Not to be confused with Deprogramming.

This thread is to talk about software development, ask and answer questions, and so on.

My name is @ficuswhisperer. I’ve been a professional software developer for the past 20ish years. AMA, or let’s just talk code.

10 PRINT "Hello, ficuswhisperer!"
20 GOTO 10

  • What’s the most positive reaction you get from non-programmers when they find out what you do?
  • Desktop, embedded, mainframe, web, mobile app, or other/mixed?

For the most part people just ask me if I can fix their computers. :confused:

Mostly enterprise level stuff; server/services, and some UI and desktop code. I also work on developing SDKs and such. I like building frameworks for others to build on. I do occasional web development (which I don’t particularly enjoy but it’s a necessary evil). I also do some mobile and embedded stuff for fun when I can but these days work takes so much out of me I don’t spend much time pursuing side projects.


And here I sit as a sysadmin tired of people asking if I can code this really cool app idea they have.

I dabble with hobbiest level stuff. I’m trying to get some Python code to do something useful on a raspberry pi right now. Actually three projects that I flip between depending on how frustrated I get with one.


Yep. And the funny thing is, often I can. It’s just a matter of googling the issue. Someone else has had that issue for sure, and someone else has posted the answer.

I’m an electrical engineer. Not a sysadmin, not a developer or programmer, but something else entirely. Somehow people still misinterpret that to mean “computers” when it really doesn’t.


If it has a power cord - you’re it. Fax machine? Call IT. Copier? Call IT? Microwave? Call IT? Espresso Machine? Call…nevermind, IT is already working on.


Back to Programming though…

While it isn’t real programming I do lots of scripts. Especially installation scripts for various applications.

Well, I’m trying to transition all my application packaging duties to my reports. So, our ERP desktop GUI needs to be upgraded so I give it off to J to work on. I have built the package for over a decade, but the last time was over three years ago.

I give J the source files I’d glanced at and said, this looks like it uses the same installer technology as in the past, so look at my old ones and it should get you 80% of the way there.

J had some questions, so I pop open the old packages I had done and realized just how much of a CF the Installation code was. She had actually done a great job of figuring out what I had done (there were some comments) but I hate when I have to try and figure out what my own logic was when I built it the first time to unravel wtf it was doing.

< shudder >


This is how I’ve been, slowly, been pushed into full time dev work so be warned, that’s how they get you.


Since my move to an economically depressed are, I get more positive reactions. Like, “Oh, we need more of that stuff here” and whatever, since people seem to associate (not unfairly) computational skill with good jobs.

Depends on the day. I do open source scientific development. So 1/10 of my programming time is spent programming in C++ in an IDE on my desktop, then deploying to HPC. 9/10 of my programming time are spent in Python and UNIX, running the software over and over, testing, and using the software to do actual science and learn about biology. Young biologists are often confused about what those ratios should be. Edit: those ratios do look different depending on where in a project I am. Most of my stuff is in “wrap-up” stages right now, and I’ll be doing more C++ at the start of the school year.


Hehehe! I used to work as an escalation engineer (title inflation - I haven’t a degree in this) on ProLiant servers a decade or so ago. Naturally people ask me to fix their computers when they find out - troubleshooting really obstinate hardware and O/S problems was what I did for a living. To these entreaties I usually reply:

  • I’m retired now.
  • I’m 10 or so years out of date.
  • When I was working, my time was charged at $250/hr (in 2005 dollars).
  • I don’t do these things for free.
  • Oh, and did I mention that I’ve retired from the business?

For some reason, the fourth point in conjunction with the third seems seems to quench their burning need to fix their computer problems… <wry grin>

Funny thing, that. Yeah, so my Google-fu is on steroids: if I can find an answer, so can others, maybe just a little more slowly. (I miss AltaVista’s search interface though. You could use it like Google’s, but, with the addition of “+”, “-”, “and”, “or” and quotation marks. you could craft a Boolean query on the fly that would bring up a page of purely relevant results.)

J̞͕͚͓̟̗ ͏p͇͚̩̜̯̘̟͡r̫̣̥̠̦̬̮o҉͈c̡e̜̠̥͍̰ͅsș͙͇͍in̰̲͙̮͖g̪ ͈̺̫̫͚̫ͅt̨̟h̟̰̻e͞ ̧s̲̬̹o͏̹̭̜̪̲̤̫ụ̜̭r̲̺̖̠c̦̟͕e͇ ͖̱̟͍̟̺͉ć̘͎o̵̗̖͈̖̗d͟ẹ͉͈̱͔̖͡?̰̻͙͉͎ Í͕̳̺̟͍̲̹s̞̪̩̱̻ǹ͉̥ͅ’͈͎͙ͅt ̸̞̞͍̟̯̣t̰͓̫͕̰̹̙́h̨̠̻̣̗̖̺a̮̳̪̼̞̩ͅt̡͓̬ ̜̱̤̻̙͕t͘h̞́e ̶̦͉͈͖̞̜̻s̙̦̦͜u͢c̬ͅc̡e̯̙s̱̬̕s̗̜̝̗͍o̟̣̬̕r̫̪̰̥̕ ̛̦̖͍ĺ͇͉̜̦͈̝̟a̭n̼̰̦͉g̥̥͙u͞a̼̹̥̰͇g̢̺̪̰̰͇̘ͅe̫̰̗̳͉͡ ̩͠t̤̠͓̬͍̤o͈͔̘̠̼̻͜ ̠̗̭͈̙͔̰A̧P̙̠̗̲L͎͜?͕͎̗̱͎͙̟ ̥͎̼̱̞̟͔ ̞̲̀Į̘̲̙ ̶̣̼̗t̼͙̖̜h͙̲̩̞̟i̢͔̯͓̲̼n̻̯̬͍͕kͅ ̤͕̼̞͉̲I̶͖͖̪̖ ̴̠͎͉̦̯ͅm͔̫͜i̷̟̣g̛h̺͓͚̱̱͖t̳͍ ̷͈̙̙̙͕̞l̡͖͍͖̯̯ì̥̰̭̟ke̠͕̥͔ ̤̙̰̬̺͍͇y̺͇͖̹̦̰o҉͎̮͖̰̠u͏̺ͅr ̟s̘̦̬̩c͜r̷̦̭̥̫͕̜̹i̞̝̟̦͎̙͖͝p̧t̫͓̗͢s͕̘̳͘.͞.̬̪͕̗͉͠.̣̤̣̱̙̘̮


Not a true programmer here, but I did some for my data analysis over the years (decades). Turbo Pascal --> Turbo Pascal for Windows (shudder) --> Borland Pascal --> Delphi. Included some graphing, image processing, and CFD data analysis along the way. I’ve been asked some basic Windows over the years, which shows the danger of letting people know that you can do some basic stuff on a computer.

I also managed to learn the simplistic scripting language for an old CFD package called FIDAP. Years later we got a newer one that used javascript for scripting, which I couldn’t deal with. Fortunately I retired soon after (I don’t think there was a connection). I have a lot of respect for those that can deal with it.

Nowadays I take care of the home computers, as well as being “tech support” for my SO’s telework computer on occasion. She says she’s “not a hardware person,” but she does know just about every programming language under the sun. She doesn’t like javascript either.

I assume you know about Google’s advanced search?


Who does, really?

I guess that’s what separates me, an engineer who can write code, from an honest-to-God software developer. They live in the Front End, and know JavaScript backwards and forwards. I don’t know much of anything about Front End stuff, or writing web apps or mobile apps, and I look at JavaScript and I just think “WTF is this?” I know Java, but JavaScript is something I’ve never had a use for.


As a language JavaScript isn’t that bad but I have serious issues with loosely typed languages. Too much PTSD from C/C++ makes it hard for me to trust it.


:waves: Sofware developer here. Inherited the curse from my mom I guess; she got started as a keypunch operator (yeah) for the county school board before working her way up to “Programmer/Analyst II” and refusing any promotion that smelled of management. I don’t know if she even used any languages besides COBOL on a regular basis.

Like a lot of 80s nerds I cut my teeth on BASIC. I got an AA degree in programming, and a BS in Management Informations Systems. My first programming job was developing and maintaining software for boat and RV dealerships in FoxPro, then in my spare time I was a remote contractor for a text-based online RPG with its own proprietary scripting language. They hired me full-time to babysit the servers and keep working on the game. Eventually the started having “real” programming classes and were surprised to find I was really good (having completely forgotten they hired a programmer and then kept me doing scrub work). So I got promoted, and worked on a game engine and editing tools in C++ and C# and Direct3D shaders. That company eventually collapsed on itself, sold off my project to anothe company which also had trouble paying bills and salaries consistently, and I wound up at an engineering software company working in C++ and C# with some legacy FORTRAN stuff that we never touch.

I have a bunch of experience with UI (and have mixed feelings about it), but I am pretty clueless about any web-related programming. They tried to put me on a project once with a mess of VBScript and Python, and I was supremely unhappy and unproductive until they decided I was doing a lot better on literally everything else they had me working on.


I prefer C++.

/ducks and covers

When programming in C++, you have to know your shit about OOP in order to not make any mistakes. In C#, Java, etc, you can get too careless too easily.


There was a bit of software a decade ago I used and recently went to see if it still existed…

It did. (Yea!)

It hadn’t been updated in at least 5 years. (Boo)

But sometime in the intervening years the programer realeased the code under one of the GPL like licenses (Yea!)

It was in Delphi. (Boo?)

I tried to fiddle with it, but just gave up. The end result was not worth the time.


I certainly do, but I never needed to invoke advanced search in AltaVista’s main UI - it was just there if you knew how to use it. That’s better design.

Edit: It was also more flexible. Little languages usually are.