Articles

Two Cents Worth

One of my acquaintances used to say that A software programer is after all worth a million bucks. What's the big deal in writing a piece of code?

Gone are the days when it was very competitive to write a same piece of code, like in the early days of programming everyone used to write the same code independently and no one would bother to share. Programming tools have become very complex, even to those who built it. The very developers of the tool have to wind through pillow sized documents to find out what the tool is supposed to do and why its not doing the way the developers want. But its pretty easier now, all you have to do is just subscribe to different newsgroups, post a question:

"Dearest All, I am a newbie to Bali language. Can any one please tell me how to write a codelet which counts from 1 to 10"

or

"Hi Everyone, Can anyone please give me code which calculates the quantum probabilities of a weather model comprising the El Nino and the Butterfly effect".

And presto, some naive guy on the other end posts you the code. If they are of opposite sex you can sometimes expect more exchanges usually not relating to the previous question. Sometimes you can see

"Friends, Lovers and Newsgroup-men, I am a complete newbie to software programming, to this language and to this group. Can anyone help me how to post messages to this discussion group?"

or

"This is only a test message. Ignore it as quick as possible" with 'Helpppppp' as the subject line.

Luckily the newsgroups aren't yet inundated by intimidating emails sort of

"You have been eyed by a Mallalluua bird of the ancient maya priests which has reincarnated two days ago following the impeachment of our president. It will bring you good luck, if you forward it to 10 persons within 10 minutes. It has been sent to you as a goodwill of mankind. But you should not cc or bcc to anyone. If you cc, the amount of luck you receive would reduce by half and if you bcc the amount of luck you receive would be cut by seventh. Or else this tweety thing would tear you to ten tiny pieces before the end of your office day".

The reader might better do it or else the mighty Mayan Mallalluua might come up with a new strategy to swallow him instead of tearing him into ten tiny pieces. Upon which the reader - a representative of the highest order of intelligent rational community working in the field of advancing the technology into the new millennium, frantically opens ten windows and with a hurricane speed, copies and pastes the good luck mail and forwards it to top ten more or less intelligent representatives either of his own community or belonging to a far facet of the society.

If newsgroups hikers follow this they would have to add at the end of their questions

"If anyone don't answer to my question or post the required code, someone of you will plucked away by a terrible half-bird+half-lion+half-platypus animal to an unknown land in Aruba. Thanks in advance. Have a nice day".

At least in theory, it is possible to build a whole project by subscribing to newsgroups and getting pieces of code. In this way you literally build the project.

To continue with the lost vein, if you write a program to print from 1 to 10, counting from 1 to 10, in the East, it usually earns less than 10 soft bucks, which you usually use to buy a copy of some computer journal. Yet the omniscient project leader would step to you and say with a grin and unhealthy smile:

"Hmm, it looks pretty complex. You should change the algorithm to count from -20 to -1 with interval of +2 but print it by dividing by 2 and adding 11 every time. I also feel that you should consider converting radians to degrees".

And the QA looks over your shoulder and mindlessly says:

"There is a bug in it. Its so obvious that I can even say of what sex it is" and after a pause adds to your agony "Its a kind of lady-bug which is usually considered lucky but not in your case, ha ha ha".

And the project manager would immediately summon a meeting with the client and apologize to him

"Because of our commitment to quality of software products that we build with great commitment and quality care, we are unable to ship you the latest version of the software which has unfortunately and adequately failed the quality tests of our qualified testers".

And the client would obviously be disturbed and the news will be augmented to the users. The users will no doubt be terrified to hear this shattering news, if it ever reaches them, since most of them by this time are enjoying a vacation in North or South Poles. On the other hand, if you write the same code in the streets of New York or Silicon Valley, you will be thrown up a party during the weekend and lauded to skies and paid sufficiently for two hours which you took to write it. Which you promptly send your home and they pay the loans borrowed two generations before.

What's a software programmer really really worth? He's worth a millions in one place yet he is worth almost a dirt in another place on the same scale. His every minute of a day is worth hard currency in one place yet his every minute of the day and night is worth almost nothing in another place on the same scale. Every buck he earns in one place is worth a fortune in another place. He is worth twice the amount he earns to the employer, four times he earns to his client, six times he earns to the end user, eight times he earns to the stock market. Still he is of any worth only as long he stays in the market. As long he is keeping himself busy selling himself, he is only worth what he sells himself. A more worthy programmer of the East is certainly less worthy than the lesser worthy programmer of the West. And if this is how the worthiness can be measured, well, what else that is said can be worthy enough?

Herewith I lay my 4x10^-4^ paisa worth of my thought.