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When I was in college, one of the guys in one of my classes was an older fellow who'd been working in the Real World for a while, and he asked me one day what kind of job I wanted after I graduated. I remember saying "I have no idea. Pretty much anything. If Microsoft drove up to my house with a truck full of money, I'd go work for them."

Looking back now, I was wrong. There really are more important things than money. I couldn't do a job I didn't thoroughly enjoy. Not for long anyways. I don't make as much money doing what I'm doing right now as I could be making elsewhere, but I like it. I like the atmosphere of working in a research setting. I can't imagine working in a corporate setting.

I feel really bad for people who work jobs that they hate. When I got out of college I worked for six months doing tech support over the phone for a residential satellite dish company. If not for the fact that I needed money to survive, I wouldn't have. Near the end I was considering going to live under a bridge somewhere. If faced with the choice, I'd probably rather dig ditches for a living than do that again.

If hell existed, for me hell would consist of being eternally bored. I've had jobs that required no thought, just mindless repetition of tasks that were slightly too complicated to get a computer or machine to do. I can't imagine a worse fate. I can feel my brains start to leak out of my ears after an hour of a boring task.

When you have a job where you have to play with data, as I do at times, it can sometimes start turning into that kind of boredom. But then I start writing programs to do all the mindless repetition for me. Instead of spending lots of time solving little problems and doing little tasks, I solve bigger, harder, much more interesting problems that incidentally solve lots of little problems at the same time.

Computers are useful tools for everyone. But in one sense, a computer is often a waste in the hands of anyone but a programmer. The way most people use computers is like using a powerful microscope as a hammer to pound in a nail. Any time you find yourself copying and pasting a bunch of things over and over for an hour, there's something wrong. Any time a human being is forced to do a linear search through a long list of ANYTHING on a computer screen, someone along the line has failed. There are so many of these little problems in most people's lives that a programmer can solve for people.

June 05, 2008 @ 1:32 PM PDT
Cateogory: Programming
Tags: Work, College, Rant


Quoth Sean on June 06, 2008 @ 2:55 PM PDT

What part of PA do you live?

Quoth Brian on June 07, 2008 @ 3:02 AM PDT

Actually I moved to Oregon last autumn.

Quoth Megan on June 07, 2008 @ 4:07 AM PDT

What's so wrong with ditch diggin? :)

Quoth Brian on June 07, 2008 @ 5:17 AM PDT

Not much. It's what my dad did for a living.