Happiness is a Boring Stack

I spend way too much time on Hacker News. It's a fun place, and a good way to keep up to date on all the new tech that us developer folk seem to need to know about. But it also leaves a fella feeling like he really needs to keep up with all this stuff. I mean, if you don't have a side project using the latest client-side framework, well, good luck ever finding a job again in this industry.

Thinking about it, I find that I straddle the line on this. As a long-time contractor, I try to stay up to date on the New Shiny and will happily run with whatever flavor of the month language, framework, and programming paradigm that a given gig wants. Yeah, sure, Node.js with tons of functional stuff mixed in pulling from a NoSQL store and React on the front end. I'm your guy. We're gonna change the world!

But for my own stuff, there's no way I'd use any of that crap. Good old C#, SQL Server and a proper boring stack and tool set that I know won't just up and fall over on a Saturday morning and leave me debugging NPM dependencies all weekend instead of bouldering in the forest with the kids. This stuff is my proper income stream, and the most important thing is that it works. If that means I have to write a "for" loop and declare variables and risk 19 year old kids snooting down at my code, so be it.

I can't tell you how nice it is to have software in production on a boring stack. It gives you freedom to do other things.

I can (and often do) go entire months without touching the codebase of my main rent-paying products. It means I can, among other things, pick up a full-time development gig to sock away some extra runway, take off and go backpacking around the world, or better still, build yet another rent-paying product without having to spend a significant amount of time keeping the old stuff alive.

It seems like on a lot of stacks, keeping the server alive, patched and serving webpages is a part-time job in itself. In my world, that's Windows Update's job. Big New Releases come and go, but they're all 100% backwards compatible, so when you get around to upgrading it's just a few minutes of point and clicking with nothing broken.

I see it as analogous to Compound Interest, but to productivity. The less effort you need to spend on maintenance, the more pace you can keep going forward.

But yeah, the key is to never get so far down in to that comfy hole that you can't hop back into the present day when it's time to talk shop with the cool kids. Shine on, flavor of the week!

Jason Kester

I run a little company called Expat Software. Right now, the most interesting things we're doing are related to Cloud Storage Analytics, Online Classrooms, and Customer Lifecycle Metrics for SaaS Businesses. I'll leave it to you to figure out how those things tie together.

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