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The Friday Five for 29 June 2018: Working
singapore sunset
amw
1) Do you enjoy your work?

No. There are times when I get to clean up sloppy code, and that is a good feeling. There is something aesthetically pleasing about taking a mess and making it concise, performant and elegant. It's also a wonderful feeling to solve a customer's problem, especially if you can do it quickly and delight them with something better than they expected. But those moments of enjoyment are outweighed by the fact that I am forced to work in the first place.

2) Are you overpaid or underpaid for the work you do (or last did)?

Vastly overpaid. This is one of my biggest frustrations about my industry and about the modern economy in general. Of course, everybody whose salary is higher than the median is by definition overpaid. When you consider the worldwide median, pretty much everyone in the "first world" is vastly overpaid for what they do. But for some of us it's particularly shameful.

Tech companies are the richest companies in the world, but they hire the least amount of workers. They can afford to pay their staff handsomely. Cold-hearted capitalists say that's fair compensation because workers at tech companies generate more economic value, but that kind of thinking makes me sick to the stomach. Plenty of other people work just as hard as I do, and are just as good at their jobs as I am at mine. Just because their industry's products are undervalued and/or regulated in ways that the tech industry isn't, doesn't mean their time investment should be worth less than mine. It's disgusting.

The income thing is a big gap between me and my colleagues. Just yesterday one of the developers in the office spent a few hours fixing a bug in an old system that nobody really understood how it worked any more. He joked he should get a bonus for having to work with PHP, and if they gave him a raise he'd do it more often. The context here is that PHP is considered the bottom rung of programming languages. There are languages considered "elite" like Scala, and languages considered "casual" like PHP. Java programmers believe they should be paid more money than JavaScript programmers, and everyone believes they should be paid more money than PHP programmers. When you move up the ladder, spending time on lesser languages is considered beneath you. So the joke is that the boss should offer hazard pay for working with the plebs. It's so entitled. The ridiculous thing is that any decent programmer can do any programming language, and the only real reason to choose one over the other is to capitalize on the knowledge base of your existing pool of talent. Regardless, even lowly PHP programmers are considered higher on the totem pole than QA (quality assurance/testers) and other technical staff who choose not to code.

The point is, this money thing is baked into the tech industry from the ground up. People chase titles like senior developer, or senior software engineer. (What makes a coder "senior"? Only the paycheck, that's it.) Technical lead. Specifically: technical leads who don't have any leadership skills and are not given a team to lead anyway. They just collect a bigger paycheck. Architect. Fucking architect, give me a break! Money money money. Fuck everyone.

3) What one thing do you dislike most about your work?

The sheer number of incompetent developers who believe they are great due to the aforementioned money and title issues. There are so many people in this industry who have inflated egos, and it's a problem from the C-level all the way down.

4) What one thing would make your work life happier or more satisfying?

The single thing that would make my work life better would be not being forced to work. I mean, even just a three-day weekend would make such a huge difference to my mental health, I think. But more realistically, in my current job, I would kind of like a touchscreen. I've only used a tablet at home for ~5 years now, so it's a bit annoying when I can't use the screen to scroll or zoom in the office. Yes, I am aware how "first world problems" that is.

5) Do you try to fit into your workplace’s culture? What does that entail?

The office at my current company has two cultures - the expats and the locals.

I briefly tried to get into the expat culture, which involves lots of coffee breaks, cigarette breaks and extended lunches. After work drinks is definitely thing, and so is after work dinners at very expensive Western-style restaurants. Some of the guys go on weekend hiking trips, which is something I also like to do, but I don't think I would go with them. I generally find them insufferable. The combination of rich tech douchebag with stereotypically conservative/racist expat is kind of the worst.

The locals hare more what I consider "regular" workers. There is a small amount of workplace socializing that happens - e.g. there are a couple of lunch crews that I don't join because they don't go to vegan-friendly places - but there are no problematic cliques and not much in the way of small talk or enforced fun. People come in, work hard, leave, the end. That suits me well.

The one quirk here is siesta/nap time. After lunch the lights are turned off for about half an hour and most people loll back in their chairs or schlump over their desks and sleep. I've started to get into this too. I don't always nap, but I do always sit quietly and do some reading on my phone or just rest my eyes and try to de-stress from whatever stupid things happened in the morning. This is a great piece of workplace culture I wish more places did.


Yes, kids, this was a hard and stressful week for me for various reasons I don't want to get back into. This is my blowing off steam post.
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I think if you can push through 8 hours without a break then why not? For me having a break definitely helps me refuel for the rest of the afternoon, though napping during the break is very novel to me. I don't even nap in my home/personal time! It's taken me a few months to be able to get to the point where I feel comfortable enough to close my eyes and relax with my colleagues around.

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