The Most Frustrating Part of Being a Computer Programmer

What is the most frustrating thing about being a computer programmer? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Daniel Lopez Garcia, telecommunications engineer, on Quora.

Professionally

  • Working with non-technical managers. At high tech companies, most managers are technical or were technical, which is cool, because they provide advise, guidance, and leadership. Non-technical managers ask unfeasible things with unfeasible deadlines.
  • Computers breaking. Yes, this can sound stupid. A truck driver's worst nightmare may be the truck, because it can get a flat tire, heat up, etc. Computer programmers need a computer which, unfortunately, can break. Having to deal with an unhealthy equipment to do your job is among the most frustrating things any professional can face. Which is why high-tech companies give you a brand new (or formatted), good for the job, equipment. When working in an outsourcing company in Mexico, I got this cheap laptop that was just cleaned up in the virtual desktop, got the former's employee user credentials, and was asked to start right away. It was locked from the network to do any changes. Frustrating.
  • Work-related health issues. On my first company where I was hired for a technical position, I got a laptop with an incredibly uncomfortable track pad. My right thumb started to hurt, and it got really frustrating. I got myself a mouse which didn't help. Then I started to had headaches, until I learnt I needed glasses. All those healthy issues were not only damaging and degrading my body, but were frustrating as distractions when trying to come up with code. Enters Oracle, and gave me training on proper work ergonomics, and fulfills any ergonomic request I had. Since then I make sure the place I'm going to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year is as comfortable as possible, with further learnings I got from reading on the topic.
  • Social stigmas. This is for any job actually, and some places in tech can actually be less frustrating, but it's worth putting it in here. When assessing promotions, personality-types, stature, BMI, can be blindly taken into account. Being introvert myself, when going out with the teams for events the managers assess people unconsciously based on social interactions. Are you the party soul? Right path! I'm overweight and I've find people to put the lazy, dull, and simply just plain wrong labels on me just because of that. A friend from elementary school whom I haven't seen since then explicitly asked me everytime after we reunited to make sure I showed up on time. I had to explicitly confront her to make her see she had no base to back that up. At work, similar things apply based on things that shouldn't be work related. Enters Oracle with a very good meritocratic system and an office in Mexico where managers are in the US. I got myself a promotion and was regarded as reliable for solving urgent customer issues. Working remotely played on my favor really nice. I got and proved capable of handling more responsible tasks. Not so much when people see an introvert, overweight guy in front of them.
  • Personally
    • Being the Guru. People assumes you are a know-it-all, 24/7 cost-free technical support.
  • Not so respectable title. The title is not interesting to most people. I know from Indian people that in India if you don't go to the US for something like Medicine or Engineering you are not as respected. But not so much in Mexico, and even in some of the states. People are more easily pleased with tangible things. If you do something amazing in the backend of this incredibly large scale product that is being used by 500 of the Fortune 500, no one will see it. As such, talks about what you do don't last that much among friends and family. You can't tell the story of how you saved the day with a while loop that contained the bleeding the same way another professional would do. If you've ever seen the IT crowd, on the very first episode where the second IT guy tells a joke over the phone and gets hung up by the person on the other side, I laugh really hard because that's the archetype of my technical conversations with non-technical people. If you lose it for a second you'll spit technical jargon will bore immediately people right away.
  • This is my big effort on making assessments about frustrating things on this field. As you can see, all of them are second to the core nature of the profession. I felt in love with programming ever since my first Hello World program. I don't like all areas of the field but it is so large nowadays that it's like being free in new (virtual) lands in need of being worked and harvested.
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