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I know exactly what you mean. Sadly, I am now in a job where I work alone, while I at my earlier place had a team I worked in. One in that team was better than me and the others at most things, and I probably came in second in most areas. That meant that I could learn from this "Guru" (not perl Guru, mind you), develop my skills, and generally have a good time while at the same time be sort of a "Guru" to those that needed my help. It was great.
Here, I've found that I lack lots of motivation, I do not give it my full attention, and my concetration drifts. I just want out, or at least have a long vacation.
It took me a while to realize that this is mainly due to the fact that I work alone, or am top dog in those cases where it applies. I have two other people working around me here, which are "programmers" in the very broadest sense of the word - which means they have gone some unemployment crappy course where they didn't learn anything, got jobs and then refuse to be curious and learn. It is horrible. How can they not want to be better programmers? But I digress.
Point is that this place is not so nice to begin with, but I thought it was that, and crappy PBH:s, and lying scumbags that was the problem. It turns out that the big thing is just that - a) having someone, anyone, that you can remotely connect with, to work together with, and b) even better, someone that is better than you at something.
My old guru and I have started to go out and grab a beer fairly often nowadays, and frequently bounce stuff via email. We live pretty close to each other after all, and while he has a family and all, we truly enjoy getting together and "geek out", so to speak. :) I think we both need someone to talk to about such, and compare code, strategies, ideas and such.
Still, this is probably not enough. I've got a classic case of bosses and the likes that will buy anything, as long as the seller shares the same taste in shirts. It doesn't make for a healthy climate, especially not for a programmer in and around the open source register.
Yes, the company will be moving to dotNET. So far, noone can explain why. But "everyone" knows what it is. Upon question what exactly it is, noone can explain what. I could probably think to work with dotNET, or at least give it a try - I am really curious and just want to see it in action.
But I am out of here as soon as I can.
That turned into quite a long rant, which wasn't really intended. But something about your post really struck a nerve, because I could identify myself totally with the whole situation, and would do anything to get such collegaues, here or anywhere else.
To some extent, PM has filled a small such role (thanks guys!) where you can "geek around" in the CB, and code some fun stuff, get advice and give advice. I've definetely had PM as some kind of a meta-collegaue at times. :)
Btw, I didn't re-check, but I think I was good solid "Perl User" according to the Seven Level thingy. In case anyone wonders. :)
You have moved into a dark place.
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.