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The Worst Development Job You've Ever Had? 1078 1078

manavendra asks: "I'm currently working for a solution provider for telcos, and as part of product migration the entire API has to be 'internationalized'. Owing to a legacy architecture, most (if not all) application logic is still embedded in PL/SQL stored packages. My job: find hard coded strings, and replace with calls to the globalization API. Yes there is a script written to handle most tasks, but its quite primitive (not to mention fears of automating 'too much'). Boredom is at all time high. Have tried all means of whittling away the time, and hence this question to other Slashdot users: What's the worst ever job you had to do in the name of 'software development' (or as a software developer)?"
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The Worst Development Job You've Ever Had?

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  • by Pingular (670773) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:13PM (#8729348)
    Of course the worst job you can have depends on which type of job you like. For example one person may hate something where you have to do the same thing over and over again (for example working in a factory), wheras someone else might love it.
  • Y2K (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:15PM (#8729383)
    nuff said.
  • I know. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rhesus Piece (764852) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:18PM (#8729430)
    I know this is cheating, but I must say: the worst development job I've ever had is unemployment. Lots of work, but no pay. Any job is better than no job, so long as you're getting paid.
  • by baudilus (665036) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:19PM (#8729442)
    You can have the best job in the world and it still sux because of who you work for.

    Like when your boss has chronic halotosis (or "halo" for short.)

    mine does.
  • Keep Your Sanity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:20PM (#8729470) Homepage Journal

    Try to come up with more and more clever scripts for finding where changes need to be made rather than doing it by rote brute force.

    Not only does it make better use of your brain and avoid boredom, but until you get to the last 1% of changes, it is the more efficient thing to do. Then, at the very end, cave-in and make 10 changes by hand to get the overall beast to work.

    There is nothing more mind-numbing than doing repetitious work that a machine could be doing. It's kind of like moving rocks, only worse, because you can't disengage your attention from the task as much as you can when moving rocks.

  • Worst People? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nramsay (23117) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:20PM (#8729474) Homepage
    I find that the "worst jobs" are often caused by the people you're working with/for.

    Sure, you can get a boring job, etc - but life can be made really difficult when you have a "mean" boss. It's time to get out when this happens.
  • by hikerhat (678157) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:21PM (#8729482)
    I'll never again explain to a client who doesn't have unit tests how important unit tests are. Nothing is worse than writing a zillion unit tests for someone else's piss poor code that wasn't designed to be tested.
  • Re:I know. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:26PM (#8729589) Homepage Journal
    "Any job is better than no job"

    I'm sure some people will challenge that. The worst thing I did was roofing a house and that was only for a weekend. Five layers of shingle to remove, 105 degrees Fahrenheit to work through.

    But I still agree with you. McDonald's has jobs, and if you're qualified to work as a developer, you're qualified to flip burgers. Managers for a McDonald's can get paid as much or more than some developer jobs too.

    Bottom line? Forced unemployment is not satisfying and the pay is awful.
  • um... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:27PM (#8729592)
    Boredom is at all time high.

    Bored/hate your job? Try working in an IT department(it's like programming, only you have to deal with bitchy people all day, everything is your fault, and you get paid less), or unemployment.

    I'm sure I'll get slapped "flamebait" or somesuch, but I'm really tired of these "my programming job sucks because it is not emotionally fulfilling" stories that keep popping up; many of us IT geeks don't have jobs, and you programmers are whining about how rough your lives are because you're getting paid to hit "next" in find&replace? I don't have much sympathy, especially since most of you were paid significantly better than us(on average, a few years ago, a javamonkey wet behind the ears would earn 2x what I did as a sysadmin with several years experience). If you don't like your job, change fields to something you think you'd be good at and find more rewarding.

  • by MisanthropicProgram (763655) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:32PM (#8729678)
    This says so much about what we're going through right now!

    Right now, I'll take the "worst development job ever".

  • Re:Hands down. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:34PM (#8729706) Homepage Journal
    That's a really tough way to learn "Never ask before installing software you need." If you hadn't said anything, and had never specified how you fixed the data, they probably would never have cared. They probably didn't even know the difference between Perl and WordPerfect.

    Though of course, it may have also taught you "Never take the short way when on an hourly assignment." Unless it wasn't hourly....
  • Re:UNIBASIC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kisrael (134664) * on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:37PM (#8729743) Homepage
    Coding a 401k tracking and transfer system in UNIBASIC. Hands down. An incredibly aged and horribly designed system (honestly, are any legacy systems WELL designed?) that definitely was NOT defined with extensibility in mind

    That's a good question.

    I'm getting the impression that a lot of old code is better than the new guy gives it credit for, especially if there hasn't been a particularly smooth hand-off. The new guy has new and better--or sometimes just different--outlooks on coding than what the original team had.

    Of course, some code is just inarguably bad. :-)
  • by MadHungarian (166146) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:38PM (#8729753)
    Hey, at least you have a fricking job. The company I was doing work for had a massive layoff. The worst job I had is NO JOB!!!
  • by jonfelder (669529) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:42PM (#8729806)
    Sounds like a job that would be problematic if you were a bigot.

    What difference does it make if they were a 300lb crossdresser?

    It's one thing to complain about your boss' lack of competence or crappy attitude. It's another to be a complete prick and complain about factors that don't really influence their management capability (i.e. being fat, gay, and dressing in female clothing).
  • by NotClever (635709) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:42PM (#8729812)
    I wouldn't use an MCSE as a programmer. An MCSD might begin to qualify though.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:49PM (#8729901) Homepage Journal
    People with OCD (like me) often find pleasure in repetitive jobs. Sometimes I'll even repetitively fiddle with something at hand while I'm thinking about something else.

    And just because I'm autistic doesn't make me retarded.
  • by Hormonal (304038) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:51PM (#8729926) Homepage
    His boss was threatening to "fuck his ass". If he was hetero, I would think it unprofessional, but I wouldn't worry about it too terribly much. If the line was delivered by a male crossdresser with his own (sizable) gravity well, however, I might be a little more careful about turning my back to him.

    The guys job sounded shitty, even without the boss.

  • by jonfelder (669529) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @05:55PM (#8729979)
    Really? Explain this to does liking men instead of women, and prefering to wear a dress make you unstable?

    Behavior that indicated he was unstable was constantly switching his demands, threatening to do people in the ass, having people searched, and hiring incompetents. Doesn't matter if he's a gay crossdresser or not, straight people who wear nice suits can and often do, do similar things.

    If he were just gay and wore a dress there shouldn't have really been a problem...unless of course he's a bigot.
  • by plugger (450839) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:00PM (#8730047) Homepage
    Are they paying you for the completed job, or do you at least make some more cash whenever a snag crops up?
  • Wage Slavery (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T.Hobbes (101603) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:04PM (#8730095)
    You are describing wage slavery. Even the worst job can be defended with 'it's better than no job'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:05PM (#8730107)
    If he threatened to fuck your asses, take a few weeks of sick, get all emotional and destressed that your bos was joking about raping you and sue for vast ammounts from sexual harrasment :) ... just not enough people in the world like dogbert ;)
  • by jonfelder (669529) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:06PM (#8730122)
    Gee...just unprofessional eh?

    So you would tolerate that from a straight thin person. I certainly wouldn't.

    In either case, would I be concerned that the person would actually carry out the threat? No.
  • Re:I know. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:07PM (#8730137) Homepage
    Any job is better than no job, so long as you're getting paid.
    Spoken like somebody who's bitter and unemployed.

    I've had jobs that made me completely miserable. In fact, the job that paid me the highest salary I ever made was like that.

    On the other hand, I spent the last year unemployed and had a pretty great time, all told. I traveled to Italy, Spain, England, a couple of the United States ... I worked the door at a bar for a while, that was fun ... I sat around, I got caught up with friends I had lost touch with, I got involved with personal projects. I kept my ear to the ground about job opportunities, though there didn't seem to be many of them, and eventually I got myself another job.

    And right now, unemployment is feeling like the best job I ever had.

    Managing unemployment is a skill, of course. Fortunately I didn't blow all my money on 3-D video cards and stereo equipment before I was laid off, and I came up with a decent strategy for managing my finances with no sure income. Moreover, I had enough skills, both technical and communication-wise, that I was able to market myself sufficiently to get some freelance work in the interim between full-time gigs. And when a decent opportunity did show up, I was able to seize upon it and pick up more or less where I left off ... not quite as senior a position, not quite as much money ... but than, that really is the point at which, as you say, a job's a job.

  • Re:I know. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ebh (116526) * <edhorch AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:29PM (#8730471) Journal
    But I still agree with you. McDonald's has jobs, and if you're qualified to work as a developer, you're qualified to flip burgers.

    But will they hire you? Probably not. Unless you're a really good actor, at the interview they'll immediately see that you'll be out the door whenever the next real job comes along, and the response, "I don't care, exploit me, I need to feed my kids TONIGHT," doesn't save you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:37PM (#8730572)
    you may have heard the chorus:
    Oh yeah, life goes on
    long after the thrill of living is gone...
  • by Pushnell (204514) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:40PM (#8730614)
    Wow... surely you can inform us of what industry needs this horrible product so badly without breaking your NDA ...

    I promise I'll hire you :)
  • Re:um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davew2040 (300953) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:42PM (#8730630) Journal
    and you programmers are whining about how rough your lives are because you're getting paid to hit "next" in find&replace?

    I have to ask, when you were trying to figure out a way to drive this point home, did you think maybe you couldn't found a better example of a comparatively enjoyable activity? Because that isn't exactly the sort of thing that makes Mom proud.

    I think the point most people are making is that their jobs are mind-numbing in exactly the way you describe. Many such programmers might even relish the chance to speak with stupid people, if only to break the monotony. If you're of the crowd that suggests that anyone with a paying job should be happy about it, then I encourage you to grow up.
  • Re:um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alan Shutko (5101) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:45PM (#8730672) Homepage
    If you can bitch about how much worse you can have it than developers, we can bitch about how bad we have it. At least you have the scary devil monastery.

    War stories are fun. Don't whine just because they're not about your chosen form of punishment.
  • by NullStream (121401) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:47PM (#8730698) Homepage
    Backup software which doesn't suck is an undocumented sign of the apocalypse. When good backup software also deals with multiple drive libraries in a way which also doesn't suck then we will also know the point where pi repeats.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:47PM (#8730703)
    I worked @ Anderson Consulting years ago (contractor in internal IT), and the rumor was that if you weren't promoted in 2 years or so, they'd let you go and bring in some fresh meat. And only about 10% of people were promoted, and that was primarily based on sales skills. Great fucking job they had.

    (And the meat was pretty fresh -- mostly hot 25 year-old MBA chicks. It's amazing that companies will blow millions of dollars on bogo-consulting just to have a bunch of pretty girls walking around conceptualizng the intarweb or whatever they did.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @06:47PM (#8730705)
    One guy apparently didn't know how to use variables, so he'd embed text boxes on the main form, and set their visibility property to false, and use them to store values.
    Hang on to this guy. He's got the instincts to be a decent engineer -- he's just missing the knowledge. Send him to some traning classes and mentor him past the noob coding traps.
  • by Trillian_1138 (221423) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @07:05PM (#8730928)
    How is this offtopic? In the time it took my to origonally write this response, and now while I'm proofing it, Miyako's post went from "+4: Informative" to "1: Offtopic." Miyako is stating the definitions of (depending on your school of thought) medical and/or psychological conditions that the parent poster obviously either did not know or did not give a shit about.

    As someone who _is_ transgendered, being lumped with your "big gay boss" (which says to me you're likely a big bad bigot) is offensive to me and I'd be willing to bet your boss would not want to be lumped in as transexual. Furthermore, I doubt very much that your boss actually crossdressed at work and it doesn't sound like the type of work relationships where you all went out to karaoke every night and had a rockin' party...

    You may very well have had a dumbfuck boss (you even may have had a crossdressing boss! who knows!) who could not decide upon a page layout, hired fools, and was very overweight. But I'm not going to go say, "Fuck! My boss was such an idiot! Couldn't decide on a design and hired people who didn't know what the hell they were doing! And did I mention he was a nigger? A day couldn't go by without him saying 'If y'all don't get this shit right I'm gonna force-feed y'all watermelons!'" (Appologies for not being able to come up with a better racist remark....) You'd know I was bullshitting you.

    Likewise, I call bullshit on your story.

    So don't embelish your stories with lies to make them sound more entertaining. And if you have to, at least try to pick lies that don't create a giant "BIGOT" sign over your head.

  • by liminality (695708) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @07:51PM (#8731432)
    it is interesting to read your comments.
    replying to some friends who were arguing that creativity is stagnant in the videogame industry, i said that until the utilitarian bottom-line management types understood that programming is itself an art and start giving the artists what they are due in terms of money and freedom , all your gonna get is boring, derivative schlock.
  • by sharkey (16670) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @08:46PM (#8731862)
    There is nothing in the world as satisfying as the sight of a former bad boss being led off to serve time in federal Pound Me In The Ass prison.

    Yes, there is, and you apparently got to experience it, you lucky bastard. It's seeing a former bad boss being led off to server time in a federal PMITA prison, and knowing that YOU HELPED PUT HIM THERE!

  • OT: sig reply (Score:4, Insightful)

    by robslimo (587196) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @09:01PM (#8731951) Homepage Journal
    I'm being modbombed for my opinions. Check my posting history.

    OK, I checked your posting history. I saw Trolls, Flamebaits, Off Topic and so on. Every one of them well deserved with the possible exception of one which was probably considered a little too pro-Microsoft for this crowd. Even that was delivered in a tone I would consider baiting flames.

    So, if you consider your karma valuable enough to complain in your sig about being modbombed, simply state your opinion in a (1) non-inflammatory fashion and (2) on topic. If you follow those two principles, you'll be OK.

    A refreshing beverage may help as well.

    BTW, this comment is completely off-topic and I fully accept any karmic repercusions.
  • Seriously, though: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Loundry (4143) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @09:11PM (#8732017) Journal
    How bad is it to be a MS programmer? I'm not doubting that it's bad or implying that it must be. I'm curious as to how bad it is compared to programming in other environemnts (Unix, Linux, AS/400, MVS, etc). I mean, I truly hate Microsoft for their force- and fraud-related activites, and lots of people joke about how bad it is to program using their technology. Can you give me the technical reasons why it sucks?
  • by Don Negro (1069) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @09:57PM (#8732540)
    Using Windows Script and a 3270 emulator to amend 100k+ records in a DB2 database.

    They were a little militant about not letting analysts have any execution authority beyond some very locked down JCL, but if RACF will let you update a file and nobody'll be looking at your screen for a number of hours...
  • Re:Hands down. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by los furtive (232491) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ehtomaLsirhC>> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @10:07PM (#8732638) Homepage

    That's a really tough way to learn "Never ask before installing software you need."

    I can't stress how much what you said is one of the most important pieces of advice to be given in my life.

    When I was doing a leadership course in the military someone asked if it was okay to do something a certain way, our platoon commander said no, you can't.

    He then explained that in the future, that whenever we came to a decision where we had doubts whether we'd be 'allowed' to accomplish a task a certain way, but knew that if the answer was "no" that it would be a hell of a lot harder to complete the task, then the best solution was to do it anyway, the worst that happens (within reason) is that they say you can't do it again. But if any benefit is gained, then you have just taken the initiative, and benefited from it.

    Seriously, it changed the way I applied myself, and has paid off quite well.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @11:16PM (#8733237) Journal
    Man, I've been throught that .. in the early days of office LAN's, we had these very primitive network analyzer boxes which could pick up the MAC addresses of all machines on the network. However, these had to be named manually. And there was no permanent storage. So every time the box lost power, some poor sod had to type in the entire network database back in again.

    I hate to point out the obvious but wouldn't a UPS have been a good investment?

  • Worst job ever? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TerryAtWork (598364) <> on Wednesday March 31, 2004 @11:39PM (#8733384)
    Worst job ever?

    --Getting a call from an America consultant (no names) for this 6 month Clarion gig in Miami for a big insurance company (no names).

    --Having done this for a very professional Cdn firm (contract renewed twice) I figured it had to be better because it was American. I take the deal.

    --Drive 2 hours to the border. Try to get TN visa. Turned back for lack of documentation (University transcript)

    --Drive home. It is a long weekend in Canada. University closed. Wait.

    --Endure rigmarole and pay $ for dox. Takes all day. Drive back to border next day.

    --Get third degree from US Customs. Reluctantly issue TN visa. Charge 50 USD.

    --Drive to Miami. In Titusburg Florida meet hacker legend the Cheshire Catalyst. See a shuttle launch. Highlight of the trip.

    --Arrive on the spot. Its now an AMERICAN long weekend. Wait.

    --Tuesday. Go to the office. The instant I walk towards the elevator three security guys jump out of nowhere. A Black guy in a suit with sunglasses and a walky talky and two white guys in uniform. They demand to know why I'm there. They check out my story and disappear, and I never see them again, but I know they're watching. This does not happen in Canada (and this was WAY before 9/11 too.)

    --At the office, nothing is ready. Run around looking for cables for my computer. Have to install own copy of Clarion 5. Spend rest of day getting LAN access. NT shop. Sys admin has never heard of Groups so I have to be assigned access to each resource separately. CoWorker smiles right in my face as he welcomes me to the shop.

    --Wednesday - was given the code I was to work on on a floppy disk. Really. At this time I realized this is an amateur shop. Ask Smiling Coworker question regarding Clarion initialization which I had not done for a very long time. He smiles, answers, and goes and tells my new boss I am incompetent.

    --Friday. Fax in my time sheet and phone consultant that its there, like I did at the Cdn job. He tells me the firm is letting me go. I break into a flop sweat instantly.

    --I confront the boss. You see, I was not supposed to find out about this then. He tells me this isn't for learning experiences. This is when I figure it out about Smiling CoWorker. I tell the boss I do not appreciate this treatment. I do not raise my voice or use profanity. I pack and leave the office. I do not erase any of my work. Someone had to be the professional there and it wasn't them.

    --Leave the building. I never see security, but I can feel their eyes on my back.

    --Go back to digs. Call consultant. He asks me what I said to the boss, as the boss called him the moment I left the office. So, not only is this guy heartless and brainless, he's gutless too.

    --Cry myself to sleep. I really did and I was 43 at the time.

    --Wait a week for my cheque. Intercept it just as they are about to mail it...

    --drive back to Canada. Lose about $1,000 and all my respect for American management. I am home before the shuttle I saw take off lands. I later read a book that says 'At a new job, beware the guy who's really friendly'. Too true.

  • by smitty_one_each (243267) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @12:06AM (#8733562) Homepage Journal
    You've been told to look busy, right? Frickin' teach yourself something! You should be the tower of power in at least one compiled language, a scripting language, and a few miscellaneous things like XML by the time they have work for you.
    Find an interesting market of your company and start preparing for a better position.
    Start an online degree.
    Playing solitaire and reading /., while fine occasionally, are not the best use of your life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2004 @04:10AM (#8734713)
    Imagine: You're coding dozens of embedded systems on a submarine and you can't use interrupts! The entire power supply was recoded to use a polling architecture, monitoring flags in a main loop and then servicing them instead of letting an interrupt run to do it.
    Guess what? The Navy likes vital systems to be deterministic, or at least 'deterministic like'. Guess what an interrupt driven system isn't? What your coworker probably didn't tell you is that submarine systems are conservatively designed on purpose. It's not about formal proof, it's about being able to simply and easily test the system and ensure that the SOB will always work.

    One suspects that since this story is secondhand that your coworker exaggerated for effect and left out the details.

    Imagine: You're coding dozens of embedded systems on a submarine and you can't use interrupts! The entire power supply was recoded to use a polling architecture, monitoring flags in a main loop and then servicing them instead of letting an interrupt run to do it.
    Imagine, writing simple straightforward code to your customers specifications. What a radical idea.
  • by Ozan (176854) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @07:42AM (#8735281) Homepage
    Uhh sorry but an aspiring engineer is not afraid of RTFM! This guy undoubtedly was. You don't learn enough in classes to never having to read manuals again.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.