It was my 50th birthday yesterday, and it (along with a vast amount of beer) triggered a minor depression and review of my past.
I was thinking back on some of the strange people I have worked with and the strange coding practices they used.
I worked with a guy (I think he was called Daryl D) back in the Digital Integration days. He used to wash his very long hair in the office sink.
He refused to use subroutines. His code was a list of macro's that ended with a jump back to the start. He insisted that subroutines were inefficient, after all you have to push the return address and add a ret instruction. What a waste.
I've worked with a guy called Chris Hinsley on and off for years. He wrote the first platform independent code I ever saw.
He worked in his own assembly language called VP. The idea was simple, create a macro file for each processor and platform which defined all the macros for the VP language. Then you can port your code from z80 to 68000 just by recompiling.
I also was thinking about some of the weird places I have worked. Back in the days when a DPS in a magazine cost more than made sense. (They thought of a number, doubled it, added their phone number and printed it on a rate card) and had to be booked three months in advance. Companies took extreme measures to make sure products came out on time.
If you were running late on a project they would "help" you along.
At one place you would find a little packet of white powder on your keyboard when you turned up in the morning. You knew when you saw that you weren't going home till the game was finished.
Another place you would lock your office door and the girl who worked the main desk would be tasked with posting flat food under your door twice a day until you came out. If you got a pizza you knew they liked the game, if you got ham sandwiches, not so good.
Anyone else got any stories?
The first coding I did was on my 64k Color Computer from Radio Shack. It didn't have storage. You bought this magazine and typed in your program in basic, played it a little bit and then turned it off and it was gone. Later I got a tape recorder and actually saved a few games. The first game I wrote myself was a volleyball game with a little stick man. Hasn't changed much. I'm the only programming weirdo I know, and I don't think I'm very weird.
Perhaps the strangest I've come across was this consulting gig I had with a company. This one guy programmed an entire module using anonymous functions. It was an important module too, not the kind of thing you joke around with. It had job security written all over it. You fire that guy and I guarantee you not a single developer would ever get within 10 metres of that code.
Everything I write has every header file linked with "winmain.h" basicly making porting an absolute nightmare.
I remember one guy, who I nicknamed "comic hero" since his real name would have worked for one.
He interviewed very well, but got fired from various places. When he was working for a company I worked at, he wasn't a regular salaried employee, and as such we didn't see him at the office often. At some point my boss called him, asking how the project was going, and he said that oops, he forgot to mention, he just started his military service..
At some other place, he was tasked on making some code module, and he said that he knows this cheap licensable code (form, not surprisingly, his own "software consulting" firm). He was told that nah, it's such a simple thing, he can just code it from scratch. He ended up using his old code anyway. He was let go after the trial period.
As for his coding style, I just remember seeing a line with 20 end braces.
Haven't heard of him for quite some time now, and google didn't bring up anything relevant. Maybe he found something that works for him.
Another one I remember was a guy who was the worst interview ever. I'm pretty sure he did it on purpose, as nobody can give every single wrong answer in an interview.
There's a demoparty that's sometimes organized in Finland called "alternative party", and we were hunting for real low-level optimization guys, so we invited one guy from the competition to an interview.
He arrived, and during the interview, he mentioned (not an exhaustive list; I've forgotten most of it)
- He doesn't really want to work for anyone, because coding for money is "dirty"
- He promised to work for someone but didn't end up doing the work
- He's enrolled in an university, but only uses it to IRC and MUD
He did, however, show some of his work in progress stuff - some really impressive low level audio stuff, for instance - and we told him to be in touch if he ever finishes the code so we might license some of it. He never did.
Another place I worked, I set up an office in Sheffield for the coders. All the rest of the staff were based in other locations, I had to go to all of them regularly. Since one was in China, I did 350,000 miles in one year.
When that got too much for me, I demanded a day off. This didn't go down too well.
The next day I walked into the office, and found they had cleared it out. All that was left was the a few chairs and the stuff I had bolted to the floor.
What a remarkable personage. Respect.