RE: Programming project required (drifting away from Extropianism)

From: Terry Donaghe (
Date: Tue Jan 23 2001 - 09:06:07 MST


I'm not really sure what world you're living in. Apparently you feel that
it is impossible to program anything useful in Visual Basic or even any
other Microsoft tool. I was personally involved in a VB project that
enabled Carolina Power and Light's bulk power marketing team the ability to
sell and buy excess power thus adding millions of dollars to the company's
bottom line. This was a 24/7 application that was written entirely in
Visual Basic 5 using an Oracle back end. Stupid me, I didn't know anything
about stored procedures back then, but dang it if the thing didn't work just
fine in spite of my lack of Oracality.

By the way, just about all the development at Carolina and Power (which now
has some other name since they bought a power company in Florida) is done
with Microsoft technologies. And gee, the company does just fine.

I am currently involved in an application at Honeywell which uses multiple
components written in Visual Basic 6. Oh dear, since this software is so
horrible, it must be a big mistake! Nope, works just fine. Does the job.

Let's see... Fortune 500 company Becton and Dickinson trusted me to write
several very important business components for their SAP deployment - in
Visual Basic. Status? Works just fine.

Intel, *gasp* uses Microsoft technolgies. Intel, Samantha, is a very large
company. And they use Microsoft technologies, including Visual Basic and
Active Server Pages.

It makes me wonder, if Visual Basic is such a "weak" tool, why so many huge,
succesful companies bank on it...

I don't want to take anything away from the legions of Java and
Unix/Linux/WhateverElse programmers out there. They do work just as good as
us VB guys. :)

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Samantha Atkins
> Sent: Monday, January 22, 2001 5:21 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: Programming project required
> 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
> head.
> > 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
> wants.
> > 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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