[racket] Question about the double submit bug 'in the wild'

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Mon Aug 23 13:24:09 EDT 2010

projanen wrote at 08/20/2010 09:09 PM:
> Following Neil's good advice, it's certainly an issue I'll bring up in 
> any future interviews, but the business types won't like it.

Neil V.'s advice is to be careful not to torpedo an interview unless one 
intends to. :)  Any student who sees this should also remember that most 
every organization -- be it industry, academic, government, military -- 
will need its employees/members to ultimately bow to the needs and 
directives of the organization and the chain of command.  Academia has 
Academic Freedom, military has Integrity, politics has Plausible 
Deniability... but at the end of the day they also need you to get 
something done.  That something, in CS/software, is often an engineering 
artifact, but not necessarily the holy grail perfect gem of 
engineering.  So if you make the interviewer think that you 
misunderstand the dynamic, then they might affectionately ruffle your 
hair like a preciously naive youngster and hire you anyway, or they 
might have to figure out whether you're a rigorous engineer or a 
messiah/morale problem waiting to happen. :)

If you want to intentionally torpedo things... One company I was 
thinking of starting, years ago, when talking with prospective CEOs, I 
would intentionally mention not only "don't be evil" but also the 
conditions under which I would poison-pill the company and our 
operations (related to privacy and civil liberties, since we were in a 
sensitive space).  Even the most smooth-talking alum of Harvard Business 
School will choke briefly, if not turn a shade of white or green, at the 
thought.  So far, the only context I've found that you can have this 
luxury of all principles foremost is when starting your own company and 
telling everyone before they come onboard.  Everywhere else, you inherit 
their realities, and (with few exceptions) those realities trump the 
perfect gem of engineering and other ideal pursuits you might have.

> I have found much more satisfaction by building custom applications 
> for in-house use.  My favorite job was being the only C.S. major in a 
> company of other engineers.  We each had our specialty, were truly 
> appreciated for it, and were expected to deliver our best.  From my 
> experience, in-house software prioritizes quality over marketing and 
> even over economy if you're fortunate.

Sounds like a good situation to be in.  Just, if one finds onesself a 
big fish in a little pond in one's area (CS or software), I think one 
should use the Internet to seek out a concentration of bigger or equally 
big fish, and find a way to keep learning from them.

Very early in my career, I had my own software consultancy.  I decided 
to leave it to go work for a hardcore engineering company who did tools 
for mission/life-critical systems.  Most everyone there had more 
experience than me, and my boss was a German PhD who might've thought 
that anyone who wasn't a German PhD was not as good.  I worked like 
crazy, and learned a lot through challenges and osmosis.

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