Succeeding as a developer in todays economy

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  1. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy (116 messages)

    The economy has hit everyone hard. But the impact on IT developers has been staggering. Sure, we can all hope that things turn around and that the economy improves. But what if it doesn't? The smart developers are preparing for the inevitable--darwinism. Only the most fit creatures will survive. So how can you ensure your survival? Ed Roman provides useful suggestions in a TSS exclusive.

    Read Succeeding as a developer in today's economy.

    What does the community think?

    Threaded Messages (116)

  2. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    One problem is that there have to BE jobs in order to be marketable and get jobs - right now, there aren't hardly any anywhere, companies are sitting around on their hands with their teeth chattering, afraid to make a move. That, along, is hurting the economy tremendously. Get some guts already!
  3. Hey, but being unemployed just means I got more time to post here on theserverside, right? :-)

  4. I think the software industry is going through a transition period. 5 - 10 years ago there were many new and different applications being released. Today we see primarily updates to established applications or "me too" applications. In the case of the updates, obviously it takes fewer developers for maintenance updates.

    If we look at what applications a typical user uses there are only about 12 applications (fewer if Microsoft keeps integrating them). There just isn't a demand/need for more. Software isn't like apparel where a new demand is creating by creating new fashions every season. It isn't like cars or other mechanical things that break down. I'm sure there is something else out there that has the same characteristics as software but I can't think of one.

    There still is demand for custom software in IT shops, but there is a strong desire to use out of the box software. There's been a ramp up in IT for the last few years, but I think too as IT sees how low their ROI has been, that'll turn around.
  5. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Wow, that's very bleak.

    So you don't think the ROI on some of the internet startups that made tons of people millionaires was worth the salaries they paid to IT slugs like us?

    And yes it doesn't change like fashion, but as computers get faster and platforms get more powerful (I refuse to reply to your positive comments on m$), more capabilities open up - there is still a LOT of work to be done.
  6. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Also, as far as "out-of-the-box" software goes, there HAS been a big push for that ever since I can remember - the problem is, it never works and never does everything it's supposed to, and is too generic. By the time you spend all the resources to get most "canned" packages up and running, you might as well have written it yourself and it would be a whole lot better, and more suited to the company running the software, instead of the software running the company.
  7. A great article. What the article recomments are true all the time, they become more critical in bad time like this.
  8. Not to be nitpicking, but Microsoft .NET *is* Web Services. The whole .NET platform is built on SOAP, WSDL, UDDI and other Web Services technologies. To say that .NET will succeed while Web Services will fail is simply absurd.

    The article makes some interesting points, but overall it's of only marginal value, adds nothing but gloom and doom to an IT industry that already has plenty of pessimists.
  9. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    I must disagree on .NET. While it does have a big emphasis on web services, that is only a portion of the platform. Not all .NET customers will be developing web services.

    If you believe that the article has marginal value, then I perhaps you can advise me on building a better article. What advice would you give developers trying to struggle in this economy?
  10. I think your article offers good common sense advice. I would like to know your views on what role the several J2EE Certifications would play in this context.
  11. Ying is more important that Yang ![ Go to top ]

    In my humble opinion, IT market is consolidating just like other industries in past; for example process industries such as steel or petro chemical. Y2K and internet created lots of demand for IT workers and budget spending but it was short lived as Y2K turned out to be smoke and internet commerce still needs time to evolve.

    What's going to happen? More consolidation, mergers and acquisitions! Only those businesses that can add value are going to survive and rest are going to go away.

    How you can survive as IT worker? First, evaluate yourself.
    Do you have relevant educational background, skill set to add value in IT market? Or is it that you changed your job from chemistry lab technician to web development just because salary was better?

    Once you are sure that you want to work in stable industry just like process industry with marginal pay increase etc. and have appropriate qualifications, you can start thinking about technology, networking and other strategies author talked about.




  12. Ying is more important that Yang ![ Go to top ]

    The phrase "Y2K was smoke" really gets my irritated. (Not at you personally, just in general)

    It was _not_ smoke. Anyone who had to deal with it will tell you that. I personally was involved in Y2K remediating a web site used by an investment bank to distribute research to tens of thousands of clients.

    We found several Y2K issues, which if we had not cleared them out, would have caused serious client relationship issues. And issues such as these lead to economic consequences.

    I also know of many people in the financial area alone who have horror stories of what might have been had it not been for their work to rectify the situation.

    That said, Y2K did have a big impact on the IT market. It made companies take stock of their systems for the first time (many had no handle on it until their Y2K program started) and this lead them to get rid of those systems they did not have time to fix, or could get the same functionality out of other systems with minor modifications.

    As such, there were less systems left, plus a generally tighter control of IT systems than was previously present.

    Given that, immediately after Y2K most business lines had a ton of stuff to do that had been on hold for a long time due to Y2K, which explains the delayed impact on the job market. However, after these projects were either done (if any project ever is!) or cancelled due to no longer being relevant, viable etc. the effects on the IT job market were bound to come through.

    Just my 2c worth! :-)

    Chz

    Tony
  13. Ying is more important than Yang ![ Go to top ]

    I think this is important opinion in general. I agree with you about the consolidation part, which is my guess about the current direction too. I try to prove it in my mind. But I didn't experience the 90's, 80's and 70's USA economics recessions so I can't compare the current one with those recessions. I heard in the middle 80's there were very good computer technology markets and in the early 90's there were very bad markets for a few years. But in the middle 90's obviously there were very good computer technology markets again. So I am wondering the current consolidation trend is temporary for computer industry or it could be a long-time one, like automobile or chemistry consolidations? Can we discuss about this? I hope everyone who has good opinion about this trend can share his or her opinion with us.

    Thanks.
  14. I think it was an excellent piece, Ed. It reminded me of a
    book another Ed (Yourdon) wrote early in the recession of the early 90's. 'The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer' pointed out that programmers have to go upmarket or be unable to compete against cheaper labor from India and China. That is still true today, though falling demand plus improving tools is probably what is driving it today.

    Your piece was more valuable for the practical suggestions you made on how to make the most of your opportunities. There were things there which I had not thought of and intend to use. I've been pushing my skill base in J2EE and Jini, but hadn't been able to think of how to do the networking thing (my social skills are vestigal). Thanks!
  15. Software is precisely like fashion. So much so it is hard to tell the difference. A new model of software is proposed, vendors push new tools, developers learn new skills, companies port old apps, a new model of software is proposed.

    Web Services are a classic example...component-based distributed systems are another, remember client-server? The ASP (Application Service Provision) revolution?
  16. I would like to know, for example, what are some of the technologies that will be "hot" in the time frame of next two to three years, but yet not many people are aware of them at the moment.

    In today's world, it is close to impossible to have a great idea that nobody else is aware of. Success depends much on execution rather than creativity (look what the creative business models of the dot com days are leading us to)

  17. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    I would like to know, for example, what are some of the technologies that will be "hot" in the time frame of next two to three years, but yet not many people are aware of them at the moment.


    Wouldn't we all...
  18. sdfsf
  19. Thought provoking article. For the last few years we developers have been a bit spoiled. Now we need to utilize/develop 'soft' skills, like networking, which most are not comfortable with. I work at a company which specializes in 'sitting on its hands'. Now the only thing keeping me sane and motivated is a skunkworks where a few of us are trying to keep afloat on J2EE.
    Funny I haven't heard as much lately about the necessity to crank up the limits on H1B visas. Was it really a shortage or just a means to drive down salaries?
  20. System integration skills are also a big key to success in the IT market. Even though the current n-tier trends are attempting to sooth the pain of the never ending problem of "seemless" integration across divergent platforms, there are still many challenges to face in that arena.

    It is still a fairly daunting challenge to be able to talk to a mainframe running Cobol, which in turn calls to a C++ Corba server that updates a database, and then on to J2EE app server, which in turn sends a message to COS based message system. All of which must be done within the scope of one global transaction. Not impossible, but not trivial.


  21. Brand new old things[ Go to top ]

    to get survive as developer, find out and master the core technology
    I use ANSI C++ as development then I do not have to worry about what will come, socket, dcom, corba, soap, webservice, just get a library and use it, finish ie I use STL for windows or unix,olso as C++ developer I don't have any problem to create AWT application, ActiveX, or EJB or COM+ app.
    right now many microsoft and sun developer they selves using C/C++ for their up coming product. nothing to worry if u hold the core technology.btw being architect is good advice
  22. I would be interested to hear views from other parts of the world (non USA) - here is mine from South Africa:

    Not many people know, but South Africa has a fairly advanced business & technical infrastructure. I have worked in the UK and the USA (H1B...) and I can honestly say I have not encountered anything (technically) in those countries that could not as easily have been in South Africa.

    The one aspect where we sadly lack significantly is the marketshare that Java (J2EE + all other incarnations) has captured in the E-Commerce/Web App/Development arena. Where Java has a marketshare of say 40% (?) in the USA, in South Africa its more like 4%! The reasons are varied, but I place 80% of the blame on Sun's operation in South Africa - they have always been more interested in pushing servers than software.

    So I guess we (South African Java architects/programmers) have always been in the "tight economy" situation. Unfortunately it may get even worse now...

    Cheers.
    Anton.
  23. I don't know what the next 'great' technology will be--yet. But I'm always on the lookout for it.
  24. Ed, what do you make of Jini? I'm just getting into it and it looks interesting.
  25. I am interested in changing that position in South Africa. And you are right, Sun has not exposed our local market to the possibilities that Java brings to the software table.
  26. Mark,

    Well you can count on my full support to "change the Java position in SA" - and I know of others that will be as keen.

    I went over to the Sun SA site just now - nothing much new there (and pretty pathetic as it is). And the SA Java User Group (sajug.co.za) is not even up...

    I must say that on the up side I saw a job spec yesterday for a couple of J2EE architects/programmers that looked fantastic. And that for a very well known government institution nogal...

    Any specific plans? Feel free to contact me at ant at global dot co dot za.

    Cheers.
    Anton.

  27. I am totally agrre with u, I am from India, here IT is growing at a rate of 40%. That is good enough for fair growth. Although global slowdown is effecting the IT industry at the same time increase in outsourcing by western countries is helping India.

    for any informatin about India pl. contact
       msbalyan at hotmail dot com
  28. agree with you.i am one among the developer who is regularly putting myself to learn new things in the j2ee and oracle platform and now i have been prized with a techlead in a mnc compny.to be frank enough i spent lot for browsing theserverside.com ,mansenhafel sites and invest lot on wrox boooks,o'reilly books ,downloading softwares and carry out all the R&D work when the world say that the market for java gone down.it is time for quality professional to tighten the belt and deliver best out of the best.

    apart from these dediaction to the compnay,project,attitude towards colleagues,open mindness to accept new technology from friends and wiilingness to admire them all will pay for u
  29. Being a student, I think these types of articles are of immense value. Everything suggested sounds like good advice, but is there any advice for the students who will be graduating in such an environment?

    More specifically, experience in "winning" technologies is difficult at best for a student who is largely consumed with making enough money to make it through their schooling. Although it is possible to get summer work, for many this is a case of "beggers can't be choosers". Is there an alternative to gaining experience that would be taken seriously by companies out there? For instance, does working on independant projects or Open Source projects carry much weight with potential employers?

    Thanks!
  30. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    For those students asking how to prepare themselves...

    I graduated back in Spring of '92 into a similar "bad market for programmers." Since then I've done well for myself, and this year will be my best year ever (running my own small consulting firm). Based on my experiences, I would recommend two pieces of advice that I received from friends of the family that turned out to be golden:

    1. Take anything you can get for your first job, and stick to it for a year. After that you can start marketing your experience.

    2. Never take a job for the money. Do your job and do it well, and the money will follow.

    After that, Ed is right: you have to stay on top of things, and network like crazy. Remember, *everyone* is potentially a part of your network. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" should be required reading for those just beginning to "assemble" their network.

    As for identifying the next "hot" skill or technology, that's something that comes with experience. I foresaw the potential for Java, and jumped in with both feet in '95. If I had to guess the next hot technology (i.e. one that will generate work for developers with experience in it) it would be .NET.
  31. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    . If I had to guess the next hot technology (i.e. one that will generate work for developers with experience in it) it would be .NET.


    I TOTALLY disagree. I think people and companies have realized that m$ is about as far away from "the way to go" as you can get.
  32. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    . If I had to guess the next hot technology (i.e. one that will generate work for developers with experience in it) it would be .NET.


    >>I TOTALLY disagree. I think people and companies have realized that m$ is about as far away from "the way to go" as you can get.

    A very naive and uninformed answer. Go to any Microsoft developer meeting and count the heads at the .NET seminars - there are tons of people interested in it. .NET will definitely take time to get going, but people are already moving in that direction. This is not a diss of J2EE - which is an excellent platform.
  33. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    Your advice is really worth giving a careful consideration.
    I am exp. for more than 3 yrs. and i have faced ups and downs.My exp. says that your skills are the best friend and of course your network also plays most important role.

    Mayur
  34. I perfectly agree with his points:
    1. Do not run after money, but do your job.

    I wish to add:
    1. Technology doesn't matter: The latest technology is useless if it doesn't add value to your customer. Why do you think mainframes are still popular?
    2. Surviving in this economy requires thinking ways of saving money for your customer: Saving a dollar for your customer is getting it for yourself. You earn when your customer earns. So, it matters that developers grow up to think like Managers (ya, i know it sounds like Dilbert-:) so that we can save money.

    My personal motto: Think like a manager; act like a developer.

    Anand
  35. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    My personal motto: Think like a manager; act like a developer.


    Anand <
    I agree, but would go you one further Anand.

    Think like a user; act like a developer.
  36. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    "My personal motto: Think like a manager; act like a developer. "

    What a DISGUSTING statement. The last thing I would request any developer to do is "think like a manager."
  37. Graduating into a poor market[ Go to top ]

    "My personal motto: Think like a manager; act like a developer. "

    Tracy Milburn commentsd on the above:

    >> What a DISGUSTING statement. The last thing I would request any developer to do is "think like a manager." <
    I beg leave to disagree. being able to follow the (debateable) thought processes of managers is an essential survival skill in the present situation.
  38. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Everything suggested sounds like good advice, but is there any advice for the students who will be graduating in such an environment?


    Yes; you might consider changing majors!
  39. The market has definitely turned, but J2EE is still a hot (potential) skill set to have under your belt - and I think for some time to come. I also think having a diversified skill set is important. Always learn new skills and the chances are you can get into a company on one or more of them. For instance, I have a lot of experience in J2EE and in data migration, and one thing my company does is go in to clients to help them integrate their e-business components to data warehouses, CRM, etc using J2EE. Sometimes one skill set (data migration) might allow you to get into a job, and then you can use your other skill set (or sets) (J2EE, java) when you get in. If you are a C programmer and you really want to use your Java skills, but can't get in by that door, get in by your C skills and look within your company after you have established yourself for any opportunities for doing Java work. If you have at least two really strong skill sets, this greatly improves your ability to stay afloat in bad (not to mention good) times.
    Cheers
    Ray
  40. If you are just starting out as a developer look to join an organization with a true development process consisting of requirments definition, functional designs, technical architecture with Object Models and Use Case diagrams, Automated testing, Configuration management, you get the point. This will provide a good basis for your growth as a software engineer.
    Work for a while then get an advanced degree. Many of todays development tools are high level so the low level concepts are never learned on the job. Understanding these concepts will help you no matter what the technology.
  41. Work for a while then get an advanced degree. Many of >>todays development tools are high level so the low level >>concepts are never learned on the job. Understanding >>these concepts will help you no matter what the >>technology.


    I would say the advanced degree is optional - if you want to go in a management direction perhaps get one. But there are a lot options besides management - only go in a management direction if you have a talent and inclination for it - please! Personally, I want a job that is very interesting, provides a learning experience, and pays well. If you approach a job from that perspective (or some combination or additions of your choosing) you might have a wider array of choices.

    The point above that a lot of the modern development tools don't allow the learning of the details of a given technology is certainly a good one. In J2EE for instance a lot of tools and application servers shield you from the details of the underlying technology. In a high paced development environment, this has its advantages but the downside is that it gets in the way of the details. I would spend time in whatever way you deem appropriate studying what you can of thge underlying technology. For instance, if the underlying technology is Java and J2EE study those aspects. I learned a tremendous amount about J2EE by working with the Orion application server, because (at least at the time)you typically had to do a tremendous amount of the development by hand (with the help of tools like Ant of course) so I had to study the EJB spec, Servlet spec, etc and learned to write ejb-jar.xml and the other .xml files by hand. This can be tedious, but you learn a lot. Now, it is much easier for me to move around amongst the various app servers because I have that experience. Anyway - I guess the point is to take it upon yourself to learn not only the development tools but the technology as well. Maybe you don't have the time at work but if you find time in your schedule to do so, you will definitely be a better developer and have better chance of landing a wider array of jobs. Learn from others. Learn from available code. Learn in anyway you can. It will pay off in the long run.


    Cheers
    Ray



  42. It's obviously a thought provoking article for the developer community. I foresee there will be reasonably good demand for system integrations,all this new technology and old successfull and stable technology requires seemless connectivity each other to be more productive in the current and future markets
  43. It's interesting to see "system integration" being repeated a few times in various posts. Is there a real demand for these?
  44. Of course there's a demand for system integration. How do you think consultancies get revenue!!

    Ground up software development is a thing of the past, the Java specs of the last couple of years saw to that. That's why there is only one way people talk to databases (for the most part) in Java, not 20+ like in C++ etc.

    System integration is the mainstay of the software world. If you know how to do that properly (and it's just as hard as development is) then you should be able to find a job.

    There might be a shortage of jobs, but there's always demand for people who are good at this kind of thing.

    :)

    Chz

    Tony
  45. Tony Brrokes writes:

    >> Ground up software development is a thing of the past, the Java specs of the last couple of years saw to that. That's why there is only one way people talk to databases (for the most part) in Java, not 20+ like in C++ etc. <
    But the ground level changes with each generation. With technical advance the meaning of 'ground-up' changes. I started 15 years ago doing Unix systems programming, which is certainly 'ground-up' from our viewpoint. But older programmers remembered doing Assembler and even Machine language coding, and didn't view C coding with Unix system calls as 'ground-level'. EJB's, Servlets, JSP's, JDBC, and Middleware are today's ground-level technologies I think. Ground-level is the lowest-level activity commonly going on.

    >> System integration is the mainstay of the software world. If you know how to do that properly (and it's just as hard as development is) then you should be able to find a job. <
    I am doing SI, and it's the hardest job I have had in years. I find myself constantly trying fit 6 months worth of work into 2 or 3 months. I have to fight like a junkyard dog to limit project scoping and formal requirements just to have any chance of delivering on time with the tight timeframes available!

    >> There might be a shortage of jobs, but there's always demand for people who are good at this kind of thing. <
    Perhaps. I haven't tested the job market since gaining the Middleware and EJB skills. It seems pretty mean out there.
  46. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    "Perhaps. I haven't tested the job market since gaining the Middleware and EJB skills. It seems pretty mean out there. "

    Lol. Understatement of the year. Texas just dropped below 1000 jobs for the state in a total; I've never seen it that low. 2 years ago it hovered around 5500.

    These are sad days indeed.
  47. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    "Perhaps. I haven't tested the job market since gaining the Middleware and EJB skills. It seems pretty mean out there. "

    Tracy Milburn writes:

    >>Lol. Understatement of the year. Texas just dropped below 1000 jobs for the state in a total; I've never seen it that low. 2 years ago it hovered around 5500.

    These are sad days indeed. <
    Hmmmm. I started circulating my CV at the beginning of December looking for an EAI Architect gig. A Swiss company pounced on it and I had an interview out there inside 10 days with a second due within the next week. Kinda slow otherwise but what do you expect in December?

    It's sad but it gets better when one has the right skillset for the times. EAI/B2B skills work well when the focus is on costcutting.
  48. Overall a good article, but ignores one of the major supply side equations i.e. our US government's policies.

    >This means salaries decrease, and some developers will be >out of work. For example, an interview with an IT >staffing firm recently revealed that many Java programmers >in the Northeast are working for $50 to $65 per hour, down >from $70 to $85 per hour last year. They attribute this >lower pay to tightening IT budgets".3

    This is one "sympomatic" factor. A critical "causal" factor is the supply side of the equation. The U.S. sponsers hundreds of thousands of "temporary" hi-tech workers via the H-1B Visa program. Although the demand for such workers has always been a huge debate, the economic impact is clear. The more workers in the economy the lower the pay - especially in a contracting economy. The H-1B Visa program is currently still in effect with 130,000 Visa signed for this year alone. The lower cost labor makes sense from companies' standpoints as they try to cut costs during tough times.
    Starting Oct 1st, another 195,000 are allowed for 2002. With many native American workers out of work this program is sure to be in the limelight very soon. In short, I recommend to all high-tech workers as part of your overall career strategy to stay employed or to gain employment is to either accept lower pay and/or live as frugally as the imported competition. Welcome to Globalization.

    For more information on the H-1B Visa program
    http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/itaa.real.html



  49. One area of the industry where there is demand and will be demand - at least for another six months or so - is training; both personal and online, as all the unemployed and scared developers desperately seek to upgrade their skill sets.

    Of course, without a corresponding increase in demand for people with those skills, the only ones that will profit will be the training companies.

  50. Wow! If I am reading this right, ER is saying that Web Services will not succeed.

    >> I suspect that the same is true [eg, a questionable future] for web services, which enables B2B collaboration. Again, critical mass is needed for certain web services technologies to take off, and again we end up with a chicken in the egg [sic] paradox.

    Your boldness is admirable - this prediction goes against so many others in the industry. But the reasoning does not work. The "chicken and egg" problem is not an insurmountable obstacle. If not, how did we get to the point where we have both automobiles and service stations, both airports and airplanes? How could telephones have ever succeeded? Or the internet as it is today, for that matter? Some trends can start small and build to critical mass.

    One car can deliver value. One plane. And one Web Services link - a network of ONE provider and ONE consumer - can deliver business value.

    Likewise the telephone network, or today's internet. The value of these networks explodes when the number of nodes is large (says Metcalfe), but in each case the network can sustain rapid growth even when N is small.

    OTOH, Jini becomes interesting only when the number of potential nodes in the Jini network is large. The threshold for N is much larger for Jini than it is for a telephone network. Nobody wants to pay for a Jini network with two Jini nodes in it. So Jini will just never achieve critical mass.

    Otherwise a good article, though.
  51. While I admire the author's noble efforts to help us out, I must say that I found the article to fall short in its analysis. By focusing on technology (and some networking knowhow), it failed to address the larger issues. These larger issues are much more pertinent to our current overall situation.

    For instance, rather than focusing on the technology (which incessantly changes anyway), I think a better advice would be to focus on the ability to successfully work at the conceptual level. Once that skill is demonstrated, the underlying, implementing technology becomes largely irrelevant. Many prospective employers would be willing to hire and train the candidate who can demonstrate the ability to quickly penetrate new areas. Even if the candidate has never heard of the latest and sexiest technology, doesn't mean that such candidate is a priori not of any interest to us. We will evaluate other qualifications he may bring to the table, together with the candidate's willingness to embrace new practices, and will make the hiring decision based on that.

    If we look at the evolution of information technology, we can detect a simple, unifying trend -- all the changes and 'shifts' are happening in support of minimizing the code-centric approach. This means that with every new generation of platforms and tools, we are getting more and more away from coding (i.e. implementation), and more into the conceptual realm (i.e. defining the intentions). This means that the traditional developers (the guys who specialize in rolling up their sleeves and coding everything by hand) are becoming less and less attractive.

    It has very little to do with the present economic slowdown. Even if the slowdown didn't happen, software industry would still be in a slump, as it obviously grew stale. And the reason it grew stale is primarily because of the human factor -- too many developers are stuck at the very low level (i.e. the code level), and do not seem ready for a breakthrough into the high level, abstract design.
  52. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    I agree.. at The Middleware Company we hire more for ability than experience. But how can ability be trained? Ability seems to be more like a latent characteristic. I don't think that reading an article can help you there. Thus I did not include it.
  53. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    You are right. You cannot take a course that will train you for the ability. However, I think that you can make an effort to change your focus from being code centric to becoming design centric. Then you can begin a journey that will take you away from being dependent on the underlying technology, whiule becoming more valuable in areas that really matter (i.e. architecture, design).

    Another emerging thing that promises to take over the entire field of software development is the so-called interaction design. I believe that in the future businesses will begin focusing on the interaction issues much more than on the implementation issues. I would therefore advise developers to start learning about the interaction design, as it's going to play a major role in the future development efforts.
  54. Right now the people doing the hiring have major problems with guys like me. I have a PhD, 20 years experience, C++ since 1986, Java since 95, EJB since 97 (I worked for an app server vendor). What I do get in interviews are not questions about architecture etc but about business development. e.g. "how did you get your clients". Obviously they're not interested and are fishing for free consulting.

    What's happened in my "network" has been that everyone is asking *me* for work.

    It's been 10 months now. I'm glad I didn't buy that car last fall.
  55. With a name like that, it's no wonder people are looking to you for work :) You're a genius!
  56. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Alex B wrote:

    >> For instance, rather than focusing on the technology (which incessantly changes anyway), I think a better advice would be to focus on the ability to successfully work at the conceptual level. Once that skill is demonstrated, the underlying, implementing technology becomes largely irrelevant. <
    I cannot agree with your analysis, Alex. Oh, I agree that going upward to the conceptual level is critical to career success, but your argument that implementation is irrelevant is way off. I've seen too many bad designs over the years done by designers who had lost connection with the implementation details to believe that.

    I try to do both, difficult as that can be. It makes me go back to scratch every few years and become a beginning programmer, but it also helps keep my designs fresh and easier for other implentors to work with.


  57. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Don wrote:

    "I cannot agree with your analysis, Alex. Oh, I agree that going upward to the conceptual level is critical to career success, but your argument that implementation is irrelevant is way off. I've seen too many bad designs over the years done by designers who had lost connection with the implementation details to believe that.

    I try to do both, difficult as that can be. It makes me go back to scratch every few years and become a beginning programmer, but it also helps keep my designs fresh and easier for other implentors to work with."


    Don, what I meant when I said that the underlying impementation is irrelevant was that, as software progresses, more and more of the implementation gets delegated to the underlying devices. For instance, JVM itself does a lot of legwork for us now. Same is with J2EE and .Net. But, this is just the beginning. After working for some time with IBM's San Francisco shareable framework, I've gained an insight into how much of an actual implementation could be offloaded to the underlying devices. That leaves us with the challenge to do the actual brainwork, instead of wrestling with the challenges of the low level implementation.

    I'm not saying that these challenges are trivial. Far from it. But, they could be solved in a standardized way (compare RMI development with programming to raw sockets, for example). Some people would argue that it's better to program to raw sockets, as it gives you much more direct control over what goes in when and where, but majority of businesses will nevertheless opt to go with a simple, elegant solution using RMI.

    Same logic applies to any other issue with concept vs. implementation. Yes, there are many ways to skin a cat, and implementation issues are marvelously challenging, but aren't we burning our gray cells in vain, instead of using them to design our true intentions?
  58. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Alex B writes:

    >> I'm not saying that these challenges are trivial. Far from it. But, they could be solved in a standardized way (compare RMI development with programming to raw sockets, for example). Some people would argue that it's better to program to raw sockets, as it gives you much more direct control over what goes in when and where, but majority of businesses will nevertheless opt to go with a simple, elegant solution using RMI. <
    It seems as if we're a bit closer in outlook than I first thought, Alex. But you phrase it differently than I do. The point I was making is that 'conceptualization' demands that one understands the underlying technology. There are way too many 'technical architects' out there who can conceptualize the hell out of a Powerpoint presentation but would not recognize an CMP Entity EJB if it bit them on the ass.

    I try to keep up, which means (to me) cutting code until I understand the concepts and tools. Only then do I feel able to do a decent job on a systems architecture. When doing a detail design I often have questions about whether something I want to do is possible, so I do a little exploratory programming to find out.

    The problem with giving up implementation as one moves to conceptualization is that one loses the ability to work that way. I was a C++ specialist with some light Java until 24 months ago. Had I stuck with the 'conceptualization' without learning J2EE from the inside out I would also have been designing J2EE systems with C++ assumptions. I would also be unable to explain how the difficult parts of my design can be done in the new framework. Worst still, I would be designing systems without using the new tools J2EE makes available and forcing the programming team to use JNI to resolve the contradictions in the design.

    >> Same logic applies to any other issue with concept vs. implementation. Yes, there are many ways to skin a cat, and implementation issues are marvelously challenging, but aren't we burning our gray cells in vain, instead of using them to design our true intentions? <
    I believe I addressed this bove. The point of 'implementation' in my view is to understand and use the new tools well rather than stick to the old ones.

  59. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Don Stadler wrote:

    "The point of 'implementation' in my view is to understand and use the new tools well rather than stick to the old ones."

    Don, I absolutely agree with you. You put it very nicely. It's like music -- before you can conceptualize and compose, you must learn the intricacies of the instrument. No question about it.

    Or, it's like writing an essay. Before we can write a good essay, we must ensure that we know the alphabet inside out, then we must master the words, then phrases, then sentences, and so on. It would be ludicrous to try and skip some of those steps.

    But when we eventually reach the high level, it would be equally ludicrous to focus once again on the low level.
  60. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Alex B writes:

    >> Or, it's like writing an essay. Before we can write a good essay, we must ensure that we know the alphabet inside out, then we must master the words, then phrases, then sentences, and so on. It would be ludicrous to try and skip some of those steps. <
    The problem with our field is that they keep changing the frigging alphabet just as I'm getting comfortable with the old one! LOL!

  61. A conceptual view is fine if you have the technical savvy to understand the impact of the high level designs. Conceptual architectures are the beginning of a concrete design and solution. However, at some point when determining the concrete solution, some kind of technology selection is required.

    I have worked at the conceptual architecture level for large organisations, and in some cases, when I have actually got to the implementation stage, regretted the high level decisions that were made.

    In summary, the thought of conceptual architectures being deisgned without detailed understanding of lower level implications is a scary thing - both financially and technically.
  62. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Alex, I basically disagree with everything you say. You say to stop focusing on the low levels and go to a conceptual level. In fact, what is "hot" is really all that matters. I used to try and refuse to accept that, having years of experience in various languagesand platforms and design, and being told "you don't have over 1+years of vb or Java, we can't talk to you." I hated hearing that, and though it was reprehensible, but it's true, unfortunately. No one really cares how conceptual you are, or how good of a designer you are. All they care is how many years you have of X technology.

    Also, I disagree that the software industry would have gone into a slump despite the economy. It went down RIGHT WITH the economy.

    I disagree that traditional "roll up your sleeve" programmers are becoming less desirable; in fact, that's all companies are asking for, is for those that can do the job.

    In the words of homer simpson, you seem to "live in a land of fairy tails and leprechans."
  63. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Tracy Milburn writes:

    >> Alex, I basically disagree with everything you say. You say to stop focusing on the low levels and go to a conceptual level. In fact, what is "hot" is really all that matters. I used to try and refuse to accept that, having years of experience in various languagesand platforms and design, and being told "you don't have over 1+years of vb or Java, we can't talk to you." I hated hearing that, and though it was reprehensible, but it's true, unfortunately. No one really cares how conceptual you are, or how good of a designer you are. All they care is how many years you have of X technology. <
    Some of both. Alex and you are both correct at some level. The conceptual skills are essential for designing good software and systems. You are on top of the realities of the job market. Doesn't mean the job market values the correct things though.

    >> Also, I disagree that the software industry would have gone into a slump despite the economy. It went down RIGHT WITH the economy. <
    The industry went into the dumper well before the economy did, and bids fair to recover after the economy does this time. In my functional area (telecoms) it has been twice as bad.

    >> I disagree that traditional "roll up your sleeve" programmers are becoming less desirable; in fact, that's all companies are asking for, is for those that can do the job. <
    I see a LOT of demand for the Power Point boys, the ones who can bullshit. In my market the 'mere' programmers are a lot less marketable. Wages are in the dumper.

  64. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    "The industry went into the dumper well before the economy did, and bids fair to recover after the economy does this time. In my functional area (telecoms) it has been twice as bad. "

    I suppose it probably depends on the area of the country you're in. Here in Texas (the only place to live) though, the computer market was still on fire until just about 3 months before the economy went down. To me, that says the computer industry was still doing well until the economic meltdown. Also, the telecom meltdown hurt the computer industry here. I hear it's even worse in austin because they were a big startup town.

    Any way you slice it, it sucks right now, and I doubt it will get better until the next "craze" comes along for alot of investors to throw money at, hoping to become wealthier.

    Welcome to capitalism!

    http://home.att.net/~Resurgence/Einstein.htm
  65. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Tracy writes:

    >> I suppose it probably depends on the area of the country you're in. Here in Texas (the only place to live) though, the computer market was still on fire until just about 3 months before the economy went down. To me, that says the computer industry was still doing well until the economic meltdown. Also, the telecom meltdown hurt the computer industry here. I hear it's even worse in austin because they were a big startup town. <
    Well, the US went into recession first. Here in the UK the economy *still* isn't officially in a recession and may not go into a technically defined 'recession'. But telecoms is in a depression and has been for just about a year now. The other driving factor has been the ongoing collapse of the dot.bomb sector, which hurt the equipment manufacturers (Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, JDS) bigtime.

    >> Any way you slice it, it sucks right now, and I doubt it will get better until the next "craze" comes along for alot of investors to throw money at, hoping to become wealthier. <
    I don't agree. Crazes don't drive economic growth as a rule, the period from 1998 to 2000 notwithstanding. As a case in point the last such investment craze dates to the early 70's.

    What is killing the established telecoms long distance vendors (such as AT&T, Worldcom, British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, et al) now has been a collapse in long distance rates. In the US for example, rates averaged 15 cents a minute as recently as 1996-1997, collapsing to 4 cents a minute last year.

    The equipment suppliers (Cisco et al) would have been hurting bigtime as early as 1999 from order reductions from the big established companies except for two things. The dot.bomb investment craze pushed at least two years worth of demand into one year (2000), and demand from the new competitors to the established long distance and local operators also buoyed demand for equipment.

    But both sectors (dot.bombs and new telecom companies) have hit the wall, with many bankruptcies. This will actually tend to stabilize the older companies and remaining new entrants in the longer run, but we're still oversupplied with equipment and services in telecoms. I expect things to turn somewhat better this year. But no crazes.

    Another thing which will help the Equipment suppliers is a new generation of technology. If this generation is cost-effective people will buy it and toss out the old kit.

    The US economy is coming out of recession, or so the leading indicators seem to say. But do you see large new development projects coming on line now? I don't! I don't expect too much before the summer to be honest. So software development will lag the recovery, as I said.....


  66. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    "The US economy is coming out of recession, or so the leading indicators seem to say. But do you see large new development projects coming on line now? I don't! I don't expect too much before the summer to be honest. So software development will lag the recovery, as I said..... "

    The us economy is still in a recession if you ask me, based on what I've seen. While the news talks of things turning around, jobs continue to diminish. A quick peruze of computerjobs.com shows texas as the #1 as they have been for a long time, but that ain't sayin' much: there are currently 992 jobs in the entire state; that's sad.
  67. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Tracy sez:

    >> The us economy is still in a recession if you ask me, based on what I've seen. While the news talks of things turning around, jobs continue to diminish. A quick peruze of computerjobs.com shows texas as the #1 as they have been for a long time, but that ain't sayin' much: there are currently 992 jobs in the entire state; that's sad. <
    The devil is in the details, Tracy. If the economy is 'growing' by 0.1% it's technically out of recession, despite the fact that economic growth of between .5% and 1% is necessary to keep up with immigration and population growth. So it is perfectly possible for the national income to be 'growing' overall and shrinking on a per-capita basis.

    But that is not what faces the software development industry. What we have had is an depression, which means shrinkage. We are near the bottom now, for the reason that next to no new development projects seem to be going on. For example, I work for a big SI house in London, and we have precisely one new project all year. We thought it would be big, but only recently has it ramped to more than about 10 or 15 people.

    I assume that you mean 'computer job advertisements' by your '992' figure, not total jobs in Texas. Helluva unemployment rate there, I'm SURE I would have heard! ;-)

    Again, the devil is in the detailson things like that. I expect that C++ EAi (MOM and all that) guys are doing alright, but that Java Swing can fuggeedabout it!

    BTW, where are you based? I assumed it was Austin, but one of your posts made it seem unlikely. Dallas? I spent a year in Dallas in 1989 during the last crunch. I remember all the empty stores and 3300 sq Mini mansions in Plano being knocked down at auction for 125K a pop.
  68. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Yes the figure I gave was from computerjobs.com. The last couple of days, it's been rising slowly; it's now at 1025. Still though, last year it hovered at 5500. Very depressing.

    No, I've never even been to Austin. I hear it's nice though. But I hear they were hit harder by all this. I live in Allen, just north of Plano.

    So London is bad also? I thought ENgland was more socialistic.
  69. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    So London is bad also? I thought ENgland was more socialistic.


    You ever been to London Tracy? :)

    While the current UK government has it's original roots in socialism it's not really very socialst any more. Oddly enough, when they stopped being socialist, they got elected! :)


    London is a financial center. If the markets are down, then the banks don't hire techies and they let plenty go. No money = no systems = more unemployed techies. I suspect the more northern parts of the UK are less affected, but then there aren't a great deal of jobs in this sort of market outside of a couple of cities.

    Chz

    Tony
  70. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    ">> So London is bad also? I thought ENgland was more socialistic.

    You ever been to London Tracy? :) "

    I haven't ever been there but have talked to people who have.

    "While the current UK government has it's original roots in socialism it's not really very socialst any more. Oddly enough, when they stopped being socialist, they got elected! :) "


    That's the problem with capitalism; when it's good it's real good, and when it's bad, well, it's real bad.

    http://home.att.net/~Resurgence/Einstein.htm
  71. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    ">> So London is bad also? I thought ENgland was more socialistic.

    "While the current UK government has it's original roots in socialism it's not really very socialst any more. Oddly enough, when they stopped being socialist, they got elected! :) "

    Well, it is and it isn't (socialistic that is). My employment contract specifies 3 months notice either direction when changing jobs. This is fairly typical in the UK for senior people in permanent jobs. But there is minimum regulation for dumping people otherwise, in contrast to the heavy regulation prevalent in countries like France, Germany, and Italy. The scheme in the Netherlands is similar to that in the UK I think.

    Last month we underwent a purge (almost 25% in my group). Everyone (including the juniors) got a minimum of 4 months severance pay, though it was not required in their case.


    That's the problem with capitalism; when it's good it's real good, and when it's bad, well, it's real bad.

  72. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    That's the problem with capitalism; when it's good it's real good, and when it's bad, well, it's real bad. <

    Real bad is fewer than 100 jobs in Texas, not 1000+. IMHO anyway. Real bad is any time when your skills are not in demand regardless of whether the economy is in recession or not (ask any mainframer). And yes, real bad is having no savings and an obsolete skill base when you get dumped.

    But having to take a pay cut or take contracting gigs isn't 'real bad' in my book. Not if it leaves you enough to live on anyway. Neither is having to do a testing gig or man a support line for a time. Neither is it 'real bad' when you have to move to a different city to get work (I've done it several times). 'Real bad' is no work at a living wage, anywhere!

    Any argument?
  73. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    Tracy says:

    >> Yes the figure I gave was from computerjobs.com. The last couple of days, it's been rising slowly; it's now at 1025. Still though, last year it hovered at 5500. Very depressing. <
    This data can be interpreted in two ways. Either the total number of IT jobs in Texas has fallen from 5500 to 1025 in the past year (80%+ IT unemployment) or the number of OPEN jobs have fallen that much, which might mean a fairly robust IT marketplace, but one which is not insane any more.

    Insane is the best word for what happened in 1999-2000. At my previous employer I saw a youngish fellow (age 28) who basically knew next to nothing get his salary virtually doubled from 40K to 75K overnight. I'm sure that some of the college kids who drew the big packages were worth it, especially in the 1997-98 timeframe, due to scarcity of HTML/Java skills in the general IT population. But it led to an employment gold rush in which (sometimes) it was presumed because someone was young that they knew what was up when actually demand far outstripped supply of the truly competent people (of any age).

    In turn this perhaps led to a presumption that the IT jobs market would always be a madhouse, because so many of the people had never experienced anything else! Currently the overall market in Texas seems to be 18% of once was, but the relevant figures to the individual are much narrower. I'm pretty sure that demand for HTML skills are less than 5% of what they were, but demand for serverside C++/Java skills is still perhaps 40% of peak. Much stronger relatively speaking.

    The fact is that to make it in the bad times, you need to be good and (perhaps more important) diversified. I am working the EAI niche now with J2EE and Tibco skills in Java and C++. Which is relatively good. But I can also do DB work, C and C++ maintenance, and many other things. And I will take that kind of work if needs be. I am not above 'old' technologies. I'm also not above taking a pay cut if I have to either.

    Demand will spring back, probably in summer or later. You might well be surprised how quickly once it begins. I expect that a *normal* level for Texas may well be something like 2-3000 *jobs* rather than the 1000 it is today or last year's 5500.

  74. Succeeding as a developer in todays economy[ Go to top ]

    "This data can be interpreted in two ways. Either the total number of IT jobs in Texas has fallen from 5500 to 1025 in the past year (80%+ IT unemployment) or the number of OPEN jobs have fallen that much, which might mean a fairly robust IT marketplace, but one which is not insane any more. "

    NO, believe me, it's not that. My friends have almost all been laid off, and one has been looking now for about 5 months. It's not a pretty site here AT ALL, or anywhere for that matter.

    "Insane is the best word for what happened in 1999-2000. At my previous employer I saw a youngish fellow (age 28) who basically knew next to nothing get his salary virtually doubled from 40K to 75K overnight. I'm sure that some of the college kids who drew the big packages were worth it, especially in the 1997-98 timeframe, due to scarcity of HTML/Java skills in the general IT population. But it led to an employment gold rush in which (sometimes) it was presumed because someone was young that they knew what was up when actually demand far outstripped supply of the truly competent people (of any age). "

    I'll agree with that... I knew a complete moron who could barely spell java who bluffed himself into a well-paid job. He then got laid off, (one of the first to go) and came looking for me to help him get a job at the new company I was at; I just laughed.

    "But having to take a pay cut or take contracting gigs isn't 'real bad' in my book. Not if it leaves you enough to live on anyway. Neither is having to do a testing gig or man a support line for a time. Neither is it 'real bad' when you have to move to a different city to get work (I've done it several times). 'Real bad' is no work at a living wage, anywhere! Any argument? "

    No, just on the word choice... what you're describing, I would consider "depression" or "terrible" RIght now, it IS "real bad." "Bad" would be 1/2 of how bad it is right now. It's semantics, but the point is that it could get alot worse, but it also could be a HELL of alot better. Take care
  75. Real Bad.....[ Go to top ]

    When I came out of college I pushed a broom for almost a year before landing my first professional job: At 12K a year! That's bad.

    On one contracting gig I had in the early 90's (after 3 months unemployment) I ended up sleeping in my car for a few days and showering in a truck stop every day before work. That is also bad. Admittedly, special circumstances, as I had a nonworking adult dependent whom I could not move and few savings at that time. Also I was badly burnt on a previous contract, which will burn through your savings right quick. That's also bad.

    One question to ask yourself is how long it would take you to get work if you hit the wall tomorrow. 2 months isn't bad. 6 months? That's bad.
  76. Real Bad.....[ Go to top ]

    Pardon, My first 'professional job' began at 12K. Broom-pushing was $3.35 an hour, < 5K a year!
  77. NO, believe me, it's not that. My friends have almost all been laid off, and one has been looking now for about 5 months. It's not a pretty site here AT ALL, or anywhere for that matter. <

    Do what you have to to keep employed. Kiss the boss' nethers if you must. Consider short-term contracting if needs must. Consider moving house to another city (for a contract). Do testing, support, whatever. Learn stuff. Move in with your buddies to save money (or vice-versa).

    Good luck.
  78. "One question to ask yourself is how long it would take you to get work if you hit the wall tomorrow. 2 months isn't bad. 6 months? That's bad. "

    I bet it would take probably 4-6 months. Thank God it hasn't happened; I don't know what I would do with a wife and two kids looking to me for survival.

    "Do what you have to to keep employed. Kiss the boss' nethers if you must."

    It's sad that it has come to that.

    "Learn stuff."

    I do that anyway - always.

    "Move in with your buddies to save money (or vice-versa). "

    Lol, I'm sure that would be easy...

    Face it, it's bad. You've been fortunate so far. But don't bury your head i nthe sand and act like all those people out of work can't find anything because it's their fault, that the economy is just fine. It isn't, and it is REAL bad right now. Yes, itcould be worse though, it's all in the definition of bad, very bad and worse. No need to compete with stories of walking to school 5 miles in the snow...
  79. Tracy sez:

    >> Face it, it's bad. You've been fortunate so far. <
    Relatively, though I've been doing my share of nether-kissing also. By remaining silent in the face of outrageous behavior for the much part. But believe me, someone who has slept in his car and showered at a truck stop to make ends meet (even for a short period) has at least a nodding acquaintance with 'bad'!

    >> But don't bury your head i nthe sand and act like all those people out of work can't find anything because it's their fault, that the economy is just fine. <
    In my experience it's often some of both. Not to assign fault, but I learned the trade of finding a job during the worst downturn since 1929, in the worst-hit part of the country at that. What I learned is to be creative and sneaky in the area of offering value. I suggest you dig up a copy of 'Guerilla Tactics in the Job Market' (or .... the New Job Market) by Tom Jackson. Out of print now, but your public library should have it. The best book ever written about finding work in an adverse economy IMHO.

    One thing I learned is that if there isn't a job at 60K there often is an opening at 40K. Or a bunch of little jobs which local businesses need doing which add up to 40K. Or contracts at $30 an hour. Or whatever.

    Another thing I've learned is that if you have a skill problem, identify it and do something about it. You can't buy job experience but you CAN buy a book or download a package from the net. Or whatever.

    Finally you have to keep at it. Sounds easier said than done, but it is the real key. Half of overcoming adversity is managing your own depression. Go ahead and feel depressed (you will anyway) but DON'T allow depression to affect your actions. People who tell themselves 'it's no use' and work half-heartedly at the job search, or who persist in a job-search strategy which isn't working for the same reason are beating themselves. One reason for attending a jobseekers support group is for psychological support, but other people's point of view can open your mind to opportunities as well.

    >> It isn't, and it is REAL bad right now. Yes, it could be worse though, it's all in the definition of bad, very bad and worse. No need to compete with stories of walking to school 5 miles in the snow... <
    No stories about 5 miles in the snow, but I faced a job market (when I was a new graduate) in which there were NO positions advertised which I was qualified for! Nobody without professional experience need apply.

    I landed my first job by haunting college job Bulletin Boards, and then beat out 5 other applicants by offering to do a pilot project free of charge to prove I was worth having. The pay was peanuts and training nonexistant, but it was a chance to learn and get some experience. I took that strategy right out of the pages of 'Guerilla Tactics', BTW.

    One other thing to consider. The job market in Dallas and Austin may stink, but what about the market in Wichita Falls or Jefferson? What about Tyler? There may be less competition in places like that, or even in larger cities like Oklahoma City, Wichita, or Little Rock? Businesses in cities which aren't hotbeds of high-tech still need to have things done, and often don't have a enormous stock of laid-off programmers from software shops running in packs for the few available jobs. Local headhunters and national body shops often have a line on cut-rate jobs in out of the way places. If competition is bad locally, look elsewhere. But don't move until you have a job.

    If you do take a consulting gig elsewhere, consider renting a room rather than moving permanently. Little Rock may be great for some badly-needed income, but can be a lousy place to make a career..... ;-)
  80. One more thing[ Go to top ]

    Ask for help.

    Most particularly bring your family in on your problem and ask for their help. The kids may be able to cut grass or something to bring in a few bucks, and your wife can get a job (if she doesn't already have one). A two-earner family is often a form of insurance policy this way, as family income rarely falls to zero when there are two paychecks.

    Another thing to consider is cutting your expenses. If you have new expensive cars consider trading down. The same for the house. The 350K house is not a necessity of life. It's perhaps a little late for this advice, but I try to live modestly for this very reason.
  81. One more thing[ Go to top ]

    "If you do take a consulting gig elsewhere, consider renting a room rather than moving permanently. Little Rock may be great for some badly-needed income, but can be a lousy place to make a career..... ;-) "

    Lol, ain't that the truth. I think I'd rather live in the warzone of l.a. or catskill nyc than arkansas!
  82. "One other thing to consider. The job market in Dallas and Austin may stink, but what about the market in Wichita Falls or Jefferson? What about Tyler? There may be less competition in places like that, or even in larger cities like Oklahoma City, Wichita, or Little Rock? "

    Yuck... patooey... gag... cough... I wouldn't live anywhere outside of TeXas if I could at ALL help it. And, though things are bad here, they're alot worse than most other places. Also I have a house here, roots etc. you know. Take care
  83. Tracy Milburn (crazy Texan) writes:

    "Yuck... patooey... gag... cough... I wouldn't live anywhere outside of TeXas if I could at ALL help it. And, though things are bad here, they're alot worse than most other places. Also I have a house here, roots etc. you know. Take care."

    OK City? How do you tell the difference between Oklahoma and most of Texas except for college football? And even then,'Horns hate Aggies worse than either hates Sooners.

    Notice how many of your best HS talent head north each year? They can't tell the difference either. Of course the well-known high quality of the Texas HS curriculum may help explain. Especially the one they give to football heroes.... ;-)

    You're up near Plano, right? Nice area. I spent 8 months a few blocks inside Dallas near the Richardson city line in 1989. Oil/real estate/cattle/what have you bust time. That was Baaaaaddddddd!

    Dallas wasn't my favorite place, although I could survive in the Lower Greenville area or in that arty-farty part just north of Turtle Creek (was it Oak Park?). Austin struck me as pretty liveable, as did San Antonio. Fort Worth was less stuck up than Dallas. More of a Bubba city. Silverados instead of Beemers. Loved the Hill Country, and I think I could handle living in some of the small cities like Wichita Falls or Jefferson. The oil patch cities were pretty bad.

    Don't know what's wrong with Arkansas unless you hold a grudge againt it's most famous ex-citizen. Hot Spings is a bit sleezy and Little Rock is boring, but the Ozarks are right pretty, and very affordable. As good as the Hill Country, maybe better.

    Still and all, if I returned to the US it probably would be to West Virginia, East Tennessee, or somewhere in rural Pennsylvania by choice.
  84. OK City? How do you tell the difference between Oklahoma and most of Texas except for college football?

    Ooooo... OK, I'll put on my thick skin and realize you're joking :)

    This is the best place I've ever lived. I spent about 3 years growing up here but, being poor, had the "luxury" of moving around quite a bit, so I've lived in Florida (too humid, although pretty and nice beaches), Alabama, Mississippi (the prettiest state I've ever been in hands down; just no jobs there at all), Loiusiana (my LEAST favorite of all; GOD I hated living there, we lived in new orleans, what a DUMP), oKLANhoma (lived in Tulsa ten years; man, what a bore; it seems more like 1 year) and, of course, God's country, Texas (Dallas, Garland, Richardson, Pleasant grove, mesquite and, now, Allen). I love Dallas, and will never leave if I can help it.

    I'm 0% a football fan. I think it's dumb. But worse, I think it's dumber to see all the "Dallas stars" stickers and die-hard fans when probably 5% of native texans have ever played hockey in their lives. I'm a huge martial arts fan (http://www.lansville.com/~milburn/)

     And even then,'Horns hate Aggies worse than either hates Sooners.

    "Of course the well-known high quality of the Texas HS curriculum may help explain. Especially the one they give to football heroes.... ;-) "

    One thing you have to admit, public colleges here aren't that bad and they are DIRT cheap. A 4-year degre here costs as much as a junior college in Tulsa. I went to TU and will be paying back loans til I die.

    "You're up near Plano, right? Nice area."

    I live in Allen. It's nice, but it's almost a police state. I drove in Texas 3 years and never got pulled over. I've lived in Allen 6 months, and I've been pulled over twice and asked "What are you doing here in ALlen" and my wife has had two tickets and pulled over 4 times. I'm about to write the city a letter.

    " I spent 8 months a few blocks inside Dallas near the Richardson city line in 1989. "

    Richardson is great; now it's kind of getting older though.

    "Dallas wasn't my favorite place, although I could survive in the Lower Greenville area"

    Yeah, that's nice. Don't go there much though, being hitched.

    " or in that arty-farty part just north of Turtle Creek (was it Oak Park?)."

    You mean Oak Lawn?

    " Austin struck me as pretty liveable, as did San Antonio."

    Never been to either, hear both are great, although I hear Austin is a bit crowded.

    " Fort Worth was less stuck up than Dallas."

    Ft worth reminded me alot of oKLANhomer city; very old, run-down and industrial.

    Don't know what's wrong with Arkansas unless you hold a grudge againt it's most famous ex-citizen.

    I loved Clinton. He was great. Arkansas is basically owned by walmart; they built them their own airport. Cost of living is higher than tulsa, with 1/2 the jobs and companies run that state. Walmart is a sweat shop. Pretty state though, esp. in the mountains, but I'm afraid of heights.

    "Hot Spings is a bit sleezy and Little Rock is boring"

    My friend that lived there years said it has horrible crime and is a trash-heap.

    ", but the Ozarks are right pretty,"

    Very.

    "Still and all, if I returned to the US it probably would be to West Virginia,"

    Never been there, but I hear that, yes, it is quite beautiful;but not too many jobs.

    " East Tennessee, or somewhere in rural Pennsylvania by choice. "

    Pennsylvania is too yankie for me. And I hated the nj/nyc area.

    You seem like a really cool guy, and very worldly; take care.
  85. And Tracy.....[ Go to top ]

    Did you really mean this the way it sounds?

    "And, though things are bad here, they're alot worse than most other places."

    That is something I can fully agree with, especially about Dallas. Even when there are plenty of jobs and money is rolling in, Dallas is 'alot worse than most other places'. Though not worse than Houston. Living in Houston is justifiable cause to consider suicide, I think..... ;-)
  86. And Tracy.....[ Go to top ]

    "Did you really mean this the way it sounds?

    "And, though things are bad here, they're alot worse than most other places."

    No sorry, I mean 'NOT' as worse as most other places. Tulsa is far worse, and on computerjobs Texas is still on top.

    "That is something I can fully agree with, especially about Dallas. Even when there are plenty of jobs and money is rolling in, Dallas is 'alot worse than most other places'. Though not worse than Houston."

    Houston seems to have more postings right now than Dallas. They're less into the high-tech and more industrial; more stable.

    "Living in Houston is justifiable cause to consider suicide, I think..... ;-) "

    Unfortunately, I can't disagree, although I was born there. I recently visited family, and it's the muggiest, hottest place I've ever been, worse than both fl and louisiana combined. There were mosquito's out in November!!! It's also old and seems run-down. cya

  87. Don't mess with Texas![ Go to top ]

    I can't resist pulling the leg of Texans or Nooo Yawkers when they get parochial. It sounds like you've lived in some dumpy places, guy! Tulsa looked boring when I passed through once, but it beat hell out of any Texas oil patch city I ever saw (Tyler et al). As did OK city. The southern part of OK is very pretty (Red River Valley).

    Dallas and Atlanta were pretty similar, except that Atlanta is hillier and prettier as well as cheaper. The Atlanta transit system works better also. The RTP (Raleigh - Durham - Chapel Hill) area is nice. So was Kansas City, believe it or not! A bit of a hick town, but beautifully laid out with miles and miles of boulevards.

    There is a chunk of West Virginia which is commutable to the Northern Virginia jobs corridor. Still cheapish and very nice. Still and all, Atlanta is the best combination of a good jobs market, decent cost of living, and beautiful terrain I've seen yet. RTP close behind, and Dallas/Austin not bad.
  88. Don't mess with Texas![ Go to top ]

    " It sounds like you've lived in some dumpy places, guy! "

    From what I've seen of the northern states and mainly the way people treat each other, I'd die first before living north of Kansas.

    "Tulsa looked boring when I passed through once, but it beat hell out of any Texas oil patch city I ever saw (Tyler et al). As did OK city. The southern part of OK is very pretty (Red River Valley). "

    Wow, to each his own I guess. I hated oKLANhomer. I think you're looking at it more from what the state "looks" like and I'm thinking more of that and how the people are. Tulsa is VERY, very ultraconservative, family town. Extremely boring, and full of hard-core hypocrits.

    "Dallas and Atlanta were pretty similar"

    Seriously? I've only been to Atlanta once, but everyone I talk to that lived there said Dallas is far cleaner, prettier and nicer. Do you have something against Texas??

    "There is a chunk of West Virginia which is commutable to the Northern Virginia jobs corridor. Still cheapish and very nice. Still and all, Atlanta is the best combination of a good jobs market"

    And they have Matlock too! Go braves... :) cya
  89. Don't mess with - Atlanta?[ Go to top ]

    "Seriously? I've only been to Atlanta once, but everyone I talk to that lived there said Dallas is far cleaner, prettier and nicer."

    Dallas' terrain is too flat and there were too many Beemers when I was there. Atlanta downtown is more dingy than Dallas', which had more high-rise buildings. Atlanta's real business center was midtown, about where Turtle Creek or Oak Lawn falls, and it is nicer if anything. Atlanta's freeway and metro system beat Dallas transit all hollow as well, though THAT particular judgement is based on old information (I haven't been in Dallas since early 1990).

    Buckhead is comparable to Highland Park and University Park, but nicer in my view. Better bookstores, but that scene might have improved in Dallas as well.

    I lived in Sandy Springs out near the beltway (comparable to North Dallas I think). I liked Sandy Springs, which was funkier than North Dallas.

    Do you have something against Texas??"
    Two answers:

    1) 'Sure! Doesn't everyone?'

    2) 'Naw. I just like to 'mess' with it! ;-)'

    One thing I really enjoyed is the best flea market I have ever seen. 'First Monday' in Canton. Worth the trip.

    Dallas is the best place for Tex-Mex food I've seen. Cheap and good. Atlanta has one good Tex-Mex chain (with fantastic margeritas) and a more diverse restaurant scene than what I saw in Dallas. Generally there are more and better recreational opportunities near Atlanta than exist near Dallas.

    Atlanta is hillier and has better vegetation I think, plus it's close to the Georgia mountains and Eastern Tennessee. Culturally they're about a tie.

  90. Don't mess with - Atlanta?[ Go to top ]

    "Dallas' terrain is too flat and there were too many Beemers when I was there. "

    I like flat terrain... hills suck driving a stick.

    Yes, it sounds like it's been a while since you've been here. There's just about every resturant you could possibly want to eat at, starbucks all over the place, and yes the best tex-mex around (luna de noche).

    My address is t_milburn at hotmail dot com - let's hook up next time you're here! cya man
  91. Don't mess with Texas![ Go to top ]

    ""Tulsa looked boring when I passed through once, but it beat hell out of any Texas oil patch city I ever saw "

    By the way, there were plenty of oil fields in oklanhoma. I used to visit a friend in the country and you could smell oil from the fields where the pumps ran 24/7.
  92. How about the market for mobile/Palm programming?
  93. I would like to comment on what would be the best technology
    for the future. As we look into the evolution of the IT
    software industry, we find that technologies which were
    simple were accepted by the community as well as the end
    users. There are various examples for validating this point
    such as HTML, HTTP, SMTP, SMS(mobile messaging). OK, I agree that these were not perfect but they served their time and were flexible enough to be enhanced over a period
    of time. This also had been the case with the general
    evolution of our civilization. So, today everybody, in
    a race to outnumber the other guy on the track, is trying
    to propose something which looks complex from the outset
    and it would be really difficult to be accepted on a wide
    scale. Why don't we see the example of the Windows OS?
    Even if it's a worldwide pastime to find faults in this
    OS, we find it on the desks of 95% of the people. And
    for me the only reason of its success is that it made
    things simple for the people.

    At the end of the day, we need technology which doesn't strain our braincells, there are numerous other things taking care of that.

    Regards
    Kishore Rawat
  94. Hi,
    Let me draw a typical IT stairs:
    OS -> [VM ->] app. Server -> MIS
    Each layer makes next layer independent of previous.
    For me it's quite clear that once developer has embraced platform such as J2EE he/she should go up and embrace MIS/Portal/Virtual Enterprise area. This is what always been the primary goal of many of IT enterprise-wide projects but not all of them realizes it. MIS folks will be always in demand and this is independent of any particular underlying platform popularity.
    I'm currently starting a MIS project that will include Content Management System(CMS), Document Management, Workflow (WMS), Configuration and Version control, Personalization, CRM and lots of other high-level MIS services. All these staff will be built on J2EE platform and support respective industry standards. I don't know currently whether it will be opensource or not.

    If you need to know why I decided to build instead of buy, let me know and Ill tell you(It will be rather lengthy posting and will need a different thread). In short:
    I like to compare todays CMSes (not only low-priced and open source) to bicycle.
    Speaking this analogy I don't want to *learn* to ride a bicycle, I want to *build* a motorcycle.

    Everyone who is interested in such a project is welcome.
    Lets grouping up!

    Regards,
    Basil Tchurilov, dla_mena at pisem dot net

    P.S.
    This is *noncommercial* initiative and I'm not speaking for any particular company now.
  95. Very interesting article. I am currently an architect up to my neck on one of these mission critical projects that Ed discusses. I am an architect with 12 years dev experience across C/C++/Java and have worked on almost every platform and delivered more that 20+ projects in that time. I can say that the key to success is to have the broad range of technology expertise that makes you a "Swiss Army Knife" with plenty of working options (and knowledge). For example in the last 12 months, I have architected and coded parts of, J2EE, C/C++, based systems on a range of platforms. The broad and deep knowlege to be an architect only comes from working on many projects, networking with others and through learning as much about software and systems as possible. Also a passion (maybe an addiction) for software technology is useful to keep going in difficult times and to stay motivated.

    In short, 2001, is a serious reality check for the software development industry. The marketing hype and false expectations around careers and pay levels in my view that occured during the recent few years are a MAJOR concern. It is a real worry to see stock brokers with great careers trying to switch to a career writing HTML on contract because of the perception of glamour and high pay in the IT industry. Many non- IT savvy people do not understand that many years of hard work goes into being an software architect.
  96. Folks,
    The reason the IT industry has been effected in any way by the US economy is very simple ... HxB (i.e. H1B) visas.

    If it were not for the glut of off-shore programmers flooding the American market, the American IT market would have stepped over the current economic downturn like a blip.

    The solution is very simple:
     1. write your elected representatives
     2. join an organization dedicated to termination of all HxB visas
     3. donate what you can to these lobbying organizations.

    There simply is no reason for an American to be looking for work while non-American-citizens flood the market place during an economic downturn.

    Yes, you have to keep your skills current and work smart, but you should not have to do so in a perverted supply/demand marketplace.
  97. Folks,

    The reason the IT industry has been effected in any way by the US economy is very simple ... HxB (i.e. H1B) visas. <
    Waaaayyyyy too simplistic.... I've been seeing people beat this hobbyhorse for 20 years now. It's a nice explanation, and eac generation hit's on it when they see their first recession. Unfortunately it doesn't either the real sourse of the problem(s) nor the ultimate solution(s).

    The problem is the point on the business cycle we're on. Companies are retrenching and not initiating many new projects. Particularly large new development projects. This is bad news for developers, particularly developers used to working on new greenfield projects. They are also cutting people with obsolete skills, skills which can be done cheaper or better with more modern tools. I'm not necessarily talking about Cobol/CICS/Mainframe stuff but rather about HTML hackers, client side Java folks, and and the like. Maintanence is up, new websites are down. Cost-cutting is up, new business development way down.

    Solutions? Part of it is developing new skills. 2 years ago I was a Unix-C++ developer with strong OO. At that time I jumped to a Systems Integrator and developed MOM EAI skills as well as beginning to get into XML and J2EE server-side Java skills. This last year I've been getting heavily into EJB, which particularly the 2.0 specification, with a toe stuck into Jini and other advanced topics. The legacy skills help too in this environment. My current employers and I have major differences in opinion and they would love to dump me, but my ever-growing skill set has discouraged them from doing so thus far.

    So even though I'm heavily specialized in the telecoms industry (which is in a full scale depression), I haven't been a day out of work thus far in this recession and am even now negociating to move to one of the few remaining profitable telecoms companies as an EAI Architect. Earnings aren't great, but I'm staying alive.

    You also need to anticipate the upturn, when greenfield development skills will again be valuable. J2EE/EJB is a good bet, as is (probably) .NET and EAI (good for another 4 years in my opinion).

    Bitching about Indian and Chinese H1B's will not help you adapt to the market and land a job. Many of these guys are really good and they help us stay ahead of the rest of the world. Which benefits us most of the time. And their wages are a lot higher than they were a decade ago, so no longer do they compete on price (as much).
  98. Chuck,
          Just out of interest, were you born ignorant or did you take lessons? :)

    As the holder of an L1 visa (I'm from the UK) I find your remarks ill informed and offensive. "Welcome to America!"

    Personally, I like to think I make a contribution to my company (and I worked for their UK office for 18 months before relocating to the US due to a long term project.)

    This is a global economy and that means you compete all over the world in all areas. Do you really think that not issuing H1B visas would have made a difference? Don't be so ridiculous. Less money = less projects = less need for developers = less jobs. Period. The End.
  99. Tony Brooks writes: <
    I've heard Chuck's 'theory' over and over again, Tony. Ross Perot ran for President in 1992 on the theory. Have you ever heard the adage that for every problem there is a theory which is complete, beautiful, and dead wrong? That describes the 'H1B' 'theory' in a nutshell.

    I'm your opposite number, a US national working in the UK. I have a question for you: Are most UK managers complete jerks or have I merely been unlucky?


    <
    I'm working outside of Heathrow for a clueless Big 5 consultantcy. It appears likely my next gig will be with a Swiss mobile operator which is actually making beaucoup francs. Global marketplace, right on.

    One answer to Chuck's problem is to keep updating your skill base. While Java developers (particularly client-side) are a drug on the mart right now, I daresay that anyone with EAI experience can do fairly well, particuarly if you cut your price. I suggest that unemployed developers exercised with the H1B 'problem' download a JMS server product and add Messaging Beans to your vocabulary. Learning new skills is a helluva more effective way to get off the breadlines, dude!

  100. I'm your opposite number, a US national working in the UK. I have a question for you: Are most UK managers complete jerks or have I merely been unlucky?


    Don,
        You're unlucky. Trust me, there are jerks on a global basis. I'm lucky, as my boss lets me do my job. But I know plenty of people in the UK and the US who have bosses with no clue what they do, but seem to know enough to be able to tell you "You're not doing it fast enough!" Sound familiar?

    Unfortunately, it's just life!


    I've been a big fan of people who know JMS and just general server side Java for a while. When my company hires technical people I am often involved in the interviewing process, and I look for people who have exposure to the technologies, but most of all, have a proven track record of solid Java skills. I don't read the long list of skills at the top of the resume, I look at the real content of the resume and I weed out the bits that are of interest. What you've done is always a much better indicator of what you'll be able to learn. But maybe that's just me!

    Chz

    Tony

    PS. New Jersey is actually warmer than London right now! I just got back. Shame my bags are still in London. Bloody BA! :)
  101. PS. New Jersey is actually warmer than London right now! I just got back. Shame my bags are still in London. Bloody BA! :) <

    You're both lucky. I just got back from an interview in Bern, Switzerland for an EAI Architect gig. Froze my whatsits right off! It got down to 9F one night. Bern looks a little boring by day but sparks up at night some.

    It looks like I'll have to decide whether I want to go (they say they will make an offer). And I don't even ski (downhill at least, I used to do cross-country a bit)! I'm partial to mountain scenery of which there is plenty. It's close to my second home (nothern Italy) and to France.
  102. Excellent article with sound advice. I would suggest to anyone who is serious about getting that elusive unfair advantage read the book "Pragmatic Programmer" the ideas presented in it are top rate. In particular the early chapters are very in tune with what Roman has said, especially the section on knowledge portfolio.
  103. Highly recommend this article by Scott Ambler, "Ending the Blame Game" at http://www.sdmagazine.com/print/documentID=16850 Read 2 sections, starting with "Ah, Youth!"
  104. When the bigger IT shops are not hiring, there are still markets for skilled individuals. I went down with a startup in Austin, and was able to make ends meet by starting a consulting company. My first step was to write a book: Bitter Java (Manning publications). This book made me a healthy advance, and will provide a revenue stream once it ships, sometime after Java One.

    The next step was to get a reference customer. I worked for hornfans.com, and did some nearly free things to enhance their performance. I didn't make much, but I continued to fill my resume with success.
    Now, I'm on the third leg. I'm starting a web site to start a Java discussion community for Java antipatterns. It is at www.bitterjava.com.

    The next step is being adaptable. When the Java contracts are not falling, you need to find what else is hot. For me, I've done OK doing web promotion. I've had to do some research that I will use on my own site, and have found that when the economy is down, generating leads is huge. People simply have to be able to find you. I can take some smaller gigs and make ends meet while my promotion plan is working.

    I am now marketing for short term Java performance gigs. I have used my network to hammer out some leads to prosecute. I had never been turned down for any job before, but this economy required drastic measures. So far, the strategy is working for me.
  105. Hi All,
    Its good that we are discussing out this issue at this stage
    Well to bring to your notice I wanted to start this discussion long back in the month of May 2001, but unfortunately my request and mail was turned down by TSS
    I hope they have now realised.
    Hope this discussion and articles on this issue bring some better hopes for IT Developers
    Cheers...
  106. In the body of the article, Ed Roman recommends that developers analyze which up and coming technologies will be winners in the medium term (2-4 years), having the following characteristics:

    1) Few other developers know today
    2) Are well-marketed and endorsed by industry leaders
    3) Add immediate value that is far beyond existing solutions at a reasonable cost
    4) Do not have a 'chicken and egg' paradox
    5) Have an unfair advantage over other technologies
    6) Will be popular 2-4 years from now and have positive momentum.

    I think this is more profitably considered in the context of skillsets rather than particular skills. For example, two existing skillsets are J2EE (EJB/Servlets/JSP) and the .NET (ASP/ADO/VB/C#).

    In the current skills market things are changing more rapidly than ever. I used to say that computer industry skills had a half-life of 4 years. Lately the figure seems to be closer to 1.5 to 2 years! Fortunately the *new* skills seem more closely related to the old than once was true. I expect that even 10 years out the XML skills would be recognizable to someone working with XML today, just as ebXML and SOAP are recognizable.

    I think an emerging skillset is developing around XML-driven technologies (XSLT, DOM, SAX, SOAP, WDSL, and UDDI), and that this should be a big winner going forward.

    The J2EE skillset is in for some big changes as well with the emergence of JMS and messaging beans as important parts of the EJB 2.0 specification. A major development is the possible addition of JDO (either formally or informally) to the standard toolkit for EJB developers.

    The point is that there is no one skill which fits the criteria. It's more of a matter of developing a deep understanding of a group of related technologies which work closely together and keeping thaat skill set up to date.

    Opinions anyone?
  107. In the body of the article, Ed Roman recommends that developers analyze which up and coming technologies will be winners in the medium term (2-4 years), having the following characteristics:

    1) Few other developers know today
    2) Are well-marketed and endorsed by industry leaders
    3) Add immediate value that is far beyond existing solutions at a reasonable cost
    4) Do not have a 'chicken and egg' paradox
    5) Have an unfair advantage over other technologies
    6) Will be popular 2-4 years from now and have positive momentum.

    I think this is more profitably considered in the context of skillsets rather than particular skills. For example, two existing skillsets are J2EE (EJB/Servlets/JSP) and the .NET (ASP/ADO/VB/C#).

    I think an emerging skillset is developing around XML-driven technologies (XSLT, DOM, SAX, SOAP, WDSL, and UDDI), and that this should be a big winner going forward.

    I think the J2EE skillset is in for some big changes as well with the emergence of JMS and messaging beans as important parts of the EJB 2.0 specification. A major development is the possible addition of JDO (either formally or informally) to the standard toolkit for EJB developers.

    The point is that there is no one skill which fits the criteria. It's more of a matter of developing a deep understanding of a group of related technologies which work closely together.

    Opinions anyone?


  108. In the old days, if you were a developer, you knew cobol or fortran. We were only differentiated by the # of years of experience,and perhaps the companies we worked for. Then, the big wave was skillet-based. Nowadays, skillsets are still important, but it seems the latest trend is that employes are being let go by the project they work on. If you're a cobol person, you're more likely to keep your job if you're working on a companies "core" information system than if you're into web services working on a new web site that may or may not bring in revenue. THe best thing to do is to attach yourself to the core business and try and make yourself irreplacable (ironically, I'm not on a "core" project but rather one that barely gets attention - uh-oh!).

    Also, having the "latest skills" for very important for years. Nowadays, again it helps, but there simply aren't any jobs anyway, so it does no good. I know some good people that were still laid off and can't find work. Things are that bad at the moment. What to do? Don't ask me.

    Also, my friend at cisco the other day overheard an h1b person asking a manager "what's cisco's future on h1b's". The response was "it's murky. We're not sure uncle same is going o let us renew a lot of them." So, that's good news imho to Americans; every person that goes back to their native country opens up a position here in the US (unless it's attritioned of course). That still doesn't help the terrible disturbing trend as of late of farming out development to third-world sweatshops, but it's a start. Maybe at some point this country will eventually take control; at the moment companies run this country, and always have been (e.g., tobacco, oil etc).
  109. "In the old days, if you were a developer, you knew cobol or fortran."

    The very old days! This started to go out during the '70's!

    "Nowadays, skillsets are still important, but it seems the latest trend is that employes are being let go by the project they work on."

    Possibly true in the short term over the next year or two at the most. Skillsets are still important when landing new work. So is networking as Gene Chuang and Ed Roman point out.

    "The best thing to do is to attach yourself to the core business and try and make yourself irreplacable"

    Short term, a survival strategy. Long term? Closer to suicide I would say.

    "I know some good people that were still laid off and can't find work. Things are that bad at the moment. What to do? Don't ask me."

    Things are bad I will agree. The only thing to do is be persistent and flexible. As an industry we're not very used to having ANY unemployment at all, except for voluntary unemployment, and we don't react well to it. I believe that our unemployment isn't all that high (as an industry), perhaps a maximum of 5% or so in most places (Texas may be an exception).

    What I was getting at in the above post was aimed more at a long-term perspective than short term survival. Ed Roman wrote to look at the skills which will be important in a 2-4 year timeframe, which is what I am writing about.

    What I am arguing is that skills groupings are more important than specific buzzwords. Pick a group, learn it well, and stay up to date with related developments. This strategy may not guarantee you a good job in Garland in the middle of a telecoms depression, but will stand you in good stead most of the time.

  110. Things appear to be getting brighter over here in the UK. I know three people who have landed work in the past two weeks.

    I heard of the 5.8% growth rate in the US last quarter. Has that had any impact yet on the job market?
  111. "Things appear to be getting brighter over here in the UK. I know three people who have landed work in the past two weeks.
    "

    That's gr8!
  112. Then H1s to London!!!!!!! ;-)

  113. these is were every body ends telling things. In "succeeding as a developer" what ever you said was perfectly correct (100% marks for that), i m also victim of recision so i try to put my efforts for cracking job but every where i see disappointment. Now adays i feel that i m loosing my confidence.
    even though i read ur entire artical, pratically implementing ur ideas will bring success to me in finding proper job. do u think

     
  114. I liked the portion of the article that states 1 to 2 years ago you could not find many Java developers. I concur with that 2 years ago, we had many difficulties looking for Java developers. As of a sudden today, many people claim they have 3-5+ years. Are people being dishonest with their qualifications in order to get interviews. No matter what, I can't bring myself to lie about my qualifications - and I guess, as such, I'll suffer with the rest of us.

    - Nadine M.
  115. Nadine McKenzie writes:

    "I concur with that 2 years ago, we had many difficulties looking for Java developers. As of a sudden today, many people claim they have 3-5+ years."

    Two years ago many Java developers were working for dot.coms and had high hopes of becoming millionaires soon. They probably weren't in the market then at all. The dot.coms bust and suddenly they are in the market in quantity.

    "Are people being dishonest with their qualifications in order to get interviews."

    Undoubtably this is also happening. But I question whether the companies who are requiring '3 to 5 years Java experience' are being honest with themselves about their real requirements.

    If they are looking for people to develop enterprise systems, well 5 years ago the vast majority of people working on those systems were working with C++, not Java. For excellent reasons. Prior to the advent of Jave 2, J2EE, and EJB Java was not a good platform for enterprise applications. Anyone with 5 years Java experience was likely writing applets and doing cool UI effects at best back then.

    Another question is 'what is Java experience?'. I was writing Java programs in 1996, but I don't count that as solid experience, because they were toy programs. In 1998 I did an evaluation for my employer and wrote several programs then. Does that count? I got interested and started reading about it only in 1999, and started working with it in 2000. I've worked very intensely with J2EE and particularly EJB the last year and have progressed to the point that I am perhaps the foremost expert on EJB in a fairly large consultantcy, certainly in the top 3 or 4.

    So I have a choice. I could claim java 'experience' back to 1996, but claiming 6 years is overstating the case. I could claim experience only since 2000 (2+ years), but that would be doing myself a disfavor because I'm more experienced than the average Java person with that kind of experience, particularly in EJB. I'm inclined to claim about 3 years total as a fair measure of my experience level.

    Then you get into 'architects'. What is the difference between drawing UML diagrams for C++ development and for Java development? Many would say very little, but I would disagree because if you do the job *right* you have to know the differences between your tools at an *intimate* level! Which means cutting code. But a lot of so-called architects would disagree with that conclusion.....
  116. WAZZUUUP![ Go to top ]

    Hi DOn!
  117. Hi, Tracy[ Go to top ]

    It's been a long time sionce I visited theServerSide.com. Been looking for work and finally found it, and hanging around javaranch.com.

    I went out and got my SCJP and SCWCD earlier this year. Hows it going with you?