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  • Michael Krakovskiy 2:23 am on March 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , car builders, , Cook, , , , , , food runners, Julia Child, Linus Torvalds, , , , software developer, ,   

    Developer Life, Yo 

    These days there are a lot of documentary shows on TV about various professions. I am somewhat addicted to them – I watched whole seasons of shows about hairdressers, crab fishermen, lobster fishermen, tattoo artists in Florida, tattoo artists in Nevada (but not the one about tattoo artists in LA), restaurateurs ice road truck drivers, custom motorcycle builders, custom car builderscorrectional officers and inmates, and the Philadelphia meter maids.

    My own profession is mostly untelevisable. Mostly. Well, maybe some TV network might make a show out of Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks With Geeks. I also think that there could be a tiny market for a heavily edited “looking over the shoulder” video on the code writing habits of colorful  alpha geeks like Linus Torvalds, Donald Knuth, Brad Fitzpatrick, Dries Buytaert, and maybe even  JWZ. I’d buy that for a dollar.

    I found that there are two occupations that are unexpectedly similar to that of a software developer: prison inmate and line cook. Both of these are heavily male dominated, involve a disproportionate amount of minorities and are very stressful.

    I recognized offices in which I worked all my life in prison layouts.  The common criminals usually live in a common area in the center of the prison. This is exactly like a common area of an office, except with bunk beds instead of desks. Some actually have semi-private cubicles. Inmates organize into gangs, just like departments. Gang leaders are usually placed into single or double cells that line the perimeter of the common area to cut down on the communication between them and their reports.  Even there you have to be a manager to score an office.

    Restaurants are a lot like developer shops. You have your front of the house: waiters (sales people),  hosts and managers, food runners (analysts). And then you have your back of the house: chefs (architects and lead developers), line cooks (developers) and  prep cooks (producers). There’s no good equivalent for dishwashers in a typical developer shop.

    People often assume that a chef primarily cooks and a lead developer primarily codes. Do you know the title of Julia Child’s awesome show? Well, she was neither French nor a chef. Chefs do surprisingly little cooking, they are more like conductors in  orchestras. They create menus,  divvy up the tasks, check quality, train and supervise cooks.  Best chefs, just like the best lead developers do find time to cook, but still spend more time organizing, tasting and researching.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:38 am on December 5, 2003 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: a high school teacher, a journalist, , Army recruiter, , , , high school teacher, native food, , Police Academy, , prison guard, psychological warfare specialist, Social history, software developer, spy, text search, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do   

    Unrussian Profession or Dig Me My Grave Long Wide and Deep 

    Thanks to a recommendation from I bought “Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs“. It’s really a tribute to an older book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do”.

    Gig consists of monologues of a wide cross section of working people. There’s a porn star, a software developer, prison guard, a prisoner (don’t know if that’s technically a job), an air force general, a high school teacher, a journalist and enough representatives of other professions to make a thousand “x y and z walk into a bar” jokes.

    My favorite little story was about a single mom who had a gig as a psychological warfare specialist. She ended up getting my dream job when an Army recruiter asked her about her specialization preference. Since “spy” was not an option she took the next best thing.
    Modern psywarriors, like this girl, sometimes hail from rather somewhat rural places, so they get a lot of multicultural sensitivity training. One point brought home to them is that it is very important to never refuse native food or drink that is offered to them by friendlies, even if it’s gross. In training they even have a mock dinner during which they have to down “weird” drinks and eat “weird” food. That training kind of came in handy to our protagonist, as she was offered “gruel goat” meal in Africa which you had to eat with your hands. She handled that well.

    Turkish coffee turned out to be a stumbling block for her : ” … Turkish coffee. It’s got like a half an inch of grounds on the bottom. Well, I didn’t know if I was supposed to eat the grounds or not …”

    What to do, what to do? Of course she decided to ask one of the guys. Guess what kind of advice he gave her. Riiight. I’d do the same thing.

    Anyway, you can read her story here tanks to the guy at Amazon who sneaked full text search past the lawyers.

    touched upon the most fascinating topic of what professions “Russian” immigrants never choose. Police officer appeared rather often on the list of professions suggested by her readers. Well, a guy who’s desk was right next to mine in a High School pre-calculus class finished the Police Academy here in New York. I am not sure if he actually became a cop though.

    One story that he told me was kind of funny (I can’t judge it’s truthfulness though) . He smokes a lot. And once he was caught smoking right next to what he described as an “ammo dump”. The instructor who caught him came up with a creative punishment. My friend was forced to dig a proper human size grave and then bury the cigarette butt in it. Yeah, being an NYPD cadet is tough.

    Another “Russian” classmate of mine became a US Marine. I wonder where he is right now. “Semper Fi” means the same thing even with a Russian accent. Yeah. By the way, the motto of NYPD is “Fidelis Ad Mortem”.

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