Feb 12 2020

What we do

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:30

I’m a software engineer. Not an architect, not a senior, just a software engineer. Level or title no longer matters, I do my job to the extent of my abilities, pushing a little here and there, althoug I preffer not to, because a life-work balance is important for me.

Since 2006 I worked on quite a few projects, in different areas. I would not say my work is meaningless, somebody obviously payed for it and some people made use of it, even if they did not know. But, there rarely was a project that I worked on that I would gladly recommend my friends to use.

A few days ago somebody posted this on twitter, and I must confess  if I look at my professional experience so far, I could say the same.

The first project I ever worked on never passed the demo phase and the company went bankrupt. Although it offered a lot of room for experimentation and turned me into a very creative developer, the code in itself was useless for anyone but me.

The second project I worked on, is being used by a company in South Africa. I think the company that created that application still exists and is still working on it. Again, it offered me a lot of room to grow as a developer, and I’ve played with some algorithms so complicated that would give me a migraine right now. The code is proprietary, if it still exists it is used by no more than a few hundred people. And being proprietary code is hidden away on some git repository and deployed on some private servers. It’s not useless for those a few hundred people, but it is useless for the rest people in this world that do not even know of its existence.

The third project I worked on is in the same situation. If it is being used, it is deployed on a BMW private server and maybe a few hundred people are using it. The code I wrote for BMW was not complicated, it just extracted data from a database and generated some reports.

The fourth project I worked on, all my work on it is definetly still being used. Knowing the company I worked for, innovation is not something they would risk the stability of thier codebase for. So the code is useful, since the project is used to scan and generate codebars for Amazon packages, but it’s nothing extraordinary.

The fifth project, well… I did a full refactoring of the interface, because the original one was shitty. That code is definelty useful for the people using that application.

The sixth project was in finance. I will never understand how banks and insurance companies used that thing. It has so many bugs and the interface was so crappy. If I were to open my own bank and so thier software, I would say Fuck That! and look for an alternative. Adn fi there wasn’t any, I would drop the business altogether. I was working on the backend, I had no influence over how the interface was developed, and on the backend I was working on on product, out of quite a few. In the end, regardless how good the part that my team worked on was, the full produc was still crappy. The code and the architectural changes I did, the documentation written are probably useful to the other poor sould that have to work on that project. But being a proprietary software, it is hidden away on some private servers, so are useless to the rest of the world.

The eigth project, I don’t even want to rememeber. It wasn’t useless, but just a bunch of test frameworks and calling some APIs and forwarding the results to other APIs, it’s not what I would call useful or challenging or rewarding. It was more challenging to get access and proper credentials to call those APIs than writing the actual code.

And now, I’m doing cloud engineering. I’m setting up AWS services to optimize functionality and costs for clients, to monitor thier applications and make sure they stay up at all time. Sometimes I just follow some steps that have already tried and tested by the team I am now a part of. Development when it is needed is fun, and the company is contributing to a few open source projects. It’s the most useful work I’ve done in a while.

The books and the code written for them, were useful for me to grow as a developer and were useful for the developers reading them and using that code as inspiration for thier own code. I really hope the knowledge accumulated from them makes their jobs easier and I hope they write more meaningful code than I did.

I did not write any code for a project that saved the world, or that saved a life, that I know of. I don’t even know what makes code useful really. For me it was useful, it definitely payed my bills and payed for food for my cat.

I’ve had my moments where I realized my code is nothing but API calls  and found it useless and plain boring. But you know what is not useless and boring? Solving problems, even if people benefitting from your solution will never know who you are.

Your work is as useless as you think of it being so. Nothing is useless if it pushes at least one person forward.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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