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Comment: Different jobs, different tools (Score 1) 204

by noda132 (#45185489) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do You Use Markdown and Pandoc?

If I'm writing a paper, I use LaTeX. Yes, the macros are a pain, but I find it takes less time than writing a paper in, say, Word (page breaks, sections, image placement, etc. need only be written once in LaTeX, but in Word they need to be revisited at each draft); and LaTeX's output quality meets my standards (while Word's, say, doesn't).

If I'm writing documentation, I use Markdown. It's simple and it has links. The output quality is far lower, because I expect readers to prefer reading plain HTML anyway -- a PDF would be inconvenient for them, even if it would be prettier.

Generalizing those notions:

1. The best tool for the job is the one that lets you produce and edit content as quickly as possible, while meeting your requirements. In other words: if monospace, left-justified text files are satisfactory, you should probably be using plaintext. When starting a document, first pick a set of features, then choose the tool that has those features and gives you the fastest workflow.

2. Distributing in multiple formats shouldn't be a concern: you can convert pretty much any open format to any other. Your _master_ copy needs to encode all the features you use.

Comment: Volunteer Overseas (Score 1) 352

by noda132 (#26318499) Attached to: Interesting Computer Science Jobs?

A CS degree may seem mundane, but the skills are in such demand you can do just about anything.

After graduating, I got sent overseas for six months to work for an AIDS-related organization in sub-Saharan Africa. The challenges were enormous and often unforeseeable; and while the job description suggested I would be doing nothing but programming, most of my job involved interacting with people.

For any white person volunteering overseas, the experience is extremely stressful and not at all glamourous--you won't save any lives, you won't earn bucketloads of cash, and congratulations will be few and far between. But overseas volunteers experience and learn things nobody else can possibly understand: your life would be changed forever.

Starting your search? In Canada, begin by looking for the CIDA internships page (the place to look); in the States, maybe investigate Peace Corps; in both, flip through CUSO-VSO and the myriad search websites Google will find for you. Organizations that pay you a stipend or salary are likely to provide both you and the recipient country with a much more useful placement (not to mention, they won't break the bank); unfortunately, though logically, those organizations are stricter about whom they interview and hire.

Watch the ground for snakes, and don't drink the water; why don't they teach this stuff in Computer Programming 101?

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman