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Comment Robots and Video Games (Score 2) 140

I was involved with a research meta-analysis during my graduate coursework and we found that students are overwhelmingly more receptive to learning programming when they have something visual that they can use to associate the code that they write to something actually happening. We didn't look at what kinds of problems or what visual output works best, but my opinion is that you could start with something like Lego Mindstorms (which has/had a drag-and-drop interface that can be used to arrange blocks of logic) or do some kind of video game programming. I learned via a tool called Jeroo [1] which was basically a simple video game that required input via programming rather than from controllers. You could also take some kind of open-source simple video game, remove some chunks of code, and have the students re-implement the code that was removed. You can use this as a building exercise, so they get to build their own video game that they can play by the time that the course is over. [1] -

Comment Tell her about you (Score 1) 698

When I think of the things that I wish I knew about my family that have passed, I wish I knew more about their life. The struggles they faced, the decisions they made, and the joyous times they had. An important part of those things, though, is the rationale behind decisions and what was learned from the outcome. It's great that I have heard stories about my grandparents, for example, but I have no way to go back and ask why they did what they did or if they, in retrospect, would've made a different decision and how they think that decision would've changed their lives.

Comment Think about what you want to do (Score 2, Interesting) 293

It may be too early in your education to know what you want to do in your career, but I would start looking in to areas where you can specialize. Client/server architecture will always be a skill that looks good. If you want to go this route, look into learning Java Enterprise Edition. UI design is good to know, but with abundance of WYSIWYG editors that are available now, writing UIs is becoming less of a skill. UI design theory is still pertinent even if the coding skills are going the way of the dodo. Some other skills that will come in handy are writing web services, database interaction (with JDBC and JPA, both good to know), and multi-threading. I would also recommend the book Head First Design Patterns to get started on learning how to design software (as opposed to just writing software).

I would agree with what a lot of people have been saying, though. The best thing that you can do is put what you know in to practice. Start out writing a small application for yourself. Write unit tests.Do some code coverage analysis on the code and make sure you are completely covered. You can start with Cobertura. Get to know what APIs are available in JSE. I'm assuming that in an academic environment you are using the latest JSE (6), so I would also look into familiarizing yourself with JSE 1.4. There are some major differences between 1.4 and 5 (and not a whole lot of major differences between 5 and 6), and if you are working on legacy code in the future, it helps to know what differences there are. Write an app in whatever you are used to using, write it again with JSE 1.4. Check out an open source project and debug it. Get code coverage on the project and write tests to cover more lines of code. Most OSS projects would be happy to integrate tests that increase their code coverage. Look through the bugs that have been logged against the project. Pick something small, fix the bug, and submit patches. Get familiar with build systems like Maven 2 or ANT. That should keep you busy until next semester.

Comment Re:Depressing, but not uncommon (Score 1) 1251

Let's think about this practically. Will this really have that much of a negative impact? I see this as an opportunity to improve our post-secondary education system. If there is a chance that someone who is barely able to graduate can sue the school for not finding a job, wouldn't that be a catalyst to increase the difficulty of classes? Wouldn't that drive universities, colleges, trade schools, etc. to require that their students excel before they are turned out into the workplace? Wouldn't these changes strengthen the value of having a degree? I say that the system should take this as a sign that maybe it's too easy to get a degree and it's time to bring back the challenge.

To supplement the parent post's McDonald's reference, Wal-Mart managers (a position which requires a college education, such as the one Ms. Thompson received) make pretty good bank. My first IT job offer that I got after I graduated with my Bachelor's degree actually had a smaller salary and required longer work hours than being a salaried Wal-Mart manager (which I had looked into since I worked at Wal-Mart throughout college). In fact, the store manager raked in a 6-figure income.

Comment Re:Work Experience (Score 1) 834

As someone that recently made the decision, I have to agree with the general message here. A master's degree is a great investment, but it probably will not pay off immediately. There is an advantage and a disadvantage because you look like a more attractive prospect to some companies, but sometimes you look too good and it sets a psychology that they will have to pay you an exorbitant salary to acquire/keep you as an employee. It is going to come into play more when you are up for a promotion in 5 years or so, because someone with a master's degree looks much more appropriate for a management or senior position. I would recommend getting your master's if you really want it, as it is difficult to do a master's degree while working full time in the IT industry. The best thing to do if you decide to get your master's would be to work a part-time/co-op/intern position at a respectable IT company so you get the experience and the degree.

Comment Re:Be Proactive (Score 1) 374

You might also want to look into applicable industry certifications. I can't speak to the C++ world, but in the Java world there is the SCJP certification that would look good and show that you know what you're doing despite not having a degree. Likewise, in the Microsoft world there is the MCSE certification. To break into the general field of computers, you could look into A+ certification (or any of the CompTIA certifications). Likewise, if you can do any kind of training that is recognized by the industry, that would definitely help out.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Steve Jobs Dead? (

evilklown writes: MacRumors' live feed was hacked during the Macworld keynote, with hackers posting messages such as "STEVE JOBS JUST DIED" and other messages about Jobs' health, as well as generally inane messages.

Comment about taxes? (Score 2, Insightful) 2369

The thing you should consider is whether your stock increases are out pacing inflation. If you have neither lost nor made anything in 10 years, your money that you invested has less value now. However, if you put that money in a high-yield savings account with no earning cap, chances are that the money will be worth more now than when you initially invested. For example, if you purchased $10,000 (US) in stock ten years ago, it would have to be worth $13,422.27 today to pace inflation according to The savings account calculator at shows that, over 10 years (at today's APR of 3.55%) you would have approximately $14,169 in 10 years. You can imagine how that scales over the next 40 years. I say cash out your stocks now and put your money in a savings account if you want a sure thing.

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