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Let me guess, you're single and 24 years old.

You know what I do at home "just for the hell of it"? I play with my kids.




Have you ever lost a job because you don't have side-projects? This notion that we're being forced out of software jobs because we don't have side-projects just hasn't manifested anywhere that I've seen. It very much feels like an argument that you should be able to advance in your career with 40 hours/wk as much as the person willing to spend 50.

So, you have kids, great! Spend time with them, enjoy your life. Presumably you're a software engineer so you're making more money than the vast majority of the world. Enjoy that, but do you feel entitled to go as far in your career as someone who dedicates more of their life to their career? Should those people be punished by being displaced by someone like you who presumably has less expertise due to spending less time on your career? I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but I'm struggling to understand why our current system should change to cater to your lifestyle choices of having kids.


A system that doesn't "cater" to people having and raising kids has trouble coming up about 20 years down the road.

If the general solution to career advancement is just to work more hours, we'll be a bunch of unhealthy, overworked burnouts.


The general solution to getting better at anything is to put more hours into it.

Where's that expectation that you have to be best of the best coming from?

(Not to mention, the expectation to be seen and treated as the best of the best, without putting in the work.)


True but the false narrative lie elsewhere.

Sure you can put more hours into something to get better and improve your performance.

But why should you spent more hours on your free time? Some employers grant a free "afternoon" every-week for employees side projects. Guess what more side projects, less burnout...

Source: The company that support PostgreSQL for my workplace do that. Which we were doing the same.


If anything our world is overpopulated. It seems to me we'd be remarkably better off with fewer kids. I reject the notion that systems optimizing for raising kids would put society in a superior place. I'm not against anyone having kids, but I reject the notion that it's a benefit for society that we encourage people to bear and raise children. People will bear and raise children regardless and I think reducing incentives there would ultimately have better societal outcomes. This is reflected all over the world with developed countries having fewer kids per family. Correlation != causation, but it's certainly evidence.


I would guess that the optimal state would be at or just below replacement fertility rates (because immigration will bump your population growth up a bit).

People are going to have kids regardless. So, the question we're really asking is, should we structure things so that people have time to raise those kids that they are already going to have. I haven't reviewed the literature, but I'd guess kids who have their parents present in their life have better outcomes.


Few companies live longer than 15 years, even fewer employees and managers. In my experience, people rarely cares about consequences, they won't suffer from.


> Have you ever lost a job because you don't have side-projects?

I am aware of hiring decisions between several candidates that hinged on their side projects (or lack thereof).


so what?

some workers like to spend time coding off-clock: that's fine.

some employers prefer those workers: that's fine too.

I'm not interested in being one of those workers, and quite happy to avoid those employers. I have no trouble finding workplaces that respect my time.


I think you mistake my comment. Perhaps I just should have said "yes".


Then isn't it the pool of candidate that is setting the norm, and not the employer ?


Yup. Personally, I like doing coding stuff on the side. And even though I'm not going to let any company tell me what side projects to do (I use these projects to reclaim some autonomy), I'm also not going to leave them out of my CV to be "fair" to other candidates. After all, they won't leave out their superior university or FAANG experience either.

I think what we want to limit is employers pressuring people into side-projects as a form of unpaid overtime. Other than that, I'm not sure if I see the problem here - but I guess I'm a part of it too.


COBOL?


> Enjoy that, but do you feel entitled to go as far in your career as someone who dedicates more of their life to their career?

As a 20-something year old with no kids, I certainly do not feel any more entitled to "go far in my career" than anyone else, just because im dead inside and write code on the weekends after work. Anyone who thinks like this is an asshole who I don't want to work with.


This seems like an unnecessarily hostile response. I hope you find a hobby or passion that gets you out of any funk you might be in. I hope you can understand my opinions are made with good intentions. Feel free to disagree with them and feel free to avoid working with people who hold these opinions, but I'd prefer if you avoided calling me names just because you're incapable of understanding my good intentions at the moment.


>Should those people be punished by being displaced by someone like you who presumably has less expertise due to spending less time on your career

In my experience, the people who have kids generally have more experience because they built up the experience before getting the kids.


There’s an interesting statement there that the extra ten hours makes a difference for career advancement. I wonder how much that’s really true.


> by being displaced by someone like you who presumably has less expertise

Can you see how this presumption could be problematic?

Edit: fixed grammar


> You know what I do at home "just for the hell of it"? I play with my kids.

And that's great and all, but it also ensures that the only thing you did that was noteworthy for prospective employers was whatever project you happened to be stuck with your current job.

If you happen to be privileged and work on architecting exciting cutting-edge projects that use any of the relevant or even popular technologies then you have nothing to worry about.

If, instead, you happen to be like the most of us and are working on maintaining legacy projects with technologies that you hate and are obsolete and became irrelevant to the eyes of prospective employers, or even worse you are stuck on doing boring stuff that tangentially have anything to do with development at all... Then how do you work on your marketable skills?

Do you honestly expect to be the best candidate to a job position when you're competing with people who spent years working on exciting and interesting cutting-edge technologies when all you have to show for is years of maintaining a legacy application that was mostly done except with the minor updates you were charged to do?

So yeah, please do enjoy spending all your free time playing with your kids. Some of us are compelled to, in the very least, brush up their skills outside of work because otherwise we might not have a shot at a job that allows us to play with the kids, or even get a job in the near future.


What evidence do you have that even the majority of programmer side projects are interesting and/or cutting edge?

Your line of reasoning doesn't actually benefit you unless you can negotiate a higher wage because of your side projects. In most cases, it's a proxy for an employer getting away with not paying you for training - either your current employer or a prospective new employer.


I logged on just to comment, this one hits home and its incredibly accurate - at least in my current circumstance. Thanks for the bit of insight.


While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not having side projects, I also understand how it can be a (somewhat sloppy) proxy for evaluating if somebody treats it as a profession vs a job.


could just as well indicate someone who's due to crash.


I don’t know, but I suspect the proportion of those who are consummate professionals with side projects is greater than those with side projects who are about to crash.

I guess it matters whether those side projects are intrinsically motivated. If you’re just doing it because you’re expected to, I can see it leading to burn out as it’s essentially a side job. But if you’re doing it out of intrinsic interest, it’s more of a hobby that also builds your professional skills


Since you asked, nope. I'm with really young kids, one an infant. So sleep is a luxury. ... and kids are a time sink. I'm also a senior engineering manager, I don't have to code again in my life if I don't want since I committed to and enjoy the management track. But with that said, here's a few tech I have learned as in really dove into in the last few years by myself that I didn't need to learn for work, golang, angular, typescript, kubernetes, some ML, scikit-learn, J(APL), couchbase, hybrid mobile development with ionic framework, these are just a few that I can think off my head. I started & run the k8s meetup in my city. In the last 5 years, I have probably build 20+ side software projects for the fun of it and currently have 3 brewing in my head right now. Besides wasting time on social media (twitter, facebook, reddit) and watching netflix/prime/hulu like normal folks, I also have the occasionally hobby of minor home repairs (My house is over 100+yrs old), fixing up my "classic car" 85 bmw, and teaching myself the piano. My typical work week is about 50-60hrs. Since March I have been the one to take care of the kids while WFH since my wife is an essential health care worker. So what's the point of telling you all this? I'm not single, not young, now north of 40+. I'm just a doer.

Here's what I googled and read up on this weekend, how to repair rotted roof rafter tails because the garage needs work. I was looking at the repair manual of the broken elliptical to see if I can repair too. As for coding, I was building a daycare app before the pandemic put a lid to that and I shelved that for now. Since the pandemic, I have just written toy throw away sim codes to run simulation of whatever that came to my head, predicting the pandemic numbers, housing market, etc.

Point is, I can somehow find out a little time here and there to play on the computer, most people can.


The kids aspect of that spiel was incredibly short. Maybe some people have more demanding children than you. But whatever, right? Judge people based on your own life if it works for you. It's as superficially impressive a hobby as any of your others.

Of course, I could equally judge you based on my own life experiences. An engineering manager? Pfft, managers are overpaid babysitters who add no value. And I've supervised ADHD dabblers - on the side, while working primarily as an IC. Their flurries of little shiny projects sure do look impressive, especially in meetings and on resumes, but when it comes to building something genuinely new and difficult, and persisting to a high quality finish? MAN, they sure require a LOT of hand-holding.

There are plenty of people out there who are completely different from you and yet contribute as much or more than you do. Get over yourself and appreciate human diversity a bit more.


On the kids part, if you need details, bottle feeding multiple times a day, diaper change, shower, meal prep, feeding, reading, coloring, nursery rhymes, you know, the regular child stuff with young kids... Sure, for our last project, I wrote 90% of the e2e integration test because of time crunch, so yeah, I still code if need be. I pretty much stay out of the way since the team understands the details and I pick up the really boring piece. With that said, Im sorry you have had overpaid babysitters that add no value. Go kick rocks because I never said that folks shouldn't have a life outside of coding.


The point, if it wasn't obvious, is that you would find yourself on the receiving end of some pretty unfair judgments if everyone else judged others the way you do. Just because you like to dabble in software in your free time doesn't mean it's the standard everyone should be held to.


You aren't a software engineer though. I found that the main thing for me is that what I do after work or for fun has to be different. If I'm working as a software engineer I enjoy not being behind a screen in the evening, whether that means bike maintenance, reading or cooking. Whenever I have had other jobs where the demands were different (more meetings, more operational or just physical jobs) I often want to do programming-related stuff for fun.


>>So sleep is a luxury.

>>My typical work week is about 50-60hrs.

>>I'm not single, not young, now north of 40+. I'm just a doer.

You are at least 2 decades late to having kids. But that's ok, better late than never.

But I'd absolutely recommend partitioning some part of your 60 hour work week and late night Googling, and allocating it to exercise, sleep and relationship. Stuff like heart attacks, brain diseases and divorces tend to wipe out gains made over 30 years.

At the end, any amount of hyper productivity makes sense only if its beneficial and sticks to us in some way, like on the longer run.

I've been delaying learning ML for a while now, it doesn't seem to matter, basically delaying doing lots of things without payoff many of which will be irrelevant in 5 years. I can't say the same for exercise though.


You're absolute right, I'm doing terrible on the sleep and exercise front and need to do more of those.


Congrats on "being a doer" but trying to imply that people who aren't are worse developers than those who are is trying to measure the world by your scale.

You aren't necessarily a better developer (or person) for doing all of that than those who played videogame for all those hours.


Is developer productivity now a binary thing that's 100% if you participate and 0 if you don't?

Spending many hours on doing software development does, in fact, make you better at software development than someone who, ceteris paribus, spent that same time playing video games. I feel that "not necessarily" is becoming the 21st century version of "but there's still a chance, right?"


What is it being better at software development even? There are so many different skills involved in being an effective software developer in a team. I would say for senior+ levels the softskills start being much more important than the technical skill.

Plus if you have been doing it for 10 years+ how much more are you going to improve really by coding more hours?


Software development being a complex, multidimensional skill set makes it even more true that work you put into getting better at it, the better you get.

The field is so wide that you could be doing it for 100 years and still keep learning new things that would improve your work.

And for senior+ levels, where soft skills start to dominate, you still need to have already become competent at the hard things. Soft skills are means for making things happen, but you have to have a clue which things need to happen, and which don't.


I don’t agree at all. Just because you could spend 100 years being a better cook and learning how to cook every dish on earth it doesn’t mean you will be a better Italian chef than someone who puts 20 years.

It isn’t rocket science really, learn the fundamental well, keep practicing 40h a week for years and you will master the craft.

The difference between two masters of the craft won’t be the person who sit more hours on the chair in front of the computer.


What will be the difference then? Magic?

Skill doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from practicing it and thinking about it and otherwise being mentally engaged with the field.

And yeah, I'm pretty sure that after 100 years of cooking, and learning how to cook, I'd be better than the person who put in only 20, just by sheer virtue of more internalized knowledge, more time to think, and more practice.


Skill is multi dimensional. Depends on the problem at hand and the people you have available.

Each person brings an unique set of skills based on their experience (professional and life).

I have worked in lots of different industries from designing hardware chips with VHDL to multi datacenter kubernetes deployment with 100k of cores.

I never did side projects neither did I expect more time on the chair from a coworker... Still somehow I can build winning teams with all the different mixes and industries.


"Spending many hours on doing software development does, in fact, make you better at software development than someone who, ceteris paribus, spent that same time playing video games."

By that logic the oldest developers should be the best of all. But that is not true. Some are great, some are average and some are still bad even after a life time of practice.


You missed that ceteris paribus part. What I'm saying is that, given two developers that are pretty much equivalent in their health, mental capacity and the ability to turn work into experience, the one that spent much more time on said work than the other will be much better at it than the other.


What is a better developer in an organization with 1000s of developers that have to collaborate in their team, cross teams etc. I am really curious in your definition of a better developer.


I didn't missed it. It doesn't work like you think it does. Making stuff is too complex to be reduced to such a simple rule. At some point additional practice won't make you better. The example of older programmers proves this.


I never implied that, I just said I'm suspicious of folks that don't delight in partaking and sharpening their craft outside of work. Passion often correlates with strength of skill, and passion is not turned off and on like a faucet.


I think he has a good point actually.

The word developer itself means someone who builds. So it is natural to assume that someone who enjoys building stuff, even for fun, is a better developer also at work.

As any rule, this has exceptions and it's not universal, but it makes sense to think so. And since he's a manager, it perfectly makes sense for him to think so.


Don't forget the part where you translated all 7 Harry Potter novels into flawless Latin because you've been both leaning Latin and brushing up on wizardry on the side.


lol, it's okay, never read harry potter. p/s, I believe I'm very terrible with time management and wish my "ADHD" can keep me focused, but hey, maybe it's what get's me sampling everything.


You've made time to learn J! That's some commitment. I'm waiting for my first child right now and have recently been into J in my spare time. I'm also a manager now (CTO at a non-startup company).


Yeah, someone mentioned it on here a while ago and I decided to give a go. jsoftware has really amazing resources/free books if you dive into it. It's really enjoyable if you use jupyter cuz you write in literate style so you can remember what the heck you just wrote months down the line. lol. https://github.com/martin-saurer/jkernel-docker. yeah for a few months I was addicted to it, and it's the only language where I feel like a sculptor since you are literally sculpting and transforming the array to yield your solution. For me the saddest thing was that I can't bring that experience to other languages,


MATLAB, NumPy, and a lot of GPU programming (not to mention, Julia) relate to APL and J. You might be surprised by how important what you're learning is to express an efficient computation on a GPU in terms of array operations.


Yeah, I know NumPy, but what I really enjoy about APL/J that you can only get from those languages is "notation as a tool of thought", something is lost in high level expressive languages.


Why do you think that others should live their lives according to the way you live yours?


I never implied that, I'm amused at how polarized my comment is, where did I imply that? You can live your life any how you see fit, you don't ever have to code afterwork or touch the computer. I'll just be suspicious about your ability until you prove so


I think it is fair enough that in order to judge someone's competency you need concrete evidence of their ability, I completely agree with you there. Side-projects are useful for doing that, but there are other ways as well.

It is entirely reasonable to provide programming tasks or whiteboard interviews or whatever in lieu of going through someones personal project.

Using your own lifestyle and tastes as a benchmark is what riles people up. If side-projects are the measure of the man, then there is an expectation of how people should spend their free time.

I believe the polarization is coming from how this is expressed, specifically pegging side-projects as the determining factor. People can find joy in their work (programming in our case), but not necessarily want to do the same thing in their free time.

This is likely biased as it is coming from someone with no personal projects though :)


Why do you think that others should adjust to the way you live? Surely kids are a choice. And if you choose kids of career thrn you're bound to be less effective than someone who chose otherwise?


What if I have kids but am a much better coder than you?


What then?

Plural of anecdote is not data. The principle that "the more work you put into something, the better you get at it" works in general.




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