[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

2000/11/07

by Joel Spolsky
Tuesday, November 07, 2000

Despite the hubbub over Phil Greenspun's article about managing engineers, I still think the article is almost right. The best part of the article:

  • Phil says that you have to make an office environment that's "nicer than most programmers' homes" so that they want to spend more time at work. That idea works, but not for the reason Phil gave. It works because if you make a nice environment, the best programmers will want to work for you, not for your competitors who treat them like veal.

The biggest bug:

  • Phil thinks it's great when people work 70 hour weeks. I think that's a way to make a short term burnout company. It looked successful to Phil because it worked for arsDigita in its first year or two. But look at Netscape, a company that was famous for deathmarch after deathmarch, and for burning out individual programmers, and indeed for burning out the whole damn company.

More discussion on this topic.

UI Design for Programmers

Due to popular demand, the book is now available as a single, giant HTML page suitable for downloading, printing, and reading in the park.

New Toys Department(why else go into business for yourself?)

I got a new laptop computer. It's an IBM Thinkpad X20. Truly a great, tiny laptop computer with a real keyboard and a real screen. (Dave, these are much better than Vaios, and more reliable, too.)

Most of the day, I keep it plugged into a docking station so that I can use a full size monitor. Fog Creek is all about flat screens; we all use Samsung 770TFT monitors. These monitors are the best monitors you've ever seen, everybody that has them sings hosannas all day long. So far I've bought 4 of them. They are truly amazing. The screen is 17", about the same size as a 19" CRT. It's the only flat screen that runs at 1280x1024 that you can afford ($1300 most places).

The Election

I can't help it, voting makes me extremely happy and proud in a deep way. Standing in line with a bunch of fellow citizens doing our civic duty almost makes me tear up. Democracy is something we take for granted, but... think of it from a historical point of view. They let me -- a Jew -- vote! For 2000 years that was unheard of. I can vote for fat old Representative Jerry Nadler, a wonderful man who marches proudly in every NYC gay pride parade, sweating like a pig, even though he looks like he's about to keel over. I love him. I have sent Jerry something like 3 dozen letters over the years, and in every single case, his political position was totally in sync with mine. "Save the whales, Jerry," I would write, and he would respond, "yes, in fact I sponsored that bill." "Protect free speech," I would write, and he would respond, "indeed I wrote the very bill you're talking about." I'm proud to be able to vote for Jerry Nadler and ecstatic that I have that right.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Trello and Fog Creek Software, and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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