Software Mechanics
Why do we even have that lever?

End of an era

April 3, 2010 05:36 by chris

I’m not quite sure why I’m writing this; it’s not like I have anything insightful to offer. But it needs to come out so I guess I’ll do my best to put my thoughts here into pixels.

I consider my career to have truly started in January of 2000. I’d been working successfully at a variety of positions, until I got my first “dream job” offer. I moved my family from Connecticut to Portland Oregon so that I could start working with Chris Sells on a secret project. It was nerve-wracking for me, and apparently just as nerve wracking for him as well. That project (later named Gen<X>) was successful in every way but financially – unfortunately, the only way that actually counts in the end.

I learned a TON from Chris, Shawn, and Shawn, my coworkers there (yes, we had two Chris’s and two Shawn’s. Cut down on the confusion that way.)

One of the things that had a major impact was the first scheduling exercise Chris and I did over the phone before I moved. He pointed me at a web article describing the scheduling approach he wanted to use – Painless Software Schedules by Joel Spolsky.

Joel’s site was a breath of fresh air after formative post-college years spent in the military-industrial complex. I devoured his writing, and got quite active on his forum. It was one of the best places at the time for insightful discussion around software development.

So it is with bittersweet feelings that I saw this today:

Last one out turn off the lights

I won’t deny that it was time for this. The tone of the forum changed dramatically over time; at the end it was mainly a giant echo chamber blinding agreeing with things Joel had said two years earlier. I personally started dropping out when I got lambasted by Joel himself for daring to suggest I actually preferred to sit in the same room with my coworkers (and no, I never did get that pony.)

I found it a sign of my own professional development that I was disagreeing with Joel’s writings more and more, and was able to articulate why. That didn’t go over so well on the forums though, so I ended up stopping posting there about a year ago.

Still, it was a great community while it lasted. Joel on Software was my “third place” for quite a while, and I will miss it. Joel, thanks for the thought provoking topics and providing a place to let me hang out. Best of luck with StackOverflow and everything else you’re working on.


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