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Get Drunk and Code

4. November 2008 20:34 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (5)

Have you ever reached the pinnacle of the programmers peak when working on a piece of code while drunk?  Have you ever thought: now that's a brilliant piece of code, what the hell did I do last night?  From time to time, all programmers will eventually experience the peak.  Its called the "Ballmer Peak". Its the moment that your a few beers in with the Blood Alcohol level of .13%-.14% where you just start to write the magical code.

Last night I was writing some good code for customers on one of my pet projects.  It involved web services and a bit of Javascript.  I was working great until I was a few beers in, when I was truly able to focus anymore.  I was talking to one of my fellow peers today at work, and he explained it was the "Ballmer Peak".  I guess there is a theory for everything.

Its the theory that computer programmers can obtain a superhuman coding ability with the blood alcohol level between .129% and .138%.  It was discovered with Steve Ballmer and coined at the web comic XKCDThe theory came about referencing Steve Ballmer and his crazy acting pretty much what looks like a drunk when ever he is on stage.  The theory though is more than what meets the eye.  It might actually be somewhat correct in assumption.  Have you ever had those nights where you just hacking away at code while having a few beers and you wrote brilliantly?  Only to wake up the next morning not able to compile the code you wrote!  I have been there many a times and put this theory to the test.



Point of concern that throws this whole theory out the window is that Steve Ballmer never wrote any production code while at Microsoft.  He has a background in business and is known for being able to solve difficult math calculations mentally, but not code.

This is one of those theories I don't mind trying over and over again.  Someone needs to take the initiative and insert it into Wikipedia.

Programmer's Paradox, which is the lag in creativity behind skill on the inebriation scale.


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The Sex and Cash Theory for Programmers

3. November 2008 20:23 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (91)

When I go to work, I do it for my family.  When I come home and work on my hobbies, I do it for my self.  Its called the Sex and Cash Theory. Everyone in the world does it.  Everyone in the world practices it.

I came across this theory from a comment left on one blog posts.  You can always learn something from your posts.  This one was a bit different and needed to be researched a bit and now I will apply it to computer programming.

THE SEX & CASH THEORY: "The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended." - Hugh Macleod

I am a multitasking, multi-job programmer who works hard for his money at work and plays hard with code at home.  I am currently working on four projects at home which I get to stretch my creative muscle, while at work I do boring and repetitive tasks to insert and update a database.  How lovely.  Like many other programmers, I am no different.  I work the 9-5 for cash, but when I go home I do my hobbies which will some day allow me to never have to work again.

My sex is working at home on my creative muscle.

My cash is the 9-5 working hours.

Working at home allows me to build my portfolio as a programmer in jobs I believe in.  I wouldn't spend my alone and girlfriend time if I didn't believe in these projects.

Almost all creative people including programmers have to go through it at some time in their lives.  They too practice the Sex and Cash Theory.

  • Its like the actor who waits tables to pay the bills in their small apartment until they get noticed for their great ability.
  • Its like the artist who struggles with their paintings, until they get truly noticed which usually happens after death for artists.
  • Its like the programmer who codes during the day, but hacks pushing out the worlds greatest program at night.  It took a year for this hacker to get their application out, but after being noticed by a VC they finally can stop working for the "cash" and start working full time for the "sex".
  • Its like the open source programmer who works for a big corporation where people buy the software he writes, while at home he gives his services for free to everyone.

What a great life us creative folks have.  It takes what seems to be a half a life time to get noticed and then when you finally do, you are past your prime. I say, practice the theory and someday you might also get noticed.

The Rule: If it turns you on, it's your sex.  Enough said.

My M.O. is along with my four other projects, what's yours?

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The Self Improving Programmer

29. October 2008 20:34 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (10)
Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one. - Benjamin Franklin

"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you extra time to be happy." - Scott Pio

Today after a successful twelve days of blogging, I made my first dollar.  I am at $1.03 this present moment and I am still moving upward.  Most small businesses always have a commemorative dollar sticking up on their wall so everyone can see. At this present moment, after making my first dollar, I don't feel any different and I don't think after I make my first hundred dollars will it feel different either.  I am a person who doesn't worry too much about money and seem to always be okay with the amount of money that comes in my door.  I always seem to sustain my current lifestyle which isn't much and don't ever seem to have to worry about money.

"I am a computer programmer.  There will always be work for me."

If there will always be work for me then why write a blog?  First and foremost, I will be honest and say I am doing it for selfish reasons.  A bit different than what the readers might think, which isn't for money. In school and now at work, I have always been told I write like I speak.  I shouldn't do that.  In high school, I got around a 400 on my American SATs which at the time the max was 800.  I wasn't a great writer by any means, I'm still not.  I am a technical person.  I write to this blog to further increase my writing ability.  I want to make a better writer some day, which means practice makes perfect.

So why mention the money? Why can't I get paid to write what I say.  Why can't I make the measly 10 cents per post that I write up? I suggest if your a technical person, that you make a goal to start writing if you care where you might be in ten years.

Programmers and technical people in general need to learn how to write better.  They need to learn how to comment better.  They need to learn how to write proposals better.  Programmers might write in several places, but to name a few.

You might write:

  • A business plan for when you deploy your first startup.
  • A white paper explaining the next best idea to help increase programming efficiency.
  • A business case analysis for that startup you just created.
  • A proposal for that TOP SECRET Government contract that will put your name down next to Albert Einstein.
  • A argument for or against Microsoft/Apple/Adobe/Google products that could end up saving you or your company MILLIONS.
  • A technical manual for use of that TOP SECRET government project you just created.
  • For a magazine article.
  • Your next speech to the WORLD explaining to them why you are the best programmer in the world.

These things are some what far fetched, but you really don't know when you might be put into that position.

So write articales, do a journal and write often.

"It is better to have tried and lost, than to never have tried at all." - anonymous

Programmers seek to improve them selves every day with beautiful code, but why not also seek to improve your self every day with your dialect?

For me, I am happy when I improve upon my self, not upon my wallet.

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Thank your local programmer

28. October 2008 20:55 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (44)

"Who started it all? Who made the world a better place for all programmers?  Who should we pay homage to as programmers?"  When asking these questions, who do you think of? One thing I was never taught was who were the first successful programmers?  Who made my job what it is today?  Of course you have Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak, but they weren't the ones who started it all; only the ones that made millions from it all.

The first and foremost programmer was:

  • Ada Lovelace - She was the first person to write an algorithm that was expressly intended to work on mechanical computer by Charles Babbage. She died at the early age of 36, but has remained for ever in the programmer's hall of fame. The programming language Ada was named after her which was first used by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The following are a list of notable programmers, for if it weren't for these frontiers men we would still be about 20 years behind.

  • ENIAC -This giant machine was considered the first giant brain when it was released to the press in 1946. This machine needed the first working programmers Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman.
  • Leonard Adleman - Co-inventor of the RSA algorithm which also coined the term "Computer Virus".
  • Paul Allen - Co-founder of Microsoft.
  • John Backus - Creator of FORTRAN.
  • Tim Berners-Lee - The person all internet startup companies should pay homage to.  He is the creator of the World Wide Web. The Internet.
  • Richard Brodie - The creator of Microsoft word. For all those against Microsoft, you have to agree that we would still be way behind if it not for this guy.
  • Walter Bright - Creator of the first C++ compiler.
  • John D. Carmack - Creator of Doom and Quake.  This man changed the average time spent on the computer.
  • Bram Cohen - Creator of the BitTorrent Protocol.
  • Alan Cooper - Creator of Visual Basic.
  • Alan Cox - Creator of the Linux Kernel.
  • Ward Cunningham - Inventor of the Wik.
  • Bill Gates - Co-Creator of Microsoft.
  • Jawed Karim - Creator of YouTube.
  • Mike Muus - Author of Ping.
  • Jarkko Oikarinen - The creator of IRC.
  • Bjarne Stroustrup - Creator of C++.

These programmers are the most notable of our field today and have been for some time.  They are the guys we should say thank you to.  For those interesting factoid kind of people.  I would like to point out that the first programmer is a woman in an industry that is dominated by males. Go figure!

Programmers have a way of making the world a better place.  Making it a place where things get easier and life gets faster.  Programmers save lives, prevent natural catastrophes (hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis) in which BILLIONS of lives have been saved by your average programmer sitting in a cubicle somewhere making the next best digital widget that could end up saving your life.  Computers are everywhere so lets not forget that code from a programmer is also entrenched in our daily lives. 

Moral of the story: Thank your local programmer! They might not be preventing heart failure in a pacemaker, but they are making the world a easier place to live in!

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What class of programmer are you?

27. October 2008 12:29 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (2)

"People can be divided into two classes: those who go ahead and do something, and those who sit still and inquire." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

What kind of programmer are you? In today's world of programming, the average programmer does not sit on the bleeding edge nor do they sit on the back burner waiting for the coils to get hot enough to jump ship.  You have to change and evolve.  You have to keep moving forward.

Programmers generally move forward to a new product every few years, but also sit complacent when they don't feel threatened.  Like one of the Militaries favorite quotes, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." The military is a reactionary force along with the average programmer.  The programmer that moves ahead in the world is not the average programmer.  They are a programmer who moves forward, who thrives for the best.  Who sees a problem and fixes it.  They do not wait for the problem to come about and then go about fixing it.  They are ahead of the crowd, the first kind of programmers are your Bill Gates, Steve Wozniaks, Scott Guthries, Paul Allens, Steve Capps, Justin Frankels and Jarkko Oikarinens. The first type of programmer wants to innovate, move around and make things that help humanity.  These are the programmers I look up to.  As of recently these types of programmers have gone into hiding at Microsoft, but not Google or Apple.  Why is it that most of Microsoft's programmers (Microsoft employees) fit into the second class of people.  These days, Google is the innovator.  Google's employees fit into the first class of people.  They are now the company to beat in the programming world.  They are the ones that everyone else is trying to play catch up with. Microsoft has lost a lot of its innovative programmers and they have moved to Google or decided to venture into their own startups.

If Microsoft wants to compete in Google's world, it has to accomplish a few great things. The first thing to do would see how Google works.  See what they do to make great software.  If Microsoft fails at this, they will not be a company in the next twenty years. Microsoft has to go back to the basics.

"Competition always creates an environment for innovation."

Microsoft tried to compete with Google over two years ago today.  They started a service that could have created such a competitive environment, but they fell complacent. Therefore they fit in the second class of programmer. 

What was this service? Live Labs. Google has launched over 30 innovative products from their labs, so why has Microsoft launched only six in the passed two years?  Microsoft has become complacent. This post is not to slam Microsoft on their shortcomings.  It gives you a difference between what the first class of programmer looks like compared to the second class.  Microsoft is neck deep in the second class of programmers with only a few truly innovating, while Google is up to its knees in the second class of programmers.

I would like to hope since your reading this, that you are not falling complacent.  That you have an innovative environment around you.  That you are pushing the thresh hold of your very fabric. I hope that you are not like Live Labs, but actually like Google Labs. Always creating, always innovating. The average programmer sticks with Live Labs, but the first class programmer is Google Labs. Be Google Labs. Become better than you are.

Microsoft launches its Google Labs - Here is an article from January 06 that had hopes of Live Labs competing with Google Labs.  Microsoft wonders why people are flocking towards Google.

"The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - Franklin D. Roosevelt - 1932

Don't just stand there.  Go ahead and do something! The world is waiting for you to experiment. Be the first class of programmer!

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The Art of Programming

24. October 2008 13:00 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (80)

Do you think of programming as an art or as a necessity?  Do you think of programming as a passion or just something to make money off of?  Do you find that when you write a program you are brought to a place that can no longer be called a job, but a life changing experience?

"A man can be an artist... in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasey's art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece." - Man on Fire

I currently hold a 9-5 job as a software engineer.  I consider my self good at the job as does everyone else in my little cubicle.  I think the thing that separates the man from the boy or the woman from the girl is the passion one shows has.  Do they enjoy the work or do they just come to work for the money?  Have you found your dream programming job yet?  I personally have not found a job that currently excites me when I code in 1s and 0s.  My job has its perks like my ability to do a lot of research into new technologies, but at the end of the day I don't truly enjoy my job.  I do it for the money while at work. When I am at home, I do it for the passion.  For the fun of seeing things be created from nothing.

At home I spend my time with my family, but my spare time is devoted to hacking (coding).  The problem with this is that families and friends can't seem to figure it out.  They say "that you do it all day at work, can't you just put down the keyboard and spend some time with us?"  I tend to think that some times they might be jealous or ignorant of my computer, but that isn't the case. While I do sit at work all day in front of a computer working on problems, they are problems of need.  Hacking at work isn't particularly enjoyable nor does it spark the creative muscle. So, in my spare time I choose programming at home to open that creative muscle.  It needs to be freed and fed.

Too often programming is found as a boring task by many of the people I am around.  They don't understand its like building a bridge with your mind.  You build the bridge up piece by piece and when its finally done, you have a ribbon cutting ceremony and people start traveling on it.  They use it and stress test the beautiful code you just wrote.  You are completing a part of their lives with your creative imagination.  Not by the muscle on your back, but by the thoughts in your head.

This is what excites me about coding. I don't wear gloves that build a bridge, but I write beautiful code that gets used over and over again and solves a real problem in a person's life. It's like a piece of art in a national museum.  I don't look at it because its there.  I look at it because it is elegant and just plain imaginative.  When I code at work its out of necessity for the money. When I go home its to use my creative imagination. At work I am a boy, but at home I am a man.

I hope everyone is able to express their creative imagination sometime of each day even if its not at work.

Programming is an ART for me. I paint my masterpiece each day when I get home.

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TED: TED inspires us to do some crazy things

23. October 2008 13:49 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (9)

Here is my crazy thing. When starting a new endeavor you have to think about it a lot.  You have to get in touch with like minded folks, come up with goals and a schedule, think of who else can help out with it and just over all put a lot of thought into it.  I stated my endeavor in an earlier post and what I wanted to do with it.

In starting TED here in the South East region of the United States, I wanted a place where intellectuals could come together and collaborate, spread their ideas, get opinions on them and maybe push them out into other communities of the world/states.  In the 1920's there were groups and organizations almost like think tanks that would get together and discuss the new ideas of the next coming years.  The gentlemen were mostly thinkers and not actually doers.  They were the intellectuals, not the executers. What I am trying to do is bring both the thinker and the doer together and harmonize them into one location.  They then will discuss the new ideas of the coming ages and work to make it a better place.  Thats what I want to happen.  Will it actually work?  Probably not, but I am making a go at it.

If you still don't know what TED is, I suggest you look into it.  The people that attend TED are the movers, the shakers, the doers, the entreprenures, the idealists and everything in between.  I want to take TED and copy it to the South East.  So, starting from scratch here is where I am going with it.  First order of business is to create a plan of what I need to do.  So here is the break down of what needs to happen in order to get TED working down here.

Like I said before, I met with my old boss at Florida Tech and so this school will look to be the starting venue of the event.  It has performing arts center that can hold around 500 people.

I have to create:

  1. A Mission Statement - This is a one liner of what I am hoping to accomplish.  I am hoping to go along with something of what TED has as their one liner. "Ideas worth Spreading"  But I want to get the point across very early to what I am looking for so this one liner might not do in the beginning. 
  2. Objectives - I need objectives of the conference.  What do I hope people gain from it?  These are the goals of the organization.  Organizations CANNOT survive without goals in mind?
  3. Framework - I need a board of advisors.  The advisors are very different from a board of directors.  A board of directors steers the organization.  A board of advisors steer the leader of the organization, by giving advice and not threatening the leaders position. These advisors need to be able to provide Creative input into the organization.
  4. Timeline - The timeline is one of the most important.  When can this conference be started?  I see this conference as one that could really take off.  The timeline is when would the first conference and how much of a regular thing would it me?  At this level, my old boss and I are currently pushing for somewhere around March 2009.  It gives us enough time to get it right and get enough publicity for the event.  That is what I want to happen.  I want enough people that they would be more than happy to come back, but I don't want it to be so regular that they get bored easily.  So the time frame in the beginning would be set at 6 months.  So every 6 months we would hold another conference.
  5. Resources - These I think will be the easiest because they will be static.  They are physical objects that need to be procured.
    • Where is it being held?
    • What should we plan for the first event?
    • Advertiser - I personally want only one advertiser.  I think advertising can clog the atmosphere, so this will be held down to one or two.
  6. List of Speakers - This is the biggest one.  This one has to be thought out and figured out. 
  7. Theme - This one should be before the list of speakers on the list, but there needs to be an underlining theme to start off with.  People don't want to come for a variety.  They want something they can connect with.  Later down the road, if the conference became bigger then I would be willing to put categories into it.
I personally hope this to be a fun and wild adventure and for it to go on for a very long time.  I hope you will help give me constructive criticism when it comes down to what I say and do.  I will need advice and I hope by writing this blog, the advice will trickle in to make this a better event.

Something miraculous here!

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Looking for a Venture Capitalist or Angel Advisor

23. October 2008 06:51 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (5)

I have come to the point in my life where I want to start my own business.  I am in a job that is decent, but I don't see my self going anywhere with the position I am in.  I am in need of some advice from a venture capitalist or angel investor out there.  I would like to share my ideas with this person and see if they think money could actually be made from the ideas I have.  I am truly interested in moving up and outside my set "working for the man" career path.  I can't move to Silicon Valley because of my current personal situation, so it would have to be a long distance thing.

I have about fourteen ideas that I would love to propose to someone.  I am not looking for financing, just an insight on whether my ideas would work and be able to sustain my current low level, low income software engineer lifestyle.

If you know someone that could help or are someone that could help, let me know at spoiledtechie [at]

I just want to get out of the every day grind and work on my own projects.  I can take constructive criticism, let don't worry about hurting my feelings if all my ideas stink.


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Does Pay Per Click still generate revenue?

22. October 2008 13:43 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (41)

There are alternatives to the monopoly that is Google.  Adsense these days has close to a strangle hold on advertising on the net.  Not only is it in the blogsphere, but it is also coming to mainstream on Yahoo and Amazon.  When I first started blogging, the default was to go with adsense.  I am not trying to make a living off the blogs I have, but I am asking to be reimbursed a little for the time spent.  I enjoy spreading information around the net and enjoy the feedback I get for it, but compensation is also very nice.

Google currently has more than 60% market share on advertising and it will only increase if the Yahoo/Google deal goes through.  Google has also stated that they make over 98% of their revenue from advertising.  When I first used Google adsense, I wouldn't make any money.  Pennies would trickle in slowly and it seemed to go no where using the "Pay per click" model I was using.  The revenue isn't there even though Google makes so much revenue from it.  So where do they get it you say?  Selling ads.  That is it.  They make their money selling ads to companies and people willing to buy them.  To this model the companies do make out fairly well only getting real cost for performance.  The problem with this model is the click fraud.  There is a lot of it and it will never stop.

Below is the best representation of what you would expect to make using each system:

  Sold Through Revenue
Level 1 AdSense Google $1 CPM
Level 2 Affiliate Programs Amazon,, etc 1-2% sales
Level 3 Traditional Ad Networks ContextWeb, ValueClick, AdOn, etc $1-$2 CPM
Level 4 Automated Text Link Ads TextLinkAds $25/link
Level 5 Fixed Text Link Ads (direct) $50/link
Level 6 Graphical Banner Ads (direct) $5-$20 CPM
Level 7 Fixed Monthly Sponsors (direct) (negotiated)

I want to propose that we stop adopting the adsense model.  Not because Google isn't a great company because it very much is, but because this system doesn't truly pay out for the small timers like me and every other blogger that can't sell direct advertising on their blog or domain.

I have a new system that I say should be looked at.  I found it just a couple of days ago and hoped that it would do me good. I don't get many hits on the site, but using this application means I get paid for EVERY SECOND that I have ads on my site.  I am not talking monthly, but every second there are ads on my site, I get paid.

The application is called Project Wonderful and they have an idea on how to do things.  PW works on a bidding system, kind of like a FREE MARKET SYSTEM. The market decides how much you make on each ad.  With over 8,000 publishers on the system, I am always getting ads on my site for it.  I am always making money and proud of it.  I don't bring in as much as the other well established bloggers, but I now make profit on my site as a whole.  They pay out at every $10.00, so you no longer have to wait to reach a hundred dollars like Google.  PW also won't shut you down for click fraud of any sort.  I heard stories where bloggers were accused of click fraud and lost ALL of their money with Google.  Well above the $100.00 mark. I now am trying this PW application and will see how it works.

So far it has treated me well and I am currently happy with the result.  I ask that if you are using Google Adsense or Text link ads or any other system that doesn't pay you direct.  Go ahead and try PW.  I can't promise it is the best system out there, but for a small timer like me It Works!

I do ask though, if you like it.  Spread the idea around!  Get more bloggers and more advertisers using PW. I think it definitely needs to infiltrate the NERD and TECHIE market of bloggers to be successful!

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Employee Retention: The challenges of recruiting and retaining Gen Y.

21. October 2008 14:10 by Scott in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (1)

The grass is always greener on the other side, but the water bills are more expensive. For the passed few weeks I have noticed problems with companies.  The problems are large and small.  Things need to be upgraded, changed and reconfigured for Gen Y. Companies that are large are very broad and ideas come slow in a company of size. Companies have some major changes that it needs to change if they are to compete in the next 20 years. Most of the workers here today are baby boomers and after viewing a charts of the attrition, companies need to work hard in the next couple of years.

The problems with companies include, but are not limited to:

  1. Career advancement - Publicize requirements for advancement. What is needed to move from Engineer I to II or II to III should not be a secret. What are salary bands for each job title?
  2. Continuing Education - Reimbursement at the IRS cap of $5250 a year does not permit employees to complete the master’s degree program within a reasonable time limit forcing employees to assume additional debt.
    • To safeguard the investment, possibly require a year for year payback. I.E. for every year the company pays tuition, employee guarantees they will remain with the company for the same amount of time after the degree is awarded.
    • Instead of reimbursing employee, pay tuition directly to the school preserving the companies tax write off while protecting the employee from taxes over the $5250 cutoff.
  3. Exposure to Career Path Opportunities - Create a formal new hires program including:
    • Job rotation - In a large company, a formal plan is needed to allow for greater visibility across the range of possible career paths. Give new hires the ability to explore the many different practice areas within the company. One possibility: four to six, three month assignments in different areas of the company.
    • Assign a mentor to assist in career development. The existing mentoring program is one of the best kept secrets at NG and it shouldn’t be. Lack of exposure is keeping the mentoring program from reaching the people it is meant to help.
    • Cross discipline information sharing. Something that combines aspects of Facebook and a blog would allow employees to share knowledge with each other.
  4. Encourage innovation and creativity - Allow the employees to develop new and innovative technologies which would speed up or eliminate repetitive, costly tasks.
    • Create a review board to examine requests for funding to develop tools.
    • Have proposers create a BCA identifying risk / benefit / cost.
    • Create “sandboxes” to allow developers to explore emerging technologies without jeopardizing corporate computing infrastructure.
    • People searching for jobs at the company see the cutting edge technologies that we create, but walk in the door and see the antiquated machines that we build them on and then leave. There must be a way to allow us to use more cutting edge software platforms without adversely affecting the network.
    • Virtualization or private networks within the company would allow software engineers to work with newer tools and provide better solutions to the customer.

Companies often struggle with retaining Gen-Y. The above was a short summary of what should be done to help keep Gen Y at the company in which it invests so much time and money in.  The grass is always greener on the other side, but is it really?  Do other companies all have the same problems?

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