What is this site?
Haggis Hell is the weblog of Robert Kiraly, aka OldCoder, a software developer for 42 years.
Most of the original content on the sites is distributed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 or other open licenses. The sites will eventually be available in the form of multi-GB tarballs.
Ideally, the content will outlive the primary author-editor and experiences and tips will prove to be useful.
Bulk copying of the sites one file at a time is discouraged and may result in IP-level blocks. Those who'd like everything all at once are advised to contact the site administrator.
200410. Easter 2020.
Sherrill was a neighbor of Grace Kiraly's 50 years ago. Laurie, one of her daughters, is now a woman in her 40s who I remember as a toddler. I'm old.
This post shares a 57-page story that went to Laurie in Spring 2020:
Laurie told me, “I'm no Erin Brockovich” but she found the legal details intriguing regardless.
200320. Michael Bonetto of Hoge Fenton has moved to his own site:
A mirror is available as a subdirectory of this larger site.
Haggis Hell asserts the right under Fair Use to use the photo below of Michael Bonetto here and elsewhere.
200320. Maggie Desmond has moved to her own site:
Click on the link preceding and confusion about Maggie Desmond will soon be receding :P
A mirror is available as a subdirectory of this larger site.
As a related point, updated pages will be online in the medium term for Michael Bonetto, John Perrott, Karl Chandler, Tom Kiraly, and others.
Haggis Hell asserts the right under Fair Use to use the photo below of Maggie Desmond here and elsewhere.
200320. Geolocation tools have moved.
The geolocation tools have moved to:
200229. Happy Leap Year.
<Grinch> O/ I'm stealing Christmas. Watch out and lock your children inside. ~ sing sing a song let's ring ring along ~
<Loome> reading beneath the lines, I see your inner confict
<Loome> You recognize your evil ways, but give out warnings lest you lose control of yourself and harm us all. You're a tender soul, Mr. Grinch.
<OldCoder> For Mr. Grinch, ethics are a cinch
<OldCoder> He's a practical type
<OldCoder> Mr. Grinch needn't give an inch
<OldCoder> Holidays are marketing hype
<OldCoder> Holidays from Holy Days are derived
<OldCoder> It's nonsense. I trust that you've all survived.
<OldCoder> Grinch, Phenek, Metacognician, and Loome
<OldCoder> Let not Holidays be emotional doom
<Grinch> for doom there is always room
<OldCoder> Merry Solstice!
I don't think Loome and the others have understood, over the years, how much this sort of thing has meant to me.
This post is old but will remain on the front page for the time being.
140313. Jeff Jenkins posted these questions and others recently at Ask Hacker News:
What happens to older developers? Is there a plateau in pay? Is there a drop in pay switching jobs after a certain number of years? Is becoming a specialist rather than a generalist the answer?
To read the original post, click here. Note: The link was valid as of March 2014. However, it may have broken since then.
This is my response:
Developers who go on long enough are expected to obtain high-level titles by their 50s or to retire at about that time.
I'd like to discuss an issue that you might not have thought about: What's going to happen if you lose your job?
Employment in the 50s can be problematic. If somebody is skilled and employed, and has a high-level title or is a specialist or has useful connections, they should be able to obtain a new position.
Otherwise, they might go from well-off to homeless. It happens. I'm 55, my resume is pretty good, and I was worth $1M a decade ago. I'm a transient now. I've got some medical issues, no medical care, and no dentists. Potential jobs are largely unskilled physical labor, which I'm not able to do.
I'm taking a shot at tutoring. However, I don't expect that to provide more than gas money. The head of an admin assistant firm said that I can't be a secretary unless I already am one.
Two people considered sending me to care for elderly relatives, but we didn't proceed. My title at one of those positions was going to be “poop scooper”.
Don't let this happen to you. For what it's worth, here's my advice:
1. Don't fall off of the employment ladder.
2. Become a specialist. Try to remain broad enough, though, that you don't become obsolete.
3. Build a network of people. Make it a large one.
4. Diversify your investments.
5. While you're employed, don't let medical issues, even minor ones, go untreated for long. If you lose your job and your assets, you'll lose medical care too and the issues may become serious.
6. Be kind to people. But don't be a fool. Most people that you help are not going to return the favor.
Regarding specialists, I did recruiting for a while in 2011 and I can confirm that the filters are weighted against generalists.
I've spent about 35 years myself as a generalist. My jobs called for it. The place where I spent most of my career took any project that came along, code of any type. At a dot-com that followed, after the money ran out, I handled all of the technical roles; IT, websites, development, support, documentation, etc. I was able to do a bit of everything.
Later on, none of this made a difference. There are few job listings that say “a bit of everything”.
After the dot-com shut down, 2003, I made $1M in the stock market. Lost most of it afterwards and reentered the job market. Learned that middle-age generalists were not in high demand.
In my case, there were other factors that won't apply to you. It's a story for another time. But if you're a generalist who falls off of the ladder in middle age, you can expect things like this:
“With a resume like that, why isn't he a CTO? Why doesn't he even have a job?”
You'll be asked questions about algorithms that you haven't thought about for 30 years. Or you'll go through coding tests under adverse conditions that don't allow you to show what you can do.
Plan ahead. Understand that the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.
My own resume is located at:
These are my links. Yes, the technical site needs Twitter Bootstrap :P
Regards, Robert (the Old Coder)