More than any other type of programmer, just programming Perl for 8 hours would be troublesome. This is because people who program in Perl are eclectic by nature. Me, for instance, I am interested in being a Macrobiotic Health counselor, gardener, and I am a serious Chess player, putting in about 2 hours per day.

I tend to get brain-dead, lethargic, and my eyes feel roasted after 8 hours of Perl. 4 hours is a joy. But 8-straight hours is trying. On the other hand, no one is breathing down my neck and notices that I am napping and losing my edge as the day wears on.

How do you all feel about programming for 8 hours a day? Wouldn't you rather have some of the daylight hours for sunbathing or some of your other activities?

  • Comment on Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me

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Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by sauoq (Abbot) on Oct 25, 2002 at 00:35 UTC

    There is a huge difference between "programming" and "coding." Programming includes a whole lot of think time and different people think in different ways. I tend to do a lot of work on paper, for instance. I don't know anyone who spends 8 hours a day coding, at least not consistently and probably not even on average over any long period.

    I have had binges where, once I had a sufficiently complete design, I banged out module after module for 36 hours straight attempting to meet a looming deadline. Well, in truth, I only managed 36 hours once and 16 or more hours only a small handful of times. Even those periods, which unsurprisingly didn't result in my best work, were punctuated with frequent breaks for the bathroom, munchies, caffeine, and, as I used to smoke, cigarettes.

    Having had those experiences I know that I, personally, can only effectively code for long stretches if I know exactly what I need to write. If I find myself redesigning something on the fly, it's time to step away from the keyboard because I'm bound to screw it up. I have to have the task broken up into clear-cut pieces.

    These days, I tend to spend about as much time in meetings as I do "really working." I'll admit, though, that I've come to enjoy getting my eyes away from the screen and talking to people for awhile instead.

    "My two cents aren't worth a dime.";
Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by Anonymous Monk on Oct 24, 2002 at 20:41 UTC
    How do you all feel about programming for 8 hours a day?

    Only 8 hours? That's tough. My recommendation is to get involved in some Open Source development outside of work. Or maybe you can design a few prototypes for new products, or rewrite some legacy code, refactoring is always useful as well.

    Oh, you mean 8 hours is too much? Then I'd recommend applying for Java jobs (lie if you have no experience) and once you get there, use Perl. You'll get 8 hours of work done in 2. Silly Java programmers.

      ++. Alol.

      --- demerphq
      my friends call me, usually because I'm late....

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by kodo (Hermit) on Oct 24, 2002 at 15:18 UTC
    Well I think there's no huge difference if you code 8 hours of perl a day or 4 hours of perl and 4 hours of another language.
    Let me tell you something: you'll get used to it. I sit in front of my screen 8-10 hours a day usually, and I spend 80-90% of that time on coding perl. Well sure you get tired sometimes, but I found out that lots of that depends on the setup you work with. I'm lucky enough to have a 18" LCD-Screen here and found some nice vim-colors/settings that make it comfortable for me.
    In my free-time though I spend lots of time in nature, doing meditation stuff or reading books. I also enjoy it to play chess, even if I didn't play much the last year...
    Of course I can imagine something better than sitting most time of my day in front on a screen but that's all I've learned in the last years, and I need money to live etc etc..
    But to be honest I also enjoy lots of that time, even when there are days where I totally dislike it but that's something you have in every job you do over a long period.

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by thelenm (Vicar) on Oct 24, 2002 at 15:25 UTC
    I also definitely enjoy non-programming time. Don't get me wrong, programming (especially in Perl) is a joy, but unless I'm in a zone, it's hard to sit still for more than an hour or so at a time. Frequent 5- to 10-minute breaks really boost my productivity by allowing my brain to rest and recuperate just a bit. Simply using Perl also boosts my productivity, since most programming can be done more quickly in Perl than other languages.

    But anyway, I agree that there are many other things in life to be enjoyed. I'm also a chessplayer, an avid reader, a church-goer, a husband and soon-to-be father... and work is definitely a secondary priority to my family. I think it's great to round out one's time doing something other than coding.

    -- Mike


Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by signal9 (Pilgrim) on Oct 24, 2002 at 15:53 UTC

    I am supposed to code Perl for 8 hours a day, but it actually turns out to be more like 4 hours, randomly scattered throught the day, intermingled w/ extensive web browsing, email, and target practice w/ any of a variety of household projectiles ( eg. rubber bands, letter openers ).

    I am quite fortunate to work for a department that understands, however begrudgingly, that we require a fair amount of distraction to get through each day.

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by robartes (Priest) on Oct 24, 2002 at 15:05 UTC
    You are definitely right on the eclecticism part. I'm probably too eclectic myself, so 8 hours straight of programming is horrifyingly alien to me. My particular activities differ from yours of course (they're much more silicon oriented, for one thing), but I do find myself wandering off mentally if not physically after just a few hours.

    There is however a very fine line between good eclecticism and bad time managment :). I probably suffer more from the latter than I benefit from the former.


Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by barrd (Canon) on Oct 24, 2002 at 15:15 UTC
    Hi princepawn
    I am sorry to hear of your situation, and can understand where you are coming from. I believe I am very lucky at the moment with my current job situation. I'm a home worker, have been for the last year or so, this means I can split my day up, not to mention 'keep my own hours'. I'm a Perl programmer by trade but also get to do design, HTML markup and a tad of SysAdmin - this keeps me sane (or at least partially), and I echo your conclusion that most programmers are eclectic. I'm in my mid-thirties and already as mad as a hatter ;^).

    "All hail Discordia, all hail Perl".

      Oh man...isn't working at home great? I love being able to dictate my own schedule. In fact, I try to work a couple hours in the morning so I can spend a couple of hours after lunch playing with my 18 month old daughter.

      I then try to finish up the rest of my day between 7 and midnight. I would probably go crazy if I tried to work a straight 8 hours every day.

      I agree with you. Unfortunately I have had a hard time finding situations like yours lately. What is your secret?

      I have ane excellent work from home 'ethic' and perform very well in this situation. My last employer totally frowned on work from home time, even though productivity was increased.

      Very interesting how people perceive developers in the corporate environment isn't it. It's not about productivity, it's about face time.

      Does anyone out there have sources for work at home friendly companies? I honestly can't handle the sit@cube and pound out code mentality but love software development, especially in Perl.

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by Jenda (Abbot) on Oct 24, 2002 at 17:25 UTC

    I guess I'm more of a geek than the others in this thread. I can't say I program 8 hours straight every day, just occasionaly, but generaly I spend much more time in front of my computer than just 8 hours a day.

    The other joys seem dull compared to creating something that works, that does something clever, that saves someone's ass.


Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by jplindstrom (Monsignor) on Oct 24, 2002 at 18:28 UTC
    I tend to not being able to be enthusiastic and motivated for too much time. So if I do a cool project at work, I tend to do less hobby stuff. And if I do a really cool project at home, the concentration on work projects suffers if it involves programming. It's like I can't context switch entire projects in just one day.


Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by r0b (Pilgrim) on Oct 24, 2002 at 16:22 UTC
    I'd just like to say a big thanks to princepawn for starting such an great thread. Its really interesting to hear more about the perl community and i'm fascinated by how diverse it is! I'm only a "pip-squeak" myself but i hope someday i'll be lucky enough to code Perl for 8 hours straight! So don't complain ;)

    eval pack "h*", "072796e647022245d445f475454494c5e622b3";

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by cacharbe (Curate) on Oct 25, 2002 at 11:55 UTC

    I'm lucky in that my job, as hectic and grating as it can be, allows me to have my hand in a few different projects at the same time, allowing me to flex a couple different muscles, as it were. Although a LARGE amount of my time is spent developing (I agree that programming is much more than just typing in lines of code), I also get to manage a small group of interns, develop our B2E strategy, go to a conference once-in-a-while, and handle much our groups 'PR'.

    When I do code hardcore (as I have been again for the past 5 days or so), I find myself falling into a groove, and the time just flies. If I can get my mind around a couple problems, proof them out, write some skeleton test code to prove out my theory and begin an implementation, I'll look up, and it's passed time for me to go home.

    Granted, I also seem to have a loss of ocular muscletone lately, and I sleep like the dead once I DO get home, but if the problem is interesting enough, I can work for weeks on it


    Flex the Geek

Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by vek (Prior) on Oct 25, 2002 at 13:44 UTC
    I try and get as much coding done during the day as I possibly can. I used to be a code-a-holic and would want to code at home after work as well (on work projects). I realized not too long ago that Programming is a means to an end and not the end in itself. Family and home life are really quite important. So for me personally, I have no problem trying to cram 8 hours of coding into one day.

    Of course, I don't actually do 8 hours of coding a day (grin). C'mon, there's e-mail to read, mailing lists to browse, journals, slashdot...

    -- vek --
Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by @rocks (Scribe) on Oct 25, 2002 at 02:21 UTC
    I understand your pain, princepawn. I am only a newbie programmer at school. I am learning Perl slowly at my own pace. I end up programming or reading about perl 2 hours a day on average. My teacher assigned me to learn perl, yet he knows nothing of it so I felt like I was on my own until I found Perl Monks. I suggest that you ask your boss to give you a project that you can work on by yourself at home. Then, you could work 5-6 hours a day, finish it before the deadline and have extra 'sunbathing time'.

    I have one more suggestion. I think you should look at Flash it is such a simple program that yet is so fun! It is a big deal when it comes to making web sites and you will be able to grasp any animation method with it. (you can even put it into your resume when you find a boss that won't make you work 8 hours straight on programming and will buy you a sun tanning machine just for joining) Good Luck!


Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by Anonymous Monk on Oct 25, 2002 at 08:42 UTC
    Heh ;) .. I would offer up something like "claiming you'd rather go sunbathe proves you're not cut out to be a programmer", but that would be untrue and directly opposed to my point. Some folks tolerate some things better than others. I love chess, but my mind tends to skew if whenever I try to sit down and seriously learn it (I try this usually about once a year or so). I can sit and hack perl for 14-20 hours before I start to lose it, though .. guess it just depends on who you are.

    I'll trade you 5 hours of perl tolerance for 400 points to my rating :D
Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by craigmaloney (Initiate) on Oct 25, 2002 at 14:34 UTC
    Well, I'm fortunate to get to program Perl for my 8 hour work day. It sure beats finding other ways to fill up my 8 hours. (and get paid. :) ) Seriously, though, could I code for 8 hours straight in Perl? No, I couldn't, and I'd feel sorry for someone who did. Could I program 8 hours in Perl? Yes, I could. The difference between the two is mentioned up in the thread.
Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by eol (Acolyte) on Oct 26, 2002 at 20:31 UTC
    /me can't imagine a single job that ever requires you to CODE even 6+ hours straight day in day out (deadline looming yes, but not normal mundane work). The day I find this job, I believe I would quit :)

    Myself, I find I spend the first 5 hours of work surfing net, talking co-workers, eating lunch. Usually follow this up with 4->6 hours programming, last 3 hours repeat of first 5 hours+coffee. Then again...when you work 86 hour weeks 52 weeks a year, you find yourself setting aside work time for personal stuff so you can have some semblance of a life :)

    De Opresso Liber
Re: Programming Perl as a Job: 8 hours a day is too much for me
by t'mo (Pilgrim) on Oct 26, 2002 at 21:50 UTC

    Oh, come on! Don't you have meetings to go to? How can you possibly have time to code eight hours a day if you have to work with other people?

    Perhaps you're more fortunate than I in that your management effectively shields you from tasks outside the coding/development sphere. Perhaps the difference is that I and my co-workers jobs are more along the lines of "maintenance programming" than "new development". We have bugs to fix, users to keep happy, and management to appease. We have the company's ducks to put in a row (and then shove them into a database).

    If I were in a different situation, I might be able to answer your question...   :-)

      I have read all of your posts so I had someone tell me most pro's pump out about 1k lines a day. Another friend who is also working told me he codes about 4 hours a day because the rest is in meetings and dealing with work related stuff that is not coding. And I think lines do not mean anything since somedays in my opinion you do a lot sometimes you do a little. Any thoughts?
        Hehehe...1000 lines per day? Sure...but at the end of that day, I'd probably throw away oh...let's say about 1000 lines of code. :-)

        As for hours per day of coding, it really depends on what your role on the team is, etc. Some people have no meetings to go to, some have more than all depends. I also want to add that while it is possible to code 8 hours or more per day, the quality of that code will vary depending on how much of the time you actually spend coding is spent "in the zone".