Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good tools to work well

You know, it is something that my grandfather repeated over and over: "A good worker needs good tools in order to work well".

In the particular field of development, we have two kind of tools: hardware and software. I'd like to focus a bit more on hardware tools.

Looking for a job in Seattle is a very interesting "job". I basically spend my time finding companies, trying to learn everything I can about them and figuring out if I'd like to work for them or not.

More often than not, I am able to find pictures of the offices, where the developers work. And there is one constant: they have the most amazing workstations ever.

Here, you wouldn't think of letting a developer code on a four years old 17" monitor. The absolute minimum I've seen is 22" single monitors, the average workstation is dual 24", and Google has the most humongous screens I've ever seen (bellow, Seattle office of google).

In France, I remember struggling for a few month to upgrade the ram for my team, and changing the monitors was just out of question. The only guy who had a wide-screen was the front-end designer. Don't even ask me about the CPU power of the workstations.

How crazy is that?

Here, when you pay somebody $75k+ you provide him the best tools money can afford. It is just common sense, really. If he spends 10 minutes a day more than necessary compiling an application, by the end of a month he lost 3 hours, more than the value of a CPU upgrade.

At one of the companies I worked for, I had such a slow PC that launching Eclipse took 15 minutes. No kidding. I launched it, and went for coffee.

I don't know where this 'cheapness' comes from in the french culture. I think that it is partly because the guys who decide how to spend the money don't have a clue of what is a developers job.

And the developers don't even complain. I don't think they even realize it! It's a cultural thing.

Well, guys, if you read me: this is not normal. Your work is the blood of your company. You deserve the best tools money can buy.

I already talked a bit of the psychological impact of having cool gear on a developer. But the truth is, you don't even need this reason. You need cool gear, because it makes you more efficient by an order of magnitude. And in the U.S where efficiency is the most important criterion, this was understood long ago.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with that.

When I started to work in a huge international company in UK, as the rookie in the place, I've been provided with the top-notch PC in the open space, which was kind of amazing considering that I was the youngest developer around. Ten years later, in France, I've been moving from a low-performance bloated computer to another. Every Monday morning, I've to withstand a 30-minute start-up session before being able to use my desktop, which is kind of a shame considering that I'm a developer with critical needs. Cherry on top, most of our developments are out-sourced in ... Bangalore! What could be handled properly in-house is defected to India, which is allegedly cheaper :-(

On a daily basis, it is an utter failure, but it is politically correct :(

See ya & cheers for your nice blogs (both professional & personal ones)

Loïc said...

Thank you for yourr comment. It's nice to see that i'm not the only one pissed at this French culture of cheapness.

Anonymous said...

I'm a french guy working in France and I agree with you too. However, concerning the french culture of cheapness I see that as a consequence rather than a cultural fact. I don't know that really since I've never worked abroad but I have the feeling that instead of making money through innovation and nesw projects and contracts and by being good in their domains, french companies tend to "make money" by cutting cost (low wages, poor equipment, etc)...

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