Re: Programming project required

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Mon Jan 22 2001 - 17:21:24 MST

Terry Donaghe wrote:
> As someone who makes a living off of Microsoft, I'd like to write a few
> things:
> 1. There are a LOT of Visual Basic and ASP (Active Server Pages)
> programmers. I think there's more VB programmers than any other type in
> the world.

Yes, I know. And it fills me with great sorrow that so many are sorely
afflicted. :-)

> 2. An awful lot of these programmers make a lot more money once they move
> into VB and/or ASP programming from whatever jobs they had in the past.

Does this mean that what they are doing is actually good or that the
tools are good? Does it mean it is actually part of the solution to the
software crisis rather than another part of the problem?

> 3. Most (but not all - I'd say about 70-80%) of these folks are not what
> most Unix/Linux/Java guys think of as programmers. Most have no computer
> science background. They have no concepts of object oriented programming
> and for what they're doing, they don't need it. These guys and gals solve
> specific problems for businesses. They may not get paid as much as a senior
> Java developer, but $45K - $65K is not unheard of.

Really scary that so many "business solutions" are being slung together
by people who are not programmers using tools as weak and Visual Basic.
All of us who have had to debug and/or maintain and extend some of these
"solutions" blanch when we hear such. A basic data structures and
algorithms class and a simple introduction to OO is not at all difficult
to come by and really should be required. Business that would have
computer solutions written and deployed by people without at least that
minimum deserve to have their IT functions come crashing down on their

> 4. With #3 in mind, it is safe to say that 70-80% of these people would
> have a difficult time getting a "real" programming job and thus might be
> stuck in the dreary, low paying job they had previously.
> 5. I know this can't be a forgone conclusion, but it seems to me that
> Microsoft has created a fantastic opportunity for millions of intelligent,
> yet non-computer science trained people to make much more money than they
> could if Microsoft didn't exist. These people contribute greatly to the
> economy, and I think the world is better off with them.

Making money and doing good work that actually is a net gain are very
very different things. Microsoft has handed loaded computer guns to
untrained software children. The 'guns' are so defective they are
likely to seriously maim the enterprise using them even in the hands of
highly skilled and trained developers. But people are making money by
simply waving them around ok.

> Most of the Visual Basic developers that I know are not computer science
> trained. Most easily found a job after doing a bit of work at home and for
> free for others. Many have no college degrees. I am aware, though, of many
> successful business projects that are implemented solely with Visual Basic
> and other Microsoft products.

College degrees as such aren't the criteria. Knowing the basics of your
craft is the criteria. I know many highly degreed CS people that can't
design and program their way out of the proverbial paper bag.

There is certainly a place for tools that don't require full programmer
talents to use effectively. But those tools must fit well within the
larger programming framework. This requires more openness than MS

> Perhaps I'm an idiot, or a blind sheep following an EVIL company, but by
> working for companies which use Microsoft software I am now earning more
> than SEVEN times as much money this year than I did in 1995. My wife, who
> has no college degree, is making more than $50 an hour doing contract
> programming with Microsoft technologies. That's money that we're using to
> buy a new house, have lots of cool toys, and ensure that our son gets the
> best private education available in Phoenix, AZ.

With a bit of training you could be making $200/hr or more consulting.
But again, the money is not a valid criteria of the worth of the tools.

> I know of a LOT of more people with similar stories. Scott McNealy and
> Larry Ellison have created no where NEAR the opportunity to achieve this
> level of success as Bill Gates has - directly or indirectly. I don't love
> Microsoft or Bill Gates, but I do respect them for the opportunities they
> have given me.

Uh, excuse me, but the computer revolution in general with the attendant
huge demand for software and the dirth of programmers created these high
paying jobs, NOT Bill Gates. Bill Gates and MS have fought hard against
other, arguably much better, tools being as widely used by even novices
as Visual Basic is today. Gates and company have sabotaged and killed
many companies, tools and projects to address the software crises much
better than these brain-dead MS tools do.

- samantha

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