Xah's Edu Corner: Teach Ourself Programing In Ten Years?

Discussion in 'Java' started by Xah Lee, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. Xah Lee

    Xah Lee Guest

    On Dec 25 2009, 12:44 am, (Rob Warnock) wrote:
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > +---------------
    > | (Pascal J. Bourguignon) wrote:
    > | > LOL Yeah right! Give gavino ten years of rest to let
    > | > his unconscious mind work on it!
    > |
    > | Norvig's 'Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years' (
    > |http://norvig.com/21-days.html
    > | ) gets a new meaning...
    > +---------------



    See:

    • The Condition of Industrial Programers
    http://xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/it_programers.html

    plain text version follows.

    ------------------------------
    The Condition of Industrial Programers

    Xah Lee, 2006-05

    Before i stepped into the computing industry, my first industrial
    programing experience was at Wolfram Research Inc as a intern in 1995.
    (Wolfram Research is famously known for their highly successful
    flagship product Mathematica) I thought, that the programers at
    Wolfram are the world's top mathematicians, gathered together to
    research and decide and write a extremely advanced technology. But i
    realized it is not so. Not at all. In fact, we might say it's just a
    bunch of Ph Ds (or equivalent experience). The people there, are not
    unlike average white-collar Joes. Each working individually. And,
    fights and bouts of arguments between co-workers are not uncommon.
    Sometimes downright ugly in emails. Almost nothing is as i naively
    imagined, as if some world's top mathematicians are gathered together
    there, daily to confer and solve the world's top problems as in some
    top secret government agency depicted in movies.

    Well, that was my introduction to the industry. The bulk of my
    surprise is due to my naiveness and inexperience of the industry, of
    any industry, as i was just a intern and this is my first experience
    seeing how the real world works.

    After Wolfram, after a couple of years i went into the web programing
    industry in 1998, using unix, Perl, Apache, Java, database
    technologies, in the center of world's software technology the Silicon
    Valley. My evaluation of industrial programers and how software are
    written is a precipitous fall from my observations at Wolfram. In the
    so-called Info Tech industry, the vast majority of programers are
    poorly qualified. I learned this from my colleagues, and in dealing
    with programers from other companies, service providers, data centers,
    sys admins, API gateways, and duties of field tutoring. I didn't think
    i have very qualified expertise in what i do, but the reality i
    realized is that most are far lesser than me, and that is the common
    situation. That they have no understanding of basic mathematics such
    as trigonometry or calculus. Most have no interest in math whatsoever,
    and would be hard pressed for them to explain what is a “algorithmâ€.

    I have always thought, that programing X software of field Y usually
    means that the programers are thoroughly fluent in languages,
    protocols, tools of X, and also being a top expert in field of Y. But
    to my great surprise, the fact is that that is almost never the case.
    In fact, most of the time the programers simply just had to learn a
    language, protocol, software tool, right at the moment as he is trying
    to implement a software for a field he never had experience in. I
    myself had to do jobs half of the time i've never done before.
    Constantly I'm learning new languages, protocols, systems, tools,
    APIs, other rising practices and technologies, reading semi-written or
    delve into non-existent docs. It is the norm in the IT industry, that
    most products are really produces of learning experiences. Extremely
    hurried grasping of new technologies in competition with deadlines.
    There is in fact little actual learning going on, as there are immense
    pressure to simply “get it to (demonstrably) work†and ship it.

    Thinking back, in fact the Wolfram people are the most knowledgeable
    and inquisitive people i've met as colleagues, by far.

    What prompted me to write this essay is after reading the essay Teach
    Yourself Programming in Ten Years by Peter Norvig, 2001, at
    http://www.norvig.com/21-days.html. In which, the LISP dignitary Peter
    Norvig derides the widely popular computing books in the name of
    Teaching Yourself X In (Fast) Days. Although i agree with his
    sentiment that a language or technology takes time to master and use
    well, that these books form somewhat of a damaging fad and subtly
    multiply ignorance, but he fails to address the main point, that is:
    the cause of the popularity of such books, and how to remedy the
    situation.

    When you work in the industry, and are given a responsibility of
    coding in some new language the company decided to use, or emerging
    protocol (such as voice-chat protocols or cellphone internet), or your
    engineering group adopted a new team coding/reviewing process, you are
    not going to tell you boss “nah, i want to do a good job so i'll study
    the issue a few months before i contributeâ€. Chances are, you are
    going to run out and buy a copy of “XYZ in 7 daysâ€, and complete the
    job in a way satisfactorily to your company, as well feeling proud of
    your abilities in acquiring new material.

    To see this in a different context, suppose you need to pass a
    important Math XYZ exam or review in your career or get a certificate,
    but you don't remember your Math XYZ. You will likely, run out and get
    a “Math XYZ for Dummiesâ€. Chances are, the book will indeed help you,
    and you will pass your exam or interview, and actually have learned
    something about XYZ, but never looked at Math XYZ squarely again.

    These books are the bedrock of the industry. It is not because people
    are impatient, or that they wish to hurry, but rather, it is the
    condition of the IT industry, in the same way modern society drives
    people to live certain life styles. No amount of patience or
    proselytization can right this, except that we change the industry's
    practice of quickly churning out bug-ridden software products to beat
    competitors. Companies do that due to market forces, and the market
    forces is a result of how people and organizations actually choose to
    purchase software. In my opinion, a solution to this is by installing
    the concept of responsible licenses. Please see this essay Responsible
    Software Licensing and spread the word.

    Xah
    ∑ http://xahlee.org/

    ☄
     
    Xah Lee, Jan 2, 2010
    #1
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  2. Xah Lee

    Alain Picard Guest

    [Aplogies about the wild cross-post follow-up --- I guess the topic really
    is relevant to most programming communities.]

    Xah Lee <> writes:

    > To see this in a different context, suppose you need to pass a
    > important Math XYZ exam or review in your career or get a certificate,
    > but you don't remember your Math XYZ.


    There's a difference between cramming to remember XYZ, and never
    having understood (or even been exposed to!) XYZ previously. The
    former is reasonable; the latter bound to fail.

    > [SNIP] In my opinion, a solution to this is by installing
    > the concept of responsible licenses. Please see this essay Responsible
    > Software Licensing


    IOW, you think IT will have to become like engineering and "grow up".
    I.e. when your manager says "do XYZ in 7 days", you just laugh at
    them, and your risk of being fired are minimal, because all other
    certified engineers who could replace you also will laugh at him
    because your duty of care to your profession and certification is
    greater than the one you owe your bozo manager.

    I'm, personally, not holding my breath.

    If you want to change the world, you start by changing yourself.

    Cheers,
    --ap
     
    Alain Picard, Jan 2, 2010
    #2
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  3. Xah Lee

    John Bokma Guest

    Alain Picard <> writes:

    > If you want to change the world, you start by changing yourself.


    Like for starters setting a follow-up to header, especially if you spam
    4 groups. But Xah is Xah.

    --
    John Bokma

    Read my blog: http://johnbokma.com/
    Hire me (Perl/Python): http://castleamber.com/
     
    John Bokma, Jan 2, 2010
    #3
  4. Alain Picard wrote:

    > [Aplogies about the wild cross-post follow-up --- I guess the topic
    > [really
    > is relevant to most programming communities.]


    No, it's not relevant. Xah Lee is a self spammer, in that he spams
    about himself, tries to get people hyped up about him and thinks he's
    impressing people (he's not). He continually cross posts to the
    language groups he thinks he knows about (often to Perl, where there's
    no mention of Perl, other than he's used it once or so). He knows very
    little about any of these languages, but likes to talk a whole lot, as
    in talking up about himself and how he thinks himself a genius. If you
    could please not cross post his self-spamming replies to the Python and
    Perl groups, at least, I'd appreciate it. Most people know about him
    and have filtered his posts by now. Thanks.
    --
    Not really a wanna-be, but I don't know everything.
     
    Wanna-Be Sys Admin, Jan 3, 2010
    #4
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