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"Logan's Run" Syndrome In Programming 599

Ian Lamont writes "InfoWorld has an interesting analysis of the reasons behind the relative dearth of programmers over the age of 40. While some people may assume that the recession has provided a handy cover for age discrimination, a closer look suggests that it's the nature of IT itself to push its elderly workers out, in what the article describes as a 'Logan's Run'-like marketplace. A bunch of factors are listed as reasons, including management's misunderstanding of the ways in which developers work: 'Any developer can tell you that not all C or PHP or Java programmers are created equal; some are vastly more productive or creative. However, unless or until there is a way to explicitly demonstrate the productivity differential between a good programmer and a mediocre one, inexperienced or nontechnical hiring managers tend to look at resumes with an eye for youth, under the "more bang for the buck" theory. Cheaper young 'uns will work longer hours and produce more code. The very concept of viewing experience as an asset for raising productivity is a non-factor — much to the detriment of the developer workplace.'"
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"Logan's Run" Syndrome In Programming

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:16PM (#31171738)

    Congratulations, Ian Lamont! From now on, whenever I see a resume with the name "I. Lamont" on it, it's going straight to the trash.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:18PM (#31171780)
    Unless you consider being the archetect to be beyond programming. I assumed you meant transforming perfectly good human beings into pointy haired bosses.
  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:24PM (#31171916)

    "Elderly?!?!? I'm 41, you insensitive clod!"

    Now get out of that igloo and back on the ice, Gramps. Polar bears gotta eat too.

  • Kids Today (Score:5, Funny)

    by handy_vandal ( 606174 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:26PM (#31171952) Homepage Journal

    Kids today have it easy -- context sensitive development environments, online documentation, etc. etc.

    Why, when I was your age, we had to chisel bluestone megaliths using only hand tools, and then haul those four-ton stones into a circular pattern, just to calculate date() ...!

  • Age Test (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:34PM (#31172116)

    If you read this article and are thinking about your career, then you are young. If you are thinking about a naked Jennifer Agutter, then you are old.

  • by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:37PM (#31172160) Homepage Journal
    ... you should have finished the Perl script that does your job / earns your living. Unless you promoted yourself to management, in which case I pity you, fool.
  • by coolmoose25 ( 1057210 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @01:50PM (#31172412)
    The phases of programming (and lots of other things) are:

    - Disgruntled
    - Jaded
    - Bitter
    - Postal
    - Indifferent

    The Systems Development Life Cycle can be thusly described:

    - Wild Enthusiam
    - Beffudlement
    - The Disaster
    - The Search for the Guilty
    - The Punishment of the Innocent
    - The Promotion of the Uninvolved

    (yes - 45 year old programmer who is now a pointy haired bossman)
  • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:00PM (#31172606)
    Unless you consider being the archetect to be beyond programming.
    At least I am old enough to spell "architect"
  • by methano ( 519830 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:18PM (#31173008)
    Congratulations, Anonymous Coward! From now on, whenever I see a resume with the name "A. Coward" on it, it's going straight to the trash.
  • by mattack2 ( 1165421 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:51PM (#31173574)

    At least I am old enough to spell "architect"

    At least I'm aware of how to use "blockquote", and to put a period at the end of my sentence.

    (BTW, I'm perfectly fine with the spelling attack too!)

  • by jayme0227 ( 1558821 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:58PM (#31173704) Journal

    Everyone knows that all of the programmers over 40 became internet millionaires. That's why they aren't programming anymore. At least I think that's what the brochure said.

  • by lowrydr310 ( 830514 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @02:58PM (#31173706)
    Lines of code? I only ever write one per program. No carriage returns for me, thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @03:52PM (#31174664)

    We're a Java/Solaris/Oracle shop, and had something similar happen late last year.

    HR hired us a guy to do some web development. He claimed to be a Ruby-on-Rails ninja (his words...), and had done some Java in the past, but hadn't used it recently. Thinking he was a somewhat decent developer even if slightly out of date with his Java knowledge, we let him take a sizable project on. We explicitly told him to use Java and Oracle.

    Two weeks later, he says he's finished. We were pretty happy at first, since we were expecting it to take him three or maybe four weeks. Then he shows us his code. It's a fucking RoR web app, backed by MySQL.

    Our manager, who used to be a Java developer, asked him, "What sort of fucked up Java is this?" when he saw the Ruby code. Then when the developer revealed to our manager that he'd used MySQL, our manager totally flipped out. He absolutely hates MySQL, because it is a totally inferior RDBMS, and we'd plainly instructed this developer to use Oracle.

    It turns out that the web app didn't even work worth a shit. We basically threw it away.

    Now we're one less developer, our corporate firewall blocks most obvious MySQL-related web sites, and our manager throws out any resumes that list RoR experience.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @03:56PM (#31174732) Journal

    COBOL the language for the latest hardware.

    How many smartphones run COBOL?

    All the mainframe ones. :-)

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @04:47PM (#31175664)

    I think the real reason is simple. People older than me (almost 40) are likely to be mainframe programmers. Back then, there weren't a lot of computers.

    Yes and we only had wind up light bulbs as electricity hadn't been invented yet either.

    Give me a break. I'm over 40 and have NEVER programmed on a mainframe, nor has anyone I know. Maybe if you said people over 60 I'd agree with you.

  • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @05:04PM (#31175964)

    Per program? You don't have just a single program which does everything you might need with a massive chain of ternary operators?

  • by SimonInOz ( 579741 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @06:45PM (#31177492)

    Your sig is right - oh, so bitter.

    Damn, where do I start?

    Age discrimination and a truncated career - 55, still in IT. Can't be that bad. But there's some truth in it.
    Learning new ways of doing the same work - new tools, similar problems. Beats using the same tools for the same problems (like, say, a plumber).
    Substandard pay - nope.
    Compete with 3rd world labour - quality will out. Be good at what you do. Aren't you?
    Work nights ... try delivering on time. Aren't you good at what you do? Hang on, didn't I just say that?
    5am - see above. Or try being a plumber.
    Holidays ... what is it with you and not getting things done on time?
    Vacation ... oh, you are American. Anyway, see above.
    No respect - respect must be earned, whatever you do, be it a plumber, a janitor, a judge, a programmer. Try being nice to people.
    Implementing stupid solutions - can be a problem. Earn some respect, become involved in the process.

    Girlfriends/spouses - you really do have problems, don't you? Try earning and giving some respect, change your t-shirt occasionally, maybe to one with sarcastic, bitter remarks on it. Maybe the world will love you more.

    If you don't like this field, please leave. If you do not enjoy the challenge of one of the fastest paced, most technical areas around, just quit. Go work in a shop (mindless tedium), be a plumber (on call 24 hours, fixing broken toilets), a lawyer (everyone hates you), a factory worker (you hate yourself), a garbage collect (damn they die a lot. And girlfriends?)

    I think I'll stick with it.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham