[Israel.pm] A surge in Perl job offerings

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Fri Jun 8 05:50:01 PDT 2007

On Wednesday 06 June 2007, Yona Shlomo wrote:
> On Wed, 6 Jun 2007, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> I seem to have trouble accepting every one of your "facts":
> > 1. Workplaces don't give their workers adequate conditions. Either the
> > pay is too low, but often the other conditions are bad - overworking
> > them, not enough (or even non-existent) snacks, bad co-workers,
> > unrealistic schedules, bad software management, too few paid vacation
> > days, etc.
> Is this a fact? I disagree.
> Sure, there are places like that. But not all workplaces are
> as you describe.

I met with two Perl-ILers in a cafe, and told them that I was expected to work 
*at least* 9 hours a day at my previous workplace. Only I found that I could 
not work more than 8 hours, and often left early for FOSS meetings. They told 
me that practically all workplaces expect you to work at least 9 hours a day, 
and don't have a flexible schedule. Granted, at the work before that, I was 
employed for 40 hours a week, and was not expected to work more. (and had a 
global pay).

I also found that I was given computers without DVD+RW writers (at my previous 
workplace I got a standard CD-ROM drive), without enough diskspace, with 
recycled hardware, with recycled software (Windows 95 on which two developers 
had worked previously - %-)), no VMware licences to run Windows, incredibly 
crowded offices, etc.

Have you read my "End of IT Slavery" article? 


There are many other employment anti-patterns there.

> Moreover, the more you are an attractive employee, the more
> the company will (probably) invest in you.

Like I say in the article:

Moreover: if you want to employ people like me (and you do), you should not 
give us only good conditions - you should give us exceptional ones. 
Otherwise, we'll probably leave, or be fired, much to your misfortune.

> > 2. Workplaces cannot recognise good workers when they see them, or let
> > them get lost in confusion, bureacuracy or politics (happened to me many
> > times), and are too clueless to know how to keep them, and that they
> > should in fact do their best to keep them.
> That may be sometimes true. There's a lot that an employee
> can do in order to play the game correctly. It requires some
> social skills, though and some experience too.

"Social skills" - don't you know that some talented or even very talented 
people lack them? "Experience" - that's the chicken and egg problem. I've 
often did everything I could humanly possible do to "play the game 
correctly". But these employers were too arrogant (or full of "hubris" if you 
may), didn't give me what I wanted, or thought that I was a bad employee.

And guess what? They fired me or I quit being dis-satisfied. An employer 
should know that a good developer is a long-term investment. They don't grow 
on trees, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Please don't shift the blame 
to the employee here - the employers are the clueless here.

I am an enlightened employee. I know many programming languages and 
technologies, read many tech blogs and news sites, am interested in software 
management, am very conscious about spoken language syntax and semantics (se 
Dijkstra) and am also writing several essays, stories, and prsentations and 
so have better perspective than people who are just programmers. As such, my 
standards are very high, and I often can tell that I know better than my 
employers in some respects. 

But I'm not the only one. At the Ruby-ILers meeting, I met someone who read 
most of Joel-on-Software and Paul Graham, and also found his current job on 
the Joel-on-Software job board.

> > 3. Workplaces want their programmers to know Perl (or whatever)
> > yesterday, instead of training bright and intelligent ones, and expecting
> > them to grow. Now Perl does not have a hype machine, and actually got a
> > lot of negative FUD, so few programmers seem to learn it now not as part
> > of their jobs.
> A good programmer should be able to pick up Perl (or any
> other programming language) independently. I don't get your
> complaint here.

Many workplaces want "1 year of experience in Perl and QA", "3 Years of 
experience with mod_perl, etc." Haven't you read this - 
http://www.perl.org.il/pipermail/perl/2006-June/007956.html ? Or looked at 
most job ads at jobs.perl.org? 

I admit that a good programmer can pick up Perl very quickly. But workplaces 
and HR departments don't want that - they want experience. 

And furthermore, between being able to write and understand most simple 
scripts, and between being someone who:

1. Writes semantic, modular, and idiomatic Perl, 

2. Know how to handle and debug most problems properly.

3. Has a lot of working knowledge working with mod_perl, POE, 
wxWidgets/Tk/Gtk, UNIX multi-tasking, XML, web automation or other important 
Perl programming niches.[1]


Perl may be easy to start coding, but becoming experienced enough with it for 
many purposes takes time and a lot of it. It can often take several good 

[1] - for the record - I don't have a lot of experience working with mod_perl 
and close to zero working with POE, and knowing that these two are complex 
topics, I don't think I can work at jobs that require a lot of expertise in 

> And regarding issue number 4:
> Perl has quite good documentation, and literature, in my
> opinion. It is also fairly easy to get the list of "must
> read" according to your level in Perl.

I'm still not sure the online Perl documentation is very accessible or 
organised, but that's not the point. I was talking more about how the central 
Perl sites are not designed according to Marketing constraints and often 
don't immediately tell what Perl is all about and why should the prospective 
hacker care. 

And as Shmuel Fomberg noted - yes the online core Perl documentation is often 
inadequate and there are better commercial books which are not legally 
available online that were often written by the central figures of the Perl 
world who are responsible for making sure that there will be good, free 
documentation. Right now, I'll recommend people to either buy these books, or 
download them from P2P networks[1] or from http://www.g2p.org/.


	Shlomi Fish

[1] - http://www.shlomifish.org/philosophy/case-for-file-swapping/

Shlomi Fish      shlomif at iglu.org.il
Homepage:        http://www.shlomifish.org/

If it's not in my E-mail it doesn't happen. And if my E-mail is saying
one thing, and everything else says something else - E-mail will conquer.
    -- An Israeli Linuxer

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