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Joe Eames Arbitrary Randomness





I was recently visiting a friend of mine at his office, and while I was there he introduced me to his coworkers.  When my friend told the office's resident PHP programmer that I was a .NET programmer, he responded with "I'm sorry" and a half-hearted chuckle.  I merely smiled and flipped the  bozo bit  as my friend uncomfortably changed the subject.

After I left his office and was driving home I was considering his statement and the naturally resulting discussion of a development platform lineup and the pros and cons of the different frameworks.  Every time I have been asked “Why .NET?” by either a peer or a potential customer, I have always tried to return a measured response, indicating that most arguments come down to differences in flavor.  Yet I have always had difficulty relaying that position, and conveying the concept that the programmer is far more important than the platform.

As I was thinking over this recent encounter, an analogy came to me that I think I’ll file away for the next time this discussion comes up.  If you’ll give me a few spare CPU cycles, I’ll do my best to articulate it here.

We're not engineers, we are hunting guides.

As a hunting guide, when a hunter comes to me and asks to engage my services, I let him know in which geographical areas I have experience as a guide.  But if I were to tell him that I’m an experienced Yukon guide, and he responds with “Why not Siberia?  I hear there’s tons of bears there, and I want to hunt bear” how would I respond?  Well, I would tell him that the Yukon has plenty of bears, and as an experienced guide I can nearly guarantee him a bear if he comes with me to the Yukon.  Every other person I have taken hunting for bear has gotten one.  I know the places the bears go, the places they like to feed, etc.  But I know those places in the Yukon, not in Siberia.  If he’s sold on hunting in Siberia, then he should find a Siberian guide. 

But it would be a HUGE mistake for him if he were to go find a very poor or inexperienced Siberian guide and expect to have better luck than coming with me to the Yukon.  Likewise if he were to hire a poor or inexperienced Yukon guide and fail to kill a bear, the fault is not in the place he went hunting, it’s with the guide.

And if he were to want to choose Siberia as the place to hunt because the licenses for bear hunting are cheaper, well, compared to all the other risks & costs of going on a guided hunt, choosing your area based on the license fees is just plain silly.

Now in reality there may actually be more bears in Siberia, but there are still plenty of bears in the Yukon.   Deciding where to hunt based on that and not based on the guide you are going to use is a mistake for anyone.  A good guide will get you your prize, and a bad one likely will not. 

So the next time someone asks me “Why .NET?” I’m going to respond, “There’s plenty of bears in .NET”


Posted on Friday, July 16, 2010 6:41 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: There's plenty of bears in .NET

# re: There's plenty of bears in .NET
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I like the analogy. As software development analogies go, it's probably better than "let's say you want to build a house." ;-)
Left by Mike S on Jul 16, 2010 6:59 PM

# re: There's plenty of bears in .NET
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well other than baffling them with a long winded story and cute analogy.... I think thats still a poor answer.

its basically saying "well I know how to build stuff with .NET" which is not a good answer to "why .net?"

if you were going with your analogy..... you might want to talk about the type of terrain, the kind of weather to expect, whether there's a helicopter service to come take you out of if you break a leg, how long it might take to get a bear, quality of the bear / size / quality of fur. etc..

but simply saying, why the Yukon? well, I live here, thats why! well, that's a bit too yokel.

Show that you really know the ins and out of bear hunting and what non obvious factors might matter to a bear hunter
Left by Keith Nicholas on Jul 19, 2010 8:49 PM

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