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Working in a War Zone

Engineers in Iraq find high risk but high reward

5 min read

How's this for an understatement? Working in Iraq isn't for everybody. Nevertheless, over the past three years, a few thousand engineers of many nationalities have gone to work on the country's massive, US $60 billion reconstruction. They've left their friends and family to go to a war zone where at least a dozen engineers--and perhaps as many as two or three dozen--have been killed over the past three years.

Why do they do it? In interviews in Baghdad last fall with about 25 engineers, including five born in Iraq, a few reasons kept coming up. The chance to use their skills to help improve a bad situation was a big draw, and they liked the large scope and budgets of the projects in Iraq. Contractor salaries in the range of $200 000 to $300 000 a year--typically tax-free--didn't hurt either. For a minority who said they craved excitement and being where the action is, even the war-zone setting was seen as a plus.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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