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Comment Constructive feedback? (Score 1) 466

I taught myself BASIC at 5 and was writing servers and web applications at 14... I've worked full-time as a systems engineer and web developer for the past 9 years. I've taught myself everything I know and always worked alone... I've never had another set of eyes on my code except for one project, and after they saw the first 10 lines of code they passed. Yeah. That's all the feedback I've ever received, and it was completely useless.

How can I get critical feedback - not just a list of everything I'm doing wrong, but actual constructive feedback on how I can add/change/improve those shortcomings? It SHOULD be a centerpiece of my job, but it hasn't happened once. Between that, and being self-taught, I have no intention on paying for a programming course.

I've always been able to program ANYTHING and make it work. I'm torn between the fact that I've been able to build tons of complicated applications over the years and I'm doing some really cool work with "Big Data" processing right now, but feel like my code is probably garbage. I wasn't hired as a developer and never took a programming class, but it has always the majority of what I do day-to-day...
I took compsci in high school and it made everything that I loved about computers seem so miserable and mundane and boring and painful - their teaching method sucked and I'd never have chosen this industry if that was my introduction to this field!!)

The final kicker here? I work for the research institution of the computer science program at a major university. And not a single person I work along-side writes code for a living. I don't need feedback to know I need a new job, but I do need some suggestions on how I can improve my code when I don't have anyone to help me :-(

Comment College degree != ability (Score 1) 358

Funny that when I went to the slashdot 15th anniversary meetup in Brooklyn last year, two of the founders were there - one with a masters of fine arts, the other a PhD in divinity.

I'm a systems engineer / data scientist and I have a bachelor or arts degree in political science (and I totally love my job!). ^_-

Comment Re: And in other news... (Score 2) 506

I'm a first-generation Quebecois in America (ugh!) and my French = NULL. I studied it some on my own as a kid and took it for 5 years in school. I also studied Latin for 2 years, and German and Chinese for 1. I tried, I really did.
I can't speak a single damn one of them and can barely read a tourist map.
I studied linguistics for 2 years and was very good at it, but it simply feels impossible to learn another language. The amount of rote memorization, unusual grammar, and idioms makes the task seem insurmountable; I'm done trying. I guess I'm just lazy.

A joke they told in my language classes was that a person who spoke three languages was trilingual, a person who spoke two was bilingual, and a person who spoke one was an American. Without having exposure to many different languages at an early age - not just exposure but living amongst them - Americans are pretty much doomed when it comes to learning a second language. Before the age of 4 children can acquire just about any language with ease, and this decreases until the age of 11 or 12 or so - after that, its really really hard to learn another.

It sucks living in New York City and feeling like I'm the only person who doesn't speak another language, but that's just life. At least I speak only English and not only French.

Comment Re:Programming as a vocation! (Score 1) 491

I'd love to have your big corporate budget, but I don't.
I'd love to have your department full of programmers, but I don't.
I'd love to have your nice long deadlines, but I don't.
I'd love to have a professional development budget - hell, **I** want some professional development!

I don't have the time to train someone. When I have 100 resumes to flip through, and 20% look even remotely qualified, shouldn't I be able to find at least ONE programmer who knows wtf they're doing?? If I don't hire someone, I end up doing the project myself, working with technology that I don't know. If I can do it, why can't someone else?! Do your damn job - you learn by NEEDING to learn something new to get the job done, and by DOING it. I'm not going to "train" you by doing the job for you.

Comment Re:Programming as a vocation! (Score 1) 491

I am a systems engineer/project manager in the software dev institute of a major research university - I don't expect to hire an out-of-the-box worker, and I want the project to be just as much a learning experience for them as it is a paid job, by giving them the opportunity to analyze and propose their own solutions under my leadership/guidance. If there is a particular technology they want to learn and that I agree is a good tool for the job, then by all means I encourage them to use it. I need them to be interested enough and self-motivated enough to learn the skills they need to get the job done. Otherwise it'll just be me reading the manual and telling them how to do the job; in that situation, it's easier for me to do it myself.

When hiring, my three basic criteria are: are you smart, are you motivated, and have you done any projects on your own time (which speaks to the previous two). It's usually easy to tell if they're fluffing a skill or not because if they have actual experience, they are specific about which technologies they've used. A candidate who puts "Linux" isn't the same as one who lists "Debian"

Comment Re:Programming as a vocation! (Score 1) 491

Compsci has basically nothing to do with computers, and that's half the problem. Students think that when they take up computer science, they'll be studying, you know, actual technology. It is far more useful to an employer (me) that a worker can write SQL (3rd year DB students with +90% GPAs who cant GROUP a query?!), not just use some query-building IDE software for a class project that does the heavy-lifting for them. I need someone who can intersect and transform arrays - they can't even do that. The crap I did at the age of 15, these college students have never even seen before! I don't expect them to have that experience, but comon, if you want to work in this field you gotta know SOMETHING outside the classroom!

This is why I can't find qualified students. If I need someone to sniff a network, it's far more useful to me that they know how to use a damn sniffer than for them to know the OSI model but can't make heads or tails of a packet payload. Is the OSI model useful? Sure. Does it get the job done? Not at all.

Comment Programming as a vocation! (Score 5, Interesting) 491

Colleges teach high-level theories and models and UMLs and chess board Java CS projects - useless to 99.9% of tech employers. So many compsci students I see come into class half-asleep, barely pay attention in class, and don't seem to think much about it once they leave the classroom. They think they're going to make a ton of money as .NET developers by using drag-and-drop software like Visual Studio. I am looking to hire 3 student programmers right now, and even amongst our best candidates, they can't write a simple 4-line script to output a file to screen. They are very, very smart students, but they don't have any skills! Employers need workers with practical experience, and in general WANT workers who have lots of experience with specific software. Colleges don't teach software suites, they teach theories. Programming and information technology should be taught as vocations... high-paying, of course.

Comment Mark sees a future without Facebook (Score 1) 199

Younger people ( say 35 ) have been fleeing Facebook in droves, because it's been around a while, and not "cool" when your PARENTS have joined, friended you, friended your friends, and then gossip more to you about what they're doing than you know yourself. Because they're old and have no life. I deal with this every day. Needless to say, Mark is keeping 'Whatsapp' separate because he knows that Facebook will be toast within the next 10 years and he doesn't want to drag this investment down by attaching it to an ailing brand. Wise move.

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