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Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the Peter-Pan-need-not-apply dept.

Programming 232

Nemo the Magnificent writes: " Everybody knows software development is a young man's game, right? Here's a guy who hires and manages programmers, and he says it's not about age at all — it's about skills, period. 'It's each individual's responsibility to stay fresh in the field and maintain a modern-day skillset that gives any 28-year-old a run for his or her money. ... Although the ability to learn those skills is usually unlimited, the available time to learn often is not. "Little" things like family dinners, Little League, and home improvement projects often get in the way. As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.' A company that actively works to offer all employees the chance to learn and to engage with modern technologies is a company that good people are going to work for, and to stay at."

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most young developers are at least as bad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022243)

they just happened to have learned the most recent stuff (which all too frequently is all the managers care about)

The experienced developer will know when not to use a new fad because they will have seen a prior version of that fad before.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 5 months ago | (#47022617)

Exactly. I read this and actually laughed:

2. Embrace new technologies. Many mature developers have found themselves with an outdated skillset because their employers stuck with what works, rather than encouraging modern technologies. Employers need to embrace the latest open-source tools, languages, and frameworks, in order to grow and retain the best talent.

Yeah, those crazy employers, sticking with things that work! What were they thinking?!

Perhaps if this guy hired a few more experienced developers, they could have explained the relatively value of the terms "tried and tested" and "unproven and risky". Good older programmers are just as capable of learning useful new technologies as good younger programmers. The real difference is that the experienced ones tend not to waste their time learning five different [JS frameworks]* that they know will all be obsolete long before the project built on them is finished, because they were too busy building something that would actually get the job done using [jQuery]*.

*Please substitute respectively an overhyped but underperforming technology and an established reliable technology in your fields of choice.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 5 months ago | (#47022895)

The thing about technology is: the absolute best thing today, really the best, is utter crap in 20 years. And there are too damn many developers, old and young who stick with what was the best at one point in history but just isn't any more.

It's wise to reject 90% of new ideas as silly fads, but the problem is when you reject 100%. And it's not just older guys like me with the problem, it just matters more as what you settled on ages. If you combine rejecting all new ideas as fads with age, you can easily become unemployable.

For example, look at all the /.ers who still dismiss "the cloud" as a passing fad, mistaking "I have less obsessive-geek control over my precious" for business judgement. Guys? It's not going away, and it keeps getting cheaper and more reliable. There are many areas today where you just can't put stuff in the cloud for compliance reasons, but the cloud guys have checkbooks and senators phone numbers, and that last barrier won't last long. Not every new idea is a fad.

Heck, I see people here that still think using an IDE is some sort of scam. "VI was good enough for grandpappy and it's good enough for me". Code review tools still get resistance in some quarters, but thinking you don't need a Review Board-like system is like thinking you don't need version control: it will end in tears.

Sure, don't run off with every fad, but this is a poor industry to cross the line from change-adverse to change-resistant in.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022979)

The thing about technology is: the absolute best thing today, really the best, is utter crap in 20 years.

If the second part of your statement was really true then the first part is false. If a technology is "utter crap" in 20 years, then it really wasn't that good in the first place. It was likely popular but not necessarily good. Actual good technologies are timeless.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023041)

The cloud is a cool idea... but lets be real. Until ISPs actually start laying fiber and not wringing hands in front of Congress to demand fee hikes, at best it is a great place to store archives or spin up machines for peak load. Until this happens, the cloud will hit a barrier.

Oh, those servers have to be paid by someone, so better have them in-house with physical security rather than in some location that can be easily breached.

Change-resistance is good. Things should be tested and regression tested. What if everyone decided to use Facebook for their single sign-on? IT isn't about running the latest OS in your basement, it is about balancing new tech with needs of the business, all the while dealing with PHBs tight on the purse strings and slavering to kick your ass out the door and put a $16,000/year H-1B in your seat. So, one mistake like automatic Windows Update approvals in WSUS on production servers can get one fired.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023531)

Why do people still code in fortran then?

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 5 months ago | (#47023733)

Because it goes with the onion on the belt.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 months ago | (#47023849)

The remedy is easy.
Don't jump onto new technology.
Wait 5 years, then move to whatever of those new technologies is still around.
Even in this day and age, 5 years isn't enough for a decent piece of software go horribly bad; it'll survive lagging on new technology.
It won't survive changing direction whenever a new technology has to be chased.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#47023893)

The cloud is a marketing term that covers a wide variety of things, some occasionally very useful, some nearly always a bad idea. You'll need to specify what you mean by cloud.

That is the real issue here. Some of us remember when management wanted everything including the potted plant in reception to be CORBA compliant. Anyone remember CORBA? When did it ever do anything for us that didn't already exist? Then it was XML. Everything had to be XML because XML would automagically make everything merge together and work in harmony.....or not.

OTOH, Ajax actually works as does LAMP. Ajax especially works well when you use it with JSON or HTML rather than XML.

IDE is a matter of preference. Personally, I find Eclipse useful for Java because there is so damn much boilerplate in Java that Eclipse can take care of. It's not so useful for Python, especially compared to vim with syntax highlighting.

When an older developer pushes back, it is important to determine if it is actually because he is a dinosaur or is it because he has seen the same thing twice before under another name and it failed both times at great expense. This industry sorely needs more of the latter.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (4, Insightful)

mtutty (678367) | about 5 months ago | (#47023107)

Speaking for myself, I've been through six different frameworks/versions of "data binding", starting with VB3, now all the way through AngularJS. I've got 20 years of similar examples in DBMSs, distributed protocols, GUI design, testing, requirements, etc.

It's not that I refuse to learn new technologies, because I've taken on new things every year that I've worked in this field. jQuery? Love it. HTML5, CSS transitions? B-E-A-utiful. Bootstrap? You betcha.

I do, however, refuse to make all the same mistakes and work through the same leaky abstractions and other problems just to try the new hotness. A great example is the NoSQL movement - now that Postgres supports JSON documents (and has had great K-V support for a while now), I'll be very happy to exploit those features without wrestling MongoDB or Firebase to the ground.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023435)

New technologies are pretty childish at times though. On the other hand I get paid good money to do C and assembler and read schematics, and it's really hard to find twenty somethings who are even capable of understanding the basics anymore.

Re:most young developers are at least as bad (4, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | about 5 months ago | (#47023955)

This is really about how older people are experienced to know a boondoggle when they see one. (Example:the cloud, and how it's basically about trying to take control from the user and seeking rent). Older people don't buy into the bullshit and get off my lawn, and thus are seen as not wanting to embrace new technology. Its not that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, it's that the old dog knows that it's all a bunch of crap

Train Yourself, Peon (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022251)

We want people to spend their own time and money to train the skills that we need. There's no way we would invest in such things -- it hurts the bottom line!

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0, Troll)

Jud White (3581649) | about 5 months ago | (#47022289)

It's also okay to grow up in other ways, like taking responsibility for your skill set instead of expecting your employer to provide that path for you. Anyone who's been in this field for any amount of time knows it's a constant learning process, something I personally enjoy.

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022495)

You should also make your own money instead of expecting your employer to pay you, taker.

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022915)

I can't make my own money, the government took away my 3D money printing press. Government needs to get out of the way of innovation!

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023305)

It's actually the customers that pay both the employer and the employees.

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022989)

It's also okay to grow up in other ways, like taking responsibility for your skill set instead of expecting your employer to provide that path for you.

How dare anyone have a life outside of work. Fucking worthless slackers.

Anyone who's been in this field for any amount of time knows it's a constant learning process, something I personally enjoy.

Sure, but there's also this thing called "life outside of your job".

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022703)

We want people to spend their own time and money to train the skills that we need. There's no way we would invest in such things -- it hurts the bottom line!

Hence one of the reasons I am seriously considering a career change to a field where experience is valued although perhaps not paid as well as the practitioners desire. Appreciated, valued and paid a living wage is preferable to unappreciated, undervalued, and paid anywhere from minimum wage to six digits possibly including after the decimal point.

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022853)

And this is what you call... a buyers market.

Re:Train Yourself, Peon (2)

erice (13380) | about 5 months ago | (#47023393)

We want people to spend their own time and money to train the skills that we need. There's no way we would invest in such things -- it hurts the bottom line!

How daft! We do not want people who have trained themselves. If we wanted someone who learned technology outside of a corporate setting, we would hire someone straight out of college and we don't do that. We want other companies to train you.

Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (5, Insightful)

bunyip (17018) | about 5 months ago | (#47022263)

One of my colleagues in in his mid-60s, and happily puttering around in modern technologies and adapting what he knows about systems to the latest tools. Writing prototype code in Clojure, using network databases (neo4j), doing interesting data modeling and generally just making stuff happen. He's learning new stuff every day, having fun - and getting to say no to job offers on a regular basis. I've been in this industry for more than 30 years and I'm currently mucking around with Hadoop, cloud computing and a bunch of the new things.

People talk about time to learn, but it's a question about making time. Would you want to visit a doctor that hasn't updated their skills in 20 years?

Alan.

Re:Yes, and No. (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47022393)

We've hashed this out on Slashdot before, more than once. OP is just wrong that older programmers in general don't keep up.

Study after study have shown that older programmers are generally more productive, even after adjusting for the higher salary they tend to expect.

While he appears to be genuinely sympathetic, his personal theories don't quite qualify as statistics.

Re:Yes, and No. (5, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 5 months ago | (#47022787)

Back in the 1980s, I had the good fortune to work with a man who had started at IBM the same year I was born. He not only knew the current landscape of development tools, he also had a vast knowledge of how we got here, what things had been tried and abandoned along the way, and he was very good at spotting tasks that people hadn't realized were necessary. I learned a lot from him.

-jcr

Re:Yes, and No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023061)

Problem is convincing a PHB that the seasoned veteran who knows the codebase extremely well is worth the cost compared to a H-1B that will be happy with $10/hour or just offshoring the whole dev team altogether and showing how much he saved on the next quarterly financial report.

That becomes a toughie because in virtually every facet of development and IT, outsourcing seems to solve every single business problem they have in a lot of firms.

Re:Yes, and No. (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 months ago | (#47023315)

Problem is convincing a PHB that the seasoned veteran who knows the codebase extremely well is worth the cost compared to a H-1B

The the companies problem though, not the seasoned veteran - because the seasoned veteran is already considering several job offers from people who do realize that value.

Re:Yes, and No. (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023457)

Actually for me, keeping up would be learning Java. Most things newer than that are irrelevant for most things I do. I used to know Java, then the language changed, then it changed again, and now knowing the language is irrelevant as you have to know the frameworks instead.

Keeping up with skills is sort of irrelevant when all the skills you learn are learned on your own. If someone can and has written their own language or OS, is it really necessary for them to know some temporarily fashionable language? Although maybe that makes people overqualified for the most common programming jobs.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (0)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 5 months ago | (#47022511)

I think you and your colleague are nothing but developmentally challenged overgrown teenagers. How can anyone give a flying fuck about any of this techno-shit past about 35 is beyond me. Look at the world and the people in it: is yet another way to make a 1 into a 0 changing anything for the better anywhere?

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | about 5 months ago | (#47023163)

Ned Lud, is that you? The 17th century is calling and they want their mime back.

Seriously though, this 'techno-shit' is what is powering the next revolution - allowing us to be far more efficient than we have been in the past. In a world of dwindling oil supplies, climate change, and over population, technology is what will allow us to survive this world, and migrate to the next. I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in contemplating future generations groveling in the dust of this parched world as it spins down to nothing. Doing my best now to move the technology bar - even a little bit in the right direction is worth the effort taken in that light.

I'm curious as to your occupation - given the subject matter of /.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023489)

You know that techno shit is used for very useful stuff. What do you think is important enough to care about? Medicine: uses computers, as well as computer designers who understand medicine. Law: databases. Agriculture and feeding people: needs computers. Stock market: not important in any way whatsoever. Having a nice wine: stop being some poseur and do something important with your life.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (5, Informative)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47022637)

I've been in this industry for more than 30 years and I'm currently mucking around with Hadoop

I'm 55 with 25yrs experience, I picked up NIS scripting for work earlier this year and am currently playing with CUDA, at least 3/4 of the developers I work with on a daily basis are over 40. My dear old dad is 80, he's a retired engineer who started programming as a hobby @ 70.

I have never been discriminated against because of my age, nor have I seen it happen to anyone else. If such practices exists (in Australia) I think they are limited to small outfits run by cheapskates and crooks. Shitty companies in any industry will always want to hire young people simply because they are cheaper and more easily manipulated.If you're that old you can't learn a new technology then it's time to retire and get your Alzheimer's problem looked at.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022745)

The thing is that most new tools are pretty much the same shit in a different package, yet most employers think their particular infatuation of the moment is unique and you have to have experience with it. I used Hadoop in a project and adapting to it was such a non-event that I had to double-check just now that I actually did use it. Yet if an employer wants someone to do some work using Hadoop, you can bet the vast majority of them will consider it a hard requirement.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 months ago | (#47023901)

Uhuh. All language are Algol to me. I haven't seen anything really new in decades. Mostly, it is the same old stuff warmed over with new names for old concepts.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023337)

I'm cool with that as long as he gives me Vicodin.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023577)

Would you want to visit a doctor that hasn't updated their skills in 20 years?

Alan.

The difference is that software companies won't bother to spend time trying to teach their employees new technologies. Doctors always have pharmaceutical companies banging on their doors to tell them about the newest drugs they can prescribe to their patients.

Re:Yes, all about the skills - and attitude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023879)

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but Hadoop is not a new thing. In fact, it is well along the way to being obsoleted by newer distributed data technologies that are much easier to work with even while doing more, faster than Hadoop can. Hadoop in more of a dead-end than it is a path to the future.

Buzzzzz word compliant. (4, Funny)

khasim (1285) | about 5 months ago | (#47022267)

For developers, it's skills like big data, cloud computing, and HTML5.

Buzz word, buzzword, markup language.

As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.

I find it difficult to believe that a developer would NOT be able to pick up HTML5 in a weekend.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 5 months ago | (#47022307)

When I went back to school for my Master's degree everything was being taught in Java as the new teaching language. It took me less than a day to pick up enough to do the assignments competently. Admittedly jumping from a C background into Java is not a huge leap, but in the end it's all just syntax. Programming principles never change.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022397)

Wellllll... In that particular case, I'm guessing your Java code -- at least initially -- was essentially C code with slightly different grammar and syntax. Although I definitely think people should hire for the talent and experience and not the specific skill, I also think a programmer needs to have had enough experience or education with various programming models (e.g., imperative, OO, functional) before they really grok each of them and are able to use them and their relatives as a "native" language rather than an adopted one. I taught myself C, and it took me a long time after coming to C from Java before I realized I'd been ignoring many of C's features because they didn't fit my mental model of "Java without objects."

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#47022795)

I taught C to 2nd year uni student in the early 90's but it wasn't until after that I realised that virtually every example in K&R is very elegant object orientated code that was written well before the term "object orientated" came into use. I looked at Java when it came out, it's main claim to fame at the time was "portability", I thought to myself "reinvented p-code?" and pretty much ignored it. A good grounding in C will make it easier to jump to any language, you just need to picture how the "new" language feature (eg: inheritance) would be implemented in C. This was not difficult for me since the first C++ compiler I worked with was Watcom and their implementation of C++ was written with C macros! Having said that I do agree with the "native language" comment. I tend to view languages though a C/C++ prism, I can write fluently without having to look up syntax rules and standard library calls every few lines.

OO, waterfall, parallel, etc, are design paradigms not language features, they can be implemented in any turing complete language, but some are easier to code than others for specific design paradigms. I have a maths major in "operations research" but if I were a true mathematician I would understand parallel design better than I do.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023533)

He never said he didn't know those programming models. Remember that OO existed years before C++ or Java, and can and has been done in C and Pascal.

I think I got lucky because as an undergrad I took a comparative study of programming languages class; optional but I wanted to take all the classes. Really learned how to do things in many different ways and also more subtleties and names of the various features (sad to run across professionals who have a blank look when I mention lvalues or call-by-reference).

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (2)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 5 months ago | (#47022501)

Admittedly jumping from a C background into Java is not a huge leap, but in the end it's all just syntax. Programming principles never change.

Apparently people have trouble going from Java to C...

I'm currently involved in migrating a large legacy C/C++ project to new hardware and updating our external interfaces. They gave us a bunch of java programmers to help us out and they can't seem to wrap their heads around the fact that if the system isn't behaving the way legacy did, they are supposed to read the code and figure it out on their own. Apparently if Eclipse won't highlight the line or an error message doesn't get printed to the screen explicitly telling them what's wrong, they have no fing clue what to do. Maybe it's my developers, but none of them seem to be able to make the switch from Java to C and C++.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (3, Informative)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 5 months ago | (#47022711)

Apparently people have trouble going from Java to C...

You're not the first to notice this [joelonsoftware.com] .

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 5 months ago | (#47023053)

Started reading, because I'm usually happy to read a well written rant about why java sucks. I'm not exactly a fan myself.

So he starts off with stuff about how he's feeling old and the surest sign of it is bitching about "kids these days". He's wrong. That's not the surest sign. This was:

Instead what I'd like to claim is that Java is not, generally, a hard enough programming language that it can be used to discriminate between great programmers and mediocre programmers.

Got to that point and decided that it's an obviously unsupportable premise. Read a little bit more, and my takeaway is that Joel doesn't know how to spot a good programmer unless they're working in C.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | about 5 months ago | (#47023449)

C has been described as a wrapper for assembly language, and as such it requires that you really understand how the computer processor works to do anything non-trivial. C++ allows you to do that as well, but C really enforces it - and makes you think about building your own libraries of routines to do the higher order abstractions yourself.

This is valuable because most higher abstraction entry level languages today don't give you that experience (e.g. Java) - which really is what is important when designing good software, or conversely trying to troubleshoot someone else's bad software.

Case in point: We had a java application written by a vendor. It ran slow, but worse than that, it would crash after being up for some time. To make a long story short, the vendor had short circuited Java's garbage collection mechanism. All the objects it was creating in memory where not being released because they were not going out of scope. Java would reach its configured memory high water mark, and shutdown.

When we showed this to the Java programmer - he didn't have a clue as to why this happened to his application. So I would have to agree with Joel that Java is not a hard enough language because it abstracts away too much of the underlying machine. If that is all a programmer knows, then he is not a complete programmer IMHO. So I would have to say here is some support for his unsupportable premise.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (4, Interesting)

seebs (15766) | about 5 months ago | (#47023781)

I hear that a lot, but I genuinely don't buy it.

I'm a pretty good C programmer, by most accounts. I have a reasonable track record producing code that solves interesting problems, and very good reliability.

And this absolutely does not require me to understand how the processor works. In fact, it's sort of the opposite; the reason I'm good at C is that I mostly ignore the processor question and focus on how the language spec works. So I write code that's correct without guessing at what CPUs will do with it.

I've been writing C for >20 years. I've probably looked at assembly output maybe a dozen times in that time, maybe a little more but not much. I've tried to modify assembly code maybe twice tops. I don't know any assembly languages well enough to follow code in them without looking things up, and I generally can't tell you off the top of my head much of anything about a machine's addressing models or registers or whatever, unless the question came up as trivia. And I do just fine in C.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023825)

Yeah, my study of C led me to conclude that it can help you understand how the processor works, but it doesn't require you to understand how the processor works. Every bit of knowledge helps, it goes hand-in-hand.

Shifts, for example, can be used in certain cases to do faster division than a divide operation. A good compiler will know about this optimization and you will never see it, but with a simple compiler you may have learned "use shifts to multiply and divide powers of two" without understanding anything about why they're faster

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023113)

It's your programmers.
Seriously, I don't know how you could troubleshoot JAVA in Eclipse without digging in . Sure, IDEs and compilers may give you better info than they used to, but they will still lead you down the wrong path quite happily. Since when can you always trust the error message to tell you what's actually wrong?

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023541)

I had a group of student who wanted more extension time on their project (8 weeks into the project) because all the previous classes used C++ and they weren't used to using C. I suspect they were just giving a lame excuse, though they weren't bright enough to realize how lame an excuse it really was.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023515)

I learned C++ in a weekend since I was teaching assistant for the class teaching C++ and had to learn it before the students showed up. And this was as an undergrad. And it was not just C with some changed syntax, it was actual OO stuff; like when I learned Lisp I actually programmed with it in a functional style.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022309)

I find it difficult to believe that a developer would NOT be able to pick up HTML5 in a weekend.

Only if he already knew Javascript and CSS to a reasonably advanced degree -- when people talk about getting things done with HTML5, they really mean through a combination of the three. Furthermore, the HTML5 standard is continually evolving. I've been stung by things validating at one point, only to throw up red flags a few months later. CSS too is evolving and has all kinds of subtleties that take much time and suffering to finally grok (ever try to deal with paged media?).

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022327)

And become totally fluent in it, able to implement work-arounds for the things that html5 doesn't do well, and to be able conversant and deal with the quirks of various browsers? I'm an HTML developer, but I imagine that it takes more than one weekend to become able to write production code. Especially if there's lawn-mowing, church, soccer games, and family get-togethers.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022345)

that should be "I'm not an HTML developer"

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47023219)

That should be "I'm an HTML not developer"

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022855)

You hit it right on the head. A hiring manager (or more often someone from HR) who scans resumes looking for specific buzzwords gets what they deserve, which isn't much.

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023499)

"So, we're looking for someone with 5+ years programming in buzzword for buzzword using a buzzword methodology. Oh, and must work cheap. We play hard and work harder, so you should be glad just to join us even without being paid."

Re:Buzzzzz word compliant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023895)

Buzz word, buzzword, markup language.

Clue less, clueless, arrogant.

Short Sighted (5, Insightful)

ImprovOmega (744717) | about 5 months ago | (#47022287)

When you go to hire a developer you're not just looking to hire someone who can code in the latest fad language/API/SDK. You need someone who knows software development like a captain knows his ship. I promise you that 20+ years of software development will be worth way more than the 22 year old kid who knows Ruby on Rails because he learned it while studying in college. That experienced developer can pick up whatever tool your company standardized on and yeah, it may be three months before he's all the way up to speed on it, but then the years of experience will begin to make themselves tellingly felt vs. a kid who happens to know the tool already.

Hiring for the tool is stupid. It would be like looking for a columnist who specifically has Microsoft Office 2013 experience and filtering all the applicants who only used Google Docs in their previous jobs. Either one of them can write copy.

even better is a good software manager (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022315)

Even better would be the 20 year veteran who can take those fresh out of school enthusiastic newbies and get high quality software out of them on a predictable schedule, without the "back in the day, we coded with patch cords on EAM equipment". Or the 20 year vet who is doing the new stuff and the old stuff, and can help the inexperienced new stuff guys and gals avoid the traps.

Face it, on a large project, there aren't enough skilled veterans on the market to get the job done, you MUST do it with average or below average folks. The challenge is seeding the crowd with just enough experience so that all those contributors are net positive, no matter how small.

Re:even better is a good software manager (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47022425)

So what about the 20 year veteran who knows how to program her way out of a paper bag, AND knows the latest web technologies?

Some people seem to think those are mutually exclusive.

Re:even better is a good software manager (1)

russotto (537200) | about 5 months ago | (#47022457)

Even better would be the 20 year veteran who can take those fresh out of school enthusiastic newbies and get high quality software out of them on a predictable schedule

Yeah, that one might be mythical.

Re:even better is a good software manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023625)

No. It just requires a lot of social skills instead of technical skills.

Re:Short Sighted (1)

ysth (1368415) | about 5 months ago | (#47022343)

This. Though that three months sounds exeedingly generous to me. It takes very little time to get up to speed enough to start working with a new fad/language/API/SDK, especially if you are willing to bare your ignorance by asking questions where needed.

Re:Short Sighted (1)

samantha (68231) | about 5 months ago | (#47022377)

It very much depends on what it is you are learning. There is no way you are going to be a reasonably proficient scala programmer in less than 3 months. Frankly I find that until I work with a language full time for a year I certainly cannot claim to be expert in it. Also there is time needed to learn the new gig software stack and its history which is non-zero. It usually takes 1-2 months depending on body of code to have some idea what one is talking about. People that say they can do it faster almost never can. They cut and paste what the find on google and hope the hell it doesn't blow up too badly.

Re:Short Sighted (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | about 5 months ago | (#47022499)

I had an employer send a few of us to an 8 hour course once. When we got back he was shocked and horrified that I told him I wasn't an expert and he should sell my services as one.

Re:Short Sighted (0)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 5 months ago | (#47022451)

I've worked at a lot of companies where they hired the "tool", both in engineering and management...

Re:Short Sighted (2)

geezer nerd (1041858) | about 5 months ago | (#47022781)

Yup. In 1999 I was almost 57 and got laid off. One company I sent my resume to completely refused to talk to me because my resume showed no Visual Basic experience. The fact they told me so was phenomenally unusual.

Then a former boss snapped me up at his new company when he heard I was available. The first day on the job, I was helping a young developer write some test code in Visual Basic. While I had never tried to use Visual Basic before, the issues being dealt with were matters of logic and algorithm, not syntax.

After that for my own work, I worked with Java, Javascript, CSS, HTML, Perl, VXML, XSLT, and a host of other technologies that were more recently on the scene. I retired at 63, still going strong.

when it's "not about the money"... (3, Insightful)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 5 months ago | (#47022295)

it's about the money. same with age.

Re:when it's "not about the money"... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 5 months ago | (#47022737)

Even age is about money. Benefits issues aside, older workers are more likely to know when they're being underpaid.

Enough already (2)

pooh666 (624584) | about 5 months ago | (#47022335)

I am so sick of this same FA reposted more or less every week or two.

Re: Enough already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022935)

Then don't read the thread, jerkoff!

Is it really that difficult?

Short Sighted pt.2 (1)

SDLeary (652447) | about 5 months ago | (#47022341)

"...A company that actively works to offer all employees the chance to learn and to engage with modern technologies is a company that good people are going to work for, and to stay at." So, what this guy is saying is that Programming is not a Family Friendly occupation, and that companies that hire lots of programmers think that being Family Friendly is a liability? Extremely short sighted.

Lets be honest here.. Experience ==cost (4, Insightful)

kye4u (2686257) | about 5 months ago | (#47022357)

Companies often times prefer younger developers because they are cheaper. It is as simple as that.
That older, incompetent developer was probably just as incompetent when he/she was in their 20's.

Re:Lets be honest here.. Experience ==cost (1)

samantha (68231) | about 5 months ago | (#47022411)

I have actually had hiring managers try to claim they want people with no more than 5 years experience because that codes for how up to date their skills are. No, it doesn't. Some colleges teach little but Java for instance. If the first job or two after was mandating and existing Java stack then it is guaranteed the developer is no more up to date than a more seasoned developer that has seen more environments and has had to learn many more new things. With greater breadth learning new languages and APIs is easier, not harder. You understand more general patterns and abstractions that can be applied to the next thing to learn.

And yes, after a couple of decades proving myself (multiple times) in the trenches of Silly Con Valley I am not going to work as cheaply as a person without as much experience.

But the managers read the latest buzz feed and thing it looks easy and as long as they get a young person who hasn't learned better they will get their project done in super record time with said latest buzz. After a while you have seen that pattern repeat over and over again. With silver hair you have deflected a lot of silver bullets until you no longer expect them to be efficacious.

Re:Lets be honest here.. Experience ==cost (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023547)

Yup, they want cheap workers on their virtual assembly line.

a young man's game (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022387)

And we wonder why women aren't interested in brogramming? No girls allowed! That's why.

A life outside work isn't an excuse to stop learni (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022429)

I personally have 2 kids, work full time and am in grad school. That's no reason ( or any life outside work ) to not keep your skills fresh and keep working on new unfamiliar projects. It's a constant learning that needs to be worked on each project, each week.

You just need to force yourself to start reading more news relevant to the field, relevant to your work, and be comfortable with being unfamiliar with new technologies.

Doctors have been doing it for decades if not longer. This is why we learn theory, to learn the technical tools that apply that theory.

Re:A life outside work isn't an excuse to stop lea (2)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 5 months ago | (#47022769)

Doctors have been doing it for decades if not longer.

Doctors get paid a hell of a lot more and can get meaningful amounts of paid time off to do such things in.

grow up? (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#47022547)

make me!

Re:grow up? (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 5 months ago | (#47022589)

% make me
make: *** No rule to make target `me'. Stop.

I'm sorry, dave, but I just can't do that ...

Different industry, but ... (5, Interesting)

MacTO (1161105) | about 5 months ago | (#47022555)

I've found that young vs. old is a trade-off.

Older workers frequently have a better work-ethic in the workplace, and have more experience to draw upon. Younger workers have a better work-ethic in terms of the amount of time they are willing to dedicate to work and frequently (but not always) contribute new ideas.

What it seems to come down to is: do you want experienced workers who will contribute more per hour, but who will also draw a firm line between their work and personal life, or a young worker who is willing to put in the extra time, even though a lot of their time will be spent relearning what a more experience worker already knows?

I suppose software development also has other factors. Some products depends upon experienced developers (e.g. anything considered mission critical) while other products depend upon fresh ideas (e.g. most software targetted at consumers).

Re:Different industry, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022639)

> Younger workers have a better work-ethic

LOL. Playing on Facebook and watching YouTube is not a work ethic. I only get about five good hours a week out of my devs that are under thirty. For my guys ovr forty, I usually schedule sixty hours of work a week.

Re:Different industry, but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023125)

Amazing. You live in a parallel universe where that line didn't have a previous sentence!

Re:Different industry, but ... (2)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | about 5 months ago | (#47023421)

You didn't say what industry you were describing. In every industry, experience generally leads towards higher productivity. But in software development, experience often leads to productivity that is orders of magnitude higher. A competent older software engineer can run circles around a younger worker, even if that younger worker puts in lots of hours.

Re:Different industry, but ... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023553)

It depends on how you define productivity though. It's a strange thing to try and measure but when they do they often have silly things like lines of code written or bug tickets closed, etc. If the product is dead in the water and not shipping until a bug is fixed it is almost always the experienced person who figures out the problem, often while seeming to stare off into space.

actual skills, or fad du jour? (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 5 months ago | (#47022585)

I've watched a dozen, or so, "new, cool" methodologies, languages, and tools come and go over the years, mostly because some screwball "consultants" or publishers needed to sell books and training and managers who need to look useful to their organizational superiors. If a person has actual programming skills (understand a problem to be solved, state a solution in a form that a computer can understand and a human can maintain, choose an appropriate language/tool set in which to implement her specific component, work with others providing various components of the solution, give reasonable estimates of the amount of time it will really take to implement), then the current fad is an afternoon's adaptation by the programmer. Of course, "choosing a language/toolset" requires some familiarity with what the languages/tool sets provide, but that also means knowing when they're NOT useful, and not just hopping on each bandwagon as it passes.

I was Always Told (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47022635)

To just tell the perspective employer that you have the skill, and learn it if you get the job.

That is tech. It takes a lot of time and effort to get good at programming; No one can know all languages, but it only takes about a week to be moderately proficient at any single one. When you are hiring a new programmer, do you really want to hire some JS code monkey (even if that is the only language you currently need developers for), or do you want to hire an experienced software developer who has the ability to rapidly learn any language.

Re:I was Always Told (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 5 months ago | (#47022797)

To just tell the perspective employer that you have the skill, and learn it if you get the job.

Ooooooo. No.

When I interview candidates, I get people all the time who claim to have a certain skill on their resume, even answering in the affirmative when asked directly if they have that skill. A simple question or two about the technology is usually all it takes to determine if they're lying. Some of them then actually admit it, saying "the recruiter told me to put that on my resume". I don't really care at that point. Lying to me is a big, big minus.

If, however, the candidate does not claim to have the skill, but when asked says, "I don't know it, but give me a chance and I can learn it," that's a big plus.

Re:I was Always Told (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023621)

I honestly don't know why this happens. Seriously, if someone puts something on a resume don't they realize that the interviewer might actually ask a question about that thing? I'm not just talking about fresh-out-school kids who put down everything they ever did in a class, but people who claim to have actual experience do this too.

The other thing I see a lot is the person who writes down all the stuff their company or team did, without writing what they did themselves. It's sort of like name dropping in a way, with "worked on state of the art time machine capable of channeling 1.21 gigawatts from a plutonium reactor" but then it turns out the person's job duties were to paint the Delorean.

Re:I was Always Told (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#47023613)

You also want the employees to know _more_ than just the language. The language is the simple stuff. I have interviewed people who can't even describe in broad terms what the basic functional blocks in the product they worked on were (and not even using an excuse about not having an NDA). Knowing what you are doing with the programming language is more important than the language. If someone says they have 5+ years doing "embedded Linux" and yet they haven't the first idea about how to start to write a driver or what a deadlock is then I become suspicious about their actual experience.

And yet there is a style of programmer that seems too caught up in the minutiae of the language or language style than the actual stuff their program is doing. Ask them about software design patterns and they know them all, but ask about the data flow in the system they've been using for years and they're confused.

The truth hurts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022761)

Employers want kids fresh out of school because young programmers want to prove themselves and have no problem working 80+ hours of unpaid overtime per week to do so. For older programmers - little league, home improvements, and work experience get in the way of such exploitation. It's really this simple. No need to write any more circle-jerky, head-scratchy fluff pieces that are divorced from reality.

It's simply that in the interview process... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022867)

the experienced developer invalidated the plans and processes of the manager, exposed him for the fool he is, and convinced the manager that if he hires him, everyone will know this too.

  Interview questions are minefields for experienced, competent individuals, because one never knows the relevance of an answer.

Get a life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47022897)

Yeah, those crazy employees, wanting to have a family life and all.

Age means nothing. (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about 5 months ago | (#47022909)

One of the best developers I know is over 50 years old, the second best programmer I know ( not me ), is 25 years old, age means nothing. What matters is natural talent, some programmers can sit down and write a great firmware in a night and some can't write one in a year, ( substitute firmware for program ).

Another Possibility (3)

Fear the Clam (230933) | about 5 months ago | (#47022923)

As programmers get older they simply get less excited about the idea of pulling all nighters and doing "code sprints" because they have spouses and families they enjoy, responsibilities to others outside of work, and they know that this isn't a good process for long-term success. All nighters are fun and adventurous when you're in college or just out of school, but after a few decades in the working world you're seen it all before and simply refuse to get caught up in another "emergency" caused by poor planning, unrealistic expectations, and marketing promises.

I'm not saying that programming is a young person's game--far from it. However, inexperienced workers are not only cheaper, but also far more likely to put up with bullshit and bad management.

And then there is the young manager (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 5 months ago | (#47023025)

Who is a friend of mine that said to me casually, "Yea I wanted to build a team of young people that I could hang out with so I didn't hire anyone old". Old here being over 35!

In IT, age discrimination is blatant. It starts at 45. You should always keep your skillset up- but it probably won't help much because many young 28 year old managers are just flat out not going to hire an "old geezer" who is 45 unless they are the only viable candidate.

young man's game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47023109)

most of the programmers that I've met are in their 50s and 60s. They have Masters degrees in computer science and Information systems. They know COBOL, C, Fortran, ADA, Microsoft assembler. Some even worked with puch-card computers that ran with vacuum tubes. I must be living in a different place than Nemo the Magnificent.

Young MAN's game? (4, Insightful)

Malkin (133793) | about 5 months ago | (#47023493)

Everybody knows software development is a "young man's game"? Did you seriously say that?

HELLS no, man.

First off: I've been programming since I was 8, but I was never a man, and I will never be a man, and I have never suffered under the idiotic delusion that this was ever exclusively a man's game -- young or otherwise. This is my game.

I am still programming at 40, and I assure you that youth offers no advantages over experience, either.

But, that doesn't stop me from mentoring. My interns may not be able to program like I do, but I'll give 'em every advantage I can. It's great to teach them some of those intrinsics that they don't get in school. That gives them some of the advantages an experienced developer, even if they're younger. This isn't a zero sum game. We all need good devs, so we should try to make everyone who is working with us better -- whether they are young or old. We all get better software, that way.

Young programmers often miss the basics (1)

zwarte piet (1023413) | about 5 months ago | (#47023967)

like knowing about boolean algebra & bit setting (a | 14) bit resetting (a & ~(14)) etc. I notice with myself at 44 that I stop giving a shit about new stuff like smartphones and java and apps and building websites. I graduated technical school just before the internet became a thing. And I stopped gaming in the 80486 era. Now get off my lawn.
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