Monday, 11 October 2010

A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer

Got in this morning - five minutes late. I hang my jacket on the door and sit down at my desk. My Workstation is just as asleep as I am, the blinking of its lights reflecting my own bleary eyes. My monitor wakes in a haze before the sharp lines and text pierce through the fog. Onward to BBC news, OSnews and Slashdot. I hope that my own website is anywhere near as interesting. I contemplate the next article I may write and procrastinate for 20 minutes before pouring my first cup of coffee. I don't even like coffee. It's the accepted drink of a techie so I'll live with it. It'll only shorten my life by a couple of years I'll probably be peeing in a bag by then anyway. I look at my inbox and seeing six or seven annoyances I decide to get myself some food. On eating my overpriced, 'Not-just-any-cereal' cereal, I take the time answer the emails, one-by-one, trying to be as civil as I can. Finding new ways to say 'you're stupid' in the most polite fashion.

I open up my file. For a second I'm in the Matrix, code cascades down my screen, I'm so cool! Then reality strikes. Nope...I'm a nerd in a room of other nerds. I just compared myself to Keanu Reeves. If that isn't sad I don't know what is. I couldn't pick Daniel Craig or [insert cool actor here]. They have far too much credibility. I couldn't even pull Woody off (that wasn't meant to sound rude). Something you learn very quickly as a programmer is that, contrary to popular belief, we're bottom of the pile. People don't bother with you unless they want something. That does bring plenty of stuff to do, but zero motivation to do it. Whether it be classes, objects or interfaces, there's always something to keep me "entertained". Flicking from page to page, changing this and that to make something, somewhere, do whatever it's meant to do. Half the time I don't know what's going on, if it works move on. If it doesn't, revisit it later and get on with a challenge you can do. This at least raises enough confidence to get me through to lunch. I write this not to tell people how utterly boring being a developer can be, but more in hope that I'm not alone in how I feel about it.

After eleven I pop into the bosses office, always accommodating, always up for a chat. I spend the next forty or so minutes discussing what's happening for lunch. He knows I'm avoiding work that he is paying me to do, The benefit of this is that he gets out of his work too. It's a successful system. Everyone's happy. Eventually there is an awkward silence, I sense he wants me to do some work so I reluctantly leave. Getting back to my DiscomfortChair™ I see that I've progressed no further since I left my desk. I try and get something done otherwise the text on screen might just burn itself onto my retinas and that wouldn't do anyone any good.

As the hours roll on the smallest of victories are often celebrated with another cup of coffee. By this time I'm pretty caffeinated, everything is happening at warp speed. Even those little trekky speed lines are appearing in my peripheral vision. In a blind panic I blame this on tiredness and attempt to solve it by pouring myself a top-up. Truly off my nips on Tesco's Finest I bang out the work I should have done seven hours ago and the world is again at peace.

Once the peak of caffeination has past, its a steep decline into Slumberland. The world seems normal if a little greyer and more depressing. Gone are the highs of fingers dancing over my keyboard faster than I can think. Now I'm just scrolling up and down and up the bleak rigidity of logic rendered to my desktop.

Time's nearly up and I remember there is light at the end of the tunnel--Tomorrow. Tomorrow brings renewed hope, vigour, enthusiasm...and more importantly a fresh pot of beans.



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