Programmer Blues

A friend I know, one of the many programmers in the city, told me over dinner that he is facing problems with his job.

What kind of problems I asked.

The company he works for has barred the employees from using the Internet. It is common, of course, network administrators keep on applying policies to block certain websites, I said.

No, they have not restricted the access. They have completely barred access to the Internet. Any website. Even Google is not accessible.

According to my experience, this happened, well, maybe 5 to 6 years ago. Mostly for cost reasons. I must admit I was surprised to hear this from him.

As a programmer, I realise how important it is for me to connect to the Internet while I am at work. There are a thousand serious reasons, even after you exclude the Instant messaging to your friends (Yes, that too, is serious, to an extent).

The prevalent thinking in his organization is that a programmer should be able to program without referring to the Internet. S/he should be capable of that. In a way I am glad that they have such faith in the people they recruit for the job, but beyond that, it is, well, stupid.

Companies like these need to realise that 1980s are gone. When the only programming languages used were C++, Perl, Cobol or the likes. When you could use a single programming language for the whole project and you could buy a big fat book of C++, keep it with you while at work as a quick reference. And that was all that was needed.

Today technologies are changing with the speed of light. There are at least three entirely different technological aspects to every project, however big or small it may be.

While talking about this, even if I dare to keep aside the aspect of technology, the fact remains that there is always more than one way to do a thing. How is the programmer expected to know that?

So where does a situation like that lead us, in the long run? The programmer is stuck for longer time on problems that could be solved in a matter of seconds after a Google search. S/he tries to convert a String to an Integer to feed it into a method when s/he could have called the same method directly with the Integer. But for that to happen, one has to know that the method supports Integer as an input as well.

It takes more time. It goes on to increase the frustration for the programmer and the people involved in it. Whats more, the programmers reputation is at stake!

One of the reasons why companies come up with stupid policies like these is that the people who make the policies for a company (which has 80% of its employees as programmers) have never written a single line of code in their lives.

In contrast to this, if you have ever worked in an organization which has been founded, nurtured from its beginning by a bunch of techies, you will feel that issues like these aren’t an issue at all! These are small trivial things. The focus should be on getting the job done without writing trashy code. That’s all.

But it’s very rare.

One thought on “Programmer Blues

  1. Banned Internet? How could they? So many times we post queries on the net and people come out with quick solutions. Like you said its not just about copy pasting code. We have restricted access but people still find ways to use blocked sites.

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