I've caught the efficiency bug.

I recently started a minimum wage job to get my life back in order after a failed 2 year project (post mortem: next time bring more cash for a longer runway)

I've noticed this thing I do at every job, where I see inefficiency and I think "how can I use technology to automate myself out of this job?"

My first ever application was in C++ for college (a BASIC interpreter) and it's been so long I've since forgotten the language.

But after a while every language starts to look like every other language, and you start to wonder if maybe the reason you never seriously went anywhere as a programmer was because you never really were cut out for it.

Code monkey, sure. Programmer? Dunno, maybe I just suffer from imposter syndrome.

So a few years back I worked at a retail chain. Nothing as big as walmart, but they have well over 10k store locations. They had two IBM handscanners per store, old grungy ugly things, and one of these machines would inevitably be broken, lost or in need of upgrade/replacement about once a year, per location. District manager, who I hit it off with, and made a point of building report with, told me they were paying something like $1500 a piece.

After a programming dry spell, I picked up 'coding' with MIT app inventor. Built a 'mostly complete' inventory management app over the course of a month, and waited for the right time.

The day of a big store audit, (and the day before a multi-regional meeting), I made sure I was in-store at the same time as my district manager, so he could 'stumble upon' me working, scanning in and pricing items into the app.

Naturally he asked about it, and I had the numbers, the print outs, and the app itself to show him. He seemed impressed by what amounted to a code monkeys 'non-code' solution for a problem they had.

Long story short, he does what I expected, runs it by the other regionals and middle executives at the meeting, and six months later they had invested in a full blown in house app, cutting IBM out of the mix I presume.

From what I understand they now use the app throughout the entire store chain.

So if you work at IBM, sorry, that contract you lost for handscanners at 10k+ stores? Yeah that was my fault (and MIT app inventor).

They say software is 'eating the world' but it really goes to show, for a lot of 'almost coders' and 'code monkeys' half our problem is dealing with setup and platform boilerplate. I think in the future that a lot of jobs are either going to be created or destroyed thanks to better 'low code' solutions, and it seems to be a big potential future market.

In the mean while I've realized, while working on side projects, that maybe I can do this after all, and taken up Kotlin. I want to do a couple of apps for efficiency and store tracking at my current employer to see if I'm capable and not just an mit app-inventor codemonkey after all.

I'm hoping, by demonstrating what I can do, I can use that as a springboard into an internal programming position at my current gig (which seems to be a company thats moving towards a more tech oriented approach to efficiency and management). Also watching money walk out the door due to inefficiency kinda pisses me off, and the thought of fixing those issues sounds really interesting. At the end of the day I just like learning new technologies, and maybe this is all just an excuse to pick up something new after spending so long on less serious work.

I still have a ways to go, but the prospect of working on B2B, and being able to offer technological solutions to common and recurring business needs excites the hell out of me..as cringy and over-repeated as that may sound.

  • 4
    You saw a problem, thought out a solution, implemented it, "sold" the idea to the boss, and saved the company shitloads of money.

    This is proper software engineering!
  • 1
    Good 🐒

    Aside the joke, well done ^.^
  • 2
    The real question is if they remade the app using something other than AI2
  • 1

    haha, thats nightmare inducing.
  • 1

    Well I guess you could say that.
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