Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sick of Programming

I quit my job two weeks ago. I don't want to program at work any more. I'm sick of being inside and stationary, and I'm sick of working in an environment where people don't talk to each other.

Over the last few years I've worked for one company producing high-end music software. When I came in I was invincible, and after working for someone with a completely different approach to problem solving (right down to code style), I've become weak and ineffectual.

Well, those days are over. I'm going to get my style back and get back on the wagon of invincibility. Programming is art and should be a pure and unadulterated stream of conciousness from the developer to the machine. Python is art. Good design is art. Milestones are art. Good energy is art.

A lot of people tend to think that developing software means you have to work hard in a tunnel environment, like a battery sucked off the matrix. Well, I don't subscribe to this philosophy. I believe that you have to really reach your potential in all walks of life you have to get up from your desk and replenish your sense of life between blocks of code. You have to joke about TPS reports and Bill Lumbergh's ass and fling little paper shells at each other and keep a tally. The other guys around you need a recharge, too, and then you can sit back down and bang out the last few lines with clarity and conviction.

I'm psyched to get back to coding for the sake of art, where the idea and the implementation are solid gold. I quit my job, gave up my place, and I'm going to go bar tend in Jackson Hole and program for fun. I've got some PyQt dev kits to write to simplify audio software development, and have a huge GIL to deal with. We'll see what happens.

70 comments:

kiberkomunist said...

this is one of these days when i love rss ;)

it's great to hear this from you...

hope you will become millionaire from free software ;)

Richard Tew said...

I quit my job two weeks ago as well. Was sitting in front of window in a cold office watching the blue skies and sunshine outside, spending the best part of the day missing said best part of the day.

Good luck! :-)

Lennart Regebro said...

You forgot the cover sheet on this report.

Lateef Jackson said...

Stay resolved!

Swaroop C H said...

All the best!

You may like this talk by Damien Katz (creator of CouchDB) on "how to become the guy who gets paid to work on cool stuff" - http://www.infoq.com/presentations/katz-couchdb-and-me

Anonymous said...

A poor repressed African tribesman was taken to advanced America.

There he saw how advanced Americans worked in hirise offices all day.
"So you all volunteer for debtor prison and the unemployed are allowed to run free? You are advanced indeed. I however could never give up my freedom. I like the outdoors too much."

http://www.vivzizi.com

miya said...

Dude, you are absolutely right. We always end up working in an environment where nobody gives a damn about anything.

Seems that lots of people just code for the money, no matter what it comes out.

Hope you get some shit done. Good luck!!

John Connors said...

I can empathise with this: I was in a situation where I was completely at odds with the company style too, and could get sweet fa done I wish I'd moved on sooner, it felt like a liberation at the new place.

Anonymous said...

Python is amateur art.

Anonymous said...

Which bar?

MyID.config.php said...

Great post, I'm in the same boat really. A year ago at age 27 I entered college for the first time so I could eventually switch careers after 10 years in development.

All I want to do is enjoy programming again.

fallenrogue said...

This is a beautiful post. Congrats on beginning your journey again.

Anonymous said...

I pumped my fist and yelled YES when I read about tending bar and coding on the side...the only company you need to stay loyal to is your own.

Good on you!

Alfred said...

If you ask me, the toughest part of programming is the lack of respect and understanding the average person has for it.

They'll come up to you and be like, "Hey, I'd like you to program a device that can send people to the moon and allow them to breathe space air without a helmet."

You'll respond, "But that doesn't even make sense! Not only is it not my field, but it's impossible!"

"I'm sure you'll work something out. Try to have it to me by Monday morning."

Anonymous said...

Bravo!....Foolhardy, but bravo!
I always admire a guy who can give up the well trodden path for an adventure. You might regret it later, but what the heck!
BTW, I bought my first motorbike two weeks ago!

Anonymous said...

I quit my job two weeks ago for the same reasons. Here's hoping I find inspiration and freedom in grad school!

Anonymous said...

This inspires me. Good luck from those of us tied down with mortgages and private school tuition. Don't ever prostitute yourself to anyone. Development is art, not following directions in on a paint-by-numbers box.

Harold Fowler said...

Very interesting indeed! Well done!

RT
www.privacy-web.tk

z0ltan said...

Amen to that brother. Another month and I would have been writing that blog! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you're just in the wrong profession.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I like it. Same feeling here, planning to quit my day job in 10 days and run as freelancer for a start. Worked hard last 6 months to find clients but it is OK now. Good luck!

jseliger said...

Python is art. Good design is art. Milestones are art. Good energy is art.

If you haven't already, you must read Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's (sp?) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, which describes in detail the sensations you're expressing in your post. And much of it applies to coding. I'm about halfway through the book at the moment, and when I'm done I'll no doubt write in more detail about it at The Story's Story.

Good luck.

Giulio Petrucci aka "il Petrux" said...

Didn't know about this blog.
Read this post (thanks to reddit.com).
RSS feed subscribed.
You Rock! ;-)
\m/

Anonymous said...

Good luck dude.

I know how you feel!

ATTENTION ALL YOUNG PROGRAMMERS:

Live as cheaply as you can. Save at least half of what you make. Stay out of debt.

I'm not kidding. Do these things.

This will make it possible for you to follow in Patricio's footsteps, if you ever feel the need down the road.

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Anonymous said...

I have started my own business, though in a different field ( web development, offering certain "services" ). In my office, I keep things loose. Don't know how you've done it for so long.

I personally find it difficult to program working under those conditions. You have a neighbor that you can say little to, and you're supposed to be working together to create this behemoth project. It just doesn't work.

I encourage talking, "toy breaks", and I don't piss test ;) Too much creativity to come from some of the more frowned upon personal daily activities.

I have yet to have a problem from anyone, whether for the sake of getting along with each other or major screw ups. Things get done, they get done quickly and they get done the right way ( most of the time ).

Good luck, hope you find something new out there.

Anonymous said...

Good idea!

I got out of programing when the work dried up and went back to being a StageHand. Best thing that ever happened to me.

Anonymous said...

I wish you luck, but at the same time, your new situation doesn't sound like a good solution to me. Bartending isn't necessarily a fun job. It's a lot more "work" than programming in many ways, and possibly even more menial than the work you had. Why couldn't you code in your free time off work? You'll still be spending as much time (or more?) at your job, away from what really interests you.

Anyway I'll be subscribing to your blog now to track how you do, since I have similar sentiments and worries as I'm entering the workforce now as a programmer. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess. Single and no child, right? : )

Patricio said...

To Anonymous: I'll apply at the Mangey Moose, then Calico, then maybe the coach. After that anywhere works I suppose.

To Anonymous: I HAVE read Mihaly's book, actually, and the concept of "Flow" was very eye-poening to me. I think it's extremely relevant here!

To Anonymous: If they need "Toy Breaks" and continue to produce, then that's were it's at.

To Anonymous: Yeah, the bartending thing is an interesting idea, but I think it would be a great way to be around people and just try to do a good job some where. I want to have fun and ski my brains out again, completely freeing my mind for art, music, and programming on the side if I feel like it. I'll probably go back to programming at some point, but not unless it's on my terms, which I plan on becoming more connected to in the near future.

To Anonymous: You got it, single and no child.

Anonymous said...

You gotta stay true to your source of inspiration and creativity :). Congrats!

trippedbreaker said...

I can definitely empathize with your situation. For me, it was a more complete sort of burnout, as I felt like despite working with code since I was in my single-digit years, I really wasn't enjoying it anymore nor was I the "rock star" coder I used to be. So I got out about a year ago, and now I co-own a company doing automotive customization. Ironically, one of the major things I find myself doing now is embedded programming in C, and I've discovered that I enjoy it a lot; it reminds me of the simplicity of DOS programming in my youth. :-) Best of luck to you!

Jessy said...

You made the right move. I think there comes a point in almost every programmer's life where it just isn't any fun any more, and that's the time to get out.

I just dink around with JS and PHP for fun. Nothing major, but it is enjoyable again.

I programmed on and off for almost twenty years. Now? I think I'll try culinary school and start a new life.

Anonymous said...

I made this comic a few days ago. You will have to zoom in to read it, since I suck at making comics.

Hopefully it entertains,

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ALFRydpP8YmQSUROSV1raw?feat=directlink

whardier said...

Heya.. I go by hardwire and operate the channel #fossak on irc.freenode.net.

When you get a chance take your disgruntled inactive butt into the channel and we'll see if there's anything going on you can be a part of. I have a lot of initiatives and want to find local programmers to work along side.

dd said...

who is john golt?

Dan said...

I quit my dev job in january to ski bum in Jackson. It was actually a sweet gig that I quit, but it was a now or never type of thing.
Hope you have a connect in Jackson to get you that bar tending gig, its a tough town for jobs right now. It was an adventure tho.

Anthony said...

Hey could you teach me python while your getting back into your zen? thanks!

GeniusDreams said...

I completely understand.

I am a legendary coder, able to acheive incredible speeds with super-small amounts of code.

I can code bug-free (if given time to write automated testing frameworks) and I do all that in a small amount of time.

But that's all hobbyist stuff I do for free.

In my paid work... I'm stuck with stupid boss and co-worker who the boss listens to over me because he has a degree and does whatever the boss says even if my co-worker knows it is wrong.

Now the co-worker tries to tell me how to code, ignores all my frameworks that I built up, recodes duplicates of mine in a worse way, and then forces me to use HIS frameworks which are bloated, over complicated and a nightmare to understand.

End result: Slow badly tested code that took 3x too long to make, and I feel like crap.

I made my decision to leave. Just a matter of when I tell my boss that I'm ready to go.

jonz said...

You're awesome, thanks for the inspiration, hopefully I'll see you at the bar if I ever get back to Jackson. It's unfortunate that in such an awesome place as Jackson Hole the only real options for employment are in the service industry. Check out the Snake River Brewing Company and the Virg, also great bars to work in or hang out at

J├┤natas Couto said...

Dude,

That's the way to go.

I did something like that and now I'm starting my very own company.

Don't give up!


You oughta start a twitter, so that we can follow your progress!
Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I used to work in a high rise office, a great job for bragging rights. My desk had a window which was nice, however my view was of the flat concrete wall side of another building 10m away from ours.

I'd mozie on down to the board room to pickup some documents or hardware and stare out over the beautiful river, flooded in sunshine and blue skies. I'd envy the people riding jet skis, out walking their dog while I was stuck inside 31st floor for the next 8 hours.

I eventually left that job and now find myself working as a Fly in Fly out coder. I now get paid to travel the world and do what I love. Those warm days are now right at my feet as I sit outside with my laptop.

If you want things to change, you have to make it happen yourself.

Patricio said...

I'm on twitter as pkaudio.

http://www.twitter.com/pkaudio

Anonymous said...

Fuck yes. More power to you! I agree with everything you say. If you have a craftsman's soul, you cannot be confined. You have to reach total expressiveness in your art for its own sake, because it makes life worth living. If everything in life was mediocre "good enough", would we enjoy life?

While perfectionism can be a disease, constantly cutting corners and knowingly writing bullshit code for the sake of "good enough" is very bad, especially for the soul, and that's important.

Good luck to you!

z|Andrew said...

Good for you, was just thinking of doing the same myself.

Anonymous said...

you should maybe code a better bgcolor and font color

jesus my eyes hurt

Anonymous said...

I used to have a dull boring job and then I quit and started my own company....../s

Listen, we can't all own our own companies. It won't work out and in fact many of you spouting that bullshit on this blog are going to fail.

Anonymous said...

I used to be fat but then I got on the Jenny Craig diet and I feel great !!

Some of you just need to shut the fuck up about starting new companies. YOu are fucked in the head.

Anonymous said...

"She was not afraid of going hungry, or starvation. She was afraid of the slow death of confinement. Of being trapped inside immovable houses and stiff clothing."

from the Color of Lighting by Paulette Jiles

Patrick -> fly

mofino said...

Good luck man! Jealous as fuck! Take care!

Anonymous said...

Just curious as to what high-end music software it was you were working on?

Casper Bang said...

Wow, you're putting ideas into people heads now, incl. mine! Passion over paycheck is such a hard dilemma. Good luck buddy!

joe said...

Good timing, I just had this conversation yesterday. I've been working full time for 7 years and think I hit the same wall. I got a years savings to work with, I think I have to break out and see what happens... good luck to everyone

Rick said...

Good for you!

More people need to do this-- if you don't love your environment, get out of it! (That way those of us that love wherever we're at will have it better, too.)

Please post follow-ups so we can follow your path. Good luck!

Rick

Anonymous said...

Ahahahahahha:

http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/8twxk/sick_of_programming/c0afalv

Gregory Kornblum said...

Must be nice to not have kids and a wife to take care of...

Seriously though, I hear ya. Believe it or not, you can have the best of both worlds. If you stick to only working with small, private and youthful (ok like under 45) companies with a small dev team you will find such an environment 9 times out of 10. Although I live in Philly where it is easy to find any type of tech job you want, but it is possible and I currently work in such an environment.

Alisto said...

You go for it, life is too short to do things you don't enjoy, something you appreciate even more as you approach middle-age (like me). I've just been offered a redundancy payment of 18 months salary. The best 40th birthday present you could ever receive!

Asif Shahzad said...

It happens when artists are managed like engineers. I wonder the current most org's management is greatly failing to identify the difference between knowledge workers and industrial workers.

Have a look at similar post An Excellent Programmer is 10,000 Fold Better Than an Average Programmer BUT ...

Anonymous said...

Maybe you never found the right company and the right colleagues.
As a bartender you'll be able to keep yourself in the Ballmer peak all the time... xkcd.com/323/

scott kersey said...

For years, I told every developer who left the field or just that company, "change is good" and I meant it. When I made the move, I learned that change is great and the hardest step is the first. Best of luck!

Patricio said...

Anonymous: I did the GUI work for "Play"

http://www.soundsonline.com/

Anonymous said...

Single without any child. Traded a boring 50% support/50% EJB 2.1 crap job for a more cutting-edge UI gig 1 week ago.

Going backpacking in vietnam for 3 weeks.

Will miss my nice window sit on the 44th level in Singapore's CBD area though.

Astris said...

Programming :) I'm quite inspired by your attittude towards it, especially Python. I'm totally new to this and am quite amazed by it, to be honest. The thing that puts me off is the thought of long hours spent at computer desks, not moving, staring at a screen. Perhaps there are other manners.

Shame on him who says "Python is amateur art." I've seen some awesome things come out of it. Tsk.

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Anonymous said...

Good luck Bro

But in my country you barely make enough money as a programmer to survive. Even less as a bar tender :’( But I’m searching for something else to do thou.

Good luck on your adventure.

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sre94 said...

Good luck with quitting your job. I really want to quit mine too

RegCure

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