Sunday, February 11, 2007


This is my first post based on a request. Joshua wants a post about hockey to go with the picture on the front page. I will try to tie this into something technical in a bit, but first a bit about my lunch times.

There are a group of guys (there used to be a woman who played too, but she left to work elsewhere) at work who play street hockey just about every noon, whether its below freezing or in the 90s. I had never played any form of hockey before, but it looked like fun and I figured I could use the exercise, so a few months after I started at the lab I joined them. I was completely awful when I first started, but after some months I got good enough to where I wasn't a complete drag on whatever team I played with. I am now one of the regulars and find that playing is a lot of fun and good cardio exercise, though probably not the best thing if you are afraid of pain.

So how does this tie into anything technical, to go with the theme of my blog? Squint your eyes and bear with me.

This past September I was a finalist for the Google Code Jam. The Daily Press found out about it and wrote an article about me. They even sent a photographer out to get pictures of me. The picture you see on the front of my blog ran in the paper next to main part of the story. They also ran a head shot of me on the front page where the story started (yes, slow news day). It was a great boost to my ego and I think its a great action shot - that's why I use that picture on my page. But what I find interesting is what it says about the field of programming.

The article highlighted my hockey playing. Hockey is a sport that is held in such low esteem in the U.S. that when they cancelled the 2004-2005 season I'm not sure anyone noticed. Why is it that golf and bowling and even poker are regularly televised, but never programming? Why is it that whenever Hollywood portrays programmers it in no ways resembles what I or anyone I know does?

It's because programming isn't accessible to the average person. When you watch NFL games, you can imagine tossing a football and probably have even done it at some point. Watching poker tournaments you can compare how they play with how you think you would play. You can identify with these people - even if you don't play poker or football - so you enjoy it. If you've never programmed, its very hard to identify with that, hence why the article highlighted other interests of mine.

I'll admit it can be frustrating to work in a profession that people can't identify with. But I guess it is appropriate given that what we do is make the translation between what people understand - programs like iTunes - and what they don't - the low level logic and commands that make it work. Besides, I can always take my frustration out on the hockey court.

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