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Comment: Re:I have both (Score 1) 392

by machineghost (#47919653) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

I think there's a special clarity one gets by being able to express the same idea in different ways and choosing the simplest -- whether that language is Lisp or English.

Amen. As a Literature major I've long felt that my essay writing skills have helped me write easier to understand and better documented code.

Comment: Re:Welp. (Score 1) 268

by machineghost (#47911999) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

So let's say there's a one in five chance of a burned CD going bad within the first 20 years (total B.S. number, just trying to prove a point; the real number is likely worse). That means, in addition to you, there are also three other people out there, also thinking people spout "that same tired crap".

But one guy out there just lost his life's photos/videos. Welcome to the joys of backing up on unstable media that are just "fine" most of the time.

Comment: Re:Actually a good thing. (Score 1) 215

Here's the thing: words have multiple meanings. You can cherry-pick those definitions to "prove" KS isn't investing, or you could pick other definitions to prove the opposite.

For instance, let's take Wiktionary: if you look at the first definition instead of the second, it's "The act of investing, or state of being invested". Follow the hyperlink to investing and you'll see: "To spend money, time, or energy into something, especially for some benefit or purpose." Now, to be fair that's definition #5, but since definition #1 is "To clothe or wrap (with garments)." I think it's safe to assume the definitions aren't in order of relevance :-)

And really, the order doesn't even matter, nor does the dictionary. I imagine if I looked at some (if not all) of those other dictionaries, there'd be a similar definition of investing that does qualify for KS. But that wouldnt' prove you're "wrong"; it'd just prove that the word has multiple definitions.

So while "investing" may mean "purchasing an asset" to you, to many others it's closer to "spending money in the hope of a positive future outcome". Both definitions of the word are valid, even though once implies that KS is investing and the other implies it isn't.

Comment: Re:In other words....Don't look like a drug traffi (Score 4, Insightful) 462

by machineghost (#47884077) Attached to: CBC Warns Canadians of "US Law Enforcement Money Extortion Program"

You're missing the point: here in America you're *supposed* to be able to "do things that make you look like you are hauling drugs". You're supposed to be able to do whatever you want, as long as it's legal, no matter how illegal it looks.

Let's say I look like a burglar because I locked my keys in the house and now I have to climb in a window: the police have every right to stop me. If I'm (somehow) using my wallet to try and jimmy the window open, the police have a right to seize that wallet. But once I've shown that I'm not a burglar, I should get my wallet back.

The point of this article is, that's not actually how it works. From TFA:

"You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.”"

Comment: Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 1) 546

by machineghost (#47830187) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

The development of robust, efficient, and maintainable software more than just knowing how to mash the keyboard and hit "compile". The theory of application for those APIs, the theory underlying data structures and algorithms, theories of architecture, etc.. With out these your projects will suffer as you constantly reinvent the wheel and "learn from your mistakes."

Amen, but ...

Yet, those who went the self-teaching route most often skip the theory, skip the mental exercise, narrowly focusing on syntax and APIs.

Now you just made a logical leap that I can't follow. Especialy when we both agree:

I think many colleges are missing the mark on providing necessary experiences encountered by those in the trenches.

So is there more to being a good programmer than just syntax and APIs? Absolutely. But you'll need to give me some sort of evidence if you want to claim that fresh college graduates have more of the practical "theory of application" knowledge than an un-schooled coder, since that goes directly in the face of my experience. The way I see it, a college graduate is more likely to know how to implement a linked list (which they likely never will do), while the self-taught coder of the same age has at least worked on some projects and learned from some "reinvent the wheel" mistakes.

Comment: Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 1) 546

by machineghost (#47829481) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

Maybe that analogy holds up for some companies; as I said, there are companies that need computer scientists who can code just like there are companies that *need* biologists, architects, or artists that can code. I want the Adobe Illustrator team to have artists on board, and I want Google's search team to have computer scientists on board.

But the reason your analogy falls apart is that not all applications are Google search. At all of the software companies I've ever worked for, and most of the ones my friends have worked at, knowing big O notation is *completely* useless. In contrast knowing that you want to cache your jQuery selector before starting a for loop (vs. re-querying on every iteration) is pretty important. But even still, I've interviewed plenty of developers with major companies on their resumes that didn't even know that much.

The simple truth is that a large number, if not the majority, of applications you use and websites you visit have team members with no CS degree. Some of them don't even have a person with a CS degree on the team. But those applications/websites aren't crashing and burning because they lack academic knowledge: they're (successfully) powering your life.

Comment: Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 1) 546

by machineghost (#47821081) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

This is EXACTLY the right approach. Not that everyone needs a "crack team of commando programmers" necessarily, but just that every programmer should write for maintability/readability primarily first. Then, AFTER looking at real performance metrics (and not just "Bob thinks it's probably slow because of X") specific performance pain points should be addressed, and in those areas only readability/maintainability should be sacrified for the benefit of performance.

But again, if you get to where you have a performance issue, and it's possible to solve it by throwing money at a hardware solution (which isn't always the case), it's very likely that you should throw the money at the hardware, and not at a programmer to fix the issue. Not all the time of course, but with the cost of hardware dropping and the cost of programmers rising, most of the time the hardware solution will be cheaper.

Comment: Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 2) 546

by machineghost (#47819873) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

The amount of data and the complexity of the calculations involved demanded either a machine with a large number of compute cycles or some nifty CS theory-style rejiggering on the back end. In the end, the whole thing will run nicely on a modern, fairly average laptop as opposed to requiring the processing power of a huge server (or cluster).

I can't speak to your case specifically, but there's a trend in our industry (because of virtualization, AWS, etc.) to do the exact opposite of what you did. The basic equation of why goes like this:

X = the cost of a programmer for a month (or however long it took), including not just their salary but also their medical, 401k, the fractional cost of their manager's time, etc.
Y = the cost of the cheapest AWS machine you could get away with for the next 5 years

If X > Y then you're wasting money/your programmer's time by making them optimize the code.

So again, I can't speak to your specific case, but a basic truth is that people are expensive and hardware is cheap, so it takes a lot of hardware to make an optimizing programmer worthwhile.

Comment: Re:False premise (Score 1) 546

by machineghost (#47819551) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

Well, to be fair my current company is a "20ish people shop" :-) But that being said, my previous company was 100+ people, had an HR department, and was just as in need of qualified programmers (and just as willing to hire candidates without degrees).

I think you've had experiences with one specific type of company, but you shouldn't over-generalize your experience to assume the whole industry is identical.

Also, keep in mind that for many Silicon Valley companies these days, HR isn't the gateway, the on-site recruiter is. And that guy measures his success by how many qualified people he gets hired, so you can bet that (unless his employer tells him otherwise) he's not going to turn down opportunities simply because they lack a degree.

Comment: Re:False premise (Score 2) 546

by machineghost (#47819425) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

Since I'm directly involved in the hiring for my company I can tell you for a fact that we are desperate for qualified candidates, and their college status is like item #25 on the list of things we care about. Given the incredibly competative job market we have, the idea that we (or any Silicon Valley company) would turn down an otherwise-qualified applicant simply because they lack a diploma is laughable.

Now, that being said, we have multiple PhDs on staff, so it's not like we're anti-education. I'm just saying, when you can't hire enough qualified people, the last thing you want to do is throw up hiring roadblocks that don't server any real purpose.

Comment: Re:Is Coding Computer Science? Of Course! (Score 2) 546

by machineghost (#47819343) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

I'm assuming the vast majority of programming jobs require the ability to code, and no further domain specific knowledge. This is just based on my reading of many, many programming job listings over the years.

I'm sure there are jobs that require CS knowledge, just as I'm sure there are (programming-related) jobs that require Biology knowledge or Architecture knowledge or whatever. But all of those are niches: a very small subset of all programming jobs require those specific areas of knowledge. ALL programming jobs require coding though, and even among the ones that require domain-specific knoweldge, I'd imagine the bulk involve a lot more coding than anything else.

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