My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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It's such a bit of obvious advice that I almost skipped over it: "love it or leave it." There's no point staying in a job or career that you don't like - your performance will suffer as you sling code listlessly on a daily basis.

The flip side of that is that you'll excel in something you're passionate about. It's not hard to "take a big step away from mediocrity" just by being passionate (quoting Chad Fowler, in MJWTI).

So, if you're not passionate about programming, should you find another career? Perhaps, but why not just become passionate? It's not exceedingly hard. I know - I was there.

When making the decision to go to graduate school, I had originally planned to go for Political Science. I was bored with work, and I just wanted to get away from computers. A lot of that was self-inflicted with my spaghetti-coding ways, but I just didn't feel right programming any more. Someone with one of the coolest jobs in the world dreading to go to work? That was me.

Luckily for me, the Political Science department didn't accept Spring admissions for grad school, and that was when I wanted to enroll. So, I said "what the hell," and went for Computer Science instead. Of course, I have the benefit of having been passionate about this stuff at one point in my life. If you've never felt that way, what brought you here?

Whatever happened, I made the decision to become passionate about programming and computers again before that first semester - and now I'm hooked. My job is not appreciably different from what I was doing before - I've just added a lot of learning and exploration into my days, and figured out the benefits of dealing with crappy code. I think you can do the same.

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I love my job. I love learning and moving forward and trying to put out great work.... my problem is that I don't always love my clients. Sometimes, I have a client that just rubs me the wrong way and I have to sit there and say to myself, almost like a mantra "Don't let it get to you, don't let it get to you".

It's hard to deal with that, and it hurts the passion.

Posted by Ben Nadel on Oct 19, 2007 at 12:15 PM UTC - 5 hrs

That's quite true. I've worked with plenty like that, and outside of firing them as clients, about the only thing you can do is remind yourself like you do.

I try to take a slightly different approach nowadays though. I just say "sure, what can I do for you? I'll have that done in just a bit." The quicker I get it over with, the quicker it's no longer in my mind. Of course, it also cheers me up to take on that attitude.

Sometimes I wonder how often we create those hell clients ourselves. Not blaming you of course, but I notice taking that attitude makes the relationship better in my own view, and I'm not constantly down about doing the work. On the other hand, I also wonder how much a lack of good communication in the first place caused the relationship to sour.

Posted by Sam on Oct 22, 2007 at 09:48 AM UTC - 5 hrs


I partially agree that sometimes we make clients like that. Its like when you see an programmer who ALWAYS has clients from hell and you think, "Ok, are all your clients horrible by coincidence, or did you make them that way??"

I try to take the right attitude, and most of the time I can. Sometimes, though, a task or a client is just prickly and its not even always logical.

Posted by Ben Nadel on Oct 22, 2007 at 09:57 AM UTC - 5 hrs

"and its not even always logical"

Are they ever? I've had those too. =)

Posted by Sam on Oct 22, 2007 at 10:22 AM UTC - 5 hrs

I think you have a great concept going.I really would like to find out HOW you became passionate about programming? I just graduated with a BS in CIS and am looking for an entry level IT job,HOWEVER I am not a bit excited about computers anymore. LIke you I was just planning on continuing my education -get my MBA. But I know an IT job is what I went to school for. HELP! How do I get excited about an IT job when I can't even figure out what title to put on a job search? just degree in CIS?!

Posted by Leila on Jan 21, 2008 at 05:01 AM UTC - 5 hrs

Leila - my response became a bit long, so I posted it at

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Jan 21, 2008 at 09:12 AM UTC - 5 hrs

PS: Hope you don't mind me quoting you to bring the context to that page. Let me know if you'd rather I change it.

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Jan 21, 2008 at 09:13 AM UTC - 5 hrs

I'd love to be programming applications that are low level and cross the boundary between hardware design and software engineering. Mostly revolving around computer vision.

Instead i'm flipping the flapjacks of ruby development building web apps that make me want to commit seppuku.

Freakin a.

Posted by Neveol Sthaylin on Sep 29, 2011 at 12:52 AM UTC - 5 hrs

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