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"Need a wizard..." - Elf M. Sternberg
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"Need a wizard..."

I know I’ve said this before, but the recruiter calls– and yes, I’m still getting them, despite gainful employment– are still as annoying as ever. I haven’t had to lecture anyone yet, so the recruiters do seem to be getting smarter, but there’s still an air of desperation around the “rock star,” “ninja,” “wizard,” “samurai” and, I kid you not, “graduate of Hogwarts” developer requests.


The thing that irritates me most about them, recently, is that they’re so… ridiculous. Either you can code, or you can’t. You can look a my github and decide that yes, I can code, and yes, I can code in a lot of things. Javascript and Python, mostly, but there’s also a Ruby project, a C++ project, a Clojure project.


Basically, with some significant exceptions (Haskell comes to mind immediately, as does Forth), everything that’s descended from either C or Lisp is within my cognitive grasp. Set-based languages (SQL and its descendants) are a bit of a departure, and my SQL is sophomoric, but it’s much better than the average WordPress developer’s, and that makes me happy. Also: I’m willing to make it better.


And that last part is what’s most important to me. Recently, work has required I dip my toe back into C++, and some Java, and even some Microsoft stuff. And I’ve managed to muddle through.


A good programmer can learn the basics of a programming language in less than a week. It’s not how good you are at the language, it’s how expressive you are with any language in your arsenal. I’m pretty expressive in Javascript and Python, and I could probably be just as expressive in a CLOS like Clojure or a Smalltalk/Algol mashup like Objective C, given a week or so. It will probably take me that long to wrap my head around any project given to me, given the scope of most modern projects. So the idea that you need an “Objective C Wizard NOW” makes me laugh. You just need a good programmer willing to take on your project.


Now, finding one of those… I can’t help you with.

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Comments
pakraticus From: pakraticus Date: July 4th, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

When they say Wizard they usually mean the Wizard of Oz...

Enough to give a shiny rigged demo, and if you're lucky pull together what was already there.


That said... In the realm of mediocre and bad programmers (Which seem to often be hired because they're better at telling lies than a good programmer) there seems to be this vast chasm between those that can use debugging tools and spot corner cases that will break logic, and those who can't. And the programmer that can say "I wouldn't have done it this way, but it's no less valid than my way. I'll leave it alone except for real errors," is very rare. The manager that can express "I need a programmer that can actually debug and corner cases," or "I need a programmer that can stick to fixing the errors and not massaging his sense of right in the world" is rarer. These are the wizards they need... and they might actually get them if they can ever bother to express what they need and what sort of stuff the programmer would actually be working on.
bldrnrpdx From: bldrnrpdx Date: July 4th, 2013 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get postcards and calls from the SLP-related contract places monthly if not weekly. I couldn't figure out why for the longest time - I'm not looking for work nor have I been for 10 years, I've never signed up with a contract outfit, heck I haven't even talked with one since looking for work 10 years ago. I finally asked one of the head hunters how she got my name. She said they go through the rolls from the state boards. Though I'm not sure how that explains I get twice as many calls & postcards as a friend of mine who lives 20 minutes away from me (in a Portland suburb).
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