A short story

A few days ago, I had a lengthy reflection on how I used to "write code" when I was a boy (somewhere between 12 and 15 years old); I cannot remember what initialised the reflection, but it seemed interesting enough so I thought I would share it...

When I was a boy, my programs executed slowly. I don't think this is unexpected from programs developed by a kid, but on many occasions, mine were slow deliberately. I had this insane idea that by making my program do something in a complicated and/or convoluted way, it would be "smarter" or "better". It would be more awesome than the version that completed almost instantly.

I'm not sure what brought on this behaviour. Perhaps it was rooted in a desire to boast? i.e. because nobody I grew up with could program at all, I could boast about how complicated the task was which my program was solving and they wouldn't know any better? Another possible reason was related to computer games: I used to play games on my 486 DX and almost every game which I played had some sort of "loading" screen. The loading screen was where I would be anticipating what was to come - very soon, I was going to be placed into the action of the game. Maybe this instilled some idea that anything worth doing or having requires some period of waiting? Deep.

Thankfully, I abandoned this attitude a long time ago. It is a mind-numbingly stupid attitude.

However, I was lead to ponder the question: are there any adult software developers out there who actually write code like this? Maybe it's not the code that ends up being shipped (because it cannot meet performance requirements), but some internal thing that assists in creating the code which will ship? Maybe they think to themselves: "Ah-ha! I will make this code slow and - because they don't understand it - they will think I am a genius! Nobody will ever know!"? It all goes well for them until somebody proves their solution is so utterly inferior that they could not possibly have created it by accident... even the thought that these people could be employed somewhere makes me cringe.

2 thoughts on “A short story

  1. Anonymous Web Developer

    In the world of media and publishing, self-titled technology strategists claim that web publishing is “hard” because it’s an “unsolved problem” and that existing attempts have failed because “content is tightly coupled to the website”.

    Once they’ve convinced the business and editorial leadership of their “A-ness” (it’s funny when they say it out aloud) they’re then able to justify building mind-bogglingly complex architectures that when all is said and done bear only a tangential relation to the problem they were supposed to be solving. But at least they can brag about it on Yammer to impress the CIO.

    Long story short, I could show you in-production code that would leave you speechless.

    Reply

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