Ravi Mohan's Blog

Friday, April 02, 2004

Spells and Software

How hard is the software you write ? Most "business" software is more a matter of repeating endlessly minor variations on a fairly simple theme. Most "product" software consists of fixing an endless stream of bugs.

But if one goes beyond the "normal " part of software (and sometimes one does need to write those endless jsp pages or whatever to put bread on the table - been there, done that ) one sees an endless panorama of exciting, mind blowing software that waits to be written. Most of us software developers are so buried in the soporific details of our "day jobs" that we soon forget the wonder that brought us into software.

My epiphany occured whan i was about 10. I had never seen a computer but one of my cousins had a small "Space Invaders" portable game. I couldn't believe that somone had actually WRITTEN it for me to play.

Software is the nearest thing to magic in the 21st century.

Your thoughts, converted into arcane spell like languages move money, machinery and people to do all sorts of wonderful things. And as with magic, there are Master Wizards and Spell Crafters who extend the frontiers of the art. There are tomes of knowledge which are freely available but remain cryptic "until the student is ready". And of course there are frauds and charlatans(no i did NOT mean "managers"! I actually know a few GOOD managers!All two of them :-P ) . See all the nonsense happening in the name of "test first" or "Extreme Programming" for example.

A few people can spout the jargon. Almost nobody can CODE test first.

Here is an example of some software that I think has a touch of magic about it.The folks at the Cortex brought us Clover and now they are going to bring us fisheye! I hope they make a ton of money off their lovely products.

The best advice I have ever recieved on the subject came from Martin Fowler . I was feeling fairly gloomy about "everyone is fairly happy with the status quo " , when Martin said "Why do you care what everyone else does ? If no one does cool things, there's all the more left for you to do".

A light bulb licked on in that instant inside my mind and has never gone off. These days I don't care anymore that I am an Aging Overweight Indian "software professional" . I can write code .And I can dream.

And in the midst of all the CMM ISO madness no one can take that away from me .

So i am learning LISP , running my own consultancy, planning my Ph D ,learning to play the blues.. All the "weariness of the heart" has dropped away and life is crammed full of interesting things to do and code to craft.

All because a Master Wizard , perhaps unknowingly, passed on a spell to me (and I freely pass it to you ).Four words.

What do YOU care?

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