Real Programmers

A Real Programmer at Play

Generally, the Real Programmer plays the same way he works - -- with computers. He is constantly amazed that his employer actually pays him to do what he would be doing for fun anyway (although he is careful not to express this opinion out loud). Occasionally, the Real Programmer does step out of the office for a breath of fresh air and a beer or two. Some tips on recognizing real programmers away from the computer room:

bulletAt a party, the Real Programmers are the ones in the corner talking about operating system security and how to get around it.
bulletAt a football game, the Real Programmer is the one comparing the plays against his simulations printed on 11 by 14 fanfold paper.
bulletAt the beach, the Real Programmer is the one drawing flowcharts in the sand.
bulletA Real Programmer goes to discos to watch the light shows.
bulletAt a funeral, the Real Programmer is the one saying "Poor George. And he almost had the sort routine working before the coronary."
bulletIn a grocery store, the Real Programmer is the one who insists on running the cans past the laser checkout scanner himself, because he never could trust keypunch operators to get it right the first time.

The Real Programmer's Natural Habitat

What sort of environment does the Real Programmer function best in? This is an important question for the managers of Real Programmers. Considering the amount of money it costs to keep one on the staff, it's best to put him (or her) in an environment where he can get his work done.

The typical Real Programmer lives in front of a computer terminal. Surrounding this terminal are:

bulletListings of all programs the Real Programmer has ever worked on, piled in roughly chronological order on every flat surface in the office.
bulletSome half-dozen or so partly filled cups of cold coffee. Occasionally, there will be cigarette butts floating in the coffee. In some cases, the cups will contain Orange Crush.
bulletUnless he is very good, there will be copies of the OSJCL manual and the Principles of Operation open to some particularly interesting pages.
bulletTaped to the wall is a line-printer Snoopy calender for the year 1969.
bulletStrewn about the floor are several wrappers for peanut butter filled cheese bars -- the type that are made pre-stale at the bakery so they can't get any worse while waiting in the vending machine.
bulletHiding in the top left-hand drawer of the desk is a stash of double-stuff Oreos for special occasions.
bulletUnderneath the Oreos is a flow-charting template, left there by the previous occupant of the office. (Real Programmers write programs, not documentation. Leave that to the maintainence people.)

The Real Programmer is capable of working 30, 40, even 50 hours at a stretch, under intense pressure. In fact, he prefers it that way. Bad response time doesn't bother the Real Programmer -- it gives him a chance to catch a little sleep between compiles. If there is not enough schedule pressure on the Real Programmer, he tends to make things more challenging by working on some small but interesting part of the problem for the first nine weeks, then finishing the rest in the last week, in two or three 50-hour marathons. This not only inpresses the hell out of his manager, who was despairing of ever getting the project done on time, but creates a convenient excuse for not doing the documentation. In general:

No Real Programmer works 9 to 5. (Unless it's the ones at night.)

Real Programmers don't wear neckties.

Real Programmers don't wear high heeled shoes. [But you *never* know!]

Real Programmers arrive at work in time for lunch.

A Real Programmer might or might not know his wife's name. He does, however, know the entire ASCII (and/or EBCDIC) code table.

Real Programmers don't know how to cook. Grocery stores aren't open at three in the morning.

Real Programmers survive on Twinkies and coffee.

Real Programmers don't write specs. Users should consider themselves lucky to get any programs at all, and take what they get.

Real Programmers don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand.

Real Programmers don't document. Documentation is for simps who can't read the listings and object deck.

Real Programmers don't draw flowcharts. Cavemen drew flowcharts, and look how much good it did them.

Real Programmers don't write application programs, they program RIGHT DOWN ON THE BARE METAL. Application programming is for feebs who can't do Systems Programming.

Real Programmers don't write in COBOL. COBOL is for wimpy application programmers.

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for gutless people who can't decide whether they want COBOL or FORTRAN.

Real Programmers don't write in APL, unless the whole program can be written in one line.

Real Programmers don't write in LISP. Only faggot programs contain more parentheses than actual code.

Real Programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers wite in BASIC after the age of 12.

Real Programmers don't write in PASCAL, BLISS, ADA, or any of those pinko computer science languages. Strong typing is for people with weak minds.

Real Programmers scorn floating-point arithemetic. The decimal point was invented for pansy bed wetters who are unable to think big.

Real Programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine sells it, they eat it. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines DON'T sell quiche.

Real Programmers like vending machine popcorn. Coders pop it in the microwave oven. Real Programmers use the heat from the CPU. They can tell which jobs are running from the popping rate.

Real Programmers never work 9 to 5. If any Real Programmers are around at 9 AM, it's because they were up all night.

Real Programmers don't play tennis, or any other sport that requires you to change clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, and Real Programmers wear their climbing boots to work in case a mountain should suddenly spring up in the middle of the machine room.

Real Programmers disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive neurotics who were prematurely toilet-trained. They wear neckties and carefully line up sharp pencils on an otherwise clear desk.

Real Programmers have no use for managers. Managers are a necessary evil, who exist only to deal with personnel bozos, bean counters, senior planners, and other mental defectives.

Real Programmers don't believe in schedules. Planners make up schedules. Managers firm up schedules. Frightened coders strive to meet schedules. Real Programmers ignore schedules.

Real Programmers detest candy-ass architects. Candy-ass architects won't allow Executive instructions to address another Executive. Real Programmers despise petty restrictions.

Last update: Sunday, November 16, 1997