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Old Geek Jobs: fighting against ageism in the industry (oldgeekjobs.com)
538 points by omouse on Sept 15, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 379 comments



I think that the "Bay Area scene" is different from much of the world.

I think that part of human nature is that people like people who are like themselves, so you sometimes get these insular / discriminatory sub cultures that judge people on superficial traits instead of the quality of their minds. From both this article and the tales of many friends, San Francisco strikes as one of these low-tolerance / high-discrimination places.

I live in NH, on a farm and work (mostly) remotely. I've got a network of contacts, I get pinged w requests for contracting work, I do the job, I get paid. No one asks me about my age (45) or judges me because of it.

Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.


San Francisco strikes as one of these low-tolerance / high-discrimination places.

The rapidity with which people flip the idiot bit on you, due to puddle-shallow signalling in the Bay Area really takes my breath away.

- The sound of keys clicking in a phone interview automatically means you are Googling the answer in an interview. Never mind that you are a dynamic language programmer and you are writing a 10 second scriptlet to answer the question.

- The mention of anything that sounds "audiophile" automatically means you are a terrible douche who naively believes in all of Monster Cable's woo. No need to actually evaluate what you are saying through knowledge of physics.

- You must subscribe to the magical powers of [insert paradigm/language here] or you are a dirty mudblood who's simply too dim to appreciate the magic. (Don't say anything like, "Soft factors, like how well your team works together, swamps the effect...")

- You must be able to mad-libs complete the paraphrase of recent CS textbooks, or you obviously never covered the topic.

This isn't even to mention weird prejudices and half-baked knowledge about older technologies. It's as if people didn't understand that https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5695816 is also a parody of programmers misunderstanding of technology.


> "You must be able to mad-libs complete the paraphrase of recent CS textbooks"

This kind of thing is the worst in interviews. Like getting asked some fill-in-the-blanks question on the pillars of OOP or to define some random bit of jargon or what-have-you. That coupled with the "have you seen this question before" interviewing is just infuriating.


I just took the TripleByte assessment for Mixpanel and over half of it was this kind of shit. Worse, they threw in multiple-choice design questions. No, I would not use any of the complicated sets of things you presented me in this case, and do not think any of them is the right answer.


I love this one: Once I was asked a design question. I presented three answers. Then the interviewer says, "Well, here's how I would do it!" (unspoken: you idiot) He then proceeds to write out my second option. (The takeaway: If you don't understand someone's jargon, you need to be curious and ask, don't just gloss over it.)


> If you don't understand someone's jargon, you need to be curious and ask, don't just gloss over it.

Quite frankly understated.


> That coupled with the "have you seen this question before" interviewing is just infuriating.

When I interview someone, I will usually ask if they've seen the question before, so that I can skip it -- is there something wrong with that?


> "have you seen this question before" interviewing

I suspect that this was meant to refer to interview questions with an "Aha!" answer, that are unlikely to be answered correctly by people who don't already know the answer.

For example, I think, "How would you detect a cycle in a linked list?" is a bad question because, if the candidate implements Floyd's algorithm on the whiteboard, the likely assumption is that they remembered it, not that they came up with it on the spot.


Exactly. Questions that have a super optimized answer that's probably non-intuitive and unlikely to be arrived at if you've only spent a few minutes exposed to the problem. These are basically puzzle questions in disguise.

In general I think there are two kinds of coding questions that are worth asking. Straightforward implementation based questions that should be solved basically as fast as the candidate can write, assuming they're familiar with the basic techniques. These are in the same vein as fizzbuzz and generally just give you a sense of the techniques the candidate has mastered (basic programming, bit-wise operations, recursion, etc.) The other kind are open ended questions that help show problem solving skills, knowledge of different algorithms and data structures, etc. These sorts of questions don't have the same variance as the secret puzzle questions. The amount of time to throw up a fizzbuzz implementation if you've seen the problem before should be about the same as if you haven't. And the same goes for open ended questions that are more about design, thinking, etc.

And of course you always want to factor in the problem of dealing with candidates who are nervous, in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, and not operating at peak performance. You shouldn't expect production quality code for complex problems in those situations, you should be looking for code that gives you data.


In some ways, the problem is never the question, but how the results are evaluated.


I generally agree that "Aha" questions are bad, but if it's a common problem that people actually re-invent solutions to, it can still be a useful interview question. I personally avoid them, but see a few advantages:

1. If they're not aware of an existing algorithm, it's good to see what they come up with isn't terrible. It's insane the number of times I've seen unbounded time shuffle algorithms in production code. (Repeatedly pick a random element from src, linear scan of dst, and append to dst if not found.)

2. If they know a few famous algorithms, it's much more likely they're aware of the existence of lots of algorithms and are much more likely to Google for the pre-existing algorithm instead of making up something terrible on the spot.

3. A lot of these famous algorithms aren't as difficult to come up with as you'd think. When I first heard of the key schedule biases in RC-4, I thought about it for half an hour and came up with something identical to Fischer-Yates, using the unbalanced Feistel cipher at the core of MD5 (unfortunately, killing the speed advantages of RC4). Years later, when I heard there was a name for the algorithm, I checked Google to see if they had included the back-to-front optimization, and sure enough, what I had come up with was identical to Fischer-Yates.


in Lisp you use two pointers (a fast and a slow one) to detect a cycle in a linked list. For example http://clhs.lisp.se/Body/f_list_l.htm


Yes, because this gives them the chance to say no and pretend to walk through it slowly showing how "smart" they are.


How is that any different from the potential behavior if one didn't ask?


Is this really a phenomenon that is exclusive to Bay Area companies though?


I don't about "exclusive" but the very first time a "data structures and algorithms" question ever appeared in an interview I had was in the Bay Area, after having spent 10+ years on the east coast. Prior to that interviews focused almost exclusively on design patterns (not just OO, but general architecture), project experience, and language specific questions where appropriate. I've been here a while now so I have no idea what the interview culture outside the Bay Area is like anymore.

This area has a high density of people who conflate academic computer science with software engineering, or who think the latter is some easily learned demi-skill to be looked down on, etc.


> conflate academic computer science with software engineering

Which is mind boggling. I took an introductory "software engineering" class in (a reasonably prestigious) university ~15 yrs ago which was ostensibly about learning how to use the right tool for the right job, and one of the assignments was to build a web application in C++!

Perhaps the intent of that assignment was to show that it wasn't the right tool, but that was certainly never communicated by the professor.

I didn't really learn any software engineering until I got my first job and had to build software, with a team, that people actually used.


one of the assignments was to build a web application in C++!

As an aside, we were doing this in the mid-late 90s (NSAPI) and we were running rings around Perl/CGI shops. Why? Because what took them a whole rack of machines took us a single box, and we simply skipped all the issues of syncing data, accessing a shared database with locking etc etc etc that they had to deal with.

Right tool for the job ;-)


see my (late) follow up comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12559900


Would modern c++ with a decent framework be that bad for web development? I imagine you'd have to do a bit more wiring due to the lack of reflection etc, but that isn't an insurmountable problem.

Edit - There a quite a few frameworks out there. This one seemed quite nice: https://github.com/ipkn/crow


It would usually be a wrong tool for all of these reasons:

1. There isn't a low-level performance bottleneck within most web-dev code. It's almost all occurring at levels slightly above that(disk access, network bandwidth, database queries, horizontal scaling). The stuff that needs to eke out another 50% in an inner loop through optimizing cache access or careful use of hardware parallelism tends to be a single algorithm or batch process that can be developed independently of the larger application.

2. For eliminating whole categories of errors, there is a bounty of options out there that can claim to improve on C++ through better tools, type systems, and compiler technologies. Even Java, as maligned as it is, can constitute a credible step forward.

3. Good C++ developers aren't that common. There are plenty of junior developers who are eager and ignorant of the potential dangers, though - they will make a mess in any environment, but they'll make a bigger one when given power tools. (This is the argument for Go, and w/r to the case of low-pass-filtering junior devs it definitely makes sense.)


Some counterpoints:

1. There are a number of reasons one might choose C++ that aren't related to low-level performance in almost any application. For a particular web application it may or may not be a good choice, but I wouldn't categorically reject it, even for a class project or assignment web app.

2. Any language or suite of them has whole categories of errors, deficiencies in tooling and other issues that can make it suitable or not in the hands of a given team. C++ has more or fewer of these than other languages depending on the context.

3. This seems to be hurling a pretty broad insult at many C++ developers, and "good" requires context.


Obviously this is a very late response to this thread, but I thought I'd add what I actually ended up building for this assignment.

The requirements were specifically to build a game, any game, and as long as it was playable (and your code was readable) you'd get an A.

So, annoyed as I was at the requirement that the backend be built in C++, I decided go above and beyond the requirements and built a single page Othello game, complete with a strong and fast AI (I happened to take this class much later in my studies than the standard curriculum called for, so I had already taken an AI class and had learned how to build a minimax tree with alpha beta pruning, though up until that point I'd only ever done it in Lisp).

So, by changing the actual requirements of the project, I actually made C++ a more appropriate choice of tools for this project and was able to build a very responsive single page Othello game with a strong AI capable of running pretty fast on the hardware we were tasked with using.

I was the only one who used Ajax to make it a single page app, and the only person to build an AI. Needless to say, I got the best grade in the class, but I suppose I had an unfair advantage.


> There are plenty of junior developers who are eager and ignorant of the potential dangers, though - they will make a mess in any environment, but they'll make a bigger one when given power tools.

I've often wondered about this. c++ has a tendency to fail fast and hard whereas higher level languages can lead to a false sense of security/understanding. Blowing your foot off isn't necessarily a bad thing.


>>You must be able to mad-libs complete the paraphrase of recent CS textbooks, or you obviously never covered the topic.

Only recently a friend of mine narrated an interview tale. I don't exactly remember the precise question, but apparently he was asked to solve a problem in 30 mins(Two problems is what interviewer expected him to solve in an hour). One of such problem apparently he couldn't solve it in the time complexity the interviewer expected him to. Though he got some solution working in an hour.

He later on went and googled it and apparently the algorithm couldn't be solved unless you knew about Suffix Automata(http://codeforces.com/blog/entry/20861)

Long story short, these days apparently without everyday exposure competitive programming exercises(spending hours every day on sites like codeforces, SPOJ and hackerrank) there is no way you can clear interviews.


> Suffix Automata

Reminds me of the Aho-Corasick string-matching algorithm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aho–Corasick_algorithm


I'm always amused when I have a polar opposite experience to someone's virulent assertions, which is definitely the case here.

Edit: in a further comment, you assert an unspoken insult being communicated in a perfectly neutral sentence. I guess what I'm saying is I bet you bring quite a bit of the negativity you experience to your interactions.


I don't know what happened, because I wasn't there, but I do know that it's perfectly possible to communicate an unspoken insult in a perfectly neutral sentence.

I am not convinced that your assumption about his negativity is any more valid than his interpretation of his experience.


And I'd like to posit that you too may be incorrect about your assertion, as I have surely experienced a different interpretation albeit assumption of reality


I concur with you. People who have a super negative impression of SF nerds should re-consider their choice of nerds they are finding themselves around.

My own experiences in SF has been positive. I've found people are generally very excited about what they are doing in life, optimistic about the future and most importantly, willing to lend a hand. (This is in huge contrast to the cut throat image of the valley in the media; while individual startups and industries within tech may be cut throat, I wouldn't describe SF tech world as "generally cut throat")

One thing to keep in mind is SF has a fair share of folks who move here for their first job. These people are just entering the workforce and are maturing more, not less, each day. I've seen some pretty radical transformations of the same people over 1-3 years. A lot of the portrayal of the Valley in the media is of a fixed non-evolving mindset, which again, is the opposite of my experience.


Edit: in a further comment, you assert an unspoken insult being communicated in a perfectly neutral sentence.

It was entirely certain that he did not understand that he repeated the 2nd option I gave him. Furthermore, when I tried to correct him, he behaved as if I was lying to him.


> unspoken insult being communicated in a perfectly neutral sentence

I take it you're not familiar with the wonder that is Yes, Minister?

(More broadly, and to explain the joke for the benefit of HN, a large amount of British oblique humor and especially political and civil service culture relies on the art of the indirect insult.)


> Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.

I like that quote. Copied it to my notes for future reference.

To expand more on the topic, I wonder if remote workers are a good way to bring some revival for smaller rural communities.

I visit some of those places and many have a beautiful setting, everyone knows each other, there is a sense of a community. It is quiet.

There is probably a tipping point where if enough companies would hire remote workers, people won't be afraid to move to such communities. Currently many (including me) even if they do remote work, would probably be hesitant to move, because if they have to jump ship, they know there is a smaller chance of getting remote work again. So staying closer to a tech center seems like a better option.


It's a weird situation, because I was working remotely for a tech company and was required to move to the Boulder, CO area recently. It's an awesome company and I was stoked about the area, so I went ahead and did it, but the requirement for collocation that has been driven by certain management ethos' is odd in such a technology driven world.

The advantages I've had by moving from Arkansas to here have been numerous, and mainly this is due to human nature causing companies with enough co-located employees to leave remote workers out of the loop.

The OP is right though: I find the "herd effect" that occurs from a bunch of very similar people especially potent in SF. What's funny is how diverse they think they are based on superficial traits like maybe ethnicity, but the reality is they tend to be very uniform in socio-economic background, age, and education.


And yet there are companies that think nothing of hiring offshore workers to replace local jobs. Sometimes within the same organization. Why is it that a company will require you to either be on-site, or in India, but nowhere else?


From the company's perspective the job has to be one for which the company can reliably measure your output. If you're doing data entry for medical records the company can easily count the number of patients you've finished, the number of pages, even the number of keystrokes.

But for a developer working from home the company can't tell the difference between a bug that took three days of plugging away to find and one that you knocked out in twenty minutes before binge watching House of Cards on company time.

Most professionals have enough personal integrity to work when they say they're working, but the ones that don't can be very corrosive to morale and a big drag on productivity. I got the impression that's why Marissa Meyer forced everyone at Yahoo back into the office.


> But for a developer working from home the company can't tell the difference between a bug that took three days of plugging away to find and one that you knocked out in twenty minutes before binge watching House of Cards on company time.

I'm more productive this way. Having something like House of Cards on in the background provides enough distraction that I don't get distracted by other things, like HN. But if I were to do this in the office I doubt it would go over well.


BULLSHIT!

I can damn well see when a issue has been entered in a bug tracker and when the bug has finally been marked fixed with the commit listed in the bug tracker..

So can everyone else including managers


Assign bug to me... Fix bug in 20 minutes... wait 3 days (binge watching netflix)... Commit fix, mark bug as fixed...

Relying too much on commits / tracking tools is a red flag of poor management.

If any of my team reported "still working on bug X" in the standup 3 days in row, without any significantly interesting details, I'd have assigned a few more people to help out.


This is where automation and proper process management come into play and sadly this is where many companies fall down. It's not that development productivity cannot be tracked it is that management generally does not understand the problem domain that they manage, well enough to put the proper measures and controls in place to identify inefficiencies.

Something as simple as a software review board, which places time estimates on a problem agreed on by a panel of at least 2 developers and then a process to check those estimations against actual results to find how far their estimation deviate from actuality across all developers, gives a fairly accurate picture of how long something should take and becomes more accurate over time. Further automation like linking the ticketing system to the SCM, so that when a branch is created for the issue the clock starts ticking and stops at checkin/smoke test, gives a pretty accurate picture of time spent on a task. Any developer that is deviating far below the low threshold is potentially wasting time and his/her work should be reviewed, as it is only an indicator that there may be a problem not conclusive proof.

I have worked remote for over 7 years, and currently reside in a very remote area for developers (Key West) and have no issue with remote development. Either a company has these process in place or I quickly put them in place. That or find other remote work as my only bad experiences have been with companies that do not have such measured in place. It's not a hard problem to solve one just needs to know the problem domain, most managers don't, so they just resort to the butts in seats management style and honestly without similar controls the same kind of time wasting can be employed, it just manifests itself differently but incompetent managers figure well they are here so work must be getting done.


BULLSHIT!

I can easily check the code in at the end of my television spree.


A lot of places simply are not structured to handle remote workers and penalize them when away from centralized offices. Remote work or distributed companies are an anomaly that present risks when your management doesn't understand the basics and that's understandable.

The presumption is that remote means lower value or productivity as a default in classic companies. It's not necessarily a matter of luxury either; your C levels don't work from their yachts in a marina normally. Some are just too rigid in approach to change how they work even if it's demonstrably negligible. I had a client before that had a mostly distributed team and wouldn't let us increase the hourly rate unless we relocated to an office - few people even at the offices ever talked that often and we hardly ever met in person with the client ourselves even for those five miles down the road.

The usual tech company reasoning now is that the tools for remote work do not facilitate creative, spontaneous insights that are critical for competitive companies.


As someone that also works in Boulder, is your compensation enough to allow you to actually live in Boulder?


I've been working full time in Boulder for the past five years and I could get into the bottom end of the real estate market if I really wanted to - I started working straight out of college with no debt, but no equity either. I've stayed out because I've not felt my career stable enough to jump into that kind of long term investment. My company's been going through some ups and downs and cash in the bank seemed smarter than having it tied up in property. It also came in handy having some "f-you money" considering I just took two months of unpaid leave.

The cheapest house I've seen in Boulder has been around $450K. If you want a condo or town home in Boulder, you're looking at about $270K and that's probably going to be on the out skirts of town and built in the early 90s.

There's also permanently affordable housing. They are subsidized properties that you have to qualify to purchase, but you can't re-sell them for more than you bought them for. I've always made too much money to qualify, even right out of undergrad with a BS.


What's hilarious is that I make six figures, but because I have two kids and my wife is a stay-at-home mom, I'm "poor" enough to qualify.

However, like all programs like this that are a stupid fucking band-aid for NIMBY assholes interfering with the free market, they are neverr enough. It's an incredibly long line of people trying to get each home, and might as well be a lottery. These programs don't help the people they claim to. They are nothing more than ways for rich hippies to feel a little better after they vote for policies that set de-facto financial segregation firmly into place.


I recently moved back to the area from NorCal. Initially, 40% of my income was going to rent for a studio on the outskirts of Boulder. It's insane. Now I live with my SO and thankfully that's down to around 15%. I can't even imagine finding a place to buy now.


Someone call the CDC. Whatever California's got appears to be contagious.


I believe most call it "demand".


At one point, tulips were in "demand" as well -- bubbles and other irrational market behaviours are endemic to most economic systems.


You're talking about speculative bubbles. The high housing prices are not driven by speculation, they are driven by supply constraints.

People aren't buying houses to flip in six months, they are buying them to hold onto long-term. It's pretty clear that public policy isn't going to shift towards affordable housing any time soon. So the only options are: continue to pay high rents and wait for people to lose their jobs/homes so they can be bought cheaper, or buy now and hope you don't become one of the former.

If we start seeing houses sold multiple times in the same year, or people starting buying homes that they clearly can't afford, then we have a problem. But I don't see evidence that is where the US is. The housing shortage is ensuring that only those top earners are competing. Price are driven up by the fact that the top 20% of buyers can afford to outspend the bottom 80% on housing by a factor of 5 or more.

An additional $500/mo can cover another 100k for a 30 year mortgage. A couple making around $10k/mo after taxes can spend $5k/mo on a mortgage and still live comfortably while a median income couple earning maybe $4k/mo can only spend $2k/mo before things get tight. So, the high income couple can easily afford a million dollar mortgage, but could stretch that to $1.2MM if they really had to while the median earner can only spend $400k MAX.


I live in Broomfield. It's 100% affordable, and its pleasant. My son likes his schools, and Boulder is a short drive away anytime we want to visit. I see no reason to blow extreme amounts of money on a townhouse so I can have the luxury of having to be stuck in a rich town that excludes poor people for the sake of "open space". Housing policies like Boulder's aren't liberal, they're greedy. But hey, when I take my son hiking in Chattaqua, we get to count how many Tesla Model S and X's we see as a game.


Yeah, inquiring minds would like to know. I'm in Boulder right now for a conference, and looking at Zillow, it's f'ing insane. Prices seem to start at $1M.


Lived in Boulder County for 15 years until I got married and moved south of Denver.

Boulder itself has ALWAYS been expensive (even when I was in college in the early 90s) for housing. If you're serious about relocating, look at some less insane, but very close communities that the majority of the "Boulderites" live in:

NORTH: - Longmont - Gunbarrel

EAST: - Louisville - Lafayette - Erie

SOUTHEAST-ish: - Broomfield - Westminster - Northglenn - Thornton

You can have a "reasonable" commute, and a less insane house price in those areas. They are all bedroom communities for the area... Personally, I lived in Louisville and Lafayette at least half of my time in the county (the other in Boulder proper, renting, always).

There are always options.


Yeah I'm finding it's basically impossible to purchase a house inside the city limits. Last weekend I saw an 850k two bedroom cottage on a half acre in Boulder, and a three bedroom (nearly twice as large, had a full basement) house on a full acre near downtown Longmont right off the BOLT line for 400k. It's not worth the price to live in Boulder when I can live 20 minutes away with enough room. Plus Longmont has fiber!


Buying inside of Boulder is a bit insane right now, hell most of Colorado is, and it's just amplified by the lack of supply in Boulder (no new building for 20-30 some years I think).

Check out Gunbarrel, it's about 7 minutes away from Boulder and is still somewhat reasonable. Although my SO bought her 30yr old condo for $165K in the Fall of 2014 and Zillow is now saying 302K, LOL.


It's still hard to get good Internet in many rural-ish areas, which makes this really hard. I tried, multiple times.

We were supposed to get a modern "rural electrification project" in the 90s for broadband, but cable companies stole the money, aided and abetted by Congress.


> It's still hard to get good Internet in many rural-ish areas, which makes this really hard. I tried, multiple times.

Depends, REI has better internet for ND than anything I've seen elsewhere. Some of the rural telephone companies do quite well. Its really luck of the draw.

> We were supposed to get a modern "rural electrification project" in the 90s for broadband, but cable companies stole the money, aided and abetted by Congress.

The key part of the last bill that killed it was the requirement that "broadband speeds" were not available in an area. The bill didn't specify a minimum price or that its was universal to the area. So, it pretty much killed a lot of attempts because broadband is available for $1,000 a month.


This is changing somewhat now with the advent of WISP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_Internet_service_prov...

My parents are just about to install an 80' tower on their rural property, because a local WISP is the only unmetered option available.

I feel like the cellular revolution has really crippled itself by virtue of nearly all "cellular wifi hot spot" plans being data capped to some number of GB per month. There's just so much culture I can't share with my parents if they can't spare the data to watch online video.

This situation becomes only more frustrating each time you hear about a provider upgrading their network to an even faster technology. "Cool, so now I can exhaust my monthly data plan in... 10 minutes?".

(Somewhat similar to the frustration of seeing Apple make thinner and thinner devices, rather than throwing in a bigger battery -- is this really what your customers want?)


My experience with a local WISP was so-so. Perhaps there are better technologies now, but what mine used was a white labeled version of the Motorola Canopy PMP (point to multi-point)

I was told 8mbs down and 2mbs up. That worked great for about 6 months and then it started to degrade month by month. I assume as more people subscribed to the service. By the end of 3 years I was only getting about 2mbs down and 700kbs up. (at 3am I might get 5/1). Worked ok for browsing facebook, but the main issue was really bad packet loss on the upstream end.

Through reading many of the administrator manuals for the antennas I found online, I came to the conclusion that it was just bad technology and exacerbated by inappropriate default settings. The gist of the way the canopy protocol works is that it is very easy for the AP to transmit data to an end point. The problem is how the data is transmitted to the AP from the customer end point device.

It must first send a request to send (RTS) and then wait for the OK. By default the AP's are set to 10 miles line of sight, which adds in even more delay for the timings. The end result is for a busy AP, most of the RTS requests will be ignored. Which works ok for browsing the net, but I was getting 5-20% packet loss on upstream, which basically meant talking to people on my voip office phone sounded fine to me, but people on the other end only heard bits and pieces of what I was saying. Trying to VPN into work was very painful too.

I dealt with that for 3 years before I finally realized that ATT had 6mbs dsl for $60 a month. I switched and was so happy.


WISP quality is very uneven. It's rare to find one that has the right combination of business acumen, network engineering, and rf engineering to run successfully...

IME when correctly configured Canopy is one of the most robust last mile fixed-wireless systems on the market (though LTE may change that), but it has to be configured correctly.

The main feature of Canopy is GPS synchronization of tx/rx timeslots so you can reuse spectrum. A lot of WISPs bought it for that and then never changed settings because they didn't understand how the sync worked and didn't want to change a setting that alters timeslots and break sync. Never mind that there is a built-in calculator to help you figure that out...

Getting 5-20% packet loss upstream indicated they were doing something terribly wrong. Perhaps they screwed up timeslots and the AP received interference from other APs causing errors when listening for your SM, perhaps they didn't add control frames after their subscriber count significantly increased, or they simply oversubscribed the AP. The most widely deployed Canopy version (gen2 PMP100, came out in 2004 and still widely deployed) could handle up to 10Mbps down & 4Mbps up. Selling 8M/2M plans on that platform is a bit ambitious but unfortunately all too common.


> It's still hard to get good Internet in many rural-ish areas, which makes this really hard. I tried, multiple times.

Try rural Sweden.


I guess it depends on how rural you are and the companies that service the area. For as much as Comcast deserves its hate they provide my parents in rural MA with fast cable internet. We weren't even able to get cable when I was growing up there and part of their road is still dirt.


> We were supposed to get a modern "rural electrification project" in the 90s for broadband, but cable companies stole the money, aided and abetted by Congress.

This is sad but not unexpected since politics and big companies play in this space.


Do we need good internet? Most of the time we're dealing with text (code, email, irc) etc. It seems like most of the work could be done over dial up with the occasional trip to somewhere with faster internet.


>> Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.

>I visit some of those places and many have a beautiful setting, everyone knows each other, there is a sense of a community. It is quiet.

Depending on what part of the country you're talking about, many of those beautiful small communities are very bigoted also -- and not just in the South.


And the south isn't bigoted in the ways many people assume.

There are absolutely small towns where open discrimination is a problem. And there are absolutely small minded jerks that have a problem with people of color.

But what I've observed personally living in the south and travelling the country is that the south is often less functionally segregated than other areas of the country. It's sheer demographics if nothing else; when the population of many major southern cities are majority minority, then it's difficult for people to avoid living and working next to each other.

Where the dynamic gets really interesting because of all this is with people that want to fight inequality, but don't realize that they have a massive blindspot when it comes to what functional racism looks like because they don't actually live in functionally diverse environments.


>There are absolutely small towns where open discrimination is a problem. And there are absolutely small minded jerks that have a problem with people of color. Eh, IMO it's still more palatable than a whole metropolitan area that prides itself on superficial diversity PCism.

>But what I've observed personally living in the south and travelling the country is that the south is often less functionally segregated than other areas of the country. It's sheer demographics if nothing else; when the population of many major southern cities are majority minority, then it's difficult for people to avoid living and working next to each other.

Functional racism (or any other "ism" tends to follow groups with enough wealth to insulate themselves from people who are different and people who have so little that they need to be reassured that no matter how little they have they're always better than someone.

>Where the dynamic gets really interesting because of all this is with people that want to fight inequality, but don't realize that they have a massive blindspot when it comes to what functional racism looks like because they don't actually live in functionally diverse environments.

This. It's like a bunch of 5th graders debating foreign policy.


"And the south isn't bigoted in the ways many people assume."

Only if there was some sort of a "survey" on people's attitudes in different parts of the country. Perhaps people with competing ideologies would represent one side or another and then the general public would decide to pick one of those choices to represent the majority view from that area. This way we'd actually know what a majority of the population in a given state/region believes.

Of course it would suck for the reputation of a certain part of the country where bigoted, white supremacist people keep getting the majority votes year after year, decade after decade. But I guess that reputation would be well deserved if those representatives keep winning so consistently for so long a time.


What people believe isn't always what people DO. When I lived in Texas for 7 years I was surprised to find that Texans can make fun of "beaners" and then respect their work ethic and hire them over "lazy white people who want to get paid more."

It's a mix that requires. A different lense that most don't have.

I grew up in liberal DC, and then went to texas. I'm now up north again, but my view of the south has changed dramatically.


I just want you to know that you've highlighted my point far better than I did.

From the responses I've gotten, I feel like people think I'm saying the south doesn't have very real problems with race. It does. But the daily reality is much closer to what you're describing.


"What people believe isn't always what people DO."

I wish I could 1984 myself this throughly. My life will get so much easier.


You've pretty much entirely missed my point.

I explicitly acknowledged that there are absolutely still real problems with race in the south. Things like the state of Alabama implementing voter ID laws and then shutting down DMV offices in poor black counties absolutely happen.

But what I was talking about was functional racism in terms of daily life. While many southerners absolutely say and support shitty things, it's not on the level of mid 20th century Jim Crow and other parts of the country aren't the relative panacea they perceive themselves to be. In completely functional terms, many of those areas are more racially segregated and/or isolated than the south.

Again, when demographically many cities are majority minority, there's more of an intermixing by necessity. That leads to blindspot in perspective of people that don't live in those environments that they don't even realize they have.

It's not limited to race; there's a similar very real problem in the media business where there's an inherent bias toward jobs going to the children of already affluent families that academically understand poverty, but don't fully understand how poverty functionally affects people because it's never been an inherent part of their lives.


"Things like the state of Alabama implementing voter ID laws and then shutting down DMV offices in poor black counties"

"But what I was talking about was functional racism in terms of daily life"

I think you're the one missing the point here. If disenfranchising a large part of the population based on their race, by politicians who more or less campaign on this sort of platform (though in coded language) and win elections repeatedly is not "functional racism", I don't know what is. And of course you know very well that voting rights is not an isolated case of the racism exhibited by southern states.

That is not to say that only the southern states have racist people but what this sort of blatant, racist policy-making at the highest level is signalling to people of minority races is to stay away from those states altogether if you can. There's a reason immigrant communities are strongest in states like California and NewYork and not Alabama or Mississippi.


> And the south isn't bigoted in the ways many people assume

Is it "assuming" when you base your opinion on things said by federal courts?


I'm from Chicago, which isn't a small town and isn't in the south, and the federal courts have had plenty to say. What have the federal courts had to say about every small town in the south again?


This entire subthread is just stereotype bingo. Small communities are numerous and diverse.


Agreed. That's a good point. Quite often poverty makes the situation worse, it radicalizes people and enhances the bigotry.


Poverty isn't tied directly to bigotry. Rather, a lack of new ideas and mindsets in close proximity can present an environment conducive to the development of bigotry (or its less malicious cousin, ignorance).


Believing that no matter how bad your life is you're still better than someone else by virtue of race becomes more tempting the closer you are to rock bottom.


What data are you basing this claim on?


Well that disagrees with what I have seen. You can say it is correlation and that those are somehow born with the biggot gene can't escape poverty. I think it works the other way, poverty amplifies and accentuates biggotry, rasim, sexims and any other -ism.

This is based on living in other countries, mostly in US though, in both poor and rich communities, some were diverse poor and diverse rich.


Anecdotal evidence is a poor basis for an argument.


If I could get a reliable car so I could get to a metro when I needed to see an endocrinologist I would definitely do my work remotely from a rural community. I know that parts of Kansas have FTTH (it's not gigabit but it's reliable and has no datacaps) which are very cheap to live in.

Edit: It looks like Nex-Tech now offers gigabit internet. It's around $200 a month with cable and phone but to be fair it's rural Kansas. I use to pay $65 for their 10/5 when that was the mid-tier Internet only package. So they've really improved their service.


Depending on where you start you could easily save $200 in housing by moving to a rural area.


I have business class internet in a rural community in Tx. Advertised speed in 10/2 but I usually get around 20/2 for $100/month. It is fixed wireless.


Is this high price due to rural or is it normal range for the U.S? In Mumbai India I pay about 30USD a month for 50/5 and there are fibre providers in places like Bangalore that are much cheaper.


Rural is usually higher in my experience. Especially if you live very far from any small city (25k-100k) like where I lived in western Kansas. It was jarring when it came to prices on everything from groceries to utilities. It's still cheaper on the whole if you have a reasonable salary (50-60k is the minimum IMO). The only big down side I think to rural communities in the US is the extreme isolation due to physical distance between towns and cities which is why so many people avoid them. IMO, if you go rural in the US it's best to pick a smaller town that's no more than 250 miles away from a metro. Getting any further away is just asking for cabin fever (if you grew up in any sizable city).


it's happening more and more as the 90s and 00s veterans get older and want more land/space/whatever.

the recent trend in insane housing prices has definitely accelerated it, just from my circle of anecdotes.


Working in SV, quite honestly the best member of my team is >40 (I'm in my late 20's). I don't understand ageism at all, experience really makes the job easier and I value that wealth of knowledge as a more junior dev


I'm not surprised by your comment - I never got the feeling younger developers were the source of age discrimination.


The best team composition is an age of ranges, spanning 20 years- eg: early twenties to late 40s. (I wouldn't turn down an engineer older than that though, of course). And ranges of experiences. You need diversity to refine the ideas before committing them to code. Often the younger guys are faster at producing features, but produce lower quality code while the older guys understand architecture but aren't as fast at executing it. Both is a good combo.

I think a lot of the startup failures of really early stage startups might be due to the entire team being exactly the same age and right out of college. So they make mistakes that have been made many times before. Put another way there are many mistakes that can kill you and the more experience you have on your team the better you are at identifying them-- but you have to have innovation and new ideas too.

Which is not to say that any of these sets of characteristics are exclusive to a specific age -- this is just generalizations.


> while the older guys understand architecture but aren't as fast at executing it

It's the older women who rock both architecture and quick execution. :) ("I'm sorry, but you opened the door, counselor")

Age does not immediately confer advantages or disadvantages - we just often use it as a proxy for "experienced", "more methodical", "slower", "inflexible", "good mentor". (Your pick here)

All of those are independent of age. Please don't compose a team by age. (Speaking as an older person. I bring a lot of things to the table, but my birthdate isn't one of them)


You can't have 30 years of experience when you're 20 years old. You're unlikely to have 15 years experience when you're 20 years old, and you're certainly going to have a different perspective when you're more years into programming, which has good and bad aspects.

Like I said, you want diversity of ages. I'm in my late 40s, I work with 20 year olds and 30 year olds and a guy whose even a fair bit older than me.

Hire the best people first, then make your team diverse, both across thinking and across ages and across everything else.

But there's a synergy I've noticed more than once when pairing a 40ish with a 20ish. OR even a 20ish, 30ish and 40ish three person team.

I'm obviously not (and it should be clear in the above message) calling for quotas, but it's a good goal.

Homogenity reduces ingenuity.


You can't have 30 years of experience in your job when your job didn't exist 30 years ago.

You can't have 15 years of experience in [whatever thing] when [whatever thing] didn't exist 15 years ago.

Note: 15 years ago = 56k internet, paying by the hour, for the 0.xyz% of select few people on the planet


Except it probably did. 15 years ago I'd been working mostly online for nearly 10 years. Sure the world was a different place when newsgroups were uucp over a (very expensive) 64k leased line and before the web, but still surprisingly recognisable.

Some of the details have changed, the languages, the size of the databases, the devices involved, and a million frameworks for front end have come and gone.

Some of the time 20 years experience feels like 4 years experience repeated 5 times with different buzzwords. The same screw ups, the same lack of understanding from missing the same point, the same management wish to do SEO and security later. Or to budget 2 weeks for bug fixing.

Now you know 5-10 languages all with good and bad points so tune out most of the zealotry of the latest fashion to try and get to real distinguishing points.

All that experience can help a lot. It's far from dead. We can even have the same emacs vs vim argument that happened in 1990.


I think this attitude is the crux of the ageism problem: "Your experience is irrelevant because this shiny new technology didn't exist 20 years ago"


I never said that the experience is irrelevant.

To quote the other comment: "20 years experience feels like 4 years experience repeated 5 times with different buzzwords".

There are two things which come to mind and that I'd like to point out.

- Each 4 year cycle is bringing less and less experience. The guy who is starting now is going to work for at least 45 years. We could say that it will be a tremendous amount of experience, but it's more likely than he will not be able to sell > 30 years of experience. [it's challenging and not specific to tech work]

- There exist no people with > 30 years of experience. That's not to negate the handful of these guys in the SV and a couple of research centers across the world. Relatively speaking, the amount of people with 30 years of experience is roundable to zero.

- Corollary: It's difficult to know what it's like to have 30 years of experience in the current market.

- Final word: Shiny technologies are only affecting the 20 years old bro coders in the 70 hours web startups. The bunch of the jobs are still in old school industries like medical/aerospace/finance/government/contracting who stick to old school tech and never upgrade.


The "Bay Area scene" is also pretty bad at figuring out that a lot of their problems only exist in the Bay Area. Although they're doing a heck of a job importing their horrible toxic culture up here to Seattle.


Don't forget Colorado. Texas is taking longer but obviously a larger area will take longer to pollute if you do it at a fixed rate.


I am curious, though, when you say "they" are importing their horrible toxic culture, who are you referring to? Not individuals necessarily, but are you referring to all San Franciscans, including those who were priced out of their childhood neighborhoods and are looking for somewhere else to live?


Valley CS geeks, of course.


I wish I could upvote this 1,000,000 times. This is absolute truth!


Seconded. I operate out of rural Arizona and travel to California (where my business is located) as needed. Thirty second commute, time with my family, and the opportunity to interact with people whose lifestyle concerns actually seem grounded in reality.

You couldn't pay me enough to live in a place like SF.


Ditto that. I also live in AZ.

I'm curious; where in rural Arizona are you based off ?


I am in Apache County.


I work from home four days a week and commute one day - usually around 2 hours round trip.

I get paid less at this job than I would if I was willing to commute to the city where my office is located. But I consider the mental and emotional benefit of not having that daily grind to be worth more than the wage gap.

I greatly prefer to slow pace of country life after a day working, whether at home or in the office. The technology industry is stressful enough without the added stress of city dwelling, in my opinion.


This is my same exact scenario as well. I have free range animals and occasionally a rooster will be right next to my office window and start crowing while on a call. I could make much more if I took a job in the city but that would be a 2 hour commute everyday. I get to have lunch with my family 4 days a week.


I'm in a very similar situation; I live on a island in western Canada, on a farm, and contract remotely. I don't have the extreme cost of living like our nearest city (Vancouver, BC), and being remote, no one cares about how old I am, they care that I can get the job done.


Absolutely agreed. Having lived all over the US, it seems to me that the places that are the most discriminatory and insular in practice are those that pride themselves on being inclusive in theory. NYC and SF have huge cultures of identity politics, with the end result that it's very clique-dominated and exclusive. NYC also has a very money-oriented social stratification. On the other hand, if you go to rural Montana, this sort of thing doesn't exist. The only "cliques" that exist might be e.g. what church you go to, but I was never judged negatively for not going to church. They just don't have the population density to be that picky about social circles, even if they wanted to be.


I don't agree, NYC and SF are vastly different. Most of the articles about ageism that have surfaced lately are about ageism in the Valley. For the most part this stuff doesn't fly in New York City.


Sad but true.


Problem with your solution is that you already now people, if you don't you have to rely on websites like freelancer that pretty much are the same as paid-to-win-the-bid in modern mobile video games and it's sad when people all over the world bid really low those making the website effectively racist regarding devs that to this for living instead of side jobs.


Also, the way to compete with someone who's charging $10/hr for crappy code is to do what they can't or won't do:

* be an excellent communicator * be high bandwidth. F2F, skype, etc. * be a whole stack developer * manage "up". Think of things before your manager does, alert the manager to dangers and problems, give expert advice, avoid the problems. Managers love people who solve the total problem; they hate people who solve one very very narrow niche problem and then leave them (the manager) dealing with a leaky bag of shit. Saying "well, that wasn't in scope!" does not make them happier about holding the leaky bag.

I guarantee you that no one bidding $5/hr and working on a timezone 12 hours away delivers this.

So, to recap:

1) work in a city when young 2) make contacts 3) be good at what you do 4) manage up ; solve the REAL problem

Do that and you'll have lots of work and make good money.


> * be high bandwidth. F2F, skype, etc. *

I agree, and I hate it. What happened to the days when I could just be productive? Now, I have to spend hours "working as a team" (ie, socializing) on Slack. I hate it so much that I've dramatically cut down on the work I do. It's not that I'm asocial, it's just that I don't want to be exchanging memes when there's work to be done. I want to do the work, and do it well, so I can spend time with my wife and kids. Work for work, socializing for after work.

Even with IRC, it didn't use to be like this. What happened?

For the record, I'm not talking about being responsive, or good communications. That's critical. I've always responded to client emails within 2-3 hours (I break up my day into 3 email checks). But I find it impossible to get much done with teams that expect me to hang out in Slack or Hipchat all day long. But the younger kids love it. Maybe they code and chat at the same time, I don't know. I can't do it.

Doesn't anyone just hire people to do a job anymore? Are even contractors doomed to spending their days "meshing"?


Another annoying trend is only offering remote workers half vacation as the other half is 'a paid company retreat with the team!'. I do not want to ride bikes or go sailing with my coworkers and boss in Thailand for 2 weeks I want time off to see my family.


Ask your manager to have a couple days out of the week where you can "go dark" and focus on projects.


Yeah, I did that when I worked remotely as an employee for a company. They didn't like it, particularly my boss's boss, and it definitely only served to make the younger developers who quite literally live and socialize on Slack more wary of me (because of course if you're not online, you're not really working, right? Even if you're producing results.)

What I'm talking about now is working as a contractor/freelancer for short-term projects, like even as short as 3-4 week projects. Most of the good freelance jobs expect you to be on Slack coordinating with their team in Eastern European country X. It really didn't use to be like this, I used to be able to make good money as a freelancer just coordinating with other freelancers and the contracting company/individual a few times a day. And in my opinion, it worked a lot better. Yeah, the irresponsible devs can't screw around as much if someone's keeping tabs on Slack, but the productive ones are significantly less productive this way. And why would you hire a remote freelancer you didn't trust to do the work?

And jobs that are paid per job and not per hour aren't any better, in my experience. Everyone has to be online, checking in, chatting, exchanging memes.

Maybe I've just had a streak of bad luck this year, but it definitely seems to be a significant trend.

I don't know, maybe I need to make a concerted effort just to work for small businesses, and not start-ups or mid-sized companies.


Yep. Yep. Yep. Agreed.


timezone 12 hours away from where? US?


SE Asia/Australia are 8-16 hours ahead of either Europe or the US.


Everyone knows someone. Build on that.

You work with people. Those people know people. They know other people. Someone says 'I need a good PHP guy' and a guy in the network replies 'I know a guy, SadWebDeveloper - here is his email address'. Boom: you have made contact with someone who wants to hire you.

Join the Whatever User Group in your area. Go to the meetings - introduce yourself. Be a presence on their mail list. Boom: more networking contacts.

This is a really good example. TJIC and I have talked on the internet for -years- via email and twitter and blog. A customer of mine mentioned she was looking for a local developer (Los Angeles) but couldn't find anyone who met even her minimal standards.

I said 'Hey, I know a guy', he lives 8,000 miles away, he's about a hermit and a half, and he knows his sh*t' and a few weeks later TJIC got some months of work and everyone was happy.

And now, here we are, talking. Maybe I can be converted to a networking contact. You never know, hunh?


> Everyone knows someone

No they don't. And your solution to not being stuck with closed and insular groups is join some closed and insular groups so that your name can be passed around as one of the group.


If you want to be miserable and ineffective, you can be.

All you have to do is set your mind to it.

...and you're doing a great job so far!


mhurron has a valid point and it is worth considering beyond him//her "doing a great job so far" being "miserable and ineffective".


I downvoted mhurron, I found it a fatalistic response that isn't constructive or helpful. Even if you feel you don't know anyone, you have to put effort in to meeting people. Here's three ways I got remote work before I knew anyone:

* I emailed a band I liked whose song was featured as Demo Of The Month in a magazine, asking to buy all their CDs. We kept in touch, and months later they asked me for some (free) advice about setting up their website. Later again, one of their friends was looking to hire someone & they recommended me - I worked remotely for them for 10 years.

* I wrote a script in PHP and made both a free version & a paid version, then mentioned it on a forum. I got a handful of sales, but one of those customers liked the code quality so much they asked if they could hire me for contract work. That work was done remotely too.

* I went to a blogger conference overseas & before I went I made a Twitter list of all the attendees, read their tweets and made online friends with a few who I found interesting. I met some of them at the conference, and one of them I kept in touch with for a year after the conference. We grabbed some coffee when they visited my city, I mentioned I was having a slow work period, they mentioned they needed someone technical, and we worked together for a couple of years. Again, mostly remote work (though I did fly to their offices every few months).

Instead of being negative, plant the seeds now. Start making friends, keep those friendships alive, keep letting people know what you do, keep creating proof that you're good at what you do (even if it's your own projects). It's a long process and it still won't guarantee you work, but it will give you a much better chance of offers coming your way. That's what worked for me anyway.


I sympathize with mhurron. It's not as simple as 1. Network 2. ??? 3. Endless flow of opportunities. Your examples are great, but they represent an extremely fortuitous outcome from networking. Networking's down side is that it's not deterministic, and you could just as easily network forever and NOT get lucky: ending up with simply a contact list full of people who can't help you.


> That's what worked for me anyway.

Therefore it works for everyone.

There are lots of people that do not make friends easily. There are lots of people that do not have friends in the industry that they work in. There are lots of people that have moved very far away from any friends once or many times in the past few years and have either completely lost contact or don't have friends that would be in any position to throw other contacts your way.

So no, it is not just go make friends and everything will be great.


I added "that's what worked for me anyway" as a disclaimer that maybe it won't necessarily work for you. But they are some tactics you can try. The general idea was to try lots of tactics, assume 99% of them won't work, but maybe 1% of the time you'll discover something that works for you.


A closed and insular group is not something that he would be able to join so easily. In his example, the group is neither closed nor insular.


> > Everyone knows someone

> No they don't.

Could be you are a deaf and mute yak herder in Outer Mongolia and suffer the heartbreak of psoriasis. Your situation is unique and you have my pity.

For those of us in the mart of competitive commerce there is no possible way a person can exist in this economy without knowing people.

> join some closed and insular groups

You have no idea what you are talking about.

You have my pity.


Knowing people happens after 20 years in the industry.

It may very well be that the best way to kick start your career is to move to SF or some other big city. So be it. I did the first 20 years of my career in the Boston area.

I have no idea what you mean about websites being racist. For picking lower cost developers? It seems odd to call people who give work to people in other countries "racist". Isn't doing that exactly the opposite of racism?


Just try to win a project on any modern "freelancing" website and you will understand... personally i used to make solid money on Rent-A-Coder even before getting my CS degree and when they sell us to Freelancer, i started losing bids and the great bids were "closed" to only accept bid "first world developers" (ie US Developers) or limited to people that already paid for the website membership to get in so pretty much any bid today had like 20 indian developers working for 5c/hour.


Re-read my statements above.

I'm telling you not to use those websites.

Move to the city, make contacts, do good work.


So why not pay for a membership if it gets you access to more exclusive contracts?

Or establish relationships with people instead of lowest common denominator platforms and let the quality of your work sell itself?

Word of mouth and personal recommendations are worth more than how many stars you are on a platform.


I never had any problem finding serious gigs on freelancer.com. Advertise your rate (in my case 70-100$/h depending on the technology), without bowing down to the $10/h bids. Just the fact that you can write a grammatically correct sentence in your bid, with a few questions showing that you know what the problem is about, is enough to get you a solid gig. If people don't hire you because you are too expensive / think they can get away with a cheaper bid, you don't want to work for them. Now, there are obviously a lot of great programmers living in places with lower living costs, but they are already buried in projects anyway. I usually find a good "day" gig in about 1-2 h on freelancer. Do two or three of those, with clients who turn out to be solid, intelligent and paying promptly, and you most probably found a reliable pipeline of work.


"making the website effectively racist regarding devs"

Just so your communication skills improve, discrimination is not the same as racism.


On this different topic:

I got a lot more relaxed about language after reading numerous books by linguists (because that is their attitude, they just watch what is going on). In this context, I think the train has left the station (as we Germans say, "der Zug ist abgefahren") and "racist" now indeed has a new much wider meaning in public discourse contexts. It now seems to include "being different", in not necessarily clearly defined ways, the exact nature of the differences are to be taken from context.

I could just yesterday or today read about "racism" in a Guardian article about an attack on a Polish immigrant somewhere in Britain, who certainly wasn't of a different race [0]. However, I'm very relaxed about it - everybody knows what is meant. Also, a shift in meaning in some context does not mean the stricter meaning of the word is lost! The exact same people who may use a word loosely in one context use it with its strict meaning in a different one. If you start talking about biology this will happen. Words and language are extreme flexible, and such a change is not the end of the world.

I think their is some justification: When the word is used in such wider meaning it's more about the effect, not the cause.

My motto for language is the same as in programming: Be as lenient as possible with input - but be strict about output. In the language context that means I won't criticize when I actually clearly understand the meaning, but I myself try to use the right expressions, grammar, punctuation, etc.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/12/polish-man-a... (sub-headline: "...they are treating incident ... as racially aggravated")


"...they are treating incident ... as racially aggravated"

The term is used because the person being attacked was thought of as being of a different "race" by their racist attackers (and because that's the reason he was attacked; bot for being non-heterosexual, or for being a fan of the wrong football team). Not because one is in agreeance with the alleged "racial" distinctions (in the mind of the racist).

BTW:

der Zug ist abgefahren

In English one would say "the horse has left the barn."


> In English one would say "the horse has left the barn."

At least in my native English speaking world, we also say "that train has left the station". It's even listed as a cliche on a MetaFilter page on cliches and hackneyed sayings[0].

We also say "that ship has sailed".

0. http://ask.metafilter.com/177148/Thats-so-cliche


Heavens, you got me there.

But the cat's out of the bag now, so what can I do?


    > Not because one is in agreeance with the alleged "racial" distinctions
That's what I said, the word is being used with a different/wider meaning and not with that narrower original meaning.

    > (in the mind of the racist)
I doubt the attackers thought of the Polish person as of a different "race" as in the biological meaning of that word. Same thing, shift of meaning of the word.


I doubt the attackers thought of the Polish person as of a different "race" as in the biological meaning of that word.

That's the thing -- "race" doesn't really have a biological meaning. If anything it's just a vague suspicion that certain people are inferior or "alien" because of their DNA, the breeding, or simply their cultural upbringing. Of course it's all invented tripe, and biologically speaking it's equally untenable (from a biological point of view) to think of Poles, Anglo-Saxons and Italians as being of different "races" than it to think of Africans or East Asians in those terms.

But racists aren't the smartest bunch, you know, so in fact that's pretty much exactly what they think.


    > "race" doesn't really have a biological meaning
Please work with me. Communication requires willing partners, I don't know where you want to take this sub-thread? I know "race" does not exist - and yet we did (and do) have the word. We were talking about language and meanings, not truth. Enough people did (and do) associate a biological meaning - what an actual geneticist has to say about that is besides the point.

And now the meaning of that word has shifted. That is all I said.


How is the website racist?


I'm 27 now. My biggest fear is to not succeed in my career by the time I turn 40.

The idea of having to give up working on my startup goals after 20 years of continuous failure is in itself terrifying enough - But combine that with the fact that I might be penniless; forced to join a mega-corporation to become corporate cattle.

... In a company filled with arrogant lucky people in their 20s bossing me around. I couldn't take it.

I fear the next generation. I think MY generation is already so arrogant - We severely underestimate the value of experience.

I was one of the few people lucky enough to learn that lesson early though.

I once worked with a lady (a software engineer) who was in her early 40s and she always said that she never really cared much about her work. She always left work on the dot.

I was 21 at the time and I had been working like crazy since I was 14 but even back then it was clear that she was a much better software engineer than I was. For me, my career was the center of my life; for her, it was just a way to pay the mortgage.

In spite of what the media tries to tell us; 7 years of obsessive, passionate labour is not more valuable 22 years of 'bare minimum' labour. That's how valuable time is.


>Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.

You hate where people are close-minded so you're _sticking_ with the countryside..? It's possible that NH countryside is different than the other small towns I've visited, but I have zero data points on that. Another discussion, another day.

I lived in SF for five years and performed a couple of hundred interviews for the companies I consulted with. Software engineers have the capability to produce millions of dollars in profits with the right product. People can quickly get over prejudices if they think you will be able to produce that million dollar product.

Keeping up with the startup Jones's is about relevancy. No one wants a senior engineer barking at them babbling about how "Smalltalk did the same thing 20 years ago and now we're just reinventing the wheel!".

Do yourself a favor in the interview; do a bake off of old style vs new stack implementations. Compare and contrast. It shows your vast knowledge. And it quickly graduates you from grumpy old programmer to a mentor for the entire team.

New web/mobile based companies start all the time in SF, and with each new fresh start comes the chance to wipe the slate clean and choose a newer stack that may provide a competitive advantage. Reactjs with redux right now, but probably something different in a year. New companies. New choice of stacks, all the time. The tides change quickly in SF.

If you've been turned down by a Bay Area startup, I guarantee it's much less to do with your lack of skinny jeans or because you have some grey hairs..

P.S. Also, you're a consultant. You obviously have an understanding of client relationships. Understand that your clients in SF are going to skew younger. One of my best friends was the CTO of a startup where the founder was 20. He was 45.

You may have a team of fresh-out-of-Berkley-engineers and that's it. If you're not comfortable in a mentor setting, you may also get rejected. At a later stage in your career and with a young team, you're expected to contribute more than code.


> Also, you're a consultant. You obviously have an understanding of client relationships. Understand that your clients in SF are going to skew younger. One of my best friends was the CTO of a startup where the founder was 20. He was 45.

This is only true for startups and other companies that have small budgets or need cheap labor. If you are going after the high paying contracts you'll quickly learn that being 45 or older is often an advantage if you have the necessary experience. (not just technical skill but also social skill)

These corporations aren't going to allow a 25 year old consulter to come in and take lead of a team or a product. (except if the person shows truly remarkable skill)

If they hire young consulters it usually means they want someone that is cheap to hire and easy to fire.


Like there are no bigots in NH. When I lived in Central NH I had a long hair and almost got run out of town for being a "fucking long haired hippie"


When I lived in central NH there was someone who lived in the town who proudly drove a white sedan covered in racial epithets using magic marker and scratched into the paint. A hangman's noose was scratched into the trunk along with the phrase "linch all n* * * *rs".

Naturally that's just the most extreme example; far more commonplace was casual ignorant small-talk generalizing about "the blacks"/"the coloreds"/"the hispanics" in gas stations/convenience stores/the barber/etc. And the soft bigotry of low expectations absolutely permeated an area where people could and did go months, years without seeing a nonwhite individual in person.


I have often had the urge to hang numbers. They are problems looking for a place to happen. Letters, on the other hand, are always ready for a chat. ;-)


The asterisks got eaten in my post, fixed that. To be clear, there were no asterisks on the car. And it wasn't funny.


I'm sorry you understood me to be having fun with - when I was making fun of. When I was a kid (yes, I'm one of the old ones...) the abbreviation for number was "nr" - plural, "nrs" and lynch, if one intended to hang to death, was spelled with a "y".

You don't have to think I am funny any more than either one of us thought the idiot with the car was funny, but the purposeful, obvious misunderstanding of hate-speak accompanied by finger-pointing and laughter is a valid method of calling out idiots. And I think we can agree that the dude with the car was an idiot.


Well sure, Central NH. Or Northern NH. Or Western NH. But down here on the Seacoast . . . well, that's why I live away from everybody too.


Haha mind if I ask where you were?


> Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.

Mmmhmm, right.

Anyway, I don't think anyone is saying that it's 100% impossible to find tech work if you're 45. I'm sure there is work, and I'm also sure it's the case that Bay area tech is different from elsewhere. But one of those differences is what gets produced- nobody is designing the iPhone outside of SF Bay, to put it bluntly. And it's important that work at that level is not age-discriminatory.

I'm 35, just started at a Bay area company, one that makes really nice products and has some of the best designers anywhere. And I can already see it coming, so many of the people I work with are 25-27. The people who founded this company are a good bit younger than me. The grey hairs are people like the general counsel. Sure, nobody asked my age, and I look younger than I am anyway. But still, I see it coming.


Could it simply be that we hear the most tech career horror stories from the Bay Area because that's the place with the most tech careers? I'd be as hesitant to make generalizations about a place as I would be to make generalizations about an age bracket.


No, because 90% of tech jobs are outside of the Bay Area, but probably 90% of the tech job drama is in the Bay Area.


Me too happy to work for the fed in the mid Atlantic region where the pay is almost as good as the valley and the age ranges from 30 to 65.


Interesting. Someone else recently mentioned remote working being a great antidote to age bias. Contract work also seems to avoid a lot of nonsense.

There's a real irony that tech in "liberal cities" is provincial and close minded and you are avoiding that by being in the country on a farm.


It's the rural countryside around here that put up gigantic Trump posters on their farms, so unless you're talking about some other definition of bigotry, I don't you can generalize "rural" as "not bigoted."

Also: I have never had trouble getting jobs in the Bay Area, though I moved before I turned 45. I did however work with people who were late 40s/early 50s and engineers, so I didn't see a huge age prejudice.


I'd rather keep politics off here, but implying trump=bigoted is a rather SF view :^)


Trump makes bigoted statements. It's not a debate or a "view". It's just a fact.


Hi Everybody,

I'm the creator of the site the down blog in the OP links to https://oldgeekjobs.com. I developed it as an MVP last night in one hour.

The blog looks like it's getting crushed under load, so here's the content of the post:

Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ if you’re over 30.

In the software development industry it’s hard to get hired when you get past 35 and are still “just a developer”. Employers look down on you because you’re too smart, or they think you’re too stupid because you never wanted to be a manager. Employers will use the excuse of “culture fit” to exclude you and get you out of the hiring pool. You’re too smart to be tricked into working 60 hours a week for zero equity and zero bonuses. You’re too smart to be working on a legacy code base that has low quality and will hurt your future career prospects. Employers know that which is why they love to hire fresh faces out of school and under 30s; give tech companies your young and naive to burn them out and make them piles of cash. You’re experienced enough to avoid that demoralizing burning out.

Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ because there may just be a job for you, a place where you won’t be discriminated against just because you’re getting older and wiser.


Be careful to not discriminate against young people either. Assuming developers in their 20s are naive and underpaid is just as insulting as attitudes towards older developers.

This isn't necessarily an indictment of you. I'm just a little sick of people stereotyping younger developers on Hacker News when the truth is that most of us get great value for our time and are well aware of the choices we make.


Hi I'm 32. I noticed some candidates show visible displeasure when being interviewed by younger interviewers. I know many interviewees and interviewers who have experienced this.


At 34, I interviewed at $BIG_SV_CO with two late 20s engineers. Not a huge age gap. In the discussion portion of the interview I asked if they were on xbox, ps4, battle.net, etc -- because I like to game occasionally in my spare time. They seemed almost offput by the question, as if they thought I was trying to force commonality or making assumptions about them. I dunno, it was weird.


I notice sometimes I get a little offput when people start off a videogame conversation by asking me what network I'm on. It just sounds/feels a little weird, depending on how it is phrased.

It feels more natural if it progresses through asking what games I've played


I'm not trying to be harsh but isn't that an odd thing to bring up in a job interview?


Nah, it was the "so when you're outside of work, what do you like to do?" part of the interview. Not like I was whiteboarding code one moment and then all "so, GTA 5, huh?" the next.


LOL, sure that makes sense. Cheers.


Having been on the flip-side of ageism - being the young person in fields traditionally led / managed / etc by those in their 40s or older - I'm very unsympathetic to this kind of discussion. I had to wade through years of inflated expectations (BA + 5 years experience + tech skills = $35k / year job) and put-downs about actually understanding technology ("We old people do the important work, you just make it look good") that I'm rather bitter and sometimes it shows. Well, turnabout's fair play, and this is, without question, an example of it.


I'm barely 30 so don't take this as some graybeard being snarky, because I too waded through years of bullshit in my early and mid 20s.

A. Turnabout is not fair play; two wrongs do not make a right, especially when your wrong is to discriminate against people other than those who may have discriminated against you

B. Inflated expectations != discrimination

C. Discriminating against someone because they are too old is illegal; discriminating against someone because they are too young is not (both are equally wrong).

D. "I'm rather bitter and sometimes it shows" - Get over it.


What I'm getting at is that A. isn't really a problem at all - if one doesn't have the marketable skills to "win" a job then pointing at any one issue (age, in this case) is simply coping / self-serving, because what I meant by turnabout is that "do unto others" is a principle that the world doesn't run on and thinking otherwise is naive whether 25 or 65.

It is completely discriminatory in B. when the only people who could possibly meet those inflated expectations can not logically be under the age of 30. I've seen this far too often to dismiss it as occasional - it is/was systemic.

It's the burden of the accuser to claim they were discriminated against because of age, and as we can see, there's no qualms with making lots and lots of articles and "think-pieces" out of the hypothesis. Sometimes "older" workers have unreasonably inflated senses of skills and/or worth, and can't take the ego blow, so, off to coping (see A) above.

Haha thanks for the armchair therapy with D., it's worth every penny from your barely 30 perspective.


> Sometimes "older" workers have unreasonably inflated senses of skills and/or worth, and can't take the ego blow

I've seen this more with younger workers. In fact, that was me exactly 10 years ago.


This is the equivalent of someone making a job site for black people to get jobs, and saying "be careful not to discriminate against whites!".


No, it's not. I have no problem with someone making a job site for older folks.

My problem is when that site is accompanied by an attitude of old developers being better. Likewise, I would absolutely object to a job site for black people marketing itself by disparaging white people: "give tech companies your white and naive to burn them out and make them piles of cash."


We old developers _are_ better.

I, for one, have a lush neck beard and am seriously contemplating going with the sandals with socks look.


I delight my coworkers with dad jokes.


Old tech workers who have been making good money for decades are not a disadvantaged group.


Except old people are objectively better off in the US.

It must be such a hard life, not having huge student debt and already having equity in a house so you can afford to turn down the 60 hour jobs. If only everyone understood how much you deserve it better than those young people.


I mean we're not talking about Baby Boomers here, chief.

There are millennials staring 40 in the face right now. People who graduated college in the late 90s/early 2000s are in their mid- to late-30s. The guy who posted this site is one of those people (though I think he misses the "millennial" cut off by 1 year).

Those of us in this age bracket are "old" by startup standards/stereotypes. I promise you college and home-buying wasn't terribly different 15-20 years ago than it is now. Still plenty of opportunity to go into incredible debt. And hell, 2016's 45-year-old who bought his first house in, say, 2000, may just have watched his home's value crash in 2006/2007.

So maybe just tone it down.


> There are millennials staring 40 in the face right now.

i'm one of these, and i don't consider myself a millennial.

anyone who's legitimately used a rotary phone (or even just seen one in use) in a non-ironic way should not be considered a millennial.


My parents still have a rotary phone (because it still works even when the power goes out)... I get what you're saying, but in areas with tetchy power, most homes have kept old phones.


Why?


Rotary phones are from the 70's and earlier.


> Rotary phones are from the 70's and earlier.

The last rotary phone I saw for sale was, I think, in the 1980s, the last one I saw in use was in the 2000s. Its quite possible that someone could be a millennial and have used one (IIRC, we used one in my house until 1986 -- the other phones in the house were touch tone -- and only ditched it because we happened to move.)


Sure, I remember rotaries hanging out for a while after that, but they were gone most places by the mid-80's in the US. Not to mention those in museums.


This is US centric. Rotaries were in use in EU way into middle 90s at least.


and people born in the 70s aren't millenials.

Really, the oldest are mid 30s, and I think even that is a stretch.


It's not a stretch, generations generally span about 15 years and millennial is what people settled on. I'm 32 and we were always part of generation Y/millennials.

Most sources put the end of generation X as 1980. So unless you want to come up with a micro-generation for people born between 1980-1985, we're stuck in the millennial group.

The thing is that if we stick with a 15 year span, the youngest people who should really be called millennials are around 21 or 22, but it seems like each year the lower bound for millennial grows (I occasionally see news reports referring to children as millennials).

I'm assuming this trend will stop when we settle on a name for the next generation.


Yet rotary phones were still very common in the 80s, and my grandparents still had one in the early 90s. So people born in the early 80s, which qualifies as millennial, very likely used them.


Until 2000-something (and they might still have it) the Harwich MA public library had a rotary phone that patrons could use to make calls. The typical use case was middle schoolers who's parents forgot to pick them up (the middle school ran a bus to the library) when the library was 30min from closing.


Yep, my grandma had a rotary phone until well into the 90s. She was still paying the phone company to rent it as well.


Tell me more about all the places where a home bought in 2000 is worth less now, and all the colleges where tuition was not 50% cheaper in the 90s.


My home bought in ~2004 was recently appraised at half what I purchased it for in real dollars (in Chicago)...

Tuition for the college I went to is around ~18% more expensive now than when I went in inflation adjusted terms, the loans you can get now to cover them are around half of what I paid between 1996-2000 (at a state school). I haven't done the math to see how that all breaks out for real cost differences, but I'll concede college is more expensive now.

Also if you've graduated in the last 6 years or less, you've come into a job situation that is phenomenally better than that of someone who graduated from 1990-94 or from 2002-2006, which has probably a bigger impact on your lifetime earnings than your generation (think how capricious that is).


Sure, tuition was cheaper. Doesn't mean it was cheap. And when future you is talking to a 20-year-old, they'll be lambasting you about how easy your life was when a 4-year degree from a public instituion only cost you $80,000.

If you're truly ignorant of the subprime mortgage crisis a few years back, you can check out The Big Short (book or movie, but I'm told the book is much better) for good insight into history and mechanics.

Point is that the economy has changed a LOT in the last 15 years, and lots and lots of people suffered. Generation X is not the Baby Boom generation. I think you sound a bit foolish/ignorant appropriating the "Baby Boomers ruined the economy!" rhetoric and applying it to the generation-and-a-half that followed them.


I'm aware that home prices dropped in 2008. I'm also aware that they settled at a level significantly above the prices of 2000. Check any of the home price indices if you don't believe me.


Yes, home prices tend to increase on average. Not sure what your point is. Are you implying that when you are ready to buy a house they will start depreciating?


Unfortunately for people my age, home prices have been growing faster than incomes recently.


Home price growth is independent of age and is heavily dependent on location.

You are trying way too hard to make yourself sound like a victim.


I don't generally think of myself as a victim. It seems that my income puts me in the top 1% for my age (just about any 6 figure salary will do that). It's all my classmates and friends I'm worried about.


> There are millennials staring 40 in the face right now

The usual starting point for the Millenial generation is a birth year of 1980; if 36 is "starting 40 in the face", it is not from a particularly close distance.

And that's the absolute leading edge.


Yeah, this. There is ageism out there, and it happens younger in tech than in other industries, but it's far less of an issue than all other forms of hiring discrimination I can think of.

I've been a part of hundreds of interviews for dozens of engineering positions at a variety of companies and organizations. While I have witnessed clear-cut ageism with qualified older candidates, it's with the distinct minority of older candidates, and typically only with borderline ones. Compare to even the most qualified female candidates, where there's almost always a strong undercurrent of sexism, or non-Asian minority candidates, where there's almost always a strong undercurrent of racism^.

So I won't deny that ageism is a problem but - in the case of white dudes - it's the jolt of a sudden uphill at the end of a couple decades of easy slightly downhill coast. Compared to continuous vertical climb that women and non-Asian minorities have to put up with in engineering, it's a pretty modest problem that the affected have both ample time and opportunity to prepare for.

^- The tech industry isn't, at least in my experiences, blatantly racist/sexist these days. Anecdotally, women and minorities have an easier time making it through HR/recruiter screening. It's a more subtle and pernicious effect in tech interviews, where correct answers are overscrutinized for flaws and even marginally incorrect answers are blown out of proportion. Never seen this with older (white/Asian, male) candidates.


I know that women have many problems working in tech. But are you sure they have a harder problem interviewing in tech overall? I'm absolutely sure there are engineers who will overscrutinize their interview solutions, but there are also many companies who have initiatives targeted specially at hiring more women. I've even heard first hand of companies specifically hiring women to train in order to boost the number of female engineers.


Like I said, anecdotally. And I'm not talking about company policy, I'm talking about the behavior of individual engineers/managers during and after interviews. Even if a company has a policy that it WANTS to hire more women, it needs the people actually conducting the interviews on board for that policy to be meaningful.


Life tends to compound good and bad choices. Mistakes you made in the last 10 years (student debt) has nothing like the mistakes you can make over 40 years. ex: Making my student debt payments is hard, I know I will just defer them.


We've updated the link from https://software-dev-group.org/2016/09/15/old-geek-jobs-figh... to the homepage for now. If the blog post comes up, we can change it again.


It's up, it should have caching? Guess that isn't working right for them. lol


I'm not sure if you're religious, but God bless you if you are! If you're not, then many thanks for doing this. I've already shared this with at least six friends.


Thank you so much! I'm cranking away on the site right now and have a backlog of jobs I need to input.


>Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ if you’re over 30.

30 is old now? Ha! Joke's on them, or indeed anyone who would have wanted to hire me at 25.


Of course I'd point out that not every older developer has been a developer all along. A number of people move to software development as a second career, (or as a first career after a series of less career oriented jobs).


The Stanford educated 20 somethings would see you as inferior for this track record. Night school? You old grandpa....


> Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ because there may just be a job for you, a place where you won’t be discriminated against just because you’re getting older and wiser.

All I see is a form to post job-ads, and nowhere to look at them.


Like the way the site is setup using Google Forms.


Thank you - I'm posting the jobs manually and using scp to sync the site.


Working on that right now!


I find it weird we consider over 30 old when legal protection doesn't kick in until we are over 40.


Even without the legality, it is super weird. If someone told me I was old at 30 I would laugh :)


My spouse is a dancer. They generally retire at around 30 yrs. old. (And by retire, I mean find a different job because you aren't going to retire on a dancer's salary.)


> My spouse is a dancer. They generally retire at around 30 yrs. old.

The varies a bit depending on the kind of dance, but, yeah, people who can stay in dance much longer than that (and, really, people who can make a decent living in it at all, even below that age), mostly do so as dance instructors, choreographers, etc., with their own dancing (if its even something they directly get paid for at all) sort of an adjunct and means of advertising the other parts of what they do.

There's something much weaker in technology (not just in computing) in the worker -> manager push, where people who don't jump that divide by a particular time start being seen as less desirable as workers. But its brutal in dance (and only partly due to the actual physical requirements of performing the movements.)


Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Or leotard, really :)

It's amazing if you can even live as a dancer. Usually, there's a second job. (I worked in CS in parallel to the dance thing. And at some point looked at the pay checks :)


I suppose there are many aspects in regards to aging. The concept of young vs old I suppose is a strange cognitive shortcut to apply when what you really care about is fitness at a particular activity. All the more reason to dispense with it!

I am curious, did they need to retire because they no longer possessed whatever it took to dance, or was it because people in their industry assumed they no longer could, or simply because they needed a more lucrative job?


I find it odd that 18-40 year olds are not legally protected from age discrimination in the US.


Its largely an example of a solution very narrowly crafted to the way a problem seemed to be manifesting at the time it was created, rather than generalizing to the ways it could manifest in the future.


Your site needs a favicon.


Old (40) geek here. I think I have two pennies-worth to share here. I came to the industry at 38. I left real estate development when I couldn't overcome the unemployment history gap in my resume, despite working for KB Home, Toll Brothers and on the largest redevelopment project in Chicago history (Stateway Gardens housing project to Park Boulevard). I was living in the Bay Area at the time I made the transition (finally). I can tell you first hand - the culture fit thing as a means to discriminate is real. I will say that I at least had interviews. Interviewing felt good after not even getting an email for - any - job applied for in real estate. I got a response for - every - job applied for the in Bay (minus FB and Pandora, you guys suck).

After 6 months of interviews in the Bay, I gave up (due to cost) and decided to try another market... less than 6 weeks and I had a job in Charlotte. I had my first iOS role at a startup another 6 months after that. Even after the startup coughed me up (thanks again Zomato), I was able to get another iOS job in a month. I won't mention (any other) names but I can say that the culture fit issue doesn't really exist outside the Bay.

And to any decision makers out there, you are making a mistake if you assume someone like me can't fit on a team of 18-30 y/o. I fit in so well, in fact, that almost all of my new connections on LinkedIn are these same 18-30 y/o. I have made more friends with interns than I did when I was the age to intern. And my 20 year-old friends have no fear in making fun of my age just as I have no fear in making fun of theirs. We even talk sH$@! about race (oh yeah, I'm also black).

The experience has been awesome for me as well as them (I believe). So, the next time you have a chance to hire an old dev who just wants to be a fu$!@E~!! DEV - just hire her.


What a great story. Also, I believe that geek fellows here and HNers shouldn't be concerned about switching jobs, as they're immersed in this industry all over their heads. It's folks who do coding just for living and don't really want to invest in new technologies, or have early stopped trying out new things that might have more issues finding new prospects.


The millionth edition of the "if you keep up with tech you can't have a problem, if you have a problem, that's because you stick with Fortran". It is still not true.

People who share complaints here, on Reddit or on more or less similar places, do indeed keep up in general and always have personal interest in tech. But that isn't a magic bullet. They'd have better chances if they had stuck with COBOL, for example.

Go tell that to a recruiter... most don't care about what you toy with; they generally don't even have the slightest idea of what it may be. They just care about what you've been doing at your previous company, if it sounds like the position they have to fill, if the title of the gigs looks good, if the company name looks good or if at least they've heard its name before, and that's all. You are not given a chance to explain the interests you have and side skills you may have developed, it would be all Greek to them anyway and they do not value non-professional experience. Admittedly, I am not talking about California here.


Thanks. I got into the industry with the expectation that I would launch a startup. Yet, I starting really writing code and decided that I wanted to do something really novel and killed my original real estate domain related ideas. Once you learn to write code you realize how weak your ideas really are. Since I love coding so much, I don't mind improving as a dev because novelty and quality my ideas seem to be improving as well. My experience is unusual but I encourage anyone I met to try it because you never know if software development might change your life's trajectory.


How did younger started? Did you go back to school or use online resources etc?

I'm really interested in hearing more of your story.


> I fit in so well, in fact, that almost all of my new connections on LinkedIn are these same 18-30 y/o.

Yeah, almost all of my connections are people I worked with too. ;)

I wonder if it makes any difference being > ~40 years old but having less experience. Instead of trying to walk in and be the ultra senior person, you just walk and do the job of a mid level dev.


I would go further and say the culture fit thing is pretty much only for discrimination. It's what you say when you don't like the person but don't want to admit they can do the job. These days, if I talked to a coworker about a candidate and they gave me that line I would be I very suspicious.

The only thing that matters is if the candidate can do the job and get along with people. Everyone talking about "would I want to have a beer with this person" can fuck off.

I have seen the culture fit thing outside the bay, though.


I think that age is correlation, not causation.

What’s really happening is two things. First, companies typically don’t like paying people lots of money (even if they are great at blowing millions on other mindless things). Second, these companies do not understand that their unwillingness to hire expensive people is causing months of bug-chasing and monkey-patching in their products.

When your organization is under the impression that “a developer is a developer”, new college grads willing to work for peanuts are very attractive. It takes a good manager to understand that someone’s decades of experience or advanced degree really is worth a lot more money, and not just in the long run. Experienced people have seen more programming constructs in more languages, they have encountered more examples of APIs in more libraries, they have made more mistakes and learned from them, they are more likely to be able to apply suitable algorithms and data formats to problems, and so on. Also, having experienced people on staff actually gives your new developers somebody to learn from.


This matches my experiences well. Many of the people I know who are devs in the Bay Area that don't work at Google/FB aren't making more than $80k. The companies pull in grads who couldn't quite make the top companies who don't realize that they will never get a raise or promotion, and many of these people stay for 5-6 years before they realize how hard they are getting screwed.

These companies would NEVER hire an older, experienced developer because they know they wouldn't be able to retain them.

Its worth noting that I work on a dev team where the average age is about 40 (I am 27). We have multiple members of the team nearing retirement. Having the older guys around makes my job much easier and gives me resources that I wouldn't have otherwise. We are able to keep these guys around because we work on interesting projects, don't work more than 40 hours a week, and have a great manager.


> These companies would NEVER hire an older, experienced developer because they know they wouldn't be able to retain them.

Not only that, but they don't have to retain them. . There is a large supply of "~20 year olds who aren't quite Google material" lined up to take on those $80K developer roles. The "churn and burn" strategy seems to be working for these companies so why change?


it's the write-only culture of software development.

People only care about how long it takes to write something from scratch. That dictates everything, from which frameworks or languages are "hot", to which methodology people use, how projects are managed, and....who gets hired.

There isn't a big argument that someone straight out of college with low experience who happens to know the latest new trendy thing will probably pump out a semi-functional MVP faster than someone more experienced. More energy, more willing to work late hours at home because of less responsabilities, but also less experience leading to less time spent trying to think about real problems that could come down the road and how to prevent them.

That lets someone code really, REALLY quick. It will blow up down the road and then thats just "normal" and goes in the bug queue and tech debt goes out of control.

I was once in a meeting where someone was like "Well, of course this code is buggy and sucks: Its at least a year old!!!"

I was floored.


This.

Many SF tech startups overtly believe that actually planning your code before you write it is just, well, not very "agile" -- that's old school, that's waterfall, proven to be deficient, that's not how we do things in the new world. Planning an architecture before coding it?? Why, you may as well be wearing a pocket protector and hating on women and minorities from some massive IBM cubicle farm in the suburbs while chainsmoking and punching your code into paper cards.

In the new world, you break things and move fast -- when you're assigned a massive new project, you just sit down and start typing. When your unplanned, non-architected code turns out to have serious structural issues that make it unextensible and unmaintainable, why, you just layer another level of crap code on top of that to plaster over the cracks, and another on top of that, and so on.

I wonder how much of this has to do with the churn-and-burn VC culture, where they fund hundreds of startups with just enough money to build an MVP so they can "test for market fit," then burn 99 of them and move on to the next batch.


> new college grads willing to work for peanuts are very attractive.

Peanuts being a ways north of 100k a year at the bigger companies.

> advanced degree really is worth a lot more money, and not just in the long run.

Are we talking PhD?


New grads only get more than 100k at a tiny group of elite companies. Almost all new grads lack the credentials to get into those places.


>I think that age is correlation, not causation.

Agreed. I started working in tech when I was 22--now I'm over 30. I've never witnessed old-age discrimination. What I have witnessed are start-ups, built on newer tech, (AWS over on-prem, nosql over relational, etc), passing on candidates whose last reference book was the Data Warehouse Toolkit and still want to be called WebMasters.

The law of the tech industry is when you stop learning--at any age, you lose market value.


There is a difference (both in terms of perceived and actual value) between "never stop learning" and constantly being on the language/framework-of-the-year treadmill.


It's funny, I've been in the industry so long and I usually stay at places 5+ years, so I've been able to skip quite a few trends. When new guys come in, I'll ask about the stuff I've skipped wondering if they are still relevant. Sometimes they are and sometimes I hear things like, "oh, that's so old, this is the new thing."


Yup, I lucked out by hitching my horse to C++ and Linux early in my career. The need for either of them never seems to go away. Also bet on a few technologies that kind of petered out, like OpenGL, and there were a few I'm glad I didn't waste time on.

You can always catch-up and learn something that becomes important/mainstream, but you can't un-waste your time deep diving on a dead-end technology.


I worked at Microsoft Redmond in 2009. They have a private uber like transport system. Around once a week the driver would hand me their resume and ask that I pass it on to my manager. It turns out that many of them had worked in the industry and were trying to get back in. They had a lot of experience and big important job titles etc. Mostly from the 2001 tech boom. That was my wake up call. If I'm not careful someday I will be the one handing out resumes to passengers.

So I focused on skills and went into contracting as soon as I could. Now the reason I don't work for startups is that they keep trying to pay me with a mystery box of stock options and I'm not buying it.

Another bonus about contracting, apart from the money and flexibility, is that you get left out of company politics.

So tl;dr... Life doesn't owe you anything. And I recommend contracting as a career / lifestyle choice.


> you get left out of company politics

And if you work 80 hours a week, you get paid 2x as much.


And if you work 10 hours a week, you get paid 25% as much.

This isn't a dig at freelancing / contracting. I did it for a while and it was great. But you have to be realistic. Also, billing 80h per week would be near impossible unless you had someone else managing your business for you.


It's too bad that many of us(in general, not on HN) are too lazy to judge a person based on what they actually offer vs a number attributed to them. People who are 50+ are perfectly capable at learning and writing good code, and it really isn't hard to recognize someone with a sharp mind.

However, lots of people allow their minds and bodies to rot as they get older. My parents, as much as I love them, are not very employable at this point(at least not when compared to a younger candidate). They don't get much exercise and spend a large chunk of the day sitting in front of the boob tube. They are smart people, but their ability to learn new things has gone way down, and I have noticed they are a little more gullible than they used to be. Meanwhile, I have friends who are in their 50s and they have the energy, motivation, and learning abilities of someone in their 20s.

I wonder if this has something to do with the exercise they get, and the lack of TV watching. The calorie defecit from both those things probably slows their aging a tad too. I think if you want to be programming at age 50, you can easily add years, perhaps decades to your youthfulness by taking some basic care of both body and mind. It may seem like an obvious statement, but most people don't actually do this, and it shows in people my age who have the habits of my parents while also drinking heavily and smoking way too much. It's kind of spooky when I see people who were once youthful looking, in their 20s, quickly start to look like they are in their 40s because they don't really take care of themselves beyond basic hygiene.


I never exercised or ate well, even as a child and adolescent. I look better now at 30 than I ever did at 18 or 20 or 25.

Exercise and physical activity are supremely important.


Did you forget to mention that you do exercise now?


I never meant to imply that it was a concrete rule. Everyone's body is different(more specifically their genes). I've known people who ate nothing but pizza and mac & cheese every day and were skinny as toothpicks. Whether or not they will still be healthy in their golden years is a question I can't really answer. I just know that I can't name anyone I've known personally who did even a moderate amount of physical activity(I'm not talking rock climbing or doing tri-athelons) and ate reasonably healthy that deteriorated despite those things. Though as I have also known people who don't seem to be harmed by a sedentary lifestyle, I've known far more people who are clearly affected by such a lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Granted, I am talking about my personal experience and not a scientific study.

Also remember that you are 30 and not 50. I did mention how I've seen people essentially become 40 at age 25-30, but I'm sure there are exceptions. There are also some factors that complicate this:

- Junk food is defined differently depending on who you ask. Much of what I eat is "junk food" in the sense that it's mostly red meat, fat, cheese, and some fish, yet I weigh 145 lbs and always check out fine during physical exams. Someone can also eat food that isn't commonly considered healthy, but they may also not eat very much of it. The French are a good example of the latter as the common French diet includes lots of carbohydrates and sugar, yet they don't have nearly the obesity problem of America, and it's suspected that them not eating as much of it is a significant factor. (Americans often value quantity over quality)

- As I hinted at a few times, calorie intake is actually a factor in how a person ages. If I remember correctly, a 400 calorie deficit slows aging slightly, and it has something to do with activating a protection of the chromosomes during mitosis, but it's not really understood by researchers as to why this happens. Note: This is highly speculative on my part, so keep that in mind. I do suspect that this plays a part in why some people I know age so poorly, and these same people also consume large amounts of food. Please don't just believe what I say, though. :)

- Sugar, which added to nearly everything you buy from the grocery store, has been linked to aging in that it causes oxidation in cells causing damage to proteins. I can't remember how the specific process works, but I think you can look up Advanced Glycation End Products and get a better explanation.

- Many people have this idea that consuming fats of any kind is bad. They really need to get this bad science out of their heads, but it's a zombie theory that doesn't want to die. I remember being taught about how bad fat was in the nutrition class I had in high school, and it's pretty bogus as fat is needed by the body in many ways, including brain function and synthesizing hormones. You can get away without it for a long time, but I don't think that it's sustainable, and maintaining a low fat diet probably has long-term consequences on cognitive function.

I know I've gotten way off-point here in explaining my hypotheses, but my point really was that $AGE != $ABILITY. Someone who is in their 50s could keep up with a person in their 20s, but might be rejected because their hair is too grey, which is sad. The best thing one can do for themselves, if they want to continue their career into their late adulthood, is live both for now and then; eat good healthy food and exercise now, eat good junk food occasionally, and maybe you'll still be coding and jumping into the mosh pit when you're 55. Everyone's body is different, but certain decisions you make will improve your odds of being in better health later on, and those decisions aren't a losing bet.

EDIT: It might sound like I'm advocating for some specific diet, but I am really not.


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