takes a lot of power to be able to handle the most popular search engine in the entire world. That is why Google uses Python for its mainframe foundation, as well as in addition to various apps that it runs in conjunction with the main site. The ease that Google provides for finding certain information, would be impossible without Python at the core.

Quora
Got a question? Ask it on Quora. This site compiles a list of questions and answers that come from a community of individuals. Those questions are then organized by various members of the community, which puts the most relevant information at the top. The creators of Quora, who happened to be former Facebook employees, decided to use Python to help them create the world’s best Magic 8 ball in Quora.

Instagram
If you love taking photos of your food or a new outfit and posting it online for all of your friends to see, you can thank Python for that ability. Granted, Instagram has both a very powerful app and a website, but the latter runs on Python language. The system allows for users to browse, find and post pictures that they like on the site.

BitTorrent
BitTorrent has evolved quite a bit in recent years, but its foundation and earlier years were built on Python. When it comes to one of the largest databases of knowledge, media and content, BitTorrent is the way to go. But you wouldn’t be able to get any of those lectures or other legal stuff that you are downloading from BitTorrent, if it wasn’t for Python.

Spotify
Spotify changed the music game when it allowed you to listen to ad-free music of your choice. This wasn’t a program where you got to select a playlist, but rather full songs that you love, on repeat as many times as you can imagine, if you so desire. But whether you are rocking out to the latest K-Pop song from Psy or a classic jazz tune, you are doing so because Spotify was built on Python.

Reddit
Reddit is one of the biggest open communities on the web. You have a question, want to talk about something in specific, or find tons of information regarding a particular topic, you can just look on Reddit. The site relies on Python to help them store user names, categorize subreddits, upload links to GIFs and, of course, award gold to valued posters.

Yahoo Maps
Much like Google, Yahoo also uses Python for a variety of different resources. Most valued may be Yahoo Maps. The API and programming behind the maps program, which is built with Python, allows for users to find locations, get directions and even find reviews about local places.

Hipmunk
If you love to travel, you have likely come across Hipmunk. And while the site lets you save money on booking your itinerary through Hipmunk, it is Python that keeps everything organized. Python also helps sort the best discounts and rates, so you can get the best packages available.

Python is an incredibly powerful tool for web development. More and more sites rely on it, including 10 of the most powerful sites in the world that are listed here.

 

 

Related:

Current Active List of Organizations that use Python 

Working With Lists In Python

For many people, one of the most exciting and challenging career choices is computer programming. There are several ways that people can enter the computer programming profession; however, the most popular method has traditionally been the educational route through an educational institution of higher learning such as a college or technical school.

Even though many people think of computer programmers as individuals with a technical background, some programmers enter the computer programming profession without a structured technical background. In addition, after further investigation several interesting facts are uncovered when a profile of the best computer programmers is analyzed.

When observing how the top programmers in the profession work, there are four characteristics that tend to separate the top programmers from the average programmers. These four characteristics are:

1.Creativity.
2.Attention To Detail.
3.Learns New Things Quickly.
4.Works Well With Others.

Creativity.

Being a top computer programmer requires a combination of several unique qualities. One of these qualities is creativity. In its very essence, computer programming is about creating programs to accomplish specific tasks in the most efficient manner. The ability to develop computer code to accomplish tasks takes a certain level of creativity. The top computer programmers tend to have a great deal of creativity, and they have the desire to try things in a variety of ways to produce the best results for a particular situation.

Attention To Detail.

While creativity is important for top programmers an almost opposite quality is needed to produce great computer programs on a consistent basis, this quality is attention to detail. The very nature of computer programming requires the need to enter thousands of lines of computer programming code. What separates many top programmers from average programmers is the ability to enter these lines of code with a minimum amount of errors and just as importantly test the code to catch any unseen errors. Top computer programmers have the necessary attention to detail to successfully create and enter the necessary computer code project after project.

Learns New Things Quickly.

The technology field is constantly changing. Almost daily new technology innovations are being developed that require computer programmers to learn new technology or enhancements to current technology on a regular basis. The top computer programmers are able to learn new technology or enhancements quickly, and then they are able to apply what has been learned to their current and future programming projects in a seamless manner.

Works Well With Others.

There are several differences between top computer programmers and other programmers. However, one of the biggest differences is the ability to work well with others. By its very nature, computer programming requires programmers to spend a lot of time alone developing computer code, but the top computer programmers are able to excel at this aspect of computer programming along with being able to work well with other people.

Regarding computer programmers, the top programmers approach and handle their jobs differently than other programmers, and these differences set them apart from the other programmers. For any average programmers who have the desire to excel as a computer programmer, they must understand and embrace the characteristics of top programmers.

 

Related:

How important is it to exercise for people in technology that sit for hours on end?

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

Straight up and full disclosure. I'm prejudiced. As a research assignment, the heading is a joke. I'll give you the answer in two words, and then tell you why.

How does HTML 5 compare with flash? Answer: it doesn't.

Lest you think I dislike Adobe's Flash, let's put the cards on the table. I loved Flash. Long before Adobe was Adobe, they had a competitor called Macromedia. Adobe bought that firm. That made my life simpler. I only had to work with one vendor.

Flash was a pretty compelling solution. I used it to mimic operations in Windows to prepare people for the CompTIA exams. The only bugaboo was that dang right-click stuff. A little bit of code from the Microsoft Visual Studio .Net let me flip the left and right mouse buttons so that the right mouse button instead of controlling the Flash player, emulated doing a right-click in the Windows operating system.

Tech Life in North Carolina

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is the oldest State University in the United States. There are significant ?firsts? in this state one being, the first state to own an art museum and second was to vote in the first African-American member, Hiram Rhoades Revels, into the United States Congress. Higher education is a given with a total of 2,425 public schools in the state, including 99 charter schools.
The best way to learn is to do; the worst way to teach is to talk. Paul Halmos
other Learning Options
Software developers near Raleigh 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 North Carolina that offer opportunities for IBM developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Branch Banking and Trust / BBandT Winston Salem Financial Services Banks
UTC Aerospace Systems Charlotte Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Winston Salem Manufacturing Manufacturing Other
Family Dollar Stores, Inc. Matthews Retail Department Stores
Duke Energy Corporation Charlotte Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Lowe's Companies, Inc. Mooresville Retail Hardware and Building Material Dealers
Nucor Corporation Charlotte Manufacturing Metals Manufacturing
VF Corporation Greensboro Manufacturing Textiles, Apparel and Accessories
Bank of America Charlotte Financial Services Banks
Laboratory Corporation of America Burlington Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Diagnostic Laboratories
Sonic Automotive, Inc. Charlotte Retail Automobile Dealers
SPX Corporation Charlotte Manufacturing Tools, Hardware and Light Machinery
The Pantry, Inc. Cary Retail Gasoline Stations

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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 North Carolina 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 IBM programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized IBM experts
  • Get up to speed with vital IBM 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
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