Tag Archives: Programmers

Should you have “a” programmer, or multiple programmers?

Categories: Software Development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Some programmers are easy to reach while others are not. You never know when they are going to be out sick, or become nonresponsive. Many programmers like to focus on work and not answer phones or emails. But, how will you be alerted to an emergency or problem if you are so removed from real-time communications?

Sometimes it pays to have more than one outsourced programmer on payroll. If you can’t reach one because they are on an airplane from Poland to Chicago, you might be able to reach the other one. Or in my case I couldn’t reach either and had to wait 36 hours to solve a relatively simple situation because nobody even answered texts, emails, phone calls, or contacts by mental telepathy.

It might also make sense to have a programming house in India on payroll because they are awake at night (American time) and can solve situations while the rest of the world is sleeping.

I find American programmers to be better at strategizing, planning, and thinking. For fine tuned work, American programmers have been better in my experience. But, if you need someone who answers the phone at night, India is perfect. You can have certain programmers for certain types of jobs, and others for other types of jobs. Relying on a single programmer your entire life is dumb because they can quit, die, be unavailable, or just not answer calls. Good God!

In China, hot girls were hired to motivate programmers

Categories: Management, Motivation, Popular Posts, Software Development | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do you motivate a stubborn programmer?
My experience with programmers is that very few of them care even slightly about the experience of the people who will one day use their programs. The commenting in the code for other programmers to read is not even that clear in many instances. Most programmers just want to be left alone to do their work the way they want, how they want and when they want. Deadlines are almost never honored, and instructions are almost always taken lightly. Very few programmers were even motivated by money. I offered large amounts of money to many programming companies who politely declined stating that I was, “Not a good fit.” I told them that I am giving you money to do programming work and you are a programming company — how am I not a good fit? The managers at programming companies are as impossible to motivate as the programmers. So, what is the secret?

The Chinese are masters of innovation.
The Chinese have always been an innovative people from thousands of years ago. When they had a problem with the Mongols, they built the longest wall in human history. They even innovated a way to deal with all of the dead bodies of the workers by burying them in the wall! The Chinese created gun powder, many forms of martial arts, gardening, and even new aspects of semantic internet searches. A few years ago I predicted that if anyone could master the art of dominating the computer programming industry, it would be the Chinese. I was right, but not in a way that I expected.

Hiring beautiful cheerleaders to motivate programmers works!
Specialists who understand the importance of building a healthy corporate culture understand that you need positive upbeat people to build a motivated and fun work environment. Cliffbar, Google and Starbucks actively embrace this principle. A few years ago, I had the thought that call centers in Manila and Central America should hire good looking girls to interact with their workers to add a good feeling to their day. Call centers are apparently very stubborn about improving the grueling conditions of their work. But, the Chinese are not. It is commonplace in Chinese companies (and restaurants) for the workers to all get together and share a meal. Eating is an integral part of the Chinese culture, and communal eating is just as much. Eating together makes people feel good and feel more connected. But, I am happy that the Chinese implemented “my” idea of having lovely ladies improve the grueling conditions of the work day. Why not look forward to coming to work? Your wife might not like it, but at least you’ll show up for work and give it your all.

Productivity is up
The programmers in China, India and other countries are mostly male and very anti-social. Programming is a bit like mechanics intellectually. Guys like fixing things while women just want to be listened to which is why guys dominate programming. But, having these ladies around seems to get the guys to produce better. Men tend to be more motivated in general if there is a woman who is appreciative of what they do according to “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It seems that the Chinese managers must have read that book or have an understanding of the concept. The easiest way to get a guy to stop trying is to have a woman who doesn’t give him any appreciation.

What do these ladies actually do?
The programming cheerleaders buy breakfast for the programmers so they have the energy to do a long day of work. They also chat with the programmers which is very valuable since most of the programmers lack the ability to interact with the opposite gender, or even with their own gender, and probably also with dogs and cats as well (insufficient data for the last claim.) The ladies must be talented and smooth (and probably patient) at interacting with the socially handicapped. In a sense, they are like therapists or psychiatrists in a very pedantic way.

What do the wives of the programmers think about this?
I can imagine that someone’s wife might not want their husband regularly hanging around with beautiful women at work. It is bad enough that your husband works with women, but beautiful women who give them a ton of attention? But, maybe this is what men need. I go through my day getting absolutely no attention from women other than my housemates. Imagine how much better I would feel if I was paid some positive attention by someone in their twenties or thirties who was female and voluptuous. This problem is my fault for living in Los Angeles. Women here are relentlessly unfriendly. But, the minute I cross the border into New Mexico, I get tons of positive attention from everyone! Maybe I should be living there!

You might also like:

Top viral images and how they spread

I didn’t get retweeted, but that’s okay

A programming company that charges $25,000 per week?

Categories: Popular Posts, Software Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

OMG! I can’t believe they charge so much. Why is this?

I interviewed a company in Florida. They seemed like the best programming company in the world. They assign you a team of four members, and they will prepare the specifications ahead of time of what they are going to do for you. Then, they will work for a week or more and get your huge project done with a bang.

My worry was that if they needed me in the middle of the project and I was not available, what would happen? At $4000 a day, if there is any small problem with the server, you are out $500 per hour while you wait for solutions. What if, what if. I think that if I were a larger company, and knew these guys better, the arrangement might make great sense. I asked if there was any other way to proceed, but they said that was their business model. It is an interesting business model, but scary for me.

When hiring programmers, be aware that there are many programmers out there with different levels of expertise, caution, care, and styles of getting work done. You need to find someone who works on your speed and who gets along well with you. Personally, I prefer to do between two and fifteen hours of programming per week. That way I can be involved in the process and make sure everything goes right. But, your style might be completely different. Good luck, and start saving up for your $25,000 week today!

Does your team function as a team?

Categories: Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Does your team function as a team?

There are many types of company structures, and many ways to play politics in any of these structures. There is always jealousy, resentment, competition, greed, and arguments. The question is, how do you get your team to function as a team?

Sometimes I feel that the people who work for me function as separate individuals and have very little positive interaction with each other. Often times they just don’t like each other. When you combine bad chemistry with territorial types, you end up with a lot of trouble. Should you hire people because you feel they will do a good job or do you hire people who will blend in with your other workers?

Bad interactions between even two workers can ruin your company culture and fill the air with a bad vibe. On the other hand, if people work more remotely, it might not matter as much if people don’t get along. Assessing the damage of bad internal relationships is not easy. What really matters is how the customers feel. If they interact well with your staff, that is yet another set of relationships to consider. In a perfect world, we would all get along with each other, but on planet earth, we need to optimize our relationship structures!

For me, honestly, there are too many variables. Just to find someone who can function at all is a huge challenge. If you pair that with company culture and internal relationship issues, it is more than I can even think about.

If your team doesn’t function as a team, sometimes talking it over just doesn’t help. Certain people just don’t like each other and there is no remedy. Sometimes talking it over just submerges people’s hostility until it blows up in your face at a later date.

(1) Should you hire people because you feel they will do a good job or do you hire people who will blend in with your other workers?
(2) There are many types of company structures, and many ways to play politics in any of these structures.

You might also like:

The magic of collaboration

Steve Jobs watched his programmers carefully — so should you!

Programmers and their speed of work

Categories: Popular on Google+, Software Development | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Programmers and their speed of work
I lacked perspective because I used the same people for years
I have had the pleasure or displeasure of needing the services of many programmers in my lifetime.  They are all different in so many ways.  Some get back to you when they are supposed to while others leave you always wondering what their progress is, has been, or will be — if any.  In any case, I had spent too many years with the same programmers and noticed that one of them was pretty fast while the other was sometimes reasonably paced, and sometimes a little slow. I didn’t realize that the speed of a programmer can vary much more than these two.
Programmers quitting & getting fired by the boatload
After this, one of the programmers got fired, and the other quit.  I was left high and dry. So, I tried some other programmers out, foolishly thinking that they would churn out work at a similar speed to the previous programmers.  The first one I hired took three times as long to do similar tasks as my previous programmer.  He used the excuse that he was not familiar with the coding of the site.  I tried another who took four times as long.  Familiar or not, I feel that maybe taking 50% longer makes sense but three or four times is ridiculous.  I don’t know who is right or wrong because I am not a programmer.  All I can say is that I would really like to have my old programmer back.
Don’t pay by the hour as a general rule
The moral of the story from a business standpoint is that you can NOT assign programming jobs to be billed by the hour, unless you are very familiar with the individual doing the work.  Otherwise, you can easily get crazy bills that are high because the programmer is slow, or perhaps they are padding their hours, or who knows what? It is not easy to say unless you know a person’s character or behavior. I only know the bottom line which is that I am being billed for far more hours than I feel is reasonable.
Quality & speed can really vary
Additionally prices for programmers can range from $10-30 per hour in India and from $45-$180 in the United States.  The quality and speed of their work can really vary, and it is not easy to know how skilled an individual programmer is unless you really know them well and have worked with them extensively.  The best way to assess a programmer is to engage them in conversation, see how responsive they are about their work, and use your senses.  If you start having problems with their work, that might not show up for months, so in the beginnning — use your senses.

Willingness to work should be the high on your list of criteria

Categories: Hiring & Firing, Of Interest | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

If you are hiring a company, look for willingness
I had to look for programmers this year, and I had not gone shopping for programmers since 2005.  Back then, I sort of knew what I was doing, but there is always more to know about who to hire and why.  In any case, shopping around for American programming companies was the worst nightmare I have ever had.
The first tricky point was told to me by one of the programming bosses I spoke to. He was by far the most professional, but too short-staffed to be able to help me out.  He liked to keep his operation lean and mean. He told me that many American companies hire Indian companies to do the work without telling their clients here.  This turned out to be an issue many times.  I told each company I wanted to hire, that I wanted to communicate directly with the programmer. I ran into all types of excuses and frustrations.  Several companies told me that I was not a “good fit” for them, since I wanted to interact more, and since I was not a multi-million dollar company.  Another company told me that it would be frustrating talking directly to the programmers, and had tremendous difficulty telling me where all his programmers were. The story kept changing as we kept talking.
I hired a good programmer… but…
Finally, I found a company with a good programmer who knew all the languages that he needed to know.  We signed a contract and started work.  I was to visit them for two weeks starting in October.  After the contract was signed, and right before I was to come, they announced that they would not be available on the Monday and Tuesday of week two.  I came anyway hoping for the best.  Little did I know that while I was giving them time on Wednesday of week two to finish up what we started on week one, that they would completely blow me off and work on someone else’s project since I wasn’t physically watching them…. A lesson to be learned.  Thursday I was there, and work got done, and Friday I showed up late to allow them time to finish work up, but work never began until I was in their office.  The moral of the story is that the minute you stop watching people, they might start slacking off.  Also, don’t book a two week trip with a company with an unknown track record.  Make them prove themselves before you invest your time in them.
American companies who refused to work
The bottom line is that I found one company who slacked off, and all of the other companies I talked to REFUSED to work for me.  Americans are complaining bitterly about outsourcing, but when you try to hire American companies, most of them say, “Gee, I’m sorry, but you are not a good fit for us”.  I have come to the conclusion, that if you want any serious type of programming work to happen, you are forced to hire an Indian programming company. 
So, I went back to my trusty company who I have been using in India for years.  Communication is hard since calling them is difficult and visiting them involves 36 hours of travel.  Other than that, they are wonderful.  So, now they have started the project and done a lot of work in a short time.
What I learned, is that skills are an important factor in hiring a programmer, but willingness to work, and availability to work are equally, or perhaps more important.  If you hire a company that doesn’t want to work, or a company with only one programmer who suddenly gets busy, your project will be permanently on hold.   My experience is that if you want any type of serious programming work to happen, hire a company with at least four programmers, and make sure they are willing.  I would not judge a company based on what country they are in, but based on the attitude of the boss and the workers, and how good their work is.  The quality of a company is on an individual basis!