I am not a software developer

In your career it is important to know your limitations.  I am not a software developer

I am not a software developer.  This is a gift.   I know many people that are, just like the matrix, they don’t even see the code – they see the solution, the answer, the journey.  I see an empty IDE and no idea where to even start.

I am an IT Generalist, who specializes in architecture, networking and voice collaboration technology.  I started my life in the TDM voice world as a computer nerd, so when VoIP showed up it was easy to pick up and over time I spent time learning VoIP, then networking, then building a manufacturing IT infrastructure, and then a cloud provider.   None of these required me to be a software developer, the word “DevOPS” didn’t exist much, the developers generally kept to themselves

I have spent my entire career trying to figure out what the next big thing is, or what I thought was up and coming – and spending time on that.  Mostly because I thought it was cool and fun.   However now I reach this impasse where every cool and interesting thing I want to get involved in ends up with some kind of code based development requirement, or even simple API implementation to do things that are cool and not out of the box.
In a recent conversation with a Sr engineer from Google she told me “Network Architects are insane, how you can understand all of that I will never understand” – I told her, I felt the same about software developers.   Perhaps we could learn from each other in that regard, I told her I understood how she feels.

Software developers think “It’s really easy, I don’t understand why you don’t get it” or “Just do X / Y / X”.   “Just learn Node.JS”.    I see networks and I see Chopin, but when it comes to code, I can barely play chopsticks.

Some days I stare at my console and think “I could do this if I could only figure that out”.  It pains me when people say “We have an easy to use API Kit” or “We have an easy to use REST-API”.

My industry is transforming, to a software defined world.  The last time I touched a line of code was Borland Turbo C in college, and before that it was Visual Basic 1.0 in high school.

Recently I started to touch micro-controllers, and “program” in the Arduino IDE.  I have built some small projects by mostly cut-pasting code examples and other projects, cobbling together code bits to get what I needed, hardly programming but it is as close as I have been to any kind of code.   Part of why it worked for me was, it is linear execution, which I understand a little.

I don’t need to be a software developer

I’m not going to be, let’s be honest, I will not be the next major software genius that writes the next big blockchain based super electronic currency, or code part of the next World of Warcraft series.   There is however some things I need to be able to do, make one API talk to another, and collect information from one API into a database and then do things with it.  Nothing that is ground breaking.   I need to be able to automate things, inform intent in networks with context from…. well…. whatever it is I need.    Create basic things.   So for that reason I will take these next 12 months to take a shot at it.    I have a great support system where I work now – with our developer network to back me, and some close friends who have offered the support to hold my hand.  Will this work?   I don’t know, but I feel that it is something very important.

In the end I don’t need to develop code as beautiful as Chopin, but I need to play some Fur Elise.


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