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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What's the worst advice you've ever received?

Top comments (130)

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kant312 profile image
Quentin Delcourt

Learn Flash, it's the future!

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functional_js profile image
Functional Javascript

Learn Silverlight, it's the future.
—said no one ever, except the Microsoft sales team.
:)

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

The Future cost me $800 and 3 years of work.

Fun fact: I found out from an Adobe insider that they'd officially decided to discontinue Flash in 2012. Adobe sold me a license in 2013. That's what we call "a scam", boys and girls.

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scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

I had one flash class in college and I struggled so hard with it! I am glad that it died.

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kant312 profile image
Quentin Delcourt

In fact I think it was not so bad 😛 ActionScript was a pretty good language and the Flash IDE was a good tool for quick animations. It just shouldn't have tried to take the place of HTML imho 😄

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octaneinteractive profile image
Wayne Smallman

I have to agree, Flash as a concept was good, and ActionScript was solid, but the implementation was a complete — but avoidable — shambles.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

Just imagine how heavy built in flash components were. I worked with a guy and we rewrote the library. Made it extremely light weight and scalable.

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octaneinteractive profile image
Wayne Smallman

That's what puzzled me — Flash used vector graphics, so it should have been ultra lightweight, but for the most part the heft of each file was ridiculous.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

A lot of it was boilerplate, bitmap skins, additional libraries, etc. When I tore into the inner workings, only certain core libraries were actually needed to render something by the flash player. Oh the days of OO AS3 🤸. We basically used vectors drawn with code.

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I won a global bronze Lester Wunderman award for a Flash based microsite which advertised the Ford C-Max car.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Hey now! Talented thespian Brendan Fraser's website runs on Flash... and you're telling me that it's a thing of the past?!

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bernardbaker profile image
Bernard Baker

I did flash. Would you believe it's still in use by many gambling tech companies who having switched over?

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utkarsh profile image
Utkarsh Talwar

Around 2010, when I was in high school, my best friend tried to get me to learn flash and make games in it. Even gave me some pirated tutorials. XD

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sanjayojha profile image
Sanjay Ojha

PHP is dead

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yeah, any advice I've gotten with regards to a technology being dead has always proven pretty useless :P

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dimfeld profile image
Daniel Imfeld

I was surprised to find out a few months ago just how alive the PHP ecosystem is. Lots of good work being done to bring modern development and deployment paradigms to the language.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

💯

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thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride • Edited

The worst advice I ever received (in programming, at least) was something to the effect of "leave programming to the educated professionals; stop invading/infecting our world". It was 20 years ago when I went to a forum asking for help on something basic, yes, I was clearly a novice, and I expressed that my only interest was as a hobbyist to give them an idea of how to help me and he commenced to go on a page long rant about all the "idiots" wasting valuable data storage space and bandwidth (these were bigger issues back then). This is why I always pre apologize for wasting forum posts (if it seems like something I should know already) on the rare occasion I do need help anymore. Old habit, hard to break. The pretentiousness of experienced programmers was far worse than it is today (though we still have the Stack Overflow :().
If I had taken his advice and given up I never would have built all the utilities on my machines and on the net that make my "hobbyist" life happy. I'm addicted to anything programmatic/problem solving. Just comes naturally and makes me feel amazing. Truly helps me with lots of issues, not just in computing.

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs

Some people spend way too much time interfacing with a computer that they forget how to interface with other humans lol

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thefluxapex profile image
Ian Pride

I've had countless experiences like this throughout the years with these types and lots of them are frustrated they spend all the money on an education and expect everyone else to have to do the same.

I love helping people and do it regardless if I get anything out of it or not and I pay the help I've received forward any time I can.

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iamarya profile image
Arya

Hahaha! It's funny because I find it to be true nowadays! We need HumanDebugInterface HDI for them to do a life-boot rescue 😁.

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_hs_ profile image
HS

Although some of the devs get to be like that in my opinion, as they did a lot for something and should have an excuse SOMETIMES (hey we all get in bad mood and make misstakes), most of these behave as they are affraid that people who didn't waste their lifes reading all books ever written about it, are gonna take their jobs and the only thing they were good at will be taken away and they will be exposed that it's not so hard to do their job. I guess it's not only devs but a lot of things connected somehow to sinence or actual science. Take for instance doctors, if you eve think that there might be a different way to solve your health issues automatically tag on a forehead as conspiracy theorists. I had some bad cases with medical professionals were they made wrong calls because tests indicated something. It's like if people see them as other human beings who also makes mistakes world will end

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iamarya profile image
Arya

I can agree, some people can be very toxic to a community as a whole, on the other hand its great that you didn't let it get to you and kept up what you want to do.

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ddm50 profile image
Din

Who said that? Cause many "educated professionals" don't know much

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca

At my college internship (c. 2010), one of the senior engineers (non-software) said my CS degree would be worthless because A.I. would be writing all code in a couple of years and to put all my money in gold.

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kailyons profile image
Loralighte

That language matters in programming. Fun fact, it almost doesn't. unless it is a specific case, or a language isn't 100% able to take on the majority of a task, the language doesn't matter.

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mabla0531 profile image
Matthew Bland

B-b-b-but C++ iS bEtTeR 😡😂

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs

"Good code doesn't need comments"

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Tell me about it.

Good code shouldn't need a code to describe what it's doing, but it certainly benefits from intent-comments ("why").

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oguzhanaknc profile image
Oğuzhan Akıncı

Writing code is like making a joke. It's bad if you need to explain.

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almenon profile image
Almenon

If a joke was used as the basis for entire industries, I'd sure as heck want a explanation.

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garretharp profile image
Garret

That is good advice. I should be able to look at the function names and variables and get a good idea of what is happening without comments.

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sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr

Wait, what? why is that bad advice? :)

The idea is to make verbose code, it’s the main difference I observe in programmers relative to their experience level.

Novices tend to make messy complex code riddled with or needing comments & experienced programmers make simple/short code that uses sane naming and formatting so comments become pointless.

Correct if I’m wrong please, I feel like I would need that lesson. :D

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mxldevs profile image
MxL Devs • Edited

Good names help make it easier to understand what the code is doing compared to using variables like a and b and method names like my_func1 but it doesn't explain things like "why you wrote the code", "how it's intended to be used", etc.

Some devs might end up with this idea that as long as they write clean beautiful verbose code, comments won't be needed.

I've written a post about comments to clarify my position on comments.

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sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr • Edited

I would have to disagree, intent and why' can be conveyed.
It requires extra thought tho, which is what the quote is trying to encourage.
It's not meant to be taken literally.

Take fx.


// I'm gonna assume this is the unix cat command maybe?
// I have no idea what data is.. this could be anything.
function cat(data) {...} 

// Gonna assume this returns a Cat embedded in the input
function getCat(from) {...}

// Gonna assume this generate's a new cat from the input
function generateCat(from) {...}

// My comments make sense here btw. :)
// Since i am actually commenting' on my' thoughts.
// Not what is going on in the code.

The intent is conveyed using verbs and subjects.
This communicates the message or intent shorter, usually meaning better.
The subjects i should know what is based on context and documentation.

The quote "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." - Someone
Fully encompasses the idea.

I'l flip through you article now, thank you for taking the time to write it. :)

// Edit, ps, worth noting, with types, the verbosity and intent here could be much improved.

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iamarya profile image
Arya

Woah! One of the worse advices I have seen on this thread a nightmare even for junior devs/admins haha!

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malaud profile image
Malaury

Could you explain a bit more your thought?

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arschles profile image
Aaron Schlesinger

Build it and they will come

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I can't even get my family to use stuff I've built unless it really truly absolutely solves their problem and it is blatantly obvious without explanation.

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darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar

We can turn that into a great advice for founders and developers who want to bring a product to market:

If you can't even convince your own family, how are you going to convince a complete stranger?

I have to admit that I should think of that more often myself, too 😁

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arschles profile image
Aaron Schlesinger

Same here. It really puts things into perspective for me 😂

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eidellev profile image
Lev Eidelman Nagar

You can't be a professional programmer without a degree

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

My updated LinkedIn Education and Certifications sections:

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee
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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

One guy I use to work with constantly told me to choose shorter variables names, even if it was clear there were harder to understand afterwards. It would go to extreme length to cut a variable name a few characters to make it more readable. Thanks, I hate it now... I guess comprehension is subjective, but as a junior, choosing long and very clear variable names were helping me a lot. To him, it was a distraction.

And also, never learn X because Y... I'll never understand the concept behind telling someone to never learn something. There are always different perspectives, concepts, paradigms to be learned. It might click for someone in a different language or framework, so I've always got a bit sad when I was told never to learn something...

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derekjhopper profile image
Derek Hopper

I like to say we write code for the future reader (could be you, could be him, could be someone else). We should judge readability based on the future reader and not the person reading it today.

Using a shorter name might be more readable today, but completely unreadable in the future.

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sm0ke profile image
Sm0ke • Edited

Do not learn C++ in school .. because is old and nobody uses it.
Years after, my first job was a corporate, full-time C++ job for 5yrs.

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kailyons profile image
Loralighte

C++ is my first language, I think C++ should be mandatory in school (that teaches tech) as it is a gateway to any programming language you want.

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sm0ke profile image
Sm0ke

Fully agree with you!

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buinauskas profile image
Evaldas Buinauskas

Not sure if it counts, but one of my ex managers suggested writing JS, CSS and HTML using SQL Stored Procedures to serve web pages.

Obviously we told this is a terrible idea and this monstrosity never saw a daylight.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Can you tell me more about the context, like what language, framework, infrastructure, and business objectives led to this kind of thought process?

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buinauskas profile image
Evaldas Buinauskas

It was Microsoft stack. SQL Server, .NET.

Company has been rebuilding one of the core features - rendering statistical data in a grid. It had to render lots of different datasets dynamically with 10s of thousands of rows per page.

Frontend team at that time was struggling with the implementation and that's where the suggestion came from.

Reality being that different managers wanted their departments being feature owners and make changes themselves using tools they know. Basically SQL Server and T-SQL became a hammer and every feature or an issue started looking as a nail.

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scrabill profile image
Shannon Crabill

Anything that mentions just doing something.

"Just get hired at a startup. You'll learn so much!"
"Just apply anyway!"
"Oh that's easy! You just...."

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern
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margo_hdb profile image
Margo McCabe

Yes, a mentor once suggested that I completely remove this word from my vocabulary! (I try, but sometimes it slips)

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jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

I've been trying to reduce my use of that word as much as possible over the last year+. It really is a verbal crutch.

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aritdeveloper profile image
Arit Developer

"You'll never land a coding job if you don't master React" 🙄

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foresthoffman profile image
Forest Hoffman

Don't share your side projects or self-taught work. That doesn't sound impressive, and no one will take you seriously.


Just go in person and deliver your resume to the manager. Submitting your application online doesn't do anything.

Two of the worst and most subtly degrading things anyone has ever offered as "advice".

OH! I forgot...

Don't argue for $XX/hr you'll never get that at your first developer job.

Where $XX/hr is a perfectly reasonable starting rate based on the local market. 🙃

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kailyons profile image
Loralighte

Tutorials give you the information for you to know the syntax. Stackoverflow everything else.

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