Friday, May 2, 2008

An Autobiography of a Software Engineer from India Inc

Warning : Before reading this Be prepared. Coz while writing I was not.

My boss has a very good sense of humour, here is one such incident that happened recently.

In a busy day with endless conference calls, same time meeting, code reviews, test plans etc etc.
He asked me "How old are you kid?"
I was thinking what bad timing to ask a stupid question. Still I replied gleefully "24"
He asked "really??" he looked puzzled by every means.
To confirm I said "Yes Sir" .....though behind in my mind i was calculating.
After thinking for a while he said "Do you know what a birth certificate is??"
I smiled and said "Yes sir we do have birth certificates in india and 90% of times they are true"
He was at his best teasing, but he continued "i really cant understand at this age how you chose a career for yourself? My son is 25 and he is finding it difficult to think on what he needs to do?"
After a pause he said "you might be producing engineers in a factory, not in a college" :)

That day evening i came back and was thinking about the circumstances and environment that makes us poor indians nothing but a software engineer. A very venomous breed as my dad says "you guys have everything in life hefty paycheques, sporty bikes, cars, friends, freedom...but no idea on what so ever about the work you do" i tend to just see of his sarcasm always but this punch line somewhere was bothering me... Upon thinking on it i feel, We software engineers are a dangerous lot. Here are a few pointers to guide you through.

Money : compared to the previous generation of ours we are making quite a dime out here. Most of us have no idea what our salary is, though we speak about ctc's and take homes we dont give a shit about 100-200 rupees less/more. We are the biggest reason for inflation in our country, i cant say its buying power its more like "shit load of money" any time in a month we are rich/poor no guarantee upon it.
LifeStyle: Our motto is live life king size, groped by the tarantino and bond flicks we tend to spend on all useless things from leather to steel to god knows what. A party or a treat is a must, even if cat in your gave birth to a kitten sometimes its that ridiculous.
Time: Ohh you said it, "Time can i get some of it". We dont have time for anything at all. "Sorry my friend i could not call you on your wedding day was kinda busy with some deployments" .."Ooops dont think i forgot your birthday..was just a bit busy(you bet)"... "Look dude i dont have time to listen to you..i gotta go some testing to be finished" "Ohh dinner this weekend...hmmmm..sorry boss..i have prod call this weekend..DR testing you know..shit!!" I can quote all day if you want, the fact is we dont have time. Software engineers just have 12 hours a day not 24 like you.
Work: The kind of work we(i must admit in this context we is "most of us") do just needs common sense and experience. But we like to boast about it a lot, touch wood if one day google.com goes down or the copy,paste functionality goes away in computers we all are doomed. I would love to see the share values of all software biggies that day...
Love: This one is not only the girlfriend/boyfriend in our lives but its the complete package that includes dad,mom,bro,sis,doggy,uncles,aunties all of them. Because of the above factors and a predominant pressure cooker environment at office our love-nerves are very weak. Most of the time in a busy schedule we speak to our loved ones on phone, we speak so much on phone that we are in love with our phones. My room mate sleeps with his mobile on his chest that has jyothika's picture in it. He feels his SonyEriccsson W800i is his jyothika. So our love is nothing but our mobiles. Some call their mobiles their soul partner coz she knows it all.

Having said all this 0% bullshit, i think my skillset were always aligned and synchronous for making me into a good software engineer.

Following two attributes we own and improvise a lot at office and these are the same skills (luckily) i had in me from childhood :

First one is copying. The biggest amount of work we do is "Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V" which means copy code from some website and paste it in our application code. I was always good at copying, ask all my classmates i would even copy their names at the end of the exams in the test papers. My buddy ramakrishnan can tell you a barn full of stories about my copying skills.

The next one is marketing, its not like "selling icecubes in iceland" its even difficult. First you need is a poker face and a vocabulary that can confuse anyone. Chew up your daily dose of technical geek terminolgies.....you are there. One such sentence is "The logic is to leverage the sustained rise of accounts in a post processor environment". Gods of ours will find it difficult to understand it let alone our clients.

My Software Engineering Teacher Mrs.Sheela taught us "Software Engineering is a complex subject, Its a systematic, disciplined approach to make softwares". A few years in this lane you will understand she was correct its complex for sure rest of it am not pretty sure.

The competent programmer is fully aware of the strictly limited size of his own skull; therefore he approaches the programming task in full humility, and among other things he avoids clever tricks like the plague.--Edsger Dijkstra

2 comments:

Sandhya M said...

Getting fired is the best thing that can happen to us. That way we'll quit treading water and do something useful with our lives :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear.. R u regertting for being a software engineer?? I think most of the people dont.
If yes just think what u want to do. Make lats of money, retire at 40 or early and work or do what u want to do..
is its a option???

Nilby

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