[SATLUG] Burned out programmer

Mike Wallace m.a.wallace at gmail.com
Fri Aug 12 12:10:24 CDT 2011

While you have tried new languages, have you tried new technologies?  There
was a point several years ago where I was burnt out because the systems I
was working on were just more of the same programming I had done for years.
There were no new problems to solve and I was only changing the window
dressing.  Some people are satisfied with a paycheck, and don't really care
what they do.  Others, like me, need a challenge and to continually learn.
I never got much enjoyment over learning a new language because I was
solving the same problems, but with a different syntax.  What I needed was
new problems to solve rather than new solutions to old problems.

I'm a Java developer by trade, so I'll keep this to what I know.  There's a
whole set of different technologies surrounding core Java.  You can do
database programming, web services, desktop applications, web applications,
embedded systems, etc, etc.  Heck, I even got to work on a Java3D
application back in the day.  All I'm trying to say is that learning, say
Ruby, was interesting at an academic level, but didn't make me excited to
program.  However, jumping into that first web service, or Java3D, or JavaFX
was something that I enjoyed.  Of course, each one of us has to figure out
what we like.  I only mention all of this because your initial list of
HTML/CSS/JS/Java/PHP is really quite limited in the scope of what you can
accomplish with programming.

If you really want to move to being a system administrator, training of some
sort is a must.  It's one thing to be hacking on your own box and figure
stuff out, but it's another thing entirely to support an organization.  I've
never had any real Solaris or Linux training, but I knew more than some of
the other guys we had around at the time, so I became the de facto admin for
those boxes.  I have many stories of problems I got myself into because of
not knowing those systems inside and out.  The worst that I ever got myself
into was patching a Solaris box and rebooting it.  Well, rebooting is a
misnomer because it didn't boot at all. So I am sweating bullets trying to
figure out what happened, and how in the world to fix it. Did I mention that
thousands of people were dependent on this system being up and running? (For
the curious, all I had to do was reinstall the Solaris boot block. The
previous boot block had been corrupted by the patch, but I didn't realize
any of this until I started my frantic Googling.)  I have other stories of
accidentally killing hard drives or upgrades gone awry. It's not a big deal
when a couple people are dependent on it, but when you have thousands
dependent on a particular system, it's a different game. It's a game I
realized I am not suited for, but to each their own.


On Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM, Donald L Wilcox <
dwilcox at neonnightrider.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> I've been thinking about this for over a year now, and I thought I should
> ask around and get some ideas.
> I'm 25, in school currently finishing (as of last week) a B.S. in Math, and
> I have thought about a few paths to take after that. Before last week, I was
> a CS major because I work full-time as a developer, big interest in
> computers, etc. etc. I've been a professional developer for over 5 years
> now, and I have to say, I'm burned out with programming--so much so that I
> don't enjoy it anymore, and I can't think of any other career paths to
> transition into.
> I've tried writing in new languages just to see if I need to code in
> something other than HTML, CSS, JS, Java, and PHP, but to no avail, and at
> this point in my career, the work always turns dull, monotonous, and
> mundane, and I have accepted that no matter what I try to do, I can't keep
> the interest going.
> What I do enjoy is more sysadmin and systems programming stuff (command
> line stuff, DB systems, server administration) and a little bit of security
> (although programming security applications is not my cup of tea), but I
> don't know if moving into a sysadmin role is the right step or if it's even
> possible since I don't have any certs and not sure my current job will let
> me get any, and I'm not sure yet if the biz dev roles are my thing either
> since I've never worked in that realm.
> Has anybody ever had a similar situation?
> Donald Wilcox
> Web Developer
> --
> Phone: (210) 651-2087
> Cell: (313) 478-6323
> LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/donaldwilcoxjr
> --
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