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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.

As part of our C++ Tutorials series, here is a free overview of C++ pointers you may enjoy and find beneficial.

C++ Pointers Tutorials

The job market is extremely tight these days, with several qualified workers being available for each empty position. That means that should you find yourself looking for work, for whatever reason, you need to make sure your interview skills are up to snuff. We will be taking a look at a variety of different tips that will help ensure your success during the interview process, including how to make sure your employers know about your C training experience. Here are some others:

  • Do your own research in advance – Before you even step through the doorway to initiate the application process with a company, you should already know quite a bit about it. Investigate the corporate culture, speak with contacts who have experience with the firm, or search online; however you do it, having as much information as possible can really help you get an advantage during the hiring process. If you have specific experience, such as C training, that is of exceptional value to the firm you are applying to you can market yourself more effectively to the hiring agent.
  • Dress Appropriately – In a perfect world, programming skill and experience such as C training should be the only factors in consideration when looking at a prospective hire; in real life this is often not the case. Don’t miss out because you gave a bad impression to someone, and strive to look your absolute best during your job interview. It is unfortunate, but the IT industry in particular tends to have a reputation for lacking in this department, so breaking the mold can be of great benefit to you.
  • Be ready to interview at all times – You may be surprised how often job candidates are asked to participate in an off-the-cuff phone interview on the spot. Same-day in person interviews also are rising in popularity. Make sure you are always able to respond quickly if these situations come up and you get a fast interview. Memorize a few points in advance you can use to pump yourself up, such as an anecdote about your C training or other particular skills you may possess.

Job interviews are notoriously stressful for many people. Using simple tips like these can help you to prepare in advance for situations you may encounter during the interview process, and help you ultimately secure that new job. Make sure to emphasize whatever makes you special as an individual, such as your extensive C training.

Recently, the new iOS update had added Reminders to the iPhone. If you ever found yourself setting notes on your iPhone to remember to do things, such as buying milk while at the grocery store, this process has become leagues upon leagues simpler, and faster. On your iPhone is an application named “Reminders”. Tap on this application and experience the new world of To-Do lists.

 

Right away, you are greeted by a screen that looks similar to a notepad, where you would be scribbling down reminders for this, and for that. To start off, tap on the plus button, and you are able to input the reminder you want. Say you want to be reminded to “Buy Milk.” Just type that into the application and you’re good to go.

But wait, there’s more. What this new application brings to the table that is extremely useful is the fact that your iPhone can remind you to do that task at a certain location, which, in this case, is buying milk. If you had saved your regular grocery store in your Maps application as a favorite location, you are able to do so. (To save a favorite location, go into your Maps application, search for your nearest grocery store that you regularly shop at, tap on the pin, tap on the blue arrow to get more information, and “Add to Bookmarks.”) In order to remind you to buy milk at your favorite grocery store, slide the “Off” to “On” and you are now able to set where you would like to be reminded at, and at what point in time. Now, you will never leave the grocery store without buying milk!

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 find that a great part of the information I have, was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way. ~ Franklin Pierce Adams
other Learning Options
Software developers near Rancho Cucamonga 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 IBM 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 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
  • We care…
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