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Programming = Mind numbingly boring?


tibberous
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Anymore, I hate programming. Every project is the same - create an admin area, create a table, create a page that lists all records from a table, create a page to view/edit that record, create activate/delete functions. Then create a design, create pages, paste in slideshows / photo galleries / whatever, and done.

 

It's just so damn cut and dry and so damn repetitive. I'll bet 80% of any project I do is cut and paste. In some ways, it's good. I can do a $2,500 project in a couple days, but it's just the same thing over and over and over again. I might as well be working in a damn assembly line.

 

I dunno - I've been a programmer forever, it just sucks when you realize that what you do isn't actually challenging, it's just a job like everyone else has. The stuff that was challenging you did two years ago, and can just reuse.

 

Maybe it's just the jobs I've been getting, but really there are only a few different components to most websites, and I have almost all of them in a folder on my desktop. Every now and then I'll get to do something fun, like write a datamining spider or Excel importer, but that's like 1% of projects.

 

For anyone that's been programming a while, do you like being a programmer? Do you like programming? I think right now my answers would be 'Yes' and 'No' =/

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I love being a programmer. It's what I live for. I do a lot of other stuff (coding, design, seo, writing, and some other stuff) but my main thing will always be programming.  Yes, it can get boring sometimes..but very rarely.  If your bored, then in your spare time start working up some new programming languages.  Try some high level languages, try Desktop programming, or programming mods for a game. It's only boring if you do the same thing all the time.  Try doing wordpress plugins, or drupal themes. Try learning a new system.

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Programming is what you make of it, and in your case, maybe you'd find it more challenging if you'd set the bar a bit higher for yourself.  Not trying to jump down your throat here, but you have said in previous posts that your current system is all procedural, you're happy with good enough code if your client/employer is happy with what it does, you don't make a huge effort stay on top of new best practices and integrate them into your projects, and you're saying now that you regularly cut and paste code. 

 

Coding is all about innovation, and with no innovation going on, of course you'll get bored quick.  When I'm slow at work, I'm doing stuff like looking for ways to optimize the system, learning the latest hack and how to defend it, looking at old code and trying to think of better ways I could have written it.  As a result of these types of things, I do things like take the average load time of the pages of our website from 400ms down to 100ms; my team and my employer are pretty confident that if we ever do get a security breach, it'll be on the ops side of things and not the application, and we have a very clean easy to follow codebase.  Which in turn means that routine work goes very quickly and I can spend more time on the projects I choose.

 

And most importantly, this makes love what I do and take whole lot of pride in it.

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I think the problem is that the fun, challenging, interesting stuff isn't what makes the money. Even high-dollar projects ($5,000+) seem to be more trouble than there worth - the real money is in these CMS/ecommerce type sites I keep getting, because of how fast they go together - and the only reason they go together so fast is because I've done so many.

 

It makes sense - the more you do something, the faster you get, the more you make. This *should* be a good thing. Problem is, I'm not a code producing robot - I'm a person who's brain doesn't like to be bored or continuously repeat the same task.

 

Oh well, wrapping a project up tonight, might take a little break after.

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Most people challenge themselves by learning a new language or platform.  Do you know flash/actionscript?  Could you write a side scrolling game?  How about Ruby or Python?  How about Objective-C coding for the Iphone/Ipad?  Are you an expert javascript developer?  Can you really get around in photoshop?  Your work may be repetitive but there's no reason you can't explore other areas of programming outside of what you're doing now. 

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Programming is not everything. How about application design, requirement analysis? These are more challenging jobs, and often - better paid. I find building ordinary websites a bit boring too, but on the other hand, I really enjoy designing tools for building them. You could also check it out.

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Flash / Auctionscript I know, good with javascript and Photoshop. The other stuff would be cool, IF I could get paid for it. If I can't, then I'm still having to do all the projects I am now, in addition to anything new I pick up.

 

Think my problem might come down to too much computer time in general.

 

Lets say I have a project that should take 30 hours. Rather than sit down, and do it in four days, I:

 

Wait a full month to start it

Look back over notes and try to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing

Half-ass start it, wait two more weeks

Hear from the client, decide I need to finish it over the weekend

Work 10 hours

Skip a day

Work a few hours a day for the next few days, spending crazy amounts of time on forums, hulu, CH, wikipedia.

Get a day away from finishing, put in 12 hours and wrap it up.

 

So now it FEELS like I've spent a long time on the project. It feels like I never leave my desk, but it's kind of my own fault -- although if I enjoy the project I'm working on, I really can sit down and code 60 hours in 5 days.

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Flash / Auctionscript I know, good with javascript and Photoshop. The other stuff would be cool, IF I could get paid for it. If I can't, then I'm still having to do all the projects I am now, in addition to anything new I pick up.

 

Work is work.  It seems like you're complaining that you want new challenges, but only if someone will pay you to take them on.  That doesn't happen for people unless they are known to be experts in their field, and are highly sought after.  It seems like your niche is doing boring run of the mill websites that have the same 5 features.  Purely from a business standpoint, one solution to your conundrum is to create a framework or CMS that does those things extremely well, and sell either the package, services around the package, or software as a service.  Wordpress would be an excellent example of that -- there were many blog services out there before wordpress, and wordpress is not even the best written and architected php blog package, but it took over the market because the author saw early on that an open source package that was used as the basis for his own SAS business would be a successful strategy. 

 

If at the end of the day, technology, programming and web development bore you, maybe the answer is that you should switch careers and find something that does interest you. 

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It's just so damn cut and dry and so damn repetitive. I'll bet 80% of any project I do is cut and paste.

 

Why are you cuting and pasting code, instead of creating a framework then?

 

I love being a programmer, and it's never boring.

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Personally I think it has become so boring for you because you no longer think about creating cool stuff (make the client feel that working with your application is a breeze) and over-deliver but instead you think in snippets, you have become your own repository. During a meeting with a client your mind jumps from snippet to snippet and at the end you literally cut-and-paste the entire application together, you can almost automate this process as everything is a routine (lines 12-35 from file x paste at line 38-61 of file y) with some cunning you could (or hire someone to do it) tick/untick a few checkboxes and build your client's application. You have made yourself part of an assembly line that you have helped built.

 

Theres a good book about this called "the force"

 

They also made a movie about this "force" where people who very very strongly believe in it can move stuff...

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I have read all the comments here, and I am not knocking anyones comments at all...there was a lot of really good advice, but overall I feel that Ignace may have hit the nail directly on the head.  From reading your original post, reading all the posts that came after + your follow up posts it seems he's dead on.  So perhaps varying your routine for your projects would help you a lot.  I think he had a lot of words of wisdom in there.

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I think the problem is that the fun, challenging, interesting stuff isn't what makes the money. Even high-dollar projects ($5,000+) seem to be more trouble than there worth - the real money is in these CMS/ecommerce type sites I keep getting, because of how fast they go together - and the only reason they go together so fast is because I've done so many.

 

It makes sense - the more you do something, the faster you get, the more you make. This *should* be a good thing. Problem is, I'm not a code producing robot - I'm a person who's brain doesn't like to be bored or continuously repeat the same task.

 

Oh well, wrapping a project up tonight, might take a little break after.

 

I completely understand, and I feel exactly the same way sometimes. In the end it's what pays the bills so, you are not going to learn an entirely new way of doing a task that you can already do with current methods as you will end up losing money. The difference between some of the people here and yourself is that you sound like you do this as a full time career wheras to others it is a hobby or not yet blossomed into a full time job so they can easily say do this or do that. You have to look at the big picture.

 

What I find helps sometimes is to purchase a new book and have it on the side as I am working through a client's project. It must be a subject that may improve your current work or something that you can add to it. For example I have a jQuery book that every now and then I will take an hour from doing the client stuff and go through a chapter. Sometimes i'll hit on something that I may use in another project. A bit of mental stimulation.  Also, you will get a project that requires you to use something new, an API for example. It may only be 1 out of 5 but they always come. I tend to be learning any new tools that Google produces a lot of the time such as data feeds for Google Base, shopping, etc. This is all stuff for SEO and Google tends to add or update something a lot of the time.

 

Also, most importantly, if I can help it, I stay away from computers altogether the minute I finish work. Do some cooking, watch TV, go to the gym, etc. Spend too much time on a PC and you become a vegetable, you will get stressed (as you obviously are). Make sure you take regular breaks. If you feel this way then I would definately ask your boss (if you don't work for yourself) for a couple of days break to relax.

 

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