Developers are superheroes

June 9, 2006

Everyone loves superheroes.  They protect the good guys, fight the bad guys, and make the world a better place to live. As Pardesi Blogger says:

…our famous hero struts his stuff in tights, he faces difficulties everyday in his life, and yet he always comes out doing the *right* thing …

…Clark Kent struggles for half his life balancing his secret identity with the people he loves, facing a reality where he is constantly being tormented by villains and foes. Yet, throughout, we see him living his life trying to do good etc etc.

Remind you of anyone? Although we don’t wear tights (well, most of us), Clark Kent sounds a lot like a developer.  Facing difficulties in day-to-day life dealing with badly thought out projects, struggling to keep our online identities and feelings a secret and constantly being tormented by our villains and foes, the bastard account executives.

It’s not a myth.  Developers are superheroes.  Except maybe those whose code is featured on The Daily WTFThose developers shouldn’t be allowed near computers.

It’s fortunate that most developers are usually good people, because they have the potential to cause a lot of damage.

Once, a fellow developer working on the website of a (now defunct) e-commerce website showed me how the passwords for thousands of users in the database were stored in plain text, and then proceeded to randomly pick hotmail accounts and log into them using the same password.  That’s why you should never use the same password for your email accounts as everything else.

Or the other e-commerce website stating it didn’t store credit card numbers, but was storing not just the credit card number and expiry date, but the CVV2 number too, as well as the cardholder’s address.  My contacts in the field tell me the company has since changed this, and are now using a third-party payment provider, but I remain sceptical.

There are countless other stories.  Remember what Bill Gates said, “Be nice to nerds, chances are you’ll end up working for one”.  The part he forgot to add? Or they’ll be a web developer with access to the database of some e-commerce website you shopped at, and the opportunity to wreck your life.

But, those school bullies need not worry.  Not only are developers generally good people, we also follow the superheroes book of ethics, taking special note of Uncle Ben’s advice to Peter Parker:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Sometimes, it’s nice to have a bit of fun though.  Some years ago, when working for an agency, a young brash account executive was the repeated cause of frustration, and we decided to have a joke at his expense, with a quick script change and slight modification of a CSS file.

Logging into the admin control panel, he was presented with a completely horrid hot pink colour scheme, with dashes of yellow, and purple.  Frantic with worry, he called us up begging us to help him out. We kept the poor idiot hanging for half an hour, before silently changing things back.  He thought he was going crazy.

The saddest part is that all account excutives are that stupid.

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