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Is catching general exceptions really a bad thing?
Catching general exceptions is about as bad as making general statements about what you everyone should do. There is generally no one-size-fits-all approach to everything.
Software engineer, already in late thirties, would I have trouble finding a new position?
People graduate from school at all kinds of different ages anyway. In the US, we're lucky to have the ability to go back to school whenever we want (figuratively speaking). Not all countries have such an open system. I'd argue recruiters will look at years of experience much more readily than graduation date. To me a 40 year old with 1 year of experience is just as malleable as a fresh graduate, but probably presents a number of other advantages.
I don't program in my spare time. Does that make me a bad developer?
This, and many other answers, put far too much emphasis on programming as "practicing". To continue on the musician comparison, believe it or not but they actually also play for pleasure. What interviewers looking for someone who programs in their spare time are looking for is not someone who feels the constant need to practice all the time. They're looking for someone who is passionate and really enjoys what they do. If you're passionate about your job, you often turn it into a hobby as well, and it's hard to get away from it. It's no different from picking up any other hobby.