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Russian programmers

(old Internet post modified for Softpanorama bulletin by Nikolai Bezroukov)

Note: this is a blast from the past that belongs to long forgotten DOS/Windows 3.1 era ;-). Only people over 50 probably might still remember some functions of Int21H... Some observations listed in the post now looks like really like reading history books: who now uses IDE drives as portable storage as we used to do in early 90th --NNB ?
  1. Russian programmers almost never read printed manuals, they prefer manpages and online help. Even without reading documentation they easily get a grasp of any new program or programming language, simply because they usually have tried similar programs or programming language before.
  2. Russian programmers almost never pay for the software. They either crack it or buy those wonderful CDs with tons of cracked software that are sold for 5 bucks in every major city in Russia.
  3. Russian programmers are always on the cutting edge of software development -- they always use the latest versions of the best tools available; it generally does not matter for them if they are free or commercial.
  4. Russian programmers are very experienced in hardware. They will take your computer apart and build it back in a matter of minutes. They remember the jumpers settings for most boards, hard drives and other devices. They never forget what interrupts and base memory addresses are currently used up in their computers.
  5. Russian programmers keep upgrading their computers until there are no more available interrupts, no room for additional memory and no free bay slots. Often they are moving internal harddrives from one computer to another as if they are portable devices: just to copy some files. If they can't upgrade it any more, they buy a new one and tie both old and new computer into a LAN.
  6. Russian programmers program on all levels, beginning with the processor codes, table of which they hold for the reference on their desk. They usually remember by heart the list of functions of Int21H. Best Russian programmers of "old school" can read IBM mainframe hexadecimal dumps like you read C code and patch program directly in memory from the system console. Such programmers are usually called "classics" as IBM/360 widely considered by Russians as a classic computer architecture.
  7. Russian programmers remember both English and Russian keyboard layouts and can type in Russian on the keyboards with only English letters. Often they also know the decimal and hexadecimal value of all letters.
  8. Russian programmers generally prefer Borland tools but still install Microsoft compilers only for their nice Help files on Windows API.
  9. Russian programmers feel themselves very comfortable on the Internet. They are always online and always are using the latest tools and latest protocols. They are naturally created for learning intricacies of TCP/IP and often know protocols to the extent only people who construct routers or other network appliances are. Generally they prefer Netscape to IE.
  10. Russian programmers only work when they are in the right mood. Programming is a creative process and it cannot be pushed.
  11. There are two main types of Russian programmers - the ones that hate Windows and program on UNIX and the ones that hate Windows and still program on Windows. Macintosh programmers generally are not considered to be real programmers by Russians - they are more often referred to as "users". Among all UNIX flavors Russians prefer FreeBSD.
  12. Russian programmers hate to code somebody else's ideas. They want to be their own architects. Each program is written personally with minimum reuse of somebody else code and minimum number of library calls. They's why they are often very fast. Russian programmers never approach programming methodically. Every program is a piece of art and is usually written in a highly inconvenient time when deadlines for other projects are around the corner.
  13. Russian programmers almost never prototype the code. They write on inspiration, sometimes without sleep, driven by the urge to see the new program run as soon as possible. When the program finally runs without glitches they drop on the floor and sleep for 20-30 hours happily smiling in their dreams.
  14. Russian programmers almost never use joystick. In games they can prove that keyboard is a dangerous weapon in their fast hands. Russian programmers always have a copy of Far, Doom or Quake on their hard drives. They play nights over the network in a Deathmatch mode.
  15. Russian programmers never give up in debugging. No matter how the difficult the bug is and where it is located they will hunt down bugs in their programs forgetting to eat and sleep. Some of them successfully traced bugs to hardware problems in old Russian IBM/360 compatible series called EC. They widely considered to be heroes and generate universal respect.
  16. Russian programmers' wives are never happy. They get no attention whatsoever as long as the computer is in the same house. On vacations Russian programmers entertain themselves buying, disassembling and then assembling various electronic toys like programmable calculators instead of peacefully swimming in the pool and tanning on the sun.
  17. There are two kinds of Russian programmers - the ones that bring profit by actually programming something, and the ones that bring better profit by not interfering with anything and only helping others in case they run into problems. The latter are usually paid much better.
  18. Best Russian programmers are always underpaid. There is no money in the world that amounts to what they are really worth, especially in troubleshooting skills.
  19. Big bosses don't like Russian programmers. Who likes a smart ass that knows everything and is not afraid to say it "in your face"? Still big bosses almost never fire a Russian programmer.. They know that even working 10 hours a week and being half-drunk a Russian programmer will accomplish more than a Ph.D both on the actual code level and, especially, at the architectural level.
  20. Russian programmers sometime can demonstrate amazing ingenuity as the following story attests:

    One old but very important for the organization server used to hang periodically and nobody was able to determine why. So it needs to be rebooted. It was a really old server without "wake on LAN", DRAC or other remote control cards. So one Russian guy has found the following solution: mount a mini Dell desktop on the same level as the server opposite to the reset button, install Linux on it and wrote a script which when server stopped to respond opens CD-ROM drive with eject command.

    Then he drilled a tiny hole and put a small screw in the server reset button so that it stick out and positioned Dell mini-desktop in such a way that when CD-ROM opens, the door presses the reset button on the server which needs to be rebooted.


The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Created June 1, 2005; Last modified: March 12, 2019