1. 35
  1. 3

    I love these war stories. But I don’t know if it’s healthy, realistic or grumpy? Should all be sharing the bad and boring stuff along with the trendy or sexy stuff? Would a round of lightning talks of war/horror stories at a Con be a complain-fest or would it be therapy and information sharing? I posted some war stories (I won’t link) and I think my post now sounds negative and judgy of previous employers. That wasn’t my intent. It’s more like along the lines of this tweet by Gary Bernhardt:

    I wish that more experienced developers would say in public what they say to me about these tools in private.

    What do you think about war stories? Too many, not enough? Does everyone have them but no one shares?

    1. 5

      I love these war stories. But I don’t know if it’s healthy, realistic or grumpy?

      I don’t know – I just thought it was funny. For the most part, it’s probably just that. Unless all you do is complain (we probably all know a few people like that) I wouldn’t look more in to it.

      I added some other random recollections because, well, I was writing this anyway. Probably by far the most important lesson, if any, is how you can get suckered in to working on very unethical (maybe even illegal) software. While it was very light on details and the case could perhaps be entirely different, I could relate to some degree to How Does One Get Hired by a Top Cybercrime Gang?

      Maybe I’ll write a retrospective of my other jobs as well; some of these are perhaps more instructive. That also involves admitting my own mistakes though, so they’re harder to write and less amusing 🙃 Although being fired and vomiting all over the stairs on the way out was rather funny, in retrospective anyway – at the time it was just embarrassing 😅 It was an accurate summary of my feelings on how they made software and some of the people there though (but overall, I handled that quite badly, which is how I ended up being fired).

      1. 1

        I’ve wanted to do a my mistakes post. When things like HBO Max Integration Test #1 goes out and people share their own mistakes, I’d like to just link to self-:facepalm:. I think it’s really helpful for juniors/interns (without sounding patronizing!). Which I guess relates to the other comment here: tone is important. 🌻

        1. 2

          I don’t know if it’s really all that useful to be honest. It seems to me that a lot of lessons like this really need to be learned by experience rather than reading about them. If these lessons could be transferred then we could teach them in college and graduates would be seniors when they graduate – but it doesn’t work like that.

          The biggest use is probably for yourself: by writing things down you usually clarify things for yourself.

          1. 1

            Good point.

      2. 3

        I think it can help junior people feel a bit safer. Not everybody gets a first job with mature practices. When you only read about people working at the bleeding edge you might think that you will never get there. Hearing about people who had bad first jobs, but have learned a lot and advances in their careers can be reassuring.

        Tone is important. Avoiding the angry IT guy vibe is helpful. I like this article because it is fairly empathetic: the people weren’t total idiots, they just weren’t there yet.

        1. 1

          I’d say it depends on if there’s a takeaway applicable to everyone from such a war story other than “people make mistakes” or “people do things in suboptimal ways”. In these cases war stories tend to end up being about the narrator themselves instead mostly, in which case I’d prefer not to.

        2. 3

          This reminded me of another SVN horror story - THE INNER JSON EFFECT

          1. 1

            The only saving grace was that he worked remotely from Berlin so we didn’t have to deal with him in the office daily. We had a nickname for him in the office, after a certain failed Austrian painter who also worked out of Berlin.

            Only after reading that paragraph can one understand the mental trauma that charming individual must have excited in his employees 🙃