The Importance of Our Work

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 716171

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Importance of Our Work

  • Dalkeith

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3659

    I completely agree and certainly try not to stress,stress in itself is not productive (even in life and death situations), BUT ...

    Ultimately I feel a personal obligation to do a good job - I just find it more enjoyable to have committment and while what I do is not a matter of life and death it is a matter of people getting on with their lives and everyone wants to be getting on with their lives.

    By improving our processes and automating those things that can be automated we have more time and money that leads to choices. The choice to study the choice to enjoy holidays and the choice to learn new things.

    So by choosing to be committed to even the simplest of work you are choosing in someways to support progress and through that the important things in life.

    That's my personal take on it.

  • craig 81366

    SSC Eights!

    Points: 808

    I agree with the general sentiment, but there's one sentence that bothers me.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood, so I quote the sentence slightly reworded to reflect my understanding of what was written:

    If (your work is actually affecting life), make sure you have unit tests.

    This implies a misunderstanding of the benefits of unit tests: that they're only of value in "life-and-death" systems.

    I personally write units test to make my job easier. To make it easier to test and verify my code works as I expect. To reduce defects and the consequent need to deal with irate users .... which in the long run, takes up much more time away from family and personal life.

    So I'm inclined to turn things around and say:

    - If you don't care about the quality of your work,

    - If you don't mind the late night callouts,

    - If you enjoy putting out fires because your last bug-fix created 2 more,

    - If you don't care about family time,

    Then by all means: Don't bother with unit tests.

  • Karl-463336

    SSChasing Mays

    Points: 644

    We once had a CIO that told all of us that we should treat our jobs 'as if' we were working in an air traffic controller's tower, and that lives depended on our quickness, efficiency and accuracy of our code. Talk about stress. Even the smallest of mistakes were not tolerated. It became a very paranoid environment to work in.

  • call.copse

    SSCoach

    Points: 16884

    At my office the more common phrasing would be 'No-one died'. That's not to say we don't care by any stretch, and losing ones livelihood may be pretty stressful, but at the end of the day we always get around difficult situations and my current employer does not enforce death marches or unpaid overtime. An occasional 8am start is as bad as it gets!

  • shoestringdba

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6206

    I'll disagree on one aspect: It's probably MORE important to learn to relax when you ARE "saving babies" so to speak. We support cancer research and our larger corporation produces equipment and software to support the research, manufacture, storage and distribution of many life-saving drugs and pharmaceuticals. There are regulations out the wazoo and you have to be on your game all the time. Make a mistake, and it could impact a living person or persons down the line (to say nothing of the bottom line when your company makes headlines because of it).

    I think the last paragraph of the editorial is just as applicable to "baby saving" work if not moreso. Undue stress increases the likelihood of mistakes and to quote Sgt. Stryker from The Sands of Iwo Jima: "But every [mistake] we make, a whole stack of chips goes with it. We make a mistake, and [someone] don't walk away." You have to learn to manage your stress so you can bring your A-game every day.

    ____________
    Just my $0.02 from over here in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery - please adjust for inflation and/or your local currency.

  • sergio.oliva

    SSC Journeyman

    Points: 76

    If we talk about balancing the importance we give to work vs. life in general, I completely agree, including the exceptions 'if you are saving lifes or preserving them'.

    Now, when talking about stress management, the idea of 'stress is bad, don't stress more than necessary', well... it's easier said than done.

  • gregs 79056

    Valued Member

    Points: 74

    This has to be the best post I have ever read from you Steve (and I read most of them).

    I often forget why am working and do what I do. It is all for my family and this post reminded me to actually spend time with my beautiful wife and children.

    Thankyou for reminding me on what is important!

  • jonathan.crawford

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6357

    Are you supporting people who are saving babies? Are you two or three down the line from that? I don't directly do any patient care or have any interaction with them, but simply making the nurses "more efficient" means that they can help other people save more babies.

    and incidentally, why aren't you all saving babies?

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  • akljfhnlaflkj

    SSC Guru

    Points: 76202

    craig 81366 (6/30/2015)


    I agree with the general sentiment, but there's one sentence that bothers me.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood, so I quote the sentence slightly reworded to reflect my understanding of what was written:

    If (your work is actually affecting life), make sure you have unit tests.

    This implies a misunderstanding of the benefits of unit tests: that they're only of value in "life-and-death" systems.

    I personally write units test to make my job easier. To make it easier to test and verify my code works as I expect. To reduce defects and the consequent need to deal with irate users .... which in the long run, takes up much more time away from family and personal life.

    So I'm inclined to turn things around and say:

    - If you don't care about the quality of your work,

    - If you don't mind the late night callouts,

    - If you enjoy putting out fires because your last bug-fix created 2 more,

    - If you don't care about family time,

    Then by all means: Don't bother with unit tests.

    Way too literal. I'm sure he didn't mean don't do any. It's just that the more life-critical a task the greater the value of making sure everything is the best that it can be. The less life-critical, the less important that is. But maybe my interpretation is wrong.

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125026

    My wife has often uttered a particular saying during stressful times in her career. She spent 20 years working in computer telephony and speech, often in sales, and would remind her colleagues that they "weren't saving babies" as they worked with customers.

    For a couple of years, I maintained an interactive voice response application that connected mothers with at risk pregnancy with a 24x7 nurse call center, so that phrase wouldn't resonate well when the system went down.

    However, we could have used this one:

    "Relax, at least we're not regulating the core temperature of a nuclear reactor here."

    :unsure:

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

  • Orlando Colamatteo

    SSC Guru

    Points: 182268

    It's important to meet each challenge with an appropriate level of urgency and attention based on it's importance and priority relative to all else going on. It can become all too easy, or even convenient, to skip the assessment steps required to form the appropriate response and go to an extreme. Thanks for the sobering comments.

    __________________________________________________________________________________________________
    There are no special teachers of virtue, because virtue is taught by the whole community. --Plato

  • Rod at work

    SSC-Dedicated

    Points: 33144

    Good article, Steve. However sometimes work is overwhelming, even when you're not at work. I was unemployed for nearly 9 months until I got the job I've now in (I got it about 2 months ago). The commute is horrendous, but I had to take it or we'd loose the house, etc. So my work totally dominates my life. In my old job I used to go to a gym, but had to give it up early in my unemployment. When I was still unemployed I was looking forward to rejoining a gym once I got a job again and work on my fitness, but still get back home to my family early enough in the evening. With my commute now every day I get home later than when I spent 90 minutes at the gym and was employed at my previous job. Rejoining a gym is out of the question (unless I don't want to see my family at all).

    Bottom line is this, I'm sure I'm not alone. Even though the work day itself is 8.5 to 9 hours long, the commute for several of us is so long that there is only work. And if you're like me, then this is what you've got to do, for now at least.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 994842

    Heh... You post such an editorial quite frequently, Steve. Are you reminding us... or you? 🙂

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column.
    "If you think its expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."--Red Adair
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not."
    When you put the right degree of spin on it, the number 3|8 is also a glyph that describes the nature of a DBAs job. 😉

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 716171

    craig 81366 (6/30/2015)


    I agree with the general sentiment, but there's one sentence that bothers me.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood, so I quote the sentence slightly reworded to reflect my understanding of what was written:

    If (your work is actually affecting life), make sure you have unit tests.

    This implies a misunderstanding of the benefits of unit tests: that they're only of value in "life-and-death" systems.

    Incorrect. It implies that if you work with serious software that impact life, you better have unit tests. The converse is not true. You should have unit tests in all software development, but they are certainly more critical where a regression is not a loss of time or money, but a loss or impact to life.

    I personally write units test to make my job easier. To make it easier to test and verify my code works as I expect. To reduce defects and the consequent need to deal with irate users .... which in the long run, takes up much more time away from family and personal life.

    So I'm inclined to turn things around and say:

    - If you don't care about the quality of your work,

    - If you don't mind the late night callouts,

    - If you enjoy putting out fires because your last bug-fix created 2 more,

    - If you don't care about family time,

    Then by all means: Don't bother with unit tests.

    Great points, but certainly some people don't end up with these things even though they don't use unit tests. Lots of software devs don't have to manage the on call part of life.

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