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What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

The future looks just as bright for information technology as it did ten years ago when this career field started growing in huge numbers due to major internet technological advances and the popularity of mobile devices such as the smartphone and eReaders like Amazon’s Kindle.  In classrooms and libraries across the nation, information technology has become instrumental in the way students learn and the way teachers give lessons, and thanks to online education more adults have access to a better education without incurring a lot of debt. Needles to say, the need for qualified workers in information technology will continue in times to come. Some of the technological careers that are rapidly growing in popularity in the last decade are a direct reflection of current trends.

 

Information Technology Managers

The information technology manager is responsible for handling all computer activities for a business and performs upgrades on computer software and hardware, installs new security features on computers, creates budgets and goals for the IT department, supervises other IT employees and troubleshoots computers when needed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 332,700 information technology management jobs filled in 2012 and a majority of these positions were in the computer systems sector. Most information technology managers hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology, and a growing number of employers prefer a graduate degree. The job growth is expected to grow at 15% between now and 2022.

Mobile Application Developers

This job will grow by leaps and bounds as millions of people continue to purchase mobile devices and download apps for business and entertainment purposes. It creates expanded opportunities for those who want to become mobile application developers. A mobile application developer often works with other developers to create mobile-friendly apps or mobile-friendly versions of business websites for consumers. The developer may have his own firm or he may be employed with a larger company, and he will need to understand the basics of web design and different kinds of codes to succeed in this career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job growth is expected to be at 28% by 2020.

Health Information Technology

Another fast growing sector within information technology is health information technology and there are various jobs to choose from. You can work with health insurance providers and your duties would include processing patients' insurance claims and managing patients' insurance information using a computer database. Another option is to work as a medical biller in a doctor's office preparing patient’s invoices. The good thing about these jobs is that you do not need a four-year degree to get the training; you can obtain a two-year associates degree or a certificate in health information technology.

Search Engine Optimization Consultant

This is an important information technology career because most businesses have websites and if these websites are going to receive high traffic from visitors and earn profit, proper search engine optimization is necessary. The SEO consultant's job is to ensure that a business website gets high rankings on the major search engines and plenty of traffic from visitors. A good SEO consultant at a minimum will know how to research keywords effectively and implement these into the website's content based on the website's theme and he would utilize web analytics as part of the job. An SEO consultant may work on a freelance basis or be employed with an advertising company as an example.

Best Cities for Technology Careers

If you're thinking about relocating for your career, here are some of the best cities currently for information technology jobs listed in Forbes

 

Facebook has recently released a collection of C++ software modules that it uses to run the popular website.  With Facebook releasing Folly (the name it designated for the collection), more of the internal programs could become open source since they need different parts of the collection.

 

Jordan DeLong, a Facebook software engineer, said one concerning holdup to releasing additional work is that any open source project had to cut away from the dependencies on non-released internal collection code.

 

There are a lot of articles you will find on the internet that talk about the tenants of having a successful professional career. From soft-skills to job relevant skills, there is an unending list of the do’s and don’ts for establishing a great career. However, a successful career in information technology commands some specific efforts and focus. As a result, it is critical to focus on these 4 key tenants that can help you establish a promising and successful career in Information Technology.

·         Be Multi-lingual– This is the analogy of Steve Job’s famous quote ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’ as it applies to Information Technology. Gone are the days when you could train yourself on a specific programming language say Java or C++ and code your way to a successful career. The best programmers of today and tomorrow are pushing the limits and becoming experts in one of more languages. Knowing more than one programming language instantly makes you more employable since you can add value to multiple projects that require different languages. If you need proof, IT professionals knowing more than one language can attract a salary premium of £10,000 . Additionally, there is no telling how dynamic technology is and by being open to constantly learning new languages you will position yourself to get technology jobs that did not exist a few years ago

·         Go Beyond the ‘How’, Focus On ‘Why’: A common theme with most information technology professionals is their ability to figure out the HOW or, in other words, applying their technical know-how in achieving the solution to a problem. This is especially true when you are working for a service based IT organization where your key job is to develop a solution for the client’s business problem. Yes, you are and will get paid to be good at the ‘How’ but to advance a career in IT; it will help you immensely to also start focussing on the ‘Why’. This stems from a famous quote by Einsten “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it”. In essence, spend time in understanding ‘Why’ are your trying to solve the problem before you get down with figuring out the ‘How’ part. The reasons for developing this mindset are two-fold. One, you will instantly distinguish yourself from thousands of other IT peers who are content with the ‘How’ part. Two, there is a good chance that you want to get ahead in your career not only as a programmer but as a system architect or a business solution consultant. This is where the habit of asking the right questions pertaining to why a certain IT solution is requires will help you build the right solution.

·         Focus on the impact and results (Financial impact):This may not apply to IT professionals who are early in their careers but is paramount for senior IT professionals. For the most part, IT departments are required to make sure that the systems and the solutions function as desired and help the business run efficiently. In other words, the key metric for success for most IT professionals is being extremely good at technology, languages and Quality Assurance. However, the times are changing! No longer is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) in charge of making IT decisions. With organizations closely guarding the ROI of their investment in technology, CIOs are increasingly required to be cognizant of the financial benefits of technology so that they can justify the spending on IT. No wonder than that CFOs are increasingly pressurizing CIOs to get their act together

Tech Life in Missouri

Missouri, known as the ?Show Me State?, has a growing science and biotechnology field. One of the largest gene companies, in the U.S. Monsanto, is based in St. Louis. The higher education system is governed by the Missouri Department of Education and includes 13 four-year universities and 20 two-year colleges.
Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. Edsger Dijkstra
other Learning Options
Software developers near Jefferson City have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Missouri that offer opportunities for Blaze Advisor developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Patriot Coal Corporation Saint Louis Agriculture and Mining Mining and Quarrying
Solutia Inc. Saint Louis Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
Monsanto Company Saint Louis Agriculture and Mining Agriculture and Mining Other
Kansas City Power and Light Company Kansas City Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
The Laclede Group, Inc. Saint Louis Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Peabody Energy Corporation Saint Louis Agriculture and Mining Mining and Quarrying
Emerson Electric Company Saint Louis Manufacturing Tools, Hardware and Light Machinery
Energizer Holdings, Inc. Saint Louis Manufacturing Manufacturing Other
Centene Corporation Saint Louis Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech Other
Express Scripts Saint Louis Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Pharmaceuticals
Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated Chesterfield Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
Ameren Corporation Saint Louis Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
DST Systems, Inc. Kansas City Computers and Electronics Networking Equipment and Systems
Inergy, L.P. Kansas City Energy and Utilities Alternative Energy Sources
Leggett and Platt, Incorporated Carthage Manufacturing Furniture Manufacturing
Cerner Corporation Kansas City Software and Internet Software
O'Reilly Automotive, Inc. Springfield Retail Automobile Parts Stores
AMC Theatres Kansas City Media and Entertainment Motion Picture Exhibitors
Sigma-Aldrich Corporation Saint Louis Manufacturing Chemicals and Petrochemicals
HandR Block Kansas City Financial Services Securities Agents and Brokers
Graybar Services, Inc. Saint Louis Wholesale and Distribution Wholesale and Distribution Other
Edward Jones Saint Louis Financial Services Personal Financial Planning and Private Banking
Arch Coal, Inc. Saint Louis Energy and Utilities Alternative Energy Sources
Brown Shoe Company, Inc. Saint Louis Retail Clothing and Shoes Stores
Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. Saint Louis Manufacturing Food and Dairy Product Manufacturing and Packaging

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A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Missouri since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Blaze Advisor programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Blaze Advisor experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Blaze Advisor programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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