the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

2.2 A Flog in a Well

A flog in a well(An idiomatic phrase in Japan; referring to persons who take thier own life and way of thinking as the whole-world standard)

It is now the times when information floods. Particularly, as to the computer, there are floods of its magazines and books, so that it is no easy matter just to look through the main ones. Moreover, the media, such as so-called Personal-computer-communication(In Japan, it means Local network communication such as Compuserve)and internet, with which anyone can express at will, have come out. Books and magazines only ran explanations or programs on the paper before, but they not only come with floppy disk but also come with CD. There are such huge data in the CD that we simply can't settle down to reading them.

Since it is the times when it's so easy to get information, it is natural to imagine that each programmer should get necessary technical information and make good use of them, but actually it's far from doing that. Some hi-tech engineers are very eager to collect information. But these are only extremely exceptional programmers less than 1%.

Those who write articles in such as magazines, are these extremely specific engineer group less than 1%, and if you take this group as a criterion ,you will completely mistake the actual situation.

Somehow I have a disposition not to feel easy unless surrounded by books and magazines. So people who visited me seemed to be surprised. You might say books are expensive, but if you can make use of the information on them, I think you can't find anything as inexpensive as them.

If there are any books necessary for you, you should have no hesitation about buying them.

You could buy them as much as you need, saying: "Since I've bought necessary books, my job is going to be OK"

It is common knowledge for senior programmers that in the real world, there are so many terrible programmers and so dangerous programs are developed by them. But you must understand why such programmers, who don't deserve to be called programmer, can exist. There is a grave problem in that there are circumstances where such programmer generates and can survive.

Poor programmer doesn't recognize himself as poor. He is under the impression that he is the same level as surrounded programmers and is fairly as skillful as professional. If he skims through information that floods in the world, he should notice which part he is in want of, that he has been doing what he mustn't do and so on. But such a guy denies information at the beginning and withdraws into the shell of himself or his group. He is apt to live in peace in the world where there is no competition and no progression that comes from the equality of all the people.

There is no longer anything we can expect from the unskillful engineer. Our last hope left behind is a superior watching his subordinate. But somehow many superiors are awful. Even unskillful programmer would be gradually getting skillful, if he works surrounded by skillful engineer, but the superior would spare to a investment for improving the skill of his subordinate.

If he is employed as he remains unskillful, I bet he can't make fair program. I want the superior to make an effort to make his programmer group skillful somehow.

In the first place, good programmer wouldn't keep staying in poor superior. It is a rule that unskillful programmers gather under the incompetent superior.

In the company who I once worked for, if one helped his partner out, it made it a rule for the partner to treat from canned juice, Chinese noodle, up to steak according to the level. As they went on working, those who treated and those who were treated were getting clearly separated. Since there is clear difference in the level, it can't be avoided.

My senior co-worker was coding a program, concerning measurement device, I believe. He had to execute some technical calculations in it, but he said he didn't know how to make it. Unless the part was finished, we weren't able to deliver it and the company was going to be in trouble and I, who wasn't in charge, would be got dragged into the matter. So, when there happened delay in any work, it made it a rule to help it out. Then I undertook it for a dish of steak. Actual work was only to buy a book describing about necessary technical calculation and to code the program as it said. But it can't be done by the people who can't do it.

Not only this matter, there should have been also other quite a few debts of steak. But I think very few of them were treated. And it would be prescription now.

There was a software company holding a program contest by making one question of program every month. The content of the question sometimes had deep concern with their business and sometimes had no concern. The question was open and it was put up on the bulletin board. So the people outside the company can apply for it. After the deadline, there was briefing session, where each people explain his applied works. Of course those who made excellent program and unheard-of program were awarded officially by the company. In fact, I was given a pair ticket for J-league(Japanese professional soccer league).

This contest intended to improve the ability of programmers in the company. It was a fairly open company and active to the interchange with other companies. Of course they didn't do like hiding the programs and liked them to be observed freely and criticized by others. They said their level were not still fair but the level of this company was quite high.

I want all superiors and all administrators to take good care of training programmers. If they can see nothing but the progress status, it would to be THE END.

Those who are poor can't see why they are poor. They have to be taught clearly what is and how it is poor. There often are people like fussing 'You're poor. You're poor.' But this is mere tease.

If a superior isn't skillful enough to educate his subordinates, he should improve the skill of them through the interchange with higher level company than others. He should let his subordinate absorb a sense of high level programmer by stationing higher level company like he let them discipline. Some company dispatches poor useless programmer to the client and swindle them out of their money, but that's unspeakable.

Recent superior is very gentle and patient with newcomers. He seems to be waiting for them to take an action to level up for themselves. But, most of them seem not to do so.

Anyway, let's throw new programmer into the middle of the work even if it is by force. Then seeing what reaction he takes, you will know his ability in the future roughly.

Copyright 1996, 1998 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by K.M.
No reproduction or republication without written permission

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese