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[aclug-L] Re: Weekly C quiz (or what is CS)

[aclug-L] Re: Weekly C quiz (or what is CS)

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To: discussion@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: [aclug-L] Re: Weekly C quiz (or what is CS)
From: Larry Bottorff <mrprenzl@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 00:22:16 -0600
Reply-to: discussion@xxxxxxxxx

Brian Chapman wrote:

> I think that you've made a flawed assumption in the fundamental reasoning
> of why your here. From your words it sounds as if you think that what you
> are learning is simply a training session for a job in the computer
> industry. I don't mean this to sound harsh so please bare with me. I wish
> more fellow CS students would understand the following. To master a
> programming language is not simply an exercise in brute force memorization
> of syntactical constructs but the understanding of a paradigm used as a
> basis to solve any number of problems at hand. You see, the road to
> becoming a "crack C programmer" does not lie in remembering to end every
> statement with a ';' and not forgetting to include the appropriate header
> file. The road to becoming a "crack programmer" (not C specifically) lies
> in understanding the processes needed to accurately solve a given problem.
> You'll have a hard time understanding the technologies you've mentioned if
> you don't understand how their fundamental paradigms differ (especialy if
> you can't understand C's). Its about picking the right tool for the job or
> developing your own through the scientific method.
I think I've said some trigger words and you've thrown me in with the
merceneries. I started grad school at MU (U of Missouri@Columbia). There
I met some world-class people who were masters of C and all manner of
Unix systems/network programming. I had to leave due to my wife's career
(coming here to Kansas). I started up again at WSU to try to match my
experience at Mizzou. I'm trying to get to the "next level", whatever
that is. I've got four Stevens and a few other deep Unix lore books. I
know it's a greater paradigm, not just a bag of tricks. I'd like to
eventually be someone that could contribute to a serious Open Source
project. I like the Chaos Computer Club's "How to become a hacker"
statement. It's about C and kernels and Stevens for years and years. No
Microsoft short-cuts.

But I also had an interesting discussion with a U of Wash CS student
(former Cal Tech physicist, knew Feynman) who hated C and all manner of
"guts hanging out" languages and programming. She said the point of
computing is to evolve to high level languages, not make a Zen-Kung Fu
temple out of some relatively primitive toolset just to be a purity
cultist. I'm sure she's right to some degree. But Microsoft and other
"feature pushers" have given computer evolution a bad name. I see Linux
and Open Source as a "step back and regroup on solid ground" movement,
cut the fat, the cute and fluffy and get back to basics. Unfortunately,
dogma creep has set in, and any progress that has a shine is seen as
flab or flim-flam.

For a good five years now, I've been trying to get a compass reading on
the computer world. I run into all flavors of zealots who have no sense
of objectivity towards evaluating the greater computer world or its
trends. Bias galore. Mainly it's skill set protection. An InfoWorld
editorial talked about how programmers ofter give bad advise, simply to
protect or expand a skill set, not do what's right for the employer. I
said in a email response that most programmers work their butts off to
get to guru status, because the real world isn't kind to geeks, i.e.,
programmers don't like being vulnerable, looked-down-on novices.
Pointy-haired bosses need to know you're valuable, otherwise they can
get ornery.

> I've been trying to help some of my friends in CS class, but I feel like
> I'm wasting my time because I doubt they understand what it's really all
> about. One has even confessed that she doesn't want to be a programmer. So
> I guess I'm doing little more than helping her get a good grade now.
> *sigh*
I feel like a fingerling in a fish hatchery at WSU Comp Sci. It's a very
impersonal, mercenary environment. If I stopped going tomorrow no one
would notice. But I've dealt with worse. At my original college (NIU @
DeKalb, Illinois), the comp sci department office had no doors, just a
tiny ticket booth-style window with a slot to shove paperwork back and
forth. It's nice you're mentoring people, but I've just seen a factory
so far.
> And lastly, in time you will learn to feel sorry for VB programmers rather
> than envy them.

I quit a job over VB. VB is Satan's revenge.

Larry Bottorff

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