* Software is a social service. Its for other humans.
Fast forward a month later, I managed to actually do it, and it worked almost flawlessly, across about 100k scanned PDFs. Multiple long-term projects spawned off from the extracted information, including some projects from the dev who told me to stop.
My point being -- sometimes it seems like that line is used as an excuse to not tackle hard problems if they seem likely to fail. I agree with the line, and it's the exact reason I worked on it as hard as I did, but the dev failed to consider that I understood the social part of the problem, on experienced principle.
I would actually categorize this as a human problem. As a society, we scan documents all the time. Data entry is a massive time sink usually involving lots of corrections.
True code golf would be like switching languages/frameworks for no discernable reason or trying to hit an arbitrary code coverage metric because you're unsatisfied with the current one.
So, like your colleague, I try to strategize delivery. I would never tell a guy not to work on a genius idea that could change the entire paradigm, in fact I let 3 of my guys do just that for the last 3 months, together, sometimes alone. But they either not deliver, or very slowly, or sketchily (not working as well as thought).
So what I do a lot is a compromise. I force them, despite their complaint I don't care enough about the big picture of their non-delivering work, to take smaller issues every week. 1 or 2, give a candy to the user, and do your stuff then.
It worked incredibly well: while they've delivered absolutely nothing of value in their own initiatives yet (but I still think they can, it's just very long term), the users are delighted by a constant stream of little innovations and we've been recently identified as one of the most productive team.
Meanwhile, the team next to us, algo programmers in C++, can take 2 months to enhance an error message. Because they're all revolutionizing the system and have no time for basic human needs. They don't know yet, but they're gone soon. The budget people found there's a new model of delivery that could work, I wonder which one ;)
The industry (and really, it's not specific to the industry) is rife with people who take pearls of wisdom out of their context and apply them without the context to serve their own ends.
Turned her day from hell to cool (she had to filter duplicates by hand and quadratic formulas over 2000+ lines spreadsheet.
That's what computers are for.
Definitely my most cherished code.
Sometimes those damn excel sheets take hours and hours to make even though it would otherwise take me less than a minute to write in SQL or unix. But it pays off every time and pushes a clear message that they can do better.
Any rule of wisdom, followed blindly, leads to disaster.
Don't substitute rules for good judgement.
New volunteers sometimes expect the red-carpet treatment as someone volunteering their (pretty expensive presumably!) time and as someone accomplished in their field. Volunteers usually get the opposite treatment since it turns out the other volunteers tend to come from a similar perspective and someone doing the hard human work is often contributing a lot more to the project than an otherwise excellent engineer.
You can of course choose your volunteer activities to be interesting to you. Open source is one such very fun activity but lo-and-behold in projects I've been involved with the human aspect is often very important and requires a similar amount of hard work. This is often truer for bigger projects/organizations than small ones.
I started coding at 12 because everyone said it was much to hard for me. Now im old and motivate people by doing the same. At the same time its good to be reminded by others what happens if you drop one thing in favor of the other.
As in - perhaps OP and 40+ year person had the same, accurate mental model of the probability distribution of success, but OP and 40+ had different attitudes towards risk/reward.
Or perhaps the OP happened to have a much more realistic picture of the probability of success, and 40+ was unnecessarily pessimistic.
So hard to evaluate these things, and to internalise the fact that other people don't have the information you have all the time.
A nice FOSS library for it was on HN recently, sharing is caring I guess
Went to a presentation at a Golang meetup in Amsterdam by the guys behind this company. Seemed to know their stuff. But I have no real world experience using it.
However, some PDFs are scanned documents, or only contain images. PDFTables doesn't perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to turn these images into text.
To process these kinds of documents, you will need to either enable OCR in your scanning software, or run the PDF through specialist OCR software before using PDFTables.
My first mentor in the 80's was a jolly drunken programmer genius who enjoyed getting me to laugh at how bad my code was.
His biggest lesson was that other people need to read and use my code, not just me. It isn't enough to just hack a solution -- "Anyone CAN write code, but not everyone SHOULD write code" was his favorite quote -- but code needs "style" and "heart".
He even had a t-shirt made for me after my internship ended that had those two words and a bunch of my worst code examples printed on it. I still have it: just a bunch of MASM code. I'll Never forgot that guy.
I think those are important jobs, and completely disagree with you. I'm trying to understand if those are jobs you weren't considering, or if we view each the responsibilities of those jobs very differently.
That being one of the defining charactetistics of a job.
OP calls out 3 categories of jobs. Mainly natural/technical, mainly social, and those which sit in the middle and require both. Finally OP says engineering sits in the middle and requires both.
You said it's not just engineering (that requires both), but all jobs.
Both I and OP disagree with that statement.
A piece of coding art that doesn't fulfill customer needs, or requires understading of language standard minutia for fellow devs to do maintainance updates is worthless.
Heads down genius coder everyone steps around ends up fired or stuck in mid level forever, in reality. Guy who makes friends with the Customer Service department and Sales team with mediocre fixes get promoted, and in reality achieves more with his career.
Software is useless without users.
Edit: Ah, found it.
"Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else ... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it." - Siddhartha
I recently had the thought, that good education guides you to certain experiences to really learn the subject and not memorize some definitions.
Most software development advice tacitly assume you want to write code which works and is long-term maintainable (potentially by someone other than yourself) and which fulfills some purpose beyond just the fun of writing the code.
Does anyone actually do this? I think it's the opposite.
I've spent truly absurd amounts of time thinking about how to do things properly. I read books, read other people's code, read programming language implementations, I just read and learn as much as I possibly can before I even start doing anything. I want my code to be right. I want it to represent the truth of how the world works.
In a professional context where people actually have deadlines, working code is usually enough to satisfy them. How complex and maintainable it is tends to be a lesser concern, to be addressed at a later time or never.
> Does anyone actually do this? I think it's the opposite.
Code style, structure, and design are more of an art than a science, so different people will have wildly different opinions (extreme examples notwithstanding).
The most maintainable code tend to be the least clever. But developers enjoy being clever, so without any outside pressure to deliver maintainable code, developers will tend towards less maintainable code.
If you’re interested in creating software that makes people happy, solves their problems, gets cherished and recommended - then work hard to not lose sight of that goal in the thick of crafting a massive code edifice.
If you’re interested in pushing the limits of your own creativity, and building a technical structure capable of handling domain complexity with ruthless efficiency - then sure, don’t worry too much about how it looks, how it reads, or how others respond to it.
If you’re lucky, you might get to do both in the same body of code. But not likely.
However, I'm yet to see my cat boot up the computer.
But yeah, the end result is useless then, and can be thrown out.
Demoscene, obfuscated coding contests, etc. seem to fall under that category.
Uselessness in the eye of the beholder or something like that.
In those cases, only the creation itself has a use, not the end result. By definition.
Yes!! That makes me so happy.
Anybody who has looked at their own code done more than 5 years ago can surely attest.
This is tied into asking "why", another one of the author's points. At the end of the day, if you dig deep enough, the why will be related to human happiness.
Bonus! If you keep this in mind, you'll also gain perspective. While you don't want to live at 30k feet all the time, periodically gaining high level perspective of the problem you are solving has been, for me, one of the joys of software development. (Not the only one, but definitely a significant one.) Hopefully it is that way for you too.
At one of my jobs, one of my tasks was to take client HR feeds and load them into downstream systems for travel management. On your second day of employment at your company, you should have a profile in our system which was a portal that displayed all travel policies and a profile in whatever booking tool your company used.
We knew who your manager was so approval emails went out automatically. We knew what corporate card was assigned to you, so you never had to deal with that. We knew what preferred vendors your company had agreements with etc
All I was doing was data manipulation and loading on a scheduled or triggered basis. But ultimately it allowed new hires in a new environment to have an easy time booking their trip for mandatory training.
Any time our process failed, you had a traveler stressed out that they wouldn’t be able to book the trip in time or have to outlay money and reimburse later or get stuck at a distant airport.
Does it need to be social to be useful? That is a value system.
Many here communicate (beautiful) value systems, and that's great! But ideas and software can transcend those.
"software is communication, made by people, for people"
(which is more or less what you say :)
With all the consequences.
Most people, on either side, don't get it. Ever.
I deeply disagree with this Calvinist utilitarian sentiment. Its akin to saying sex is for making babies. Maybe its an academic thing - When I went to grad school for CS, on Day 1 my Algorithms Professor paraphrased Perlis's famous quote on the blackboard - "Shaft the paying customer!"
You can find the whole quote on the first page of SICP, or elsewhere. imho its a highly toxic sentiment to think that whatever a programmer does is for other humans. Software as a Social Service...SAAS :)
imho the best software is written to scratch a personal itch. Not to appease this customer. Not for other humans. Not as a social service. In fact all the people I deeply admire in the software world - Arthur Whitney, Kenneth Iverson, Mattis & Kimball, Perlis, Dijkstra, hell even Linus, are generally characterized as egotistical assholes in the public space who really don't give a flying fuck about social service & humans but care deeply about the software they created for their own selfish reasons.
Mattis is quite explicit about this - "You should understand that the GIMP and GTK weren't written to fill holes in the software available under the GPL...GIMP was started because I wanted to make a Web page. GTK was started because I was dissatisfied with Motif...These are purely selfish reasons. That is probably why the projects...eventually succeeded. I find it much more difficult to work on something for selfless reasons."
Perlis - "I hope we don’t become missionaries. Don’t feel as if you’re Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn."
otoh the people I deeply detest in software (too numerous to name) are generally these do-gooder types who write software to save the world & provide social service, employment to the masses, add "value" insert-marketing-speak-here etc...
I'm ok with the hypocrisy in pretending to care about software as a social service because I need to put food on the table like any other programmer on the market, but deep inside, I write code only for myself. I think a big fraction of developers are like that. There's no harm in saying it out loud.
This statement shows you partially understand, but don't understand the why. You recognize that people working on software for things they truly care about can write better more successful software, but you miss the final step of why that software is more successful.
The reason why Linus can write such great software for software engineers is because he is a software engineer. Fundamentally the software you love is successful for other people, it is for other people and because your idols are one of those people part of that group, they understand it as well as anyone.
Linux was made for passionate hobbyist programmers by a passionate hobbyist programmer. And because it is made for those people, and met their needs perfectly is why it caught on. The reason it met their needs is because Linus understood their needs, because he shared them.
That's the key piece - that great software is written by completely meeting users needs. The easiest way to understand and meet other people's needs is by sharing them. That's the final step of it.
Fundamentally software becomes successful by meeting other people's needs. Anything else that doesn't, you've never heard of.
What do you mean by "best"? If it is supposed to be judged by the original author of the software alone, your opinion does not matter. If you think your opinion of software written by others matters, then BAM, you've acknowledged what you set out to refute, i.e. Software is written for (or at least its quality can be judged by) other humans. (Unless you're actually a GPT-3 bot in disguise, in which case you win :D)
What you might have shown is that software not written for others can still be great in the eyes of other people, but even that is somewhat nuanced. IIRC one of Linus' egotistical outbursts was triggered by a kernel dev intentionally breaking user-space compatibility. At least in this case Linus' example doesn't support your claims.
I also don't see why "software is written for other humans" necessarily snuffs the fun or interesting aspects out of it. There certainly are large number of un-fun software that serves a commercial purpose, but it doesn't mean that fun software has to be anti-social. Even entries submitted to IOCCC (purposely obfuscated C code written purely for fun) sometimes lead to useful stuff (Fabrice Bellard's work).
If I want the computer to do XYZ, and I can provide an XYZ service to other people? They're paying me to do my bug testing, and I get to feel good about it.
If you're providing something that you think is a really good service, but not for people like you, and not for somebody specific you know either, it's probably going to be rubbish.
It sounds to me like you're describing bad social behavior but generally altruistic motivations with good social behavior but non-altruistic motivations, and you prefer the former over the latter. Sure, thats fine.
That's what they're supposed to learn from that, IMO.
that's because they are doing software "for other humans" - aka, their manager and PM, who gave them the requirements.
So the problem is not the software engineer, but the person who creates those requirements to be fulfilled.
Don’t get me wrong - it has it’s place, and if everyone always tried to understand everything, there are a lot of organizations and situations it would be crushing - but it’s also very frustrating in many situations for those who want high quality products.
It’s the ‘not my job’ syndrome, essentially.
I think what your post’s parent was pointing out is that in lots of environments, such myopia is just an engineers job definition, for which they will be punished if they stray. Interpreting end-user needs is someone else's job.
You can learn from the fact that its a social service by actively NOT resisting the truth of this fact.
Incorporate it into your thinking with every commit you make and you will become a better programmer over time.
(Corollary: those developers who forget this fact, make shitty software...)
For example, lets say you write an API that translates text. Should you assume the text the human sent in is correct and return an error? That way you can make better translations when they send the right data. Or should you try to be helpful and automatically fix spelling errors you think you've found in order to make the API more human friendly? Would make it easier but reduce accuracy.
You seem to be in the second camp, reduce power of API and make them easier to use. But lots of people think that the best way to serve humans is to make more powerful and strict API's.
This is to say, "all software is written for humans" is too general to be useful - the important issues are all in the details.
Nothing between "click button" and "problem solved" is your user's problem, they're all yours.
- is un ergonomic and redundant (typing the same thing over and over, no keyboard shortcut jquery era procedural code)
- the overall design is useless, it produces libreoffice templates that takes ages to be badly filled
- secretaries go faster using fucking paper and filling everything by hand
- the application has all the data at hand but nobody has access to stats or complex queries, people have to also write down stats with stick marks on paper so the hierarchy knows what's going on
I think I get what it means but how do I act on it?
Improvements in my "soft skills" have carried me further than any technical learning.
* If coders could write useful documentation (starting w/inline comments) they probably wouldn't be coders.
Why would they choose less money
(Unless of course if they like those other jobs better)
That's probably because many devs were socially isolated when growing up. (How do you think they got so much time spent tinkering with computers?)
Also, it is generally hard to imagine yourself in other's shoes. Example: imagine trying to use your UI but with a 60-year old vision instead of that of a 20-yo. Example: imagine having no formal address or no citizenship (stateless).
Please don't tell me you've never met such a developer ..
So I or someone else can continue to effectively make the computer do work.
The fact that this attitude is common scares me when I'm doing interviews.
Time off is incredibly important to me. What's the use of making a great income if you can't get the time off to enjoy it?
The culture about the use of PTO varies wildly between companies. A friend of mine worked somewhere that supposedly gave 20 days PTO per year, but trying to actually use more than a single day at a time was always met with denials, and even if you did take a Friday off, you were expected to work 10 hours/day the other 4 days of that week to make up for it.
So yeah, when I'm interviewing, I want to know how much time people are taking off, but I don't want the interviewer to think I'm lazy and will be trying to avoid work as much as possible.
> People might claim they have “signals” for these things… “if they ask about time off in the first interview then they are never going to be there!” But these are all bullshit. If you’re using signals like these you’re just guessing and turning away good candidates
It definitely was not my intent to paint the author of the article as the person who made that quote.
Unfortunately, I can't edit my comment now.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
And you don’t necessarily have to read the article before comments. I often don’t! But when I encounter something in comments which seems incongruous with what I’d expect or hope to find in the article, that’s a good prompt to go ahead and read it to gain context.
The words offered up as a quote are meant to represent the views of the person being quoted. In this instance that is clearly not the case.
This is a perfect example of how quotes can be used to misrepresented a view.
I do not need heroes, I need reliable folks who do not burn themselves out.
Or to put it in a cliche... I need people who work to live rather then live to work.
would make a better impression on me than someone showing up with a Patrick Bateman business card in hand
Even silly things like "hey I'm tired and feeling down, gonna take a couple of days off" builds a lot of rapport.
And unless you're dealing with a huge asshole of a boss, it's never a problem. And if it is, you'd get warned so you can leave faster.
book != cover
I laughed - HR and legal approved this comment?
Personally, I've never not used all my PTO in a given year and would consider being unable to do so a show stopper.
Most companies are great about it though and encourage PTO.
Expectations may differ from how much time is in a traditional PTO bank but at least in general, it's OK to take accrued time off barring special circumstances.
We got bought out and the new overlords announced they were going to give us five weeks of vacation. There was actual laughter in the room. We can't even use 2 weeks, what's 5 gonna do for us?
When I put in my two-weeks at my last job, my boss said that if I can get all my work transferred in only a couple days (I did, since I basically had almost no work, hence my search for a new job), then I could just fill the rest of my two-week notice time with my remaining PTO. No reason to spend two weeks pretending to work at my computer.
Going into the week off in August, I wasn't sure how seriously they took it, but sure enough, I didn't get a single e-mail that week other than weekly reports from automated tools. I even checked Slack that Friday, and there wasn't a single message except for the channel where people post pictures of fun stuff they do over the weekend.
It was pretty nice.
So, a more cynical take on mandatory time off, and something that absolutely does happen, is that they'd just rather not have the work than have to pay extra for it.
Also common is not rolling over into the next year, so use it or lose it.
> generous time off
A good employer wants employees to take the time off they need without worrying about running out of PTO to do the stuff they want. They don't want an employee to ever have to think "Shit, if I take that day off for a dentist appointment, then I won't have enough PTO for that weeklong trip to Hawaii!"
But if you try to avoid this scenario by being extremely generous and declare an explicit 8-week PTO policy, then you will have people using 6-8 weeks PTO. Even as someone that strongly values work-life balance and PTO, 8 weeks is pretty nuts. If everyone took 8 weeks PTO every year, that would be pretty costly and could significantly impact productivity. 8 weeks is 1/6th of the year! It would cause chaos with people frequently coming in and out of the office.
So I think an unlimited policy sounds good, but expectations have to be set. Personally, I'd like to see it paired with a 10-day MINIMUM policy, with at least one full week off.
If we're including holidays, I've seen plenty of companies that do 4 weeks PTO + 8-9 holidays which is just shy of 6 weeks, and there some that do 5-6 weeks PTO after you've been there for a number of years.
But there are also ones where you basically get no PTO. Presumably (hopefully?) you get paid more money to work at these places, but I've never found them worth investigating.
Having done a few interviews, nobody knows what questions to ask.
I think part of this could be that they don't know whether to believe that you truly have no input.
When I was an interviewee, my lunch escort told me they didn't, and I was pretty sure it wasn't a devious trick to get me to let my guard down, but I had no way of knowing for sure. I also thought, if there isn't a formal process, maybe if I say something too dumb or wrong, they would still mention it to someone. So I stuck to really superficial topics.
Then I got hired and later served as a lunch escort. Now knowing the process and knowing there truly is no input, I tried to convince the interviewee, and he didn't seem to believe me just like I didn't when I was in his shoes.
So that there's some joviality (or not! Something to get an impression of) without putting such one on one pressure on the candidate so that it still feels like an interview. Candidate can just sit and eat even and enjoy others' conversation.
It is in your interest to view PTO as any other form of compensation and to make those compensation demands after you have demonstrated how valuable you are to the company via the interview process. You don't start negotiating salaries before the first interview, because that's a bad strategy.
I just ask the individual contributors how much PTO they've taken in the past 12 months. It's more or less an open question, doesn't necessarily means I'm interested in taking too much PTO. You'd be surprised of how honest people are. I had interviewees even start venting about burnout. Someone from an e-commerce company (not Amazon) told me he's gonna take a month off as he took 0 vacation days for the past 1.5 years (!!!). He admitted he's probably going to get in trouble but he doesn't care anymore.
I get vacation that I'm required to take every year. I have unlimited sick leave - but I actually have to be sick to use it (going to the dentist for a regular checkup counts as sick though)
If you’re dealing with a reasonable person, you should be able to preface the question by explaining how having sufficient time off helps you do your best work and avoid burnout, and that you want to clarify expectations up front to make sure that you and the company are an ideal match.
It’s also of course a bit less risky to bring up this sort of thing a bit later in the interview process when you’ve built a bit of a rapport with the interviewer and ideally demonstrated your value somewhat.
If you are dealing with a reasonable person, hopefully you want have to explain any of that.
If someone starts the interview process talking about about the vacation amounts (and not much else), that isn’t that different. Chances are at that point they don’t know folks on the team, and vice versa, they don’t know about the company (much), or what the job would likely look like, it may entail, or really much of anything.
It’s just weird, and a bit concerning, in the same way that someone might ask about perks and pay without even trying to understand any of those factors too. Because those factors matter too, a lot.
I’m not saying asking about vacation is a round file thing - rather I have seen, and can definitely imagine, scenarios where it is or would be a pretty major red flag.
If part of the general background comp discussion after someone has spent some
effort figuring things out, or as part of the initial listing? Of course, that’s not weird at all. And giving a pay range for a role is of course necessary to avoid people wasting their time.
So ‘it depends’
If someone starts off with asking about essential thing that is important factor for them it means that its a dealbreaker issue for them.
Whats the point of interview if they know there is no flexi time, and you only look for flexitime jobs??
Its actually a matter-of-fact approach that goes straight into details and saves everyone time. Given it was properly delivered I would be more inclined to hire engineer like that.
Would you then consider that a plus?
To me person like that will be first to raise a hand when something is not right in the project. It might also be a good indication of goal oriented thinking, they know whats important and prioritize to achieve goal
The few times I’ve had someone do that, the last thing those folks did was (as one put it) “look for problems” by raising project issues or really doing anything but the bare minimum. A bare minimum that had to be clearly articulated several times to the several people I’ve run across - who one then specifically asked EXACTLY what I meant by ‘keep the system running’, so they could exclude a bunch of long term maintenance work from that minimum shrug
IMO, if someone is curious and cares about what they are working on, it shows, and we would never even have this discussion about them - even if they did ask about EXACTLY what the vacation policy was.
It goes both ways of course - them not caring about your well-being is obviously just a big a red flag for a candidate.
They said "hey, we shutdown anyway during the holidays you can take it then, just start now"
and of course, did he get to take that time off? NO.
However, I prefer having some free time for myself than accumulate a large amount of money.
Illegal information isn't anything that will affect how someone does the job in general. You learn about personality, but I hope you can deal with those personalities anyway.
Edit: sorry if that sounded offending but I can't wrap my head around the fact that people in US have problems of this kind
....Or...and hear me out here...fuck that noise.
if people are making snap judgement about candidates from asking a basic company culture/hr question during the interview question, then the candidate winds up having dodged a bullet one way or the other.
I make plenty. I could make more, sure. Could I be more aggressive at making more? Absolutely. But I care far more about being happy where I work. And anyone trying to hire me knows or should know the market well enough they’re not going to make an absurdly lowball offer.
It's plenty of time for my employer to extract value from me. If the org wants me to work more, they can make me be in meetings less.
The issue isn’t taking time off, it’s that the prospective employee’s head is up their proverbial ass. First interview is propspecting. If you were selling a product, if the customer is asking about the return policy before even selecting an option, it’s a similar signal.
When you’re in a subsequent interview talking about the benefit plan, salary, etc, that’s where that sort of question is appropriate - you’re finalizing the deal.
You do you.
You seem to think that it should be one sided, with them doing all the selling/figuring though, which seems to be pretty problematic in other ways.
For some folks, at some times, that can certainly work. But it sounds like you want them to be in servitude to you, not an actual partnership.
High quality questions say something about you. Low quality questions do too. Would you ever hire someone whose question is like "so, do a lot of hotties work here?" Probably not, because ... what kind of person is this? Similarly, if the person who doesn't have an offer and doesn't know much about the role is hyper-focused on their time-off, something is off too. PTO is important, it's just a thing you need to be thinking about once you have an offer and think the job is otherwise a match, not as like the #1 question.
Yes yes yes I’m sure you’re changing the world and creating super exciting CRUD
You know, I actually found this comment clarifying. I don't look at work as solely exchanging time for money (don't get me wrong, I care about money a lot, I just want to get a lot more than money out of my work) so I was coming at it from a different direction.
I do think there's an employee-employer compatibility in play here. Because I care about engagement/mission, I tend to work at companies with a strong culture and seek the same when I interview others - but yeah it's a good reminder that this is not for what everyone wants/needs.
Not that that's anything like a reason not to ask what you need to ask, and turn a Q&A into a brownnosing session.
If you want to vet a company's benefits and culture beforehand, which is a good idea, do the homework first and research it before getting into the sales process.
Maybe in the 90s. Nowadays it's becoming very balanced in the way that companies are the ones who are doing a sales presentation as well.
But both have to agree. You're right that a company will have to be willing to offer enough to get the candidate willing to sell.
I recall interviewing a candidate long ago who was only interested in what the company could do for him. He never displayed any interest in the company or what he could do for the company. I recommended no hire.
After all, what would you think if you went to a car dealership and their salesman would only talk about how much you had to pay and how much the dealership wanted your money, and never talked about what the car would do for you?
A word of caution - interviewers tend to interview people an order of magnitude or two more times than candidates do interviews. What this means is they learn to detect the bullshit. A friend of mine is in the recruiting business. He interviews candidates all day, and has for many years. He told me that detecting bullshitters and liars is a crucial job skill, and he's pretty good at it.
All companies have interesting problems to solve along the way. But most have boring products. I can work for most companies because even though the product is boring I know I will find something interesting. (the exceptions are companies doing something I find immoral)
There are all kinds of people. That said, if envelopes isn't your bag, nobody is making you interview with them. Find something that does interest you. Me, I'd rather be a lion tamer than a tax accountant (yes, I have the hat), but the guy who does my tax accounting loves it.
> I know I will find something interesting.
And there you go.
Besides, why not pick a career that interests you? It makes for a better life.
Why not find something you actually care about instead of spending all your time and effort faking it?
You're reading way too deeply in to signals that could mean anything. At the risk of coming across as antagonistic - I'll probably start asking about PTO in the first interview even though it tends to be irrelevant to me, to avoid working with organizations that foster this mindset.
I've also worked on teams that, same as your friend, heavily implied that taking longer leave breaks were a no-go.
As with all things, it's a balance.
You CAN refuse once the contract arrives for signature, the interview is a lot also for the company to have argument to sell you to management as a worthy investment.
I admit I never take a guy talking about time off myself, because while I agree it's an important contractual part and something we must give as generously as we can, the fact he asked the first minute of our relationship means it's going to be painful for him and for us, because we're not a paradise company, things can be tough and high pressure (investment bank), people not nice on purpose and sometimes you have to do the right thing rather than the perfect thing, so compliant positive nearly sacrificial profiles will be happily surprised by what's still good while a dude asking "and holidays, 20 or 25 days" the first day will be very sad and burnt out by all the shit.
I've stopped applying to place where they are not upfront with their PTO / Salary brackets. It sounds like you don't want people to take their PTO.
> people not nice on purpose
Sounds like a miserable place to work.
I'm not sure if I'd take such a job if it was offered, but at least it would be an interesting offer.