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Comment: They need to understand your job. (Score 1) 249

by vmfedor (#45862795) Attached to: Do Non-Technical Managers Add Value?

I've had dozens of managers (I'm a software developer) and the only ones worth a damn were ones that used to hold a real technical job before moving into management. I can deal with their outdated technological knowledge and their sometimes dogged insistence on old methodologies because at its core the job hasn't changed, and they realize that. My technical managers kept the rest of the business off our backs and helped give us the space we needed.

My non-technical managers never quite understood the level of detail that we are immersed in on a daily basis. They were impossible to deal with because they were always focusing on vague strategies like 'better communication' or 'migrating to best-of-breed solutions' or some-such marking nonsense.

It all comes down to this: How can a person be a good manager if they don't understand what exactly it is that you do on a daily basis?

Comment: That's the way it's supposed to work (Score 1) 207

by vmfedor (#45638693) Attached to: Excite Kids To Code By Focusing Less On Coding

Teaching people to code by first teaching them a programming language is like teaching them about hammers before explaining that we're trying to build a house. Your programming languages are your toolbox, nothing more.

Perhaps the 'gee-whiz' factor of seeing the code first breeds more interest in children than the engineering process but to my mind it seems that we need to be teaching kids from the top-down if we're interested in creating a generation of good programmers. When kids learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript and then get their first website project written for a client (e.g. modifying the school website) they're shocked to learn that they're not going to be using cutting-edge libraries and that the vast majority of work is more boring frustration than actual magic. Young programmers, in my limited experience, do not like finding out that they don't get to use whatever tools they want to play with at the moment.

You can teach almost anyone to program but developing software solutions is something entirely different.

Comment: Old, shmold (Score 1) 629

by vmfedor (#45548013) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are We Older Experts Being Retired Too Early?

There's a lot of weird opinions in the comments I've read so far (wait a minute, am I on Slashdot?).

First: The poster wants to telecommute exclusively to do "hardware and network" stuff. That's why he can't find any work. Simple as that. Be willing to get your old ass to the office and you'll find a job.

Second: People argue until they're blue about "old workers" vs "young workers". The fact is that the "team" is what matters, believe it or not. At my job we needed to add a new programmer to our small team, and my boss made sure that I was involved in the interview process. We interviewed three potential candidates: One was a Harvard graduate, one was a very talented middle-aged programmer, and the last was a decently talented 30-something. We caught the Harvard graduate in a lie, so he was out. The middle-aged programmer was absolutely amazing; he would have brought a ton of experience and raw talent to the team, however he was "so much better" than the rest of us that it probably would have created problems in working together. We ended up going with the 30-something, and he's working out just great because he's on the same level as the rest of us.

Every team is unique, and being better than the rest is not always a good thing when you're concerned about getting work done.

Comment: Programmer vs Developer (Score 1) 347

by vmfedor (#42873267) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Alternative To the Canonical Computer Science Degree?

First of all, having a degree will help you get those first couple jobs until you gain more experience.

Beyond that, your attitude highlights the problem with the majority of "web developers" - they don't see themselves as computer scientists. This leads to inefficient, cobbled-together solutions. Web developers often want to "just make web sites" but never learn anything about the real skills of software development: requirements gathering, architecture and engineering, testing, deployments, etc. You end up being a web "programmer" but not a web "developer".

I'm not saying that a college degree will give you all of this, but what I am saying is that you shouldn't picture yourself apart from the rest of computer science.

Comment: Re:Brilliant idea (Score 1) 480

by vmfedor (#42638545) Attached to: Google Declares War On the Password
The way I handle this is to write down my passwords on an index card and carry it around in my wallet. They aren't the "real" passwords, though. The thing that I keep "in my head" is the algorithm to convert the plain-text passwords to the real password. For instance, an example algorithm could be "Add up the digits, multiply by 6, and prefix the password with that number and an exclamation mark. Add the second character of the plan text to the end of the password. Make the first character of the text uppercase." So, for example, on my index card it may say "baconator" but the "real" password is "54!Baconatora". In this way you can create long passwords but only have to remember one private key. And you get to carry around your passwords with you and never really have to worry about getting them stolen.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 755

by vmfedor (#35622370) Attached to: CMU Eliminates Object Oriented Programming For Freshman
Maybe if you had read the article, you would have seen this: " A proposed new course on object-oriented design methodology will be offered at the sophomore level for those students who wish to study this topic." It doesn't sound to me like CMU is interested in making OOP a mandatory area of study. It also doesn't sound to me like it's going to be taught at the junior or senior level either, based on the tone of that statement.

Comment: Really? (Score 2) 755

by vmfedor (#35621204) Attached to: CMU Eliminates Object Oriented Programming For Freshman
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the post... it sounds to me like OO techniques are only going to be taught in elective courses from now on. If that's the case, I think CMU is missing the fact that the majority of development work in the "real world" is done on already-existing platforms. Parallel/cloud computing and modular design may be the "next big thing", but what happens when the student gets their first job working with an application built with Java or .NET? Maybe in their ivory tower they can say "OO is dead" but in the real world, OO is very real.

Comment: Useful for Business or Social (Score 1) 336

by vmfedor (#29612799) Attached to: Initial Reviews of Google Wave; Neat, but Noisy
As others have pointed out in one way or another, the flexibility is what makes Wave so useful. Because who we haven't heard from are people that are using Wave in a semi-large office or project/group situation. Then I think its true productivity value will shine. To people not using it for work, it's really just IRC with a kick in the ass.

When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.