Mercenary

  • Dave23

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3873

    For the past 14 years, I have worked exclusively in the health care field, whether pharmaceuticals, public health, or health information exchange. I have turned down more lucrative offers to leave the field, but it's important to me that I use my skills to improve people's lives in a meaningful way.

  • Felipe Maurer

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 132

    I do enjoy working on intellectually or conceptually challenging projects. But I also look for opportunities that fit my life in a broader way. I can even consider a change in career if it better fits my lifestyle choices (place to live, working hours, etc.)

  • Miles Neale

    SSChampion

    Points: 13147

    I love technology. I have a passion for writing code and solving business problems. But I also want what I do to be of value to society.

    I have worked in Library Science, Accounting, Environmental Science, Records Management and many more areas in the decades I have done this. And I was challenged with it all and loved doing every bit of it. Work is only as mundane as you make it. And writing even the silliest routine can still be fun if you let it.

    The task, be it cutting edge and loved, or an unfunded Federal mandate, has always been seen as a challenge and an opportunity to make something work, and to learn as we go.

    The goal is always to produce a great product, while learning how to make the next one even better. It has gone from learning how to write a program to learning how to let the program write itself with the internal logic that mirrors the external drivers.

    Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!

  • Doctor Who 2

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 7757

    I have to say that I'm a little of both. Many years ago I worked in manufacturing, helping to write software that tracked our product. For whatever reason they didn't use any SQL database, so everything was done with flat files. A mess, I would hate to do that today, but hey it was fun at the time.

    I did a few other things after that, and then spent the last several years working for a small department at a university, under contract to the City. We provided assessments of clients with substance abuse issues, tracked those clients through the system of treatment, tracked the payment of treatment and progress of the clients. Here's where we got to use SQL Server. Did a lot of development in VB, VB.NET, C#, ASP.NET, SQL Server, WPF and so on. But more importantly, I had a strong sense that I was helping people kick their substance dependence, and that was a great feeling. At least indirectly I helped, by making it possible for the counselors to use the software we wrote for them while they did the assessments, the tracking software we wrote for the agencies which performed the treatment, and so on. Yes, people sometimes abused the system, both the clients and sometimes even the agencies that did the treatment. But I know that at least indirectly, I helped some people end their substance abuse addictions, and that is a great feeling.

    However, that field seems to be undergoing shrinkage. The agency I worked at has been experiencing budget cuts for years, resulting in annual layoffs each year, for the last several years. I was one of those who they downsized recently at the end of our fiscal year, due to more budget cuts. At this point in time, I'm willing to take any reasonable job, whether it's helping people or building things for general consumption. So, if you've got an opening, please contact me. 🙂

    Rod

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125044

    At the end of the day, if a company does nothing more than produce an honest, high paying, satisfying job for 1,000 of it's own employees, then that's a worthwhile endeavor in itself.

    There are government programs that spend tens or hundreds of millions of tax dollars a year and produce no measurable outcome for the betterment of society, not even a satisfying job for the employees involved.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • BenWard

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5903

    Eric M Russell (10/15/2014)


    ... and produce no measurable outcome for the betterment of society, not even a satisfying job for the employees involved.

    It does keep the financial ball rolling though. When you look into it there's rarely such a thing as a waste of tax money. Tax dollars[*insert currency of choice here] are given to staff who immediately give a third or more of it right back in income tax and give another 20% of what's left back in value added tax on their purchases. The remaining dollars earned by the employees after they've paid taxes go on purchasing goods and services. The companies they buy from pay tax on their profits and most of it goes to paying their staff who pay the same taxes on their earnings and spend the rest on goods and services.... Given just a few iterations, pretty much every tax dollar the government spend on anything (excluding international imports) comes right back in tax just a few months later.

    So yea governments spend billions on what seems like pointless nothingness, but they get pretty much all of it back again eventually and the people who were employed by them enjoyed a better standard of living than they would have done if they were cashing a welfare cheque. So I for one don't really care what the government spend all their monies on. If they want to spend billions building a 17 lane superhighway that no-one will ever use from Barnsley to Liphookminster I'm not going to scream and shout about it but I'm sure the construction gangs will be grateful for the work!

    So the more tax a government wastes, the more tax they make. Funny old world isn't it?

    Ben

    ^ Thats me!

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  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125044

    BenWard (10/15/2014)


    Eric M Russell (10/15/2014)


    ... and produce no measurable outcome for the betterment of society, not even a satisfying job for the employees involved.

    It does keep the financial ball rolling though. When you look into it there's rarely such a thing as a waste of tax money. Tax dollars[*insert currency of choice here] are given to staff who immediately give a third or more of it right back in income tax and give another 20% of what's left back in value added tax on their purchases. The remaining dollars earned by the employees after they've paid taxes go on purchasing goods and services. The companies they buy from pay tax on their profits and most of it goes to paying their staff who pay the same taxes on their earnings and spend the rest on goods and services.... Given just a few iterations, pretty much every tax dollar the government spend on anything (excluding international imports) comes right back in tax just a few months later.

    So yea governments spend billions on what seems like pointless nothingness, but they get pretty much all of it back again eventually and the people who were employed by them enjoyed a better standard of living than they would have done if they were cashing a welfare cheque. So I for one don't really care what the government spend all their monies on. If they want to spend billions building a 17 lane superhighway that no-one will ever use from Barnsley to Liphookminster I'm not going to scream and shout about it but I'm sure the construction gangs will be grateful for the work!

    So the more tax a government wastes, the more tax they make. Funny old world isn't it?

    Well, exactly how government spends tax dollars is extememly important. Sure, spending a billion dollars building a 17 lane highway creates additional income for construction workers (at least for a few months), but spending 1/10 that cost on a four lane bridge would permanently cut the commute time in half for an entire community, yielding both an immediate and longer term return. The point of economic activity is not just putting food ont he table for workers but also producing useful things in the process.

    If we rely on government "make work" projects just to keep constructions workers employed, then perhaps it's time to ask whether we have too many construction workers and not enough truck drivers or IT professionals.

    Goverment stimulus spending is circular at best. We give money to the government, which then trickles down through the bureaucracy and eventually winds up back in the pockets of citizens. Essentially it's another form of "trickle down" economics. Yes, those who advocate stimulus spending are trickle down economists.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • BenWard

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 5903

    Eric M Russell (10/15/2014)


    BenWard (10/15/2014)


    Eric M Russell (10/15/2014)


    ... and produce no measurable outcome for the betterment of society, not even a satisfying job for the employees involved.

    It does keep the financial ball rolling though. When you look into it there's rarely such a thing as a waste of tax money. Tax dollars[*insert currency of choice here] are given to staff who immediately give a third or more of it right back in income tax and give another 20% of what's left back in value added tax on their purchases. The remaining dollars earned by the employees after they've paid taxes go on purchasing goods and services. The companies they buy from pay tax on their profits and most of it goes to paying their staff who pay the same taxes on their earnings and spend the rest on goods and services.... Given just a few iterations, pretty much every tax dollar the government spend on anything (excluding international imports) comes right back in tax just a few months later.

    So yea governments spend billions on what seems like pointless nothingness, but they get pretty much all of it back again eventually and the people who were employed by them enjoyed a better standard of living than they would have done if they were cashing a welfare cheque. So I for one don't really care what the government spend all their monies on. If they want to spend billions building a 17 lane superhighway that no-one will ever use from Barnsley to Liphookminster I'm not going to scream and shout about it but I'm sure the construction gangs will be grateful for the work!

    So the more tax a government wastes, the more tax they make. Funny old world isn't it?

    Well, exactly how government spends tax dollars is extememly important. Sure, spending a billion dollars building a 17 lane highway creates additional income for construction workers (at least for a few months), but spending 1/10 that cost on a four lane bridge would permanently cut the commute time in half for an entire community, yielding both an immediate and longer term return. The point of economic activity is not just putting food ont he table for workers but also producing useful things in the process.

    Goverment stimulus spending is circular at best. We give money to the government, which then trickles down through the bureaucracy and eventually winds up back in the pockets of citizens. Essentially it's another form of "trickle down" economics. Yes, those who advocate stimulus spending are trickle down economists.

    Oh don't get me wrong I totally agree that the billions spent on project x might be spent to much better effect on project y and the public have a right to make such opinions known - hopefully governments listen to their public too.

    The point I make is that people get angry with the governments spending billions on something they don't want, under the mistaken impression that the money is gone forever, it's not, it's just going to be a little while before said government gets it all back.

    So really 'useless' government projects are a problem because they are done instead of 'useful' ones, not because they 'use' money.

    Ben

    ^ Thats me!

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  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 717276

    Not to get political (too much), but I tend to agree with Eric, mostly. Government often makes big projects, which is a bit of a function of how things are run. They would do better to do smaller projects, and not try to fix things 100% in one, long, 5 or 10 year project. Make some smaller investments, smaller contracts, try to get smaller, but constant, wins.

    That's how I think many of our software projects ought to run as well.

  • rmurphy711

    Valued Member

    Points: 56

    Not to seem disrespectful, no matter how I spin it I will end up sounding, but government funding projects wasn't the focus of this discussion. Might you consider spinning that off to a separate topic please? I've been following this thread and have really enjoyed the comments from everyone, but it seems to be losing focus now. Thanks 😎

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125044

    BenWard (10/15/2014)

    ...

    The point I make is that people get angry with the governments spending billions on something they don't want, under the mistaken impression that the money is gone forever, it's not, it's just going to be a little while before said government gets it all back.

    ...

    Most people are not philosophically opposed to government spending; it's more the fact that the federal government has been running trillion dollar budget deficits of decades. Just like a household budget, even a worthwhile expenditure (like taking a college course or replacing an older vehicle) can become a heated debate when it's purchased on credit.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • aochss

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1677

    I gauge the success and satisfaction of the programs I work based on the following:

    - Have my changes made life easier for the end users of the programs.

    - Have the changes made the company more efficient and more profitable.

    - Have the changes made the data more accurate and reliable.

    - Has my involvement on the project made the users more willing to suggest changes, report issues and be more involved in the process.

    Nothing is more satisfying than taking a project and turning it around so that you can clearly see progress and accuracy. It also helps to have a supportive team and boss.

    A down side, to making things more efficient sometime leads to some employees being reassigned or let go, since the automation has made their previous positions obsolete.

    I am still enjoying the ride,

    Anton

  • rmurphy711

    Valued Member

    Points: 56

    aochss (10/15/2014)


    I gauge the success and satisfaction of the programs I work based on the following:

    - Have my changes made life easier for the end users of the programs.

    - Have the changes made the company more efficient and more profitable.

    - Have the changes made the data more accurate and reliable.

    - Has my involvement on the project made the users more willing to suggest changes, report issues and be more involved in the process.

    This is great! Just wondering, safe to assume this list order is based on your priorities?

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 717276

    aochss (10/15/2014)


    I gauge the success and satisfaction of the programs I work based on the following:

    - Have my changes made life easier for the end users of the programs.

    - Have the changes made the company more efficient and more profitable.

    - Have the changes made the data more accurate and reliable.

    - Has my involvement on the project made the users more willing to suggest changes, report issues and be more involved in the process.

    Nothing is more satisfying than taking a project and turning it around so that you can clearly see progress and accuracy. It also helps to have a supportive team and boss.

    A down side, to making things more efficient sometime leads to some employees being reassigned or let go, since the automation has made their previous positions obsolete.

    I am still enjoying the ride,

    Anton

    But are the changes that provide satisfaction generic? Meaning that any type of application/industry/changes provide some fulfillment? Or is there something special about your app?

    As an example, I met some of the Spotify devs, and they really are excited about their work because music means a lot to them. I'm not sure they'd be as engaged in a supply chain or CRM app.

    For me, most of the places I've worked were jobs. I wanted to do a good job, and enjoyed helping people, but nothing really special about building inventory apps, or managing systems for an educational group. The one place where the job meant a bit more, strangely enough, was a power company. Not sure why they engaged me a bit more.

  • Miles Neale

    SSChampion

    Points: 13147

    Steve Jones - SSC Editor (10/15/2014)


    Not to get political (too much), but I tend to agree with Eric, mostly. Government often makes big projects, which is a bit of a function of how things are run. They would do better to do smaller projects, and not try to fix things 100% in one, long, 5 or 10 year project. Make some smaller investments, smaller contracts, try to get smaller, but constant, wins.

    That's how I think many of our software projects ought to run as well.

    Decades ago when Government projects ran into the tens of millions of dollars and there was massive waste, there was a huge out cry. In that day, I managed three projects back-to-back that were very closely related. Some would have grouped them into one project but we choose to make it three. It just worked better that way.

    All three were built and delivered on time and within budget. Having the projects this size with necessary management but not overmanaged, made a significant difference. We were able to stay focused and committed to scope since we knew that we would have another phase later.

    Oddly, the third project we did cost far less then the identified waste other mega-projects were generating. I cannot take the credit for making this happen since it was the work of eighteen to twenty people across IT and Business areas, but it was a great experience and taught us that bigger is not always better.

    FYI the three projects ran for just over 6 years, and cost just over ten million. Today that cost figure would be significantly higher due to inflation, but in comparison to the monsters that devoured people and slurped up monies like lapping up milk, we ran a lean and clean project.

    Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!

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