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Re: [vox] [OT] Learning to program
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Re: [vox] [OT] Learning to program



begin Joel Baumert <kender@geeksource.net> 
> On Mon, Aug 26, 2002 at 12:13:25AM -0700, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> > begin Matthew Johnson <matthew@psychohorse.com> 
> > > On Sunday 25 August 2002 13:38, Micah Cowan wrote:
> > > > matthew johnson writes:
> >  
> > i guess i'm the poster child for doing it yourself.  never took a CS
> > class in my life.
> 
> When would a tree data structure be better than a hashed data structure?

but joel, that was my point.  i learn when the need arises.  that's the
fundamental process of a person who learns on his own.

i just googled for the answer.  but i could've just have easily posted
it to voxt-tech.  you just illustrated my point for me.

but to illustrate my point even further, can you tell me when it's
better to use a spinlock than a semaphore when you want to lock
something in the linux kernel?

or can you tell me how to set raw mode for input with the ncurses
library?

or can you tell me how to initialize the gtk+ library?

or can you tell me how to read a non-child process's memory directly?

even you, educated to the hilt, would have to google or ask someone to
find the answers to most of these questions which i happen to know,
since i have experience with kernel hacking, ncurses, gtk+, and
ptrace/pread.


that's not to say i'm a better programmer.  you're teeming with formal
education and do this stuff for a living.  i think it's pretty clear who
the better programmer is.

but remember -- this is your JOB.  it's my PAST TIME.  i do it simply
out of the sheer enjoyment.

my assertion is this: while i may not have the depth of knowledge you
have, i can read books.  i can use google.  i can post to vox-tech.  i
enjoy learning new things.  that would make me a valuable programmer,
whether i have formal education or not.

and to be fair to me, i've met quite a few CS undergrads who don't like
what they do.  comparing notes, i'm a MUCH better programmer than these
people who are formally educated.  and believe it or not, i have quite a
lot of experience which you yourself don't have.  my breadth of
programming knowledge is quite large.

joel, i'd be the LAST person to dis formal education.  look at me.
i wouldn't have been in college so damned long if i felt differently.

however, i would be the first to say that desire is the mother of
the good.

> > don't laugh.  nobody knew anything back then.  she had no idea what she
> > was doing, and i greatly appreciate the sentiment even though i begged
> > her not to sign me up for the class.  i ended up spending the whole day
> > drawing naughty pictures with the turtle.
> 
> My first language was LOGO on the Atari in High School.  We did some
> BASIC.  I learned assembly from looking at the copy protection methods
> of PC games.

i have a similar experience.  i learned assembly language to cheat on
ultima II, but after that, i annoted huge portions of the apple ][ disk
operating system to figure out how to circumvent copy protection.  i
learned how to set non-standard address and data markers to their
default values and how to get the floppy drive to skip over
intentionally munged sectors.

> I then learned C/C++ at the community college.  At the
> point I came up to Davis I had been doing business programming for
> a couple of years, but the courses that I took at Davis really help
> hone my skills.

i originally learned C to modify getty and login on systems i hacked
into to let me in with the password "pfloyd" as any user i wanted.  it
also grabbed passwords and dumped them to file.
 
> > it's a past time for some.  it's the daily grind for others.   just go
> > with the flow.
> 
> definite wisdom.  Matt if your goal it to program past the 
> visual basic level as a job, I would suggest that a degree
> is CS is a good idea.  You will probably be able to get a
> job without one, but you may not have as many choices because
> a BS is becoming a basic qualification for many programming
> jobs.
> 
> If you are doing it for fun, you can either learn on your
> own or take a couple of community college classes.  The
> three that I would take are a course that teaches C, one 
> that teaches assembly, and one that teaches data structures.
> 
> Joel

i agree that assembly is a remarkable language to learn, because it
really gives you glimpse of how a program interacts with the hardware,
but i think it's definite overkill for matt.  at least at this point.

pete
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