Moving out from coding part I: why?

When I was a kid, I had this teacher's husband who taught me one of my greatest thing: what passion and hobby are. He would take us with his wife to ride bike for first small, then long circuits. Riding without competition in mind, but with greater and greater autonomy.

I have made a lot of competitive sports since then however even though I am still riding an average of 100km per weeks I never did it in «sport» context. I can ride 100km in a day with my wife just because I love it and I sometimes ride at 70km/h.

Passion much more than competition is what is empowering. Being free, feeling free. Having the mastering of space (I have quite some autonomy in my legs) and time (I don't rely on anybody for moving) is great. I can ride off road with a road bike, or just swallow kilometers like an idiot.  When there is traffic jam, I ride like an eel in the middle of the city going faster than cars in the roundabouts (~40km/h).

Well, it is dangerous, sometimes people are mad I do not ride on dangerous bike paths to do what is legal: riding on the road. And I literally have to fight to stay on my path.

This is an allegory of my experience so far from moving out of code to my new life ; I am today a mover. I may change career in the future, I may go on, I don't know where it is leading me, but having chosen to ride bike instead of cars, is like a philosophy of life on how to extend your horizon to the maximum with limited means. And I owe it to the man who introduced me to biking.

One day though he was on his 40s (I was ten) I don't know why, he told me that he had one regret in life he wanted to change job. He was tired of this, and he wished me «to have more than one life in his life». And he wished me to live in a time it would be possible. After 6 month of hard work I achieved it. It is possible. Tough, but possible.

30 years later, here I am, having left Canada and back in France in a new place. And I hear the same complaint from people around my actual age: people would like to change job and begin new careers. Security agents bored of static positions, movers wanting to become truck drivers... coders bored of the Internet Of Shit, Java is the new Cobol, Cloud is the new mainframe, PHP/node and the spaghetti code, javascript fatigue, the coded obsolescence, unsecured by laziness  .... there are moments when the friction in your professional practice overtake the drive of passion and Beruf.

Sometimes, leaving a profession, is the way to vote with your feet against what is happening.

You know one of the disheartening things in coding is you know exactly how the world could be better with coding: by making simple stuff, not complex one. I would advocate less feedback loops and coupling, but modern practices are doing the opposite. I do advocate Tcl/Tk to make portable/lasting interfaces, but everyone want smartphone apps that are gonna be obsolete in 5 years. Well, your home boiler may last for 20 years, but when it can be only controlled by an app that may last 5 years doesn't it make old style knobs and virtually unbreakable embedded spartian UI more desirable?

In fact, it is not the language, the tools, the OS that are broken, it is probably the business ; there is no incentive for doing right things since there is no financial or legal responsibility for doing shit. For this business to improve it is required that customers are leveraged to do class actions for the defects in the code and designs. Directions that google, apple, fb, cloud providers, banks, providers for governments are lobbying against.

Most of free software coders are abused, and seems to like it ; their code is used everywhere, but instead of having thanks or recognition they are pressured by pro users who demand free work/consulting.... free software developers are the bitches spat upon by the IT business. The cloud, the apps, the smartphone OS are all heavily relying on free software and for 1 or 2 success stories, there are hundreds of people living in inhuman open spaces where coders are put in batteries like chicken hatching eggs. A lot of free developers I know have experienced depression or heavy burn out (the new name for professional fatigue). Man, hobbyists are having from there hobby professional fatigue. Symptoms that were not existing when corporations where NOT using free software.

We may all have time sheets to fulfill dutifully every days, but true hours are never fulfilled. 50/60 hours work per week happens. If you have free software projects, you will anyway have more time thinking of your job, because your projects are probably related to your work. Coding is a becoming permanent mind cage. What should be making you a valuable craftsman : the capacity to create your own tools, is turned against you.

A good coder is a rested coder. A free software developer that want to keep the copyright on his creation MUST work after hours. But company do not want to pay for less hours per week at the same price and thus, to keep up doing their job by building their tools AND keeping property of their inventions they have to work extra. Well, I am a good coder because I can crafts MY tools, and I want to keep ownership of MY tools. Because without them I can't code anymore. So if you want me, take me with MY tools, and give me time to stay a good craftsman by having sometime sharpening my tools.

Micro management has become the norm, thanks to agile. The grotesque of a ritual pretending to empower the coder, is just a masquerade of pseudo equality. Coders have feedback from customers from a long chain of specialists that knows nothing neither from their customer's business nor from coding. Each level of indirection noising the signal. And, like in every job nowadays, every person instantly after having powering on their first computer feels like he is an expert in coding. Don't worry, every customers when I move do the same.

Me, I desire a closer integration between simple electronics and software. I want pin with well known value triggering well known behaviour. A simple default UI, and a way for customers to plug in a servo control using a parallel interface. I want the opposite of actual direction in computer integration. I want any users to be able to program and understand their hardware and software. I want to help users by discarding the cloud of obfuscation between them and the hardware they own. I know how to achieve it. But business practices are in the way : you may think the actual coding mess is due to a smart way to create monopoly achieved by lock in with smart coupling, but there is no conspiracy. Just pure «expert effect» that has contaminated every place in our societies. People are Internet smart. They read 2/3 articles to get an informed choice before doing everything, they have got very good articles from man of the crafts and they master a good intuition. But they are not crafts smart, it is the details that are important. But internet smart people tends to know thinks better then you without having done it repetitively. 

This is my experience as a new pretty inexperienced mover. I deny any deep professional skills. I just follow the experience of the 10+ years of experienced movers that are teaching me and explaining. These people are smart. What they say makes sense, it is causes and consequences relationship between an action and there results. Once you learn them you stick to them because it makes sense.

When we fold our «couvrante» (blanket used to cover things) our customers thinks we do it to make them pay more. Well we fold our blanket to not have them in the way and clean our work space to be safe and more efficient. And folding while doing the job, makes the truck ready for next day without losing 1 extra hour at the end of tiring days. It is both work safety and optimization.

Every job is about having a clean usable workspace that will not trigger accidents and optimize the flow. When we take time prepping and trying to balance the weight in our boxes to maximize the throughput. Too light there are stupidly wasting volume (hence useful load in truck), too heavy they break the back of the movers.

A movers job is mainly about prepping.

When we write the description of the cardbox on the top, customers feel entitled to say it is the wrong place. For some we should write on 6 faces, and so on.This internet smartness is all the more touchable when you are a mover. Every customers are feeling entitled to club you in the head from their smartness proving you are wrong with all the weight of their education.

As if education was about being arrogant delusive self confident assertive bastard. It is as if the power given by having education was more important than the knowledge.  The more someone feels educated, the more you get criticized quasi systematically wrongly through the lens of solid belief on self certitude. Making your job correctly expose you to all the more critics. We enable at repsonsibility level self righteous people, full of certainties. Doubts are unprofessional. Well, I have seen a lot of persons coming to me in coworking spaces full of wannabe startups to propose me to do free consulting. Startups love free consultants. They often had a wonderful idea with 95% ready and they needed a «stupid» point in the last 5%.

Always, the 5% that would be underpaid benign features since interface were there and a POC was working in a simple case.

It was fun because even simple RSS scrapers (that were seeming anecdotic) where revealing a failure in the keystones of their project. A physical, coding or mathematical impossibility.

When I said free consulting, it is because they would always propose you a small contract (5 days at 100$ x 8 hours) to in fact made you write on a paper what was wrong when you discarded the contract.   

In game strategy : either you take an obviously underpaid contract but will have money or you lose time to say you refuse and give important insight to the startup that in both ways win. Since the company relies heavily on a flawed concept, they need to keep the illusion of the product working, so you cannot be hired, or if you are hired, you have to go in the right direction.

Right direction is the investors believing you can deliver something that works. The market is not based on satisfying customer"s needs, it is based on conning investors and banks to make some bonimentors being able to retire after having built Hollywood kind of houses. Lies valued on the market of your retirements plan in the form of an index in a random stock. Yes you pay for this with every private investment you are making. Your savings is invested in scams. Middle term scams that actually cannot yield profits. But coders like monkeys behind the scene, like a dwarf in an automata pretending to play chess, are patching behind the scene a decorum so that it looks like on the commercial pictures. Manually inserted SQL code at some crucial times of days to walk around a «bug» that is just reflecting the fact the feature does not exists.

A good professional manager is certain the product can be built.

As a coder we are pretending to build solid castles but truth is we build card houses. Every one is losing.

And to get paid as a mover you have to avoid antagonizing the one who pays. You must look your feet. Even if what you are told makes no sens. Else you may loose the «bonus» for having worked 20 «free» extra hours (paid normally 10€/hr) at the wonderful price of 1€/hr. And wealthy people feels very generous. While they cock block you from being efficient by getting in your way when you work... do it this way, you are too slow, you are an idiot...

And some of these people that are very educated are probably doing the same at their work.

I moved away from coding to be mover so that I may have escaped these assholes. Actually, it does not works the way I expected. I expected my bitterness to disappear and begin an new simple life without thinking. I expected I would pull the Interet/coding plug and not care to get control of my life without thinking about what was wrong. And fact bitterness has  disappeared. I am not bitter anymore.

It might seems stupid, but I like being an humiliated mover. I am no masochist. After changing country, then social position, it is like opening my mind, like you finally discover the map in 3 dimension instead of 2.

You see new more interesting mechanics. Important patterns.

Like what is being a professional? And what are the limits of our crafts.

Every jobs require specific knowledge but they have in common one thing: having a clean work-space.

Movers folding their blankets. Demolition workers constantly removing stuff to the trashes and cleaning at the end for the chantier. Cook keeping their table constantly clean.

We as coders are rushing our code in production nowadays. We all have given up on «clean» code.

A clean code is small, with few dependencies, configuration items, requirements, complexity.... Yet computer software/hardware are growing in complexity.

Like incompetent customers -that despise prepping and blanket folding and see our job of mover as moving heavy loads- all the industry is focused on the writing of lines of codes.

We have masquerade of cleaning. Ticketing systems, dev-staging-production environment, tests ...

But they are not. Just a mimicking of cleaning. Just like people first cleaning the floor and then cleaning their walls not seeing that their floor is still dusty.

I am not insane to criticize the actual IT industry and walk away from it even if I am making far less money and work in funky conditions.

It is building resolve and confidence : something is wrong with the world today. The power to command is given to the wrong persons : educated one.

Education is the biggest bubble right now: it does not work and we pay a fucking heavy price for it and it is fucking with the brain of their owners to make them idiot. It is manipulating people into a rigid attitude of exclusive ordering or obeying based on self confidence. Leaders are raised to be professional bullies. 

Our society over-evaluates an education delivering pseudo-smart knowledge. If education was delivering anything there should be actual figures proving that the diploma they deliver are impacting positively society. That for a same job diploma matters. Actually diploma are used as a corporative tool to protect access to some professions. Investors will probably require you have an MBA. MBA may gives you profound insights of a craftsman of running a business, but it does not worth having made a series of business yourself. Yet if you cannot pay 35k$ / year you hardly can have investment.

Education does not teach the craftsman and diploma are favoring the one who have the confidence not the skills. And too much self confidence conflicts with skills. We give more power to the one who are born wealthy. That's all.

It is time we look at the costs of our universities that cannot make reproducible science, at our industries our education and think once again how to make an education that improves our lives as a whole.

Well IT industry is fucked, like all the industry today... I just now just hope for the bubble on education, in IT, and the stock market to blow up so that it comes back to survival to the fittest kind of market.

I wish to get my power back by being able to produce and sell my services or product without the barrier of false education. I wish to live in a truly liberal state where skills matter more than birth and the capacity to get formations.

I wish I could make the government do what I wish with the taxes we pay, and not fuel financial bubbles by borrowing money to banks.

I wish I was leaving in a democracy not a Republic that is just an aristocracy by birth disguised as a pseudo elitist meritocratic system.

Diploma are void of power on me. I will look at what you do and not what you say, and will go my way full of doubts and resolves.


Gabor de mooij said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gabor de mooij said...

You're so right it almost hurts. Your words resonate with me.
Thanks for this great article, I thought nobody would hold the same opinion as me. Yet, this gives me the strength to continue. Thank you so much, for writing this down.

I have a documents folder on my laptop, it's almost empty. I rarely click the 'save page as...' button, because I don't take the time and I don't find it worth the trouble. Yet, a copy of your article resides in that folder, next to the Newards' Vietnam of ORM and a PDF edition of Smalltalk the Blue Book.

(edited because of typo)

julien tayon said...

@abor de mooij thanks.
I suspect a lot of coders wish to make the move.

I made a follow up. Life after giving up on coding is dreary but not that bad after all.