[19] 4 Deeper mtv2work4more$ After basic ffree

Note sometimes I feel my current ffree is so basic it’s not real ffree at all. At other times I feel it is real, albeit basic, ffree. After achieving my basic ffree, here are 3 deeper motivations for working hard for even more money:

  • am still seeking a suitable job for Phase B. Something like a light-duty, semi-retirement job providing plenty of free time (mostly for self-learning, blogging, helping kids). This goal qualifies as a $-motivation because … with more financial resources, I can afford to take some desirable Phase-B jobs at lower pay. In fact, I did try this route in my 2019 SG job search.
  • I wish to spend more days with grandparents — need more unpaid leaves, or work in BJ home
  • more respect, from colleagues and from myself
  • stay relevant for 25 years. For next 10 years, I still want more upstream yet churn-resistant tech skills like c++.

–Below are some motivations not so “deep”

  • better home location (not size) — clean streets; shorter commute; reasonable school.. Eg Bayonne, JC
  • Still higher sense of security. Create more buffers in the form of more diversified passive incomes.

— Below are some secondary $-motivations

  • * more time with kids? Outside top 10 motivations.
  • * better (healthy) food? usually I can find cheaper alternatives
  • * workout classes? Usually not expensive

boss reaction: 2young dev moving2westCoast

“Older hires are more stable. They would only move within the industry and within the same region.” I guess a counter offer has a better chance.

Bright young hires are more likely to leave for greener pastures, but easier to train and more willing to take on BAU tasks,

WallSt=age-friendly to older guys like me

I would say WallSt is Open to older techies.

I wouldn’t say WallSt is kind to old techies.

I would say WallSt is age-friendly

I would say WallSt offers a bit of the best features of age-friendly professions such as doctors and accountants.

Q: I sometimes feel WallSt hiring managers are kind to older techies like me, but really?
A: I feel WallSt hiring managers are generally a greedy species but there are some undercurrents :

  • 🙂 traditionally, they have been open to older techies who are somewhat less ambitious, less driven to move up, less energetic, less willing to sacrifice personally. This tradition is prevalent for decades in U.S. work culture and I believe it will stay. No such tradition in China and Singapore,
  • 🙂 U.S.hir`mgr may avoid bright young candd #Alan
  • 🙂 some older guys do perform well above expectation. Capability decline with age is very mild and questionable in many individuals, but work ethics differ among individuals, unrelated to age.
  • 😦 if an older guy needs to be cut, many hiring managers won’t hesitate… merciless.

Overall, I think Wall St hiring managers are open to older guys but not sympathetic or merciful. They are profit-driven, not compassionateThe fact that I am so welcome on Wall St is mostly due to my java/c++ QQ, not anyone’s kindness.

I thank God. I don’t need to thank Wall St.

##deeply felt Priorities b4 U.S.→SG@45 #big-picture

  1. — priorities over the next 2-10Y horizon
  2. Career[a] longevity till 70, probably on wall st, not in Singapore or West Coast. A related keyword is “relevance” to the geek economy.
    1. On Wall St, I continue to keep a keen focus on robust technologies like core Java, cpp, SQL, sockets, core threading, common data structures. Outside Wall st, jxee (and possibly web stacks) offers the best market depth and demand.
    2. Compared to Wall St, West coast is possibly low priority for now as I don’t see long term visibility.
  3. my wellness — Need to guard against PIP-hell, trapped… A “stability factor” arguably more impactful than GC, housing, schooling… One of the key signs of wellness is weight and calorie count.
  4. boy’s education — I don’t know if U.S. system is better for him
  5. GC — a G5 priority in my current plan, primarily on the back of the longevity factor.
  6. preparing for war at new job — short-term, immediate but actionable.
  7. — 2nd tier
  8. increase precious time with grand parents in my 3rd U.S. era — fly business class to NY.
  9. more passive income to reduce the cash flow stress
  10. Saving up for U.S. housing — not much I can do now.
  11. I now have a deep desire but limited hope to keep up my 细水长流 motivation for coding drill and QQ learning. Burning pleasure; self-esteem; satisfaction; absorbency.
  12. wife’s and daughter’s life-chances in U.S. — important but not much I can do now
  13. leaving a good impression with MS manager

[a] I didn’t say “income”. I think more important to me is my marketability (+ relevance, in-demand ..). Career longevity is the basis of entire family’s well-being for 15Y until kids start working.

Salary — is kinda secondary because the room for improvement is negligible in my biased mental picture.

low_churn low_stress domains

–high churn high expectation is worst but I have no first hand experience

  • devops – churn due to integration with automation tools
  • xp: Barcap?

–low churn high expectation

  • xp: Macq quant-dev domain
  • xp: PWM: SQL + Perl + java
  • xp: Qz

–high churn low expectation (low caliber)

  • xp: dotnet at OC
  • mediocre web shops

–low churn low expectation is ideal

  • xp: RTS socket + mkt data
  • xp: citi muni: bond math + coreJava
  • xp: mvea


## stable base;fluid superstructure in G5 tech skills

My perspective in this post is mostly tech interview — accumulation, retention of knowledge, prevention of loss due to churn. As I age, I’m more selective what new technology to invest into.

In contrast to the interview perspective, the GTD perspective is dominated by localSys ! So churn doesn’t matter.

Many of these technologies are past their peak, though none is losing relevance. However, I tend to perceive these tech skills as robust and resilient, time-honored. Among them, I see a partial pattern — Many of them exhibit a stable base; some of them show a fluid superstructure of skillset.

  1. essential algorithms/data_structures and bigO — stable, possibly growing base + fluid superstructure
  2. java skillset — has a stable base i.e. coreJava + fluid ecosystem including jGC, jxee
  3. C/C++ — has a stable base skillset including TMP, STL… The superstructure is fluid mainly due to c++0x
  4. SQL and socket — each has a stable base
  5. pthread, unix internals ..– ditto
  6. unix (no QQ topics, but many GTD skills) — stable superstructure skillset including instrumentation, utils and scripting. Base? tiny.
  7. http stack — stable but tiny base including session/cookies + fluid superstructure

##longevity rating: java is outlier ] language_war

Among languages, java is way ahead of the pack. We need to treat java as exceptional, outlier. With that, c++ looks rather solid and decent. Shall we merge this table into my pastTechBet.xlsx sheet? Partially merged, but no need to update the sheet.

longevity rating #bias tech skill mkt share prominence domains
80 % java robust 2000’s
40 % py rising 2000’s
50 % c/c++ fell 1980’s HFT, gaming,
telco,embedded, AI/ML
20 % c#/dotnet fell 2010’s
30% php ? 2000’s
10% perl FELL 2000’s automation
40% javascript rising 2000’s
30 % RDBMS/sql fell 1990’s
70 % socket robust 1990’s probably
90% TCP/IP dominant 1970’s
20 % MOM robust
90 % http stack dominant 2000’s
90 % unix “tradition” dominant beyond memory

avoid hot domains with bright 30-something

The strongest competitors tend to the 30-something, in terms of

  • code reading,
  • localSys,
  • correlating logs, config, src code, DB, input data…
  • memory capacity
  • [a=not really my weakness]
  • [a] xx new technology — they are strong but I’m not bad either.
  • [a] bigger picture as Josh described — some 30-something are very good at it

C/C++ is a domain a few young guys are good at but shunned by majority of them, therefore a good domain for older people like me.

In the hot domains, I feel clearly less in-demand as I age. Remember Arthur Brooks’s 2019 article? Perhaps I should shift towards domains that the brightest young guys avoid — A subset of 150k FTE@light load  

##[19]low-churn,easy domains4career{50

I am always looking for low-churn, accumulating skillset that I can rely on after age 50, without strenuous effort. Such effort is possibly harmful for the brain.

My chosen domains are not white hot domains attracting the young bright kids. I always hope to pick up these skills and try to build them into my “portfolio” of skill assets. If 3 out of 5 decline, I still have the other assets to provide meaningful employment till 70. I have more listed in my spreadsheets “techBets” + “marketableDomains”

  • 😦 #1 example Quant dev — turns out to be too competitive. Low churn but I need strenuous effort even now.. see quant≠sure good for aging dev (also ruthless march@technology)
  • 🙂 mkt data — feels better
  • 🙂 bond math — feels even better
  • VaR math?
  • FIX?
  • algo trading — I didn’t choose it because too competitive
  • — technical skills
  • 🙂 python — worked out well
  • 😦 c# — abandoned
  • 😦 swing — abandoned
  • 😦 MOM — fell out of fashion


if not4$$, y I sacrifice so much2reenter U.S.#again

Q: As of 2016 to 2019, I didn’t need high salary so badly, so what’s the real reasons why I sacrifice so much to re-enter U.S.?

A#1: foundation — rebuild confidence about career/financial foundation for next 20->25-30Y, since my passive-income/asset/burn-rate profile was (still is) far from comfortable
* age discrimination
* green card
* lower calibre requirement on a typical job .. “semi-retirement job”

A#2: self-esteem rebuild — after multiple blows (三人成虎 , three-strikes)   .. stigma
A#3: far bigger job market, providing much better sense of career safety

stay]shape 4CIV+QQ till 50-55

I would say QQ remains my stronger arm. (I don’t need to care about HFT shops’ assessment of me.)

  • QQ benefits from thick->thin (and xRef) … one of the key competitive advantages I could develop through blogging and continuous refresh.
  • CIV also benefits from blogging and continuous practice … my competitive advantages. Remember David Okao’s question “what is your secret weapon?”

Note High-end CIV is only needed at top west-coast shops. I think most of the top performers are young but I could stand out among my age group.

##any domain fac`same IV quizzes 20Y on #socket !! c++11

(tagline: the most churn-resistant specializations.)

Socket IV questions have remained unchanged for 20Y — Unmatched stability and churn-resistance, but not necessarily accumulating

  • Preservation of t-investment
  • Preservation of accumulation
  • Preservation of deep learning? Socket programming has modest depth.

Q: Beside the specialization of socket programming, are there other specializations that are dominated by the same old QQ questions 20 years on?

  • [S] classic data structures
  • [S] classic sort/search algorithms on int-array, char-array, list ..
  • [S] classic traversal algorithms on trees, general graphs
  • [s] classic recursive, DP, greedy algorithms beyond graphs
  • [S] pre-c++0x core-C++ (a specialization!) questions are largely unchanged. C++11 questions are rooted in the old knowledge base.. BUT most of the c++11 QQ topics will likely fall out of interview fashion
  • [s] cross-language concurrency primitives.
  • unix file/process/string/signal manipulation
  • unix shell scripting — low market value
  • [S] SQL — including join, index design … but seldom quizzed in depth nowadays
  • [S] regex — seldom quizzed, but often needed in coding
  • [S=classic, well-defined specialization]
  • [s=slightly less well-defined specialization]

Now the disqualified skills

  1. JGC + jvm tuning — high churn over 20Y
  2. TMP — new features introduced in c++11

## Y most young developers shun contracts

GregR convinced me that most young developers aren’t interested in Wall St contract jobs. I can’t remember the exact reasons but something like

  • no medical benefits
  • salary can drop; furlough
  • frequent job change required — often forced to change job.
  • no job security — Employers tend to cut contractors first.
  • no compensation package like golden handshake
  • no promotion no career growth
  • no bonus
  • lower chance to move away from hands-on dev and become project mgr etc
  • restricted to mostly ibanks — many young bright people are interested in buy-side or non-finance.
  • maintenance of existing codebase — Daniel Yang reportedly quit a 180k 缝缝补补 dev job
  • often requires domain knowledge that the younger developers don’t have.

In my experience the contractors I see are mostly above 40 or at least 35+. The younger guys (Nikhil..) tend to be part of a contract agency like Infosys.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/covid-19-coronavirus-job-work-tip-skills-government-support-hire-12509712is a Singapore perspective: “many jobseekers turn away such contracts, choosing to hold out for something long-term that may or may not come”

The upshot — I have fewer strong competition from the young generation. Most of the older guys are not so competitive in either IV or GTD on a new job. In particular, their figure-things-out speed is on average slower than younger dev.

both DEPTH+breadth expected of%%age: selective dig

Given my age, many interviewers expect me to demonstrate insight into many essential (not-obscure) topics such as lockfree (Ilya),

Interviewers expect a tough combination of breadth + some depth in a subset of those topics.

To my advantage I’m a low-level digger, and also a broad-based avid reader. The cross-reference in blog is esp. valuable.

Challenge for me — identify which subtopic to dig deeper, among the breadth of topics, given my limited absorbency and the distractions.

[19] body-build`does hit low visPgress#leverage,disengaged

In Singapore (but very few NY 🙂 jobs, I noticed a pattern — the longer I stayed on a stable job, the lower I dropped in motivation, incentives and positive feedback/reinforcement for IV body-building including QQ, coding..

Every time I pass a non-trivial tech screening, I feel a real boost … Reinforcement of absorbency and reinforcement of a wellspring of energy lasting a few days to a few months … sometimes years thanks to my retrospective blogging. My Singapore experience is missing this crucial IV element. Without it, my absorbency of dry technical learning is hard to sustain. This also explains why my absorbency of localSys is hard to sustain.

(My son has never experienced such positive reinforcement.)

To gain perspective I find it necessary to compare with other endeavors. My conclusion — body-building has the highest leverage. See also meaningful endeavor(Now)4family: IV^zbs^gym..

Whenever I feel guilty/ashamed of my fixation on IV, and try to learn zbs, localSys, GTD etc,  eventually (often quickly) I hit a broken reinforcement loop and a weak or depleted “energy supply” and invariably give up, very rationally.

Q: is there any /endeavor/ with higher visPgress than IV body-building?

chores that require absorbency visPgress #immediate $ROTI leverage over long-term, on family well-being
body-building Yes in the form of blog+github… not $$ [1] reasonably high, given huge $gain and huge t-investment 😦 higher leverage than everything else combined [2], despite the churn
… cf localSys highly visible respect, not $$ ->necessary but insufficient condition for move-up
non-prop investment easily visible but small low given the small profit no leverage so far
yoga (+ fitness) some but hard to keep $zero high leverage, well-known
diet for BMI highest but hard to keep $zero 😦 low since it’s hard to keep up

[1] I think many of my peers can’t keep up the body-building effort precisely because there’s no $ROTI… personal projects: any ROI ] salary@@
[2] direct fruits of the endeavor:

  • made my nice TPY home possible
  • enabled me to move between countries
  • made GC possible
  • gave wife the SPR then Singapore citizenship
  • gave me decent salary
  • supported my property investments

c++changed more than coreJava: QQ perspective

Recap — A QQ topic is defined as a “hard interview topic that’s never needed in projects”.

Background — I used to feel as new versions of an old language get adopted, the QQ interview topics don’t change much. I can see that in java7, c#, perl6, python3.

To my surprise, compared to java7/8, c++0x has more disruptive impact on QQ questions. Why? Here are my guesses:

  • Reason: low-level —- c++ is more low-level than java at least in terms of interview topics. Both java8 and c++0x introduced many low-level changes, but the java interviewers don’t care that much.
  • Reason: performance —- c++0x changes have performance impact esp. latency impact, which is the hot focus of my target c++ employers. In contrast, java8 doesn’t have much performance impact, and java employers are less latency-sensitive.
  • Reason: template  —- c++0x feature set has a disproportionate amount of TMP features which are very hard. No such “big rock” in java.
    • move/forward, enable_if, type traits

Q: if that’s the case, for my career longevity, is c++ a better domain than java?
A: I’m still biased in favor or low-level languages

Q: is that a form of technology churn?
A: yes since the c++11 QQ topics are likely to show up less over the years, replaced by newer features.

[18] CONTINUOUS coding drill #ChengShi

My friend CSY said some students like his son could conceivably focus “all their time” on one skill (coding drill) for fours years in college, so they will “surely” outperform.

I pointed out that I am often seen as such an individual, but my speed coding interview performance is hardly improving.

I pointed at the number of Leetcode problems I solved with all tests passed. It grew by up to 10 each year, but a student can solve 10 leetcode problems in half a day.

I gave an analogy of my Macq manager’s weekly slow-jogging, for health not for performance. Consistent jogging like that is great for health. Health is more important than athletic performance. I said jogging and my coding drill are life-style hobbies and recreations.

For years I practiced continuous self-learning on

  • java, c++, SQL, MOM, swing — IV and GTD growth
  • Unix, python — mostly GTD
  • quant

I consider my continuous self-learning a key competitive advantage, and an important part of my absorbency capacity.

I asked a bright young Chinese grad ChengShi. He practiced real coding for months in college. I said “fast and accurate” is the goal and he agreed. A few years into his full time job, he stopped practicing the same. Result? He said for the same coding problem he was able to make it work in 10 min then, but now probably 20 minutes. I think this is typical of the student candidates.

I asked “Do you know anyone who keeps up the coding drill?” He didn’t tell me any individual but gave a few points

  • he believed the only reason for coding drill is job hunting
  • when I said continuous practice all year round will make a big difference compared to practice only when job hunting, he agreed wholeheartedly and reiterated the same observation/belief
  • but he disagrees that continuous coding drill would lead to significant professional growth as a programmer, so he would probably channel his spare energy elsewhere.
  • I think he has other ideas of significant growth. At my age, I don’t foresee any “significant growth”.

increase vi usage in git-bash #leverage

  • vi is incredibly resilient, long-living, and widely available
  • More vi usage can prolong my professional life
    • comparable to memorizing phone numbers without phone book
    • comparable to sleeping on floor
    • comparable to standing desk — not absolutely necessary, but trains the body system. Slowly Builds confidence
    • comparable to barefoot jogging
    • comparable to mental math
  • it gives me (real) advantage over younger programmers

Please be realistic and slowly increase the usage. Some may suggest big-bang.

personal projects: any ROI ] salary@@

See also

  1. most(new/old)specializations turn out non-strategic
  2. gzTsn category
  3. t_gzSpecialize11 tag

Q: given the limited spare time we working fathers have, what specific (learning?) pet projects can enhance our salary?
A: invariably poor ROI, mostly a mirage. Moving up is the most common success story.

  • xp: MSFM?
  • xp: c++
  • xp: low latency engineering knowledge, including sockets, kernel, pthread …
  • prepare for west coast high-end interviews
  • coding practice
  • data science

coding drill:LASTING value4family-well-being]U.S.10Y

This blog post is poorly structured, but let’s not spend too much cleaning it up. Not worth it. Most of the content is repeated elsewhere.

See also  the benefits of coding drill in 4 benefits of coding practice #beatFront and Coding drill is anti-aging

Background: for many years until late 2017, I have focused on QQ, and neglected coding tests.

  • If you bring your pure algo skill from 4/10 to 6/10, it will remain around that level, or slightly lower. It will help you with your high-end job interviews for 5-10 years.
  • a lot of “algo skill” consist of key ideas behind the top 100 common coding questions. (I tried about 1/3 of them.) I feel it’s crucial to review the high-value problems to refresh 1 or 2 key ideas for each problem.
    • Note the various max-profit problems look similar but Key ideas are vastly different.
  • If you rely on your work projects, you will remain around 3/10 😦 Your projects won’t train you for those coding challenges in terms of algo, BestPractice, ECT…
  • Only a small part of the required syntax can be practiced but a lot more practice still needed 😦
  • You may think the STL syntax will become familiar naturally, but in reality over a year our projects used no std::map no lower_bound() no sort() no getline() so most of the basic syntax were not developed!
  • One builds the ECT skills (including syntax) with focused practice, outside the day job. No shortcut. Programmers without this “mileage” won’t have this skill. Just like driving or any athletic or artistic skills.

I’m reluctant to break down by “skill” but ..

  1. quick-n-dirty syntax used for coding test — Yes we can remember most of it for 10Y, based on my experience with perl, java, php
  2. ECT — easy to lose the speed. I feel some of the ECT improvement does remain.
  3. pure algo ideas — already discussed above

Low “churn” — most coding questions have remained unchanged for 20 years.

I also realized that my c++ ECT/BP proficiency is different from my java ECT/BP proficiency.


quant≠sure good for aging dev

I now feel the quant domain knowledge doesn’t change so fast, but ..

1) Quant domain is an elitist, exclusive sector with low market depth (highly specialized).

I think many intelligent/powerful developers can succeed as a quant dev, even without formal quant training, if motivated or interested enough. Abilities + effort (due to keen interest) is all I needed when I succeeded at Barcap

Not a semi-retirement domain. When you lose the mental power (Re A.Brooks) you better get out from this hot domain.

2) The high salary + analytical complexity + limelight attracts bright young people. Bright young people tend to be innovative, even when there’s no such necessity

3) see my blogpost ruthless march of technology

tech specialization=illusion #cod`IV

My dad is a real specialist. There are new comers who publish books to challenge the established theories, but it always takes a new comer many years of accumulation to make a name.

In contrast, Tech specialization suffers from the combined hazards of 1) churn (+volatility), 2) low entry-barrier,

3) screening interviews are the real watershed just like 高考. The screening used in job interviews are often coding tests. Your specialization is marginally relevant at best. So even if you specialize in, say, cryptocurrency, FunctionalProg, Containers, SOA, .. the hardest interview challenge you face is probably a generic algorithm coding test! Your specialization and accumulation could help you do a better job, but not getting the job. I feel this is like an actress auditioning. You don’t need such strong experience acting; you just need to wow them at audition.

4) market depth — (similar to my dad’s situation) after one job in this specialization, can you easily find another?

%%lead ] theoretical+lowLevel IV topics

See also the marketable_xp spreadsheet… I have consistently demonstrated strength in

1) TT: theoretical complexity: %%strength
2) LL: lowLevel IV topics (seldom needed in GTD) — threads, dStruct, vptr, language rules…

So how could TT/LL influence my 10Y career direction?

  • research domain? benefits from TT
  • mkt risk? TT
  • mkt data? LL
  • algo trading? Too competitive and poor market depth
  • quant dev? my TT advantage is not enough .. Too competitive and poor market depth
  • network optimization? My LL advantage is not enough
  • app owner? No. Not benefiting from my strengths and I tend to lose interest quickly

##9 specific Short-term goals I look fwd 2keep motivated

This question is relevant to “meaningful endeavors”, “next direction” and “sustained focus”.

Q: Over the last 10Y, what I looked forward to :

  • before GS — it’s all about earning capacity.
  • GS– promotion and salary increment, but I soon realized limitations in me, in the environment etc
  • contracting phase — in-demand, muscle building; try something new; billing rate
  • sg 3 jobs –See in SG: realistic next motivation for working hard
  • after re-entry to U.S. — IV batting average, as gauge of my market value

Q: what positive feedback can I look forward to, to keep me motivated?

  1. success with tricky coding questions from real interviews (perhaps from friends)
  2. more time for myself (but not in bad mood) — blogging, reading, exercise, sight-seeing.
  3. more time to reunion with family and grandparents. Remember [[about time]] movie theme?
  4. more income to provide for kids, grandparents and my dear wife
  5. more savings — to achieve more investment success
  6. more savings — buy a home nearer to office to cut commute
  7. more IV success, perhaps in quant or HFT domains?
  8. growing IV capabilities towards better jobs
  9. positive feedback from mgr like Anand and Ravi K.
    • promotion?
  10. build zbs in c++/py — unrelated to IV, but gives me the much-needed respect, cool confidence, freedom from stress …?
  11. weight and fitness improvement
  12. more insights to publish on my blog, a sign of my accumulation

XiaoAn@age discrimination:$5k offer !! bad4an aging programmer

I could keep this current job in Singapore for a few years. At age 44, or 45… I might be lucky again to get another finance IT job but what about 50?

The odds will grow against me. I’m on an increasingly tilted playing field. At 60 I’ll have very very low chance.

XiaoAn points out that at such an age, even finding a $5k job is going to be tough. I believe indeed some percentage of the hiring managers don’t like hiring someone older. XiaoAn admitted he’s one of them.

You could feel confident about age discrimination, but the reality is … in Singapore there are very few such job candidates so we just don’t know how the employers would react.

Also bear in mind at age 55 I am unlikely to perform as before on interviews.

%%#1sustainable value-add(#1reliable career path):hands-on dev

see also letter to German (post)

Hands-on development, analysis, design, debugging, maintenance, prod support … I get things done. My job interview performance is even better than project performance.

I can do this till age 65, even though my memory will decline.

This is a typical white-collar job, knowledge intensive, and pays “reasonably well” in SG or China but “very well” in US and Europe.

All other roles I am less confident about, including management, Business Analyst, quant research, DBA, data analytics.

Given this #1 thingy, my future belongs to the US.

In SG, at age 50 if I’m given a programming job along with some 20-somethings, I’m likely to be more competent than them, but as Miao and Xiao An pointed out hiring managers may not give me a chance. The Singapore government won’t help me find a high-paying programming job.

aging memory for a developer … is an attitude

I noticed my colleagues (typically a few years younger) are faster at code reading. I seem to remember less and forget more than them. Also I’m possibly slower at solving problems in my projects…

Many more small tidbits of anecdotal evidence all seem to point to the same explanation — an aging developer.

My dad had really good memory until age … 70? His work requires him to read lots of research papers and books, and remember lots of details. After he turned 70 (or 75?) he told me a few times that his memory had become less sharp.

There are many types of memory capabilities like forgetfulness, reading and learning, short term vs long term memory .. The important memory task for a developer includes things like
* solution we tried a while ago —- for a recurring problem at work. An effective or ineffective solution
* handy tricks and how-to’s —- in a language, on an IDE, on the command line, in an OS etc. A bit similar to spelling for Chinese – I used to write and remember them well.
* important details in my own code —- I often forget them, including code I debugged or struggled with
* where to find some useful info —- If you found it once only a while back, you may not remember it and may not bother to write down the steps.
* who said what during a meeting between departments —- The numerous “less important” details are often skipped in the meeting minutes, if any.
* explanation given by some colleague verbally —- I often forget, so I often ask again — annoying:( Most of the verbal explanations I get are not 100% fully understood, not as clearly explained in an email.
* verbal answers I give to other people — I often forget what I said — embarrassing:(
* jargon terms used at work —- including the large number of standard procedures associated with the jargon
* all the details needed for a tech interview.
* past IV questions and answers

(I’m also becoming more forgetful at home — a different story.)

I won’t try and give a well-defined list of these memory tasks. What I really want to say is, active learning delays aging. Challenging ourselves to learn new things, beyond our comfort zone (familiar territories like Java and SQL) stretches our “memory muscle” and keep it in better condition. Memory is like a muscle – the more we use it the stronger it gets.

We first need to believe in our memory capacity, while recognizing all the negative evidence.

remain relevant(survival)to your team^global economy#localSys

When we feel job insecurity, we look around and see who’s more secure, more relevant, more current, and more in-demand. We may find some colleagues more relevant to your team or to the company. Maybe they are local system experts. Maybe they have deep expertise in the base vendor product (Tibco, Murex, LotusNotes, WebLogic…). We may want to _specialize_ like them.


Job security derives from skill relevance, but relevant to who? The industry, not the local team, which could disappear if entire team becomes obsolete and irrelevant. I have seen people (including myself) specializing in DNS, VB.NET, Swing, Perl, EJB, let alone home-grown systems such as SecDB. These guys are (extremely) relevant but for a limited time only.

Have a long-term perspective — If you want job security through skill relevance, then invest in more permanent skills such as Math, algorithms, data structures, threading, SQL,…

Have a global perspective — Job security is a serious, almost life-and-death issue. You probably should look beyond your local industry. What skills are truly relevant on the global arena? Some skill (say Murex) might be more relevant locally but less globally.

Avoid niche domains unless it helps boost your mainstream skills.

your job at age 55 if u r now an IT techie in your 30’s

To discuss percentages, first allow me to focus on a tiny group of male techies in Singapore — the only group i know.

Note: Manager roles can cover team size of 2 to 20.

— top n
40% Job: some job outside IT. These folks get out of IT before 55.
10% Job: company owner, CEO, country manager — #1 guy in an office.
5% Job: manager in “infrastructure support” (defined below [1]). These roles are similar and sometimes indistinguishable. Large systems need a support “team”.
5% Job: manager in app development AND app support. A standard combination.
2% Job: manager in app development, architect, PrjMgr, but without support responsibility. These roles are often combined. Compared to support jobs, such a dev role is rather tiring at age 55.
2% Job: pre-sales + professional service + trainer. Manager or foot soldier. These roles are often combined.

Other jobs:

Job: sales, marketing (manager) in a tech firm
Job: government officer, excluding infrastructure support
Job: full time teaching (IT) in private/public instutitions + some R&D.
Job: Business Analyst
Job: senior DBA, system admin or network admin, but not a manager. at age 55?.
Job: manager in product support. Only large product vendors need a support organization.
Job: full time R&D in public/private (large) labs + some teaching. R&D is always an “elite” activity.
Job: full time trainer
Job: writer + trainer
Job: recruiter. Some IT professionals are suitable for this role.

— Job descriptions above usually combine these job functions below, most of them project functions. Multiple project functions are frequently carried out by the same individual, since someone strong in one function can take up another function.
* function: pre-sales consulting
* function: business anlysis
* function: development + design + architect
* function: project management, implemetation rollout management
* function: professional service consulting
* function: engagement manager, account manager, onsite or offsite
* functino: testing

Functions below are not project roles, though the individuals in these functions also take part in projects.
* [1] function: infrastructure support serving internal users rather than external customers
** app support, after application development and rollout
** operations support
** web master,
** windows application support, such as email or Excel support
** DBA,
** network admin
** Unix/Windows system admin,
** email server support — Exchange, Lotus Notes…
** storage support
** ERM system admin
** CRM system admin
** mobile and remote access support — Citrix, Blackberry
** IT security admin

* function: product support serving external customers, often loosely known as tech support
* function: customer service, often loosely known as tech support
* function: sales support (not pre-sales consulting)
* function: marketing support
* function: training
* function: teaching
* function: research
* function: writer, editor, reporter, reviewer
* function: IT auditing

Most of the age 55 jobs are likely to *combine* these job functions.

You can’t be a developer for ever@@

my answers ranked

* Each person has her roles in the economy. Perhaps the best role for me is …
* I still believe my experience dealing with enterprise application design issues (tx,cluster,perf,…) has value in 20 years
* compared to a team lead, architects have a longer shelf life. Architects need some domain knowledge and deep hands-on experience.
* I still believe deep technical experience is more solid than Project Management experience, at least for me. I was able to do a “good-enough” PM job even without years of experience.
* I have been a good enough (small-scale) Presales consultant.
* some older technies in my circle are NOT earning more even as presales or PM
* Xian Hua of JDA pointed that for hands-on developer, job search is easier. I’d add mobility. Can enter US.
* I feel developer has vantage when a commander is needed for a project, better position than PM, BA etc. However, there are exceptionally capable/effective BA/PM individuals.

y at this age still !! an expert like Dad@@

At this (or later) age, perhaps Dad was already able to publish valuable information for his research community?

Look at my perl experience.

Look at SGQ. Accummulated dnlg but …
Look at QLN. So many years on SAP cap planning/tuning but perhaps his job scope only gave him routine techniques. Perhaps someone with 1 year training can achieve the same mastery.

Maybe we need to join a cutting-edge dev team in a big co or an open-source team?
Maybe we need to publish.
Maybe we need to present papers in conferences.