SyneRyder - journal

The Electronic Lifestyle

8th June 2001, 4:35pm
CS Lab 2.9, UWA

I've created a sarcastic & pessimistic checklist of things you must learn to become a top computer programmer and computer science student:

The lab is your home.

If you're expecting to continue work and maintain a relationship with family and friends at the same time, forget it. You're rarely even going to be at home. You're not even going to leave the lab for food - that's why you have a candy machine, Coke machine and a water cooler. You have a new family now, your fellow lab rats (or as they're more commonly called, "coders" or "colleagues").

The computer is your friend.

As before, your chances of maintaining a friendship while working or studying as a programmer are very low. You have to become a codemonkey, and churn out code at a furious rate. If you must maintain a friendship, learn to use the Eliza program, as it will keep you company. But try to avoid friendships, as they only slow you down. Human touch, Silent Running...

Work always takes priority.

You have a deadline to meet, milestones to complete. The work is imperative. Don't even think to recharge by engaging socially with friends. Don't stop to help your despairing friend on the other end of the line - if they do something dark it's their fault, because Work Always Takes Priority.

Compromise your morals.

Depending on your views on software piracy, you may need to compromise your views in order to earn a good mark. You are competing against hundreds of students, and the majority of these people will have pirated copies of all the software they use at University.

If that doesn't help you, settle for more "conventional" methods of compromising morals - look up answers to questions on the internet, use code from online wherever you can. Ask your fellow lab rats for code if you have to. Don't forget to change their name when you submit their work.

Take your drugs.

Sure, maybe not all the students in your classes are taking speed or some other form of illegal substance. But a high percentage of computer science students are regular smokers, and the rest survive on large quantities of caffeine or guarana. Coca-Cola may once have been popular with coders (programming students), but it has been surpassed by Red Bull, Jolt, V and Lift Plus. It's not uncommon for students to exceed the quantities of consumption recommended on the packaging. Even when I took work experience at age 14, one of the programmers advised me "you'll have to start some kind of addiction", before puffing again on his cigarette.

Become the machine.

A machine has no love, no feeling, no emotion, it doesn't tire or fatigue. The sooner you come to accept that you must become the machine - without love, emotion, morals or pain - the better off you will be.

Perhaps scariest of all is, this isn't restricted to programmers, or even computer industry workers. It's part of so many jobs around the world. Don't you recognize the caffeine & nicotine addicts, the bosses demanding overtime and keeping you from your family, the slimy cheats who will do anything to get the "success" they want? Is it in your job, your training classes too?

Is this really the lifestyle we wanted?