Obsolete Professional

Everything will be obsolete one day. Even jokes…

The Super Clock

There’s a joke that used to make me laugh and one of these days I remembered it. I was about 10 years old when I first heard it. We are talking about 1991, a time when I played Mega-Drive with Japanese to American adapters at a friend’s house and I had myself a Master System.

It was something like this:

A man was walking in the street carrying two suitcases. A second man, very rich, crosses by him, but not without asking what time it was. The walking man puts the suitcases on the floor, looks at his wristwatch and responds:

  • It’s 2:14.

Automatically the watch announces:

  • At this moment, your stocks are priced high. I recommend you sell them.

Impressed, the rich man keeps walking. And, puzzled, he runs, goes around the corner just to cross the first man again and asks again what time it was. He patiently puts the suitcases on the floor, looks at his wristwatch and responds:

  • It is 2:16.

Automatically the clock announces:

  • At this time, the weather for your next destination is rain. Look for shelter when you arrive.

Even more impressed, the rich man keeps walking. And even more intrigued, he runs again, goes around the corner, crosses the first man again and asks what time it was. He patiently puts the suitcases on the floor, looks at his wristwatch and responds:

  • It is 2:18.

Automatically the clock announces:

  • Your wife would like you to go to the market before you get home.

When the second was about to run away and take another turn, he thinks, stops and offers:

  • I want to buy your watch. I pay a million for it.
  • But it’s a prototype…
  • I want it anyway. Take it here in cash.

When he leaves happy wearing his new watch, the first man shouts, lifting his suitcases:

  • Hey, do not forget the batteries!

Keeping Updated within Development Industry

The joke at that time seemed fictional. Not only it is real today, but you do not need two battery suitcases and it fits in your pocket, as your cellphone. Technology flies and whoever stands still loses space. Does working within a technology company guarantees someone to be on the blazing edge?

Staying inside a company makes you a specialist. Expert in a technology? No. On a product. And on the components of such product. So much so that a developer understands much more of a particular microcontroller, for example, than the component manufacturer own support. But does this help in the career advancement? Very little.

Also, I have some cruel statistics: an average engineer will release (or be within a team that releases) a new product every 2-3 years on average. Sometimes not even that. For the rest of the time, it’s more of the same, recycling, bug fixing and feature adding. This is so true within companies that I know some guys who have never worked on a product, only on projects that never saw the market.

I know of a case about it. I met one guy who had jumped from project to project, and it was always up to the others to finish what he had barely begun. When finally this guy got into a project that was pre-sold, that is, it was sold before finnish, he left the company.

Therefore, the environment does not offer, and perhaps worse, does not request professional update.

Is it hard to keep oneself updated?

Yes and no.

Yes because it requires constant attention, some energy and willpower. Not because it only requires constant attention, some energy and willpower. It’s no use to think that this is one task for the company: the responsibility of every company is to profit from its products and services. If it is a good company, it will do it with lots of virtues, but still, it is the profit that makes the company goal.

What’s more, Brazilian companies are not great examples of innovation: so much so that most keep as few developers as possible, rarely getting patents registered. Every developer has heard this in his career: “it’s always been done this way here.”

Okay, the company does not help. How about you?

How much do you invest in your education?

Little. In time and in money (being that the two are the same thing). Answer, for yourself:

  • When was the last time you paid to acquire knowledge? You can consider a course, a book,…

For many, the investment ended right after college. For those who went to public university, not even that. If you do not invest in yourself, why should the company?

It shouldn’t. And it doesn’t.

After this reality check, the professional should begin to recycle him/herself. Recycling begins with posture. Accepting new ideas is one of the best ways to stay updated. Twisting a nose to source code from others can cause the developer to miss out on great opportunities to learn how their colleagues solve the same problem. By submitting oneself to new techniques, the developer ends up updating him/herself.

But that’s the very first step … And it’s not optional.

Otherwise, you may end up as an old and meaningless joke…

About rftafas 183 Articles
Ricardo F. Tafas Jr graduated in Electrical Engineering at UFRGS with focus on Digital Systems and achieved his Masters also in Electrical Engineering on Telecomunications Network Management. He also author of "Autodesenvolvimento para Desenvolvedores (Self-development for developers). Ricardo has +10 years experience on R&D Management and +13 years on Embedded Eystem Development. His interest lay on Applied Strategic HR, Innovation Management and Embedded Technology as a differentiator and also on High Performance Digital Systems and FPGAs. Actually, he is editor and writer for “Repositório” blog (, editorial board member at Embarcados (https://embarcados.com.br) and he is Management and Innovation Specialist at Repo Dinâmica - Aceleradora de Produtos.
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