The Real Programmer At Play
Generally, the Real Programmer plays the same way he works -- with computers. He is constantly amazed that his employer actually pays him to do what he would be doing for fun anyway (although he is careful not to express this opinion out loud). Occasionally, the Real Programmer does step out of the office for a breath of fresh air and a beer or two. Some tips on recognizing real programmers away from the computer room:
- At a party, the Real Programmers are the ones in the corner talking about operating system security and how to get around it.
- At a football game, the Real Programmer is the one comparing the plays against his simulations printed on 11 by 14 fanfold paper.
- At the beach, the Real Programmer is the one drawing flowcharts in the sand.
- A Real Programmer goes to discos to watch the light shows.
- At a funeral, the Real Programmer is the one saying "Poor George. And he almost had the sort routine working before the coronary."
- In a grocery store, the Real Programmer is the one who insists on running the cans past the laser checkout scanner himself, because he never could trust keypunch operators to get it right the first time.
The Real Programmer's Natural Habitat
What sort of environment does the Real Programmer function best in? This is an important question for the managers of Real Programmers. Considering the amount of money it costs to keep one on the staff, it's best to put him (or her) in an environment where he can get his work done.
The typical Real Programmer lives in front of a computer terminal. Surrounding this terminal are:
- Listings of all programs the Real Programmer has ever worked on, piled in roughly chronological order on every flat surface in the office.
- Some half-dozen or so partly filled cups of cold coffee. Occasionally, there will be cigarette butts floating in the coffee. In some cases, the cups will contain Orange Crush.
- Unless he is very good, there will be copies of the OSJCL manual and the Principles of Operation open to some particularly interesting pages.
- Taped to the wall is a line-printer Snoopy calender for the year 1969.
- Strewn about the floor are several wrappers for peanut butter filled cheese bars -- the type that are made pre-stale at the bakery so they can't get any worse while waiting in the vending machine.
- Hiding in the top left-hand drawer of the desk is a stash of double-stuff Oreos for special occasions.
- Underneath the Oreos is a flow-charting template, left there by the previous occupant of the office. (Real Programmers write programs, not documentation. Leave that to the maintainence people.)
The Real Programmer is capable of working 30, 40, even 50 hours at a stretch, under intense pressure. In fact, he prefers it that way. Bad response time doesn't bother the Real Programmer -- it gives him a chance to catch a little sleep between compiles. If there is not enough schedule pressure on the Real Programmer, he tends to make things more challenging by working on some small but interesting part of the problem for the first nine weeks, then finishing the rest in the last week, in two or three 50-hour marathons. This not only impresses the hell out of his manager, who was despairing of ever getting the project done on time, but creates a convenient excuse for not doing the documentation. In general:
- No Real Programmer works 9 to 5. (Unless it's the ones at night.)
- Real Programmers don't wear neckties.
- Real Programmers don't wear high heeled shoes. [But you
- Real Programmers arrive at work in time for lunch.
- A Real Programmer might or might not know his wife's name. He does, however, know the entire ASCII (and/or EBCDIC) code table.
- Real Programmers don't know how to cook. Grocery stores aren't open at three in the morning.
- Real Programmers survive on Twinkies and coffee.