Wasted Time

Not buying your programmers the meanest, fastest and strongest workstations money can buy is a fucking stupid decision.

I restart my application server several times a day. Let’s, for the sake of simplicity, say that I restart it 4 times a day (I restart more). On average, it takes the server 15 minutes to start. While it is starting, my computer works hard and becomes dead slow, so I can’t use it for much. This means that on average, I spend one hour a day staring at WebLogic’s little “rotating arrows” icon [1].

If I work 20 days a month (I work more), 20 hours of my time are wasted doing nothing productive. Multiply that by 12, and you get some serious waste of programmer time, even without taking into account other time consuming tasks (compiling, waiting for the program to run), and the loss of productivity due to lost concentration (“I’ll just check my e-mail while this operation is running”, and then “What exactly was I working on?”).

With the money you pay me for this wasted time, you could have bought a small server farm. Why not just buy me a better workstation, save my time and your money, and make both of us much happier?

[1] In fact, I spend my time reading technical literature and playing with side projects, which is not quite as bad, but it is still not my work.

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7 thoughts on “Wasted Time”

  1. Better, use that money to buy a build farm or pay for some build-on-the-cloud service. Would not solve the app’s load time problem, though – do you really think a stronger computer is going to bring it down to < 1 minute? Think again, unless your current workstation is way old or has very little RAM.

    1. Yes, I do. The issue is not slow software, it is old hardware with insufficient resources.

      For comparison, one of my colleagues got a new workstation after his machine totally fell apart. On his computer, the development environment starts in a second, on mine it takes several minutes. My computer freezes for several minutes every time I forget myself and hit ctrl+space in eclipse. We don’t need a build farm – on a proper machine, our build takes 3 minutes to finish, but on mine – sometimes it takes more than 16. I get the occasional BSOD, and frequent freeze-outs when doing nothing particularly special.

      The problem is definitely not the software or the build.

  2. the thing is everyone, even a gifted programmer needs some breaks.
    you can’t assume that if your workstation would be responsible 100% of its time for your typing you would be coding 100% of your time.

    all this forced dead-time means is that you take you breaks when the workstation needs and not when you want (and possibly, you take a bit more breaks than you would do with a stronger workstation). this is worth some $$$ but definitively not as much as you think…

  3. I agree with you and would like to add that in a competing unregulated world a business simply cant afford to have anything but the best workstation, holding a lower grade machine means that basically you have longer deadlines, over times these accumulate to loss of projects you cant pursue and thus loss of business, and although ongoing projects are important a growing customer base is what keeps any business alive.
    It also has a broader effect on the mentality of workers and regulates their working proccess so time consuming tasks like program analisys they would normally do to avoid later problems are neglected, which results in even slower time tables and ever recursing efficiency downgrading.
    The solution some companies found to the issue of “still working” workstations is put them solely on analysis tasks while newer more powerfull machines are used for the ongoing projects.

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