Why I became a "suit"



  • Many of you may be wondering, why is CPound so bitter? Why is he such a "suit"?

    Let me explain... 

    Many years ago, I was a (very) Jr. level programmer, just trying to make it in the industry. I happened to be living in a major US city at the time, during the era where you had to be the-best-of-the-best-of-the-best...otherwise you went hungry.

    I know what all of you are thinking. You're thinking that you were the-best-of-the-best-of-the-best right out of college. Right? Well, in reality it's not like that. You actually have to prove yourself, and you have to gain a thing called experience in the industry before you can call yourself "the best". Anyways, I digress. Back to the story...

    As a Jr. level programmer, I was very impressionable. By that I mean, negative interview experiences hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll admit it. I was a novice. A "rookie" if you will. I know none of you out there started off a novice, you all started as super-genius-brainiacs, right? Sorry, I digress again...

    One of my first interview experiences was with a man that looked exactly like Donald Knuth. For all I know, it could have been Mr. Knuth. This man was what this forum would consider "a suit". He was mean, bitter, and wore (you guessed it) nice clothes. I was so young and naive. All I wanted was an entry level web programmer's position. I would do just about anything to be hired as such. The interview was so grueling...it was as if I was applying at NASA. It was an entry level position, I thought. Why am I being given the third degree? The interviewer gave me several indications that there was no way in hell I was getting the position. It didn't matter if I singlehandedly created the internet, Mr. Knuth-look-alike was not going to hire me. The questions dealt with creating objects and DLLs...back when internet "programmers" weren't even tackling such topics. I was at a loss at every turn. My little "mom-and-pop" websites that I showed him as examples did nothing but frustrate his patience. I could see the disappointment written all over his face. And I could see him tossing my resume in the trash on my way out. It was that bad.

    Shortly after that particular interview, and after hunger had started to set in, I interviewed with a little nothing of a company. (I think it went bankrupt a year or two after I interviewed there.) But at the time, the interview meant everything to me. They brought me in to meet with a whole slew of people. The first guy was like an HR rep, and he told me right off the bat that my salary was going to be low...WAY LOW. We're talking poverty level. I might as well be working all the shifts at the local convenience store. I thought the guy was going to escort me out, but he took me into a room with two other interviewers. What the ??? I thought. Why on earth would you tell somebody that there salary was going to suck and then still continue to interview them? I know the HR rep saw my expression of disgust when he told me about the salary. He knew I wasn't going to take the position. Anyways...when I entered the room these two interviewers "cornered me"...literally. I was in the corner. I couldn't have left if I wanted to. Both of them were dressed very well I might add. The image of their finely pressed pants and suit jackets is forever etched in my mind. One of the interviewers bitterly told me to "defend your livelihood!" I was like, "Excuse me? Could you explain that?" And he responded with, "You're a web programmer, right? Why should I hire you when I can take a program like FrontPage and build my own website? Aren't you unnecessary overhead?" I was shocked at such a question. I stammered a lot. But in hindsight, I answered it rather well. I told him that FrontPage couldn't take a company's arbitrary business requirements and make them reality...that understanding true database connectivity was beyond the scope of a WYSIWYG application...that maintenance of business web sites requires human interaction. Both interviewers were completely disgusted with my response. I remember one was shaking their head, going "Tsk, tsk..." The other interviewer said, "Well, that's not the answer I was expecting. If you knew anything about FrontPage, you would know that it does do a lot for you." Frankly, I didn't know what else to say at that point. I was devastated. I was so naive and inexperienced at that time, that these interviewers left me feeling dejected and easily replaceable (by programs such as FrontPage).

    I have given you this background on myself to illustrate my early experiences with true "suits"...and why I today have become a "suit". The way that those people treated me in those early interviews...the condescension...the ridicule...the disgust. And the way that they looked. With their finely pressed clothes and polished shoes. It made a real impact on me.

    I think over the years I strove to be the best web programmer out there...just to overcome these initial inadequacies before those heartless interviewers. And somehow, in some sick and twisted way, I want to repay this younger generation in kind. Because this younger generation takes interviews and jobs for granted. They take their high salaries for granted. The fact that they can easily put food on their plate...for granted.

    Well, now I'm a "suit". And now I get to ask the questions. Batter up, baby.



  • Lol, classic CPound, keeping it real.

    Sounds like the world has changed a fair bit since you were younger, glad to see you haven't.

    Seriously though keep putting up your awesome posts, i can't wait for the next installment about why you're such a cool guy.

    Do you have a blog?
     

     

     



  • Now I know why you are such a suit-lovin' youth-hating Knuth-obsessed jackass.

     




  • @element[0] said:

    Do you have a blog?

    The WTF is my blog.

    Stupid kids!

    Doesn't he look like one of Mussolini's blackshirts?



  • In a way, it reminds me of the fact that kids that grow up in abusive homes have a higher likelihood of being abusive as adults. Apparently impressionable college grads that interview with well-dressed people turn into well-dressed interviewers. It's just unfortunate that you, apparently, were subjected to some arrogant pricks during your formative years.

    I'm either narcissistic or oblivious, but what someone wears has never impacted me. Then again, I've never interviewed, as you know... so, who knows. That's actually my only worry when it comes time to relocate. I'm sure I'll have to interview to get a new job.



  • In case anyone cares, there are tons of Donald Knuth videos available for free viewing here:

    They are quite disturbing. Not to mention extremely dull. 



  • @CPound said:

    during the era where you had to be the-best-of-the-best-of-the-best...otherwise you went hungry.

    So...post bubble?

    @CPound said:

    The questions dealt with creating objects and DLLs...back when internet "programmers" weren't even tackling such topics.

    If it was web stuff and he was talking DLLs, then I am guessing he was doing ISAPI stuff...which was released in 1996, so was around for a few years before you arrived on the scene (if I read the timeline right).  

    So...you were upset because you didn't get the job -- because you didn't have the skill set he was looking for...and that's his fault?

    I was doing a lot of ISAPI work in '96, and I hired a bunch of devs...and I needed them to create objects and DLLs...was I a bad person for asking for a skill set I needed?

    @CPound said:

    my salary was going to be low...WAY LOW. We're talking poverty level. What the ??? I thought. Why on earth would you tell somebody that there salary was going to suck and then still continue to interview them?

    Because that's what they could afford and still needed someone?  You weren't obligated to continue with the interview or accept the job, after all.   Would you have prefered a bait-and-switch where they put you through the interview and THEN tell you?  

    @CPound said:

    One of the interviewers bitterly told me to "defend your livelihood!"

    He was a jerk - in a suit...

    @CPound said:

    I want to repay this younger generation in kind.

    ...so you became a jerk in a suit?   And you specifically look for other people in suits.  

    That's quite a pathology you've got going on there man.  

    The problem I see is that you've made it clear that you don't really care about deep technical knowledge, you don't like having to prove yourself professionally, you clearly don't show a lot of empathy...all you've really got going for you is that suit and a few years of fairly undistinguished technical work...if we find ourselves with a drought of computer jobs sometime soon, you'll be going hungry again.

    -cw

     



  • While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.



  • @RayS said:

    While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.

    Best post all day.

     

    Seriously though.  CodeWhisperer speaks the truth.  The reason you came close to going hungry is because you probably aren't very good.  I have worked for places that were doing layoffs and cutting their workforce and I have never worried about my job in such situations because I know that my boss finds me a valuable asset. Furthermore his boss knows I'm valuable.  SO even if they cut my manager I still didn't have to worry because I work hard enough to impress people above him.  And I don't do it by having the attitude that I must be exactly like them.  I just work hard and fast.  Another thing.  If you were going hungry because you couldn't find a programming job that is your own fault.  Get a side jod.  Work at McDonalds for god sakes.   



  • @RayS said:

    While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.

    Abusive use of text formating is a <font color="blue">sure</font><font color="blue"></font><font color="blue"> sign</font> of an insane mind. 



  • @ammoQ said:

    @RayS said:

    While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.

    Abusive use of text formating is a <font color="blue">sure</font><font color="blue"></font><font color="blue"> sign</font> of an insane mind. 

    Lol.

    Anyway, thanks for a good read, CPound! Going against the grain here, that is not jumping on the bashing bandwagon, I'd like to say that you seem like people in general to me: from your posts there are things I can sympathise with and things I dislike; there are things I can identify with and things I shun. So thanks for reminding me that people can't be categorised dichotomically, people are clusters of gray-scale dimensia.

    (However, I'd like to say that excessive use of text formatting is like excessive use of emoticons: it gives off a less than, ehrm, intellectual appearance 😃 (<-- note use of single smily)) 



  • CPound is such a good troll! Thanks for the laughs. And the eye-twisting formatting.



  • You're just mad at him because he wouldn't let you touch his organ.

     

    His Organ



  • @ammoQ said:

    @RayS said:

    While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.

    Abusive use of text formating is a <font color="blue">sure</font><font color="blue"></font><font color="blue"> sign</font> of an insane mind. 

    Oh god. It really hurt to read that text. Not because of the the content even, just the typography is awful. 



  • @Nandurius said:

    @ammoQ said:

    @RayS said:

    While I didn't manage to read all of that, I think that I've realised that to become a real suit, I must conquer the unnecessary use of bold, italic, and underlined text.

    Abusive use of text formating is a <font color="blue">sure</font><font color="blue"></font><font color="blue"> sign</font> of an insane mind. 

    Oh god. It really hurt to read that text. Not because of the the content even, just the typography is awful. 

    Yeah, it hurt real bad. I literally couldn't read his post until I copied it all and pasted into notepad.


  • Anybody else got an interview horror story to share?

    I'm a vicarious masochist :).



  • @CPound said:

    In case anyone cares, there are tons of Donald Knuth videos available for free viewing here:

    http://scpd.stanford.edu/knuth/

    They are quite disturbing. Not to mention extremely dull. 

    Did you actually watch any of them?   I'm half way through "Trees, Rivers, and RNA", and it's quite interesting -- though it's always a bit surprising that people who have been lecturing for half their lives aren't more clearly spoken...and he's going to hurt his elbow trying to pat himself on his back about his book (Psst...Don...It's been 34 years since Vol. 3 came out, maybe you should stop congratulating yourself and actually put out volume 4 instead of just talking about it...)

    Yes, it's about computer science and math; and for someone who asked "What's a linked list" (and then apparently never bothered to go learn), that might be a little outside your comfort zone...but compared to some lecturers he covers it in a fairly accessible way.  He's talking about how the same structures appear in geology, biology & computing, which is actually pretty interesting stuff.  (Does it even matter to you why computing is important?)  

    Looking at how he's dressed, it's pretty clear he doesn't take himself too terribly seriously (no suit in evidence), the crowd seems to be enjoying it...I just wish they'd go with more than the postage-stamp-sized video so I could see some of the papers he is referencing.

    What exactly disturbed you? 

    -cw



  • @Monkeyget said:

    Anybody else got an interview horror story to share?

    I'm a vicarious masochist :).

    All of my interviews have gone extremely well... The only one i could say that left a bad taste was at a company called Seven, in Los Angeles. They really liked my skillset, they needed a network engineer, and someone to help them relocate and design a new infrastructure for their network and everything. I said "sure, i can do that" - Because i could have. Then they said "after the move you'll be relegated to maintenence and stuff like that" - he meant backups, firewall rules, stuff like that. This is fine by me, the salary was phenomenal (to me, at least).

    Then he throws a curve ball at me. No where, in any of our communication, was this mentioned. "do you know how to use an as/400?" (it might have been an RS6000, not sure). I said... to be honest, i own one, but i've never turned it on, because i don't have 240V at my house to plug it in to. So, no, i don't know how to use it, but i am willing to learn if the job requires it"

    He looked crestfallen, as if my sole purpose in life was going to be inventory tracking on an AS/400, and i let him down. I sorta felt bad for not knowing about them.

    I didn't get the job, although i am willing to bet it was less because of my lack of knowledge and more because i said that i wouldn't have reliable transportation for the first two weeks of the move, that i might need to come in at odd times to do my full-time shifts (like 8PM to 5AM); and even though production was going through at those times, there was no one technically competent around at those hours to manage me.

    I still wonder how that company is doing.

    Another story:

    I once walked into a Real Estate office a few years back when my friends and i were trying door to door business advertising for my company (that i own. it's tiny. 😃 ). They said, we don't need a contractor, or anything, but we are looking for a "computer guy", let me see if the owner is in today. So i did an imprompteau interview on the SPOT, not knowing what the hell they needed or were looking for. They showed me their wiring cabinet that had their network switch, router, and server. I literally laughed. and not just a little bit. I said "i can really help you out here, put all this away nicely, make it a lot more secure and temperature-safe." I couldn't help the laughter... it was FUBAR... FUUUUBAR. It looked like a cat had gotten into a ball of yarn and afterwards, someone just thumbtacked the ends to the walls and sides of computers. it was HORRIBLE. Suffice it to say, i never bothered calling them back, and they never called me.

    For some reason, most of my business is through doctor's offices of all kinds. They have some specific piece of software, that needs dot matrix printers (for triplicates), and i happen to know how to fix most of the problems with that software and hardware. Also, i hate working for real-estate companies of any capacity, even as a contractor. Those people - Warning, blanket statement incoming - do not know how to describe what they are looking for from a contractor.

    This one place was using 486s. I said "let's upgrade". (i had upgraded the computer at his house, and he was really happy with it... that was a Cyrix something or other, POS old old old). So i go and buy all the equipment, and i notice that all of his floppy drives are broken - or not working with the new machines. I call up the office, say "hey, the floppies aren't working, is the boss in?" The secretary, and i swear to this day, said "we don't need them, we use tapes and zip disks". Ok, so i put floppies in the server, and in the computers that would be used for taking data from other companies or whatever. I also installed a dvd burner and some other stuff in the server on my bill (i didn't charge them but they needed one badly). This was on a thursday. Friday morning i go in to install everything, and every network cable in the office is Broken. So i have to go back out and buy a spool, crimper, and the plastic ends. Finally got everything rewired. boss comes in. I say "i'm not gunna charge you for this cause it seems bait and switchy, and it was only a couple of hours of work". then i asked him "do all the machines need floppy drives?" He said "what? no just the machines in the back". So i installed windows on all the machines, installed the server software on the server, got everything working, Gave him the final bill, and went on my way.

    I get a phone call on monday. "What is the deal with you not hooking the floppy drives up?"; "you said you didn't need them, but i left them in the cases so there wouldn't be a hole". "WTF WTF WTF CURSE CURSE CURSE well whatever i hired some other guy to fix your fuck up."

    For clarity, i edit this: he bought cheap cases (it was 6 computers total, and my bill to him was $1700) that had the hole in the front for floppies. i hate dust in computers, and since i didn't have any spare covers, i just put the old floppies in and left them disconnected. They didn't work anyway, why make them light up when you put a disk in?

    I said "uh... alright." and hung up.

    You'll note that the two realtor stories are similar, in that everything was FUBAR in the offices, and they don't want anything to change, even if they say they do.

     Sad face time 😞



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    What exactly disturbed you?

    I'll be honest with you.

    I loved all of Don Knuth's videos and watched them a minimum of two times each

    I'm even working on a website where I post my critiques and personal thoughts on each video. 

    There. Are you happy now?



  • @CPound said:

    There. Are you happy now?


    No.  What would make me happy is you taking the time to actually think about what you say.   You can't even clearly articulate why you don't like something.   I mean you compared someone who has made a lasting mark on comp. sci. to a Blackshirt based on the fact, I'm guessing, that he was wearing a black shirt and you don't like him.   Talk about reasoning at a 6th grade level...

    Now, Mr. Knuth isn't my favorite guy.  I think he's self-congratulatory, I think he makes a big fuss about publishing the next volume of his book when it's been in the works for over 30 years (and vol. 5 is scheduled for 2015?!), I think that he does himself a serious disservice by insisting that he only use the MMIX language in his books and that it will limit his influence with the current and next generation.  I think he's poorly spoken and fumbles and mumbles a lot, and I think TeX is an abomination.   See?  There's criticism that actually bears on what the guy does...and despite that, I have all 3 volumes (and at least one of his smaller books), and when 4 comes out I'll probably buy it too because I think it presents important information in a different light (and I think it's important to be able to read about things from different angles in order to more fully understand it).

    Some of us actually want to work on truly complex pieces of software...if you're content being a web programmer for the rest of your life, with no desire to learn what it is that goes into something more challenging, then by all means keep deriding people who have made it their life's work to teach this sort of thing.  And when the next programming job drought comes along, you'll be tossed aside for the people who can do your job AND a bunch of other things as well.  

    Then you'll get to interview with someone like me, who doesn't wear a suit, asks technical questions, and sends you on your way when you say "I can throw code at a problem until it works".  You're offended by people who don't wear a suit to an interview, I'm offended by people who think there's nothing they need to learn.

    Batter up, baby.

    -cw



  • CW,

    You said:

    @CodeWhisperer said:

    if you're content being a web programmer for the rest of your life, with no desire to learn what it is that goes into something more challenging, then by all means keep deriding people who have made it their life's work to teach this sort of thing.

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?



  • @CPound said:

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?

    I'm saying that it is only one tiny corner of the computing field, and there's a lot more out there that is, yes, probably a lot more challenging.   "Web Programming" can mean a lot of things, some of it fairly interesting, but it's definitely one of the easier fields I've worked in.  Given the choice between programming a web-based system or programming a web server, I'll take the latter.  Given the choice between writing database queries or a the database server, I'll take the latter. 

    I quite enjoyed my time as an architect at a couple large .COMs, but not because I liked piecing the web pages together.  There are a lot of other interesting problems involved that fall outside of my definition of 'web programming', but that definition may be different than yours.  Pray tell, what do you consider 'web programming'.

    -cw



  • @CodeWhisperer said:

    Pray tell, what do you consider 'web programming'.

    Web Programming to me is taking an infinite and ever changing set of business rules, creating applications based on them, and releasing them to be served up on the world wide web.



  • @CPound said:

    Web Programming to me is taking an infinite and ever changing set of business rules, creating applications based on them, and releasing them to be served up on the world wide web.

    Fair enough, that's a pretty broad definition though.   You could say that about pretty much everything. 

    Photoshop is going to be online soon, that is technically 'web programming' at some level, but with a world of math going on behind the scenes.  Google is web-based, but I suspect that what's going on behind the scenes is pretty complex.  Those I consider pretty interesting problems and pretty challenging, though the actual presentation to the web is relatively trivial.

    If your definition of web programming extends to include those, then I'd agree it's pretty challenging -- though your own stated opinions make it clear you'd flunk out of the interview pretty much instantly.   If your definition is more restrictive and mostly based around interacting with db information in a web format then, no, I don't consider that challenging at all.

    -cw



  • @CPound said:

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?

    <font size="-1"></font>

    Bill Door seemed to meditate on the question for some time. Then he said, I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT IS A DEFINITE "YES", MISS FLITWORTH.



  • @CPound said:

    As a Jr. level programmer, I was very impressionable. By that I mean, negative interview experiences hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll admit it. I was a novice. A "rookie" if you will. I know none of you out there started off a novice, you all started as super-genius-brainiacs, right? Sorry, I digress again...

     Sorry, I couldn't read your diatribe because of all the mindnumbing formatting and lack of appropriate paragraph breaks.
     



  • @ammoQ said:

    @CPound said:

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?

    <font size="-1"></font>

    Bill Door seemed to meditate on the question for some time. Then he said, I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT IS A DEFINITE "YES", MISS FLITWORTH.

    Who is this Bill Door; and how does he hold up against Knuth? 



  • Well, they both wear black...


    But that's a silly question, everyone knows that nobody holds up against Knuth, right CPound?   

    -cw



  • @dhromed said:

    @ammoQ said:
    @CPound said:

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?

    <font size="-1"></font>

    Bill Door seemed to meditate on the question for some time. Then he said, I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT IS A DEFINITE "YES", MISS FLITWORTH.

    Who is this Bill Door; and how does he hold up against Knuth? 

    If you don't know the book "Reaper Man" from Terry Pratchet, get it!

    Spoiler can be found here.

     



  • @ammoQ said:

    @dhromed said:
    @ammoQ said:
    @CPound said:

    Are you implying that web programming is only so challenging, and then the challenge just stops?

    <FONT size=-1></FONT>

    Bill Door seemed to meditate on the question for some time. Then he said, I THINK THE ANSWER TO THAT IS A DEFINITE "YES", MISS FLITWORTH.

    Who is this Bill Door; and how does he hold up against Knuth? 

    If you don't know the book "Reaper Man" from Terry Pratchet, get it!

    Spoiler can be found here.

     

    I'll mark that as next book to read (pratchet is pretty good for weird sci-fi) 🙂

    also... what did you fix, exactly?



  • @GeneWitch said:

    also... what did you fix, exactly?

    ???


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