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Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won't Hire You (unless you can program)

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Replies to: Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won't Hire You (unless you can program)

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    "DOS lives on with the Windows command line cmd.exe (the command line is important to using Linux, and Mac owners should learn to use the terminal), and some facility with a command line, including the ability to move files, create directories, and compile and run programs, is part of my definition of advanced computer literacy. I will try to ensure that my children don't leave home without it."

    To me, these are simply arcane and unimportant details that I can pay other people to know. It's simply inefficient for me to be an expert on everything when this is a classic delegate-it-down task. Let the IT guy handle this. Don't waste my time.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    > To me, these are simply arcane and unimportant
    > details that I can pay other people to know. It's
    > simply inefficient for me to be an expert on everything
    > when this is a classic delegate-it-down task. Let the IT
    > guy handle this. Don't waste my time.

    An employee got a new computer and monitor yesterday and was setting it up with another co-worker. I walked in and congratulated him on his new system and asked him if he was going to go dual-monitor because he had one on his shelf and he said that he was going to try to get another 24 incher. The one on the shelf looked like a 19-incher. We said that it might be hard to get a second 24 inch monitor as people usually don't toss those.

    The other employee talked about his home setup - he had dual 26-inch displays hooked up to two computers, one for personal stuff and one to connect to the office. He complained about what a pain the KVM setup was. I mentioned that I had tried KVM and threw the whole thing out because it was a huge mess of wires and left the back of your computer desk a big tangle.

    So I suggested that he try Synergy which is an open source program to allow you to control multiple computers and monitors through one keyboard/mouse set. You configure how your monitors are physically set up and you can move from monitor to monitor and computer to computer based on moving to the edge of one monitor to the edge of another. I've been using it for about five or six years.

    He was very impressed with the setup that I showed him in the office. Then he had the inevitable question of how you get it to work at home to connect to the office when the software has to run on the same LAN. A lot of people working from home have to use VPN to get into their office and this partitions their network from their home network. Synergy uses the LAN to do the keyboard/mouse control so the computers have to be on the same LAN.

    I had solved that problem a long time ago using Virtual Machines. I set up a Virtual Machine on one or both systems to connect to the office. The host computer(s) are on the LAN but the VM(s) are connected to the office so that their networks are partitioned but their hosts aren't.

    His reaction was that he had never played around with Virtual Machines before and had never set one up. My response was that Virtual Machines have been consumer items for many years. Many bought Apple Macs but needed to run Windows applications. They could use Boot Camp but this didn't allow them to run Mac OS X and Windows at the same time so Parallels provided a Virtual Machine solution that allows you to run Mac OS X and Windows at the same time. The Windows license, of course, isn't free but we could just get a free Ubuntu installation for work. I told him that you're a software engineer and that anyone on our floor should be able to setup a Virtual Machine. He was still a bit cautious so I told him that he could always contact me.

    This is one of those cases where you aren't aware of a great solution unless someone knows about your problem and happens to have a solution. If you know a bit, you may be better off. It doesn't have to be in computers or a technical thing either. It could be about fixing your gas tank - the repair shop is always going to propose a new gas tank. BTW, this guy fixed holes in his exhaust with soup cans. I stopped accepting rides from this guy after he told me about the gas tank thing.

    There are modifications to things where it's easier to just do it yourself as the communications costs to someone else doing it may be more effort than doing it yourself.


    In the old days of single-board computers, you had a numeric keypad and a hex display. You were basically doing machine code programming.
  • PizzagirlPizzagirl Posts: 153
    edited May 2013
    You're not talking about programming, though. You're talking about facility with computers. No one has argued that facility with computers isn't a useful and necessary skill to have.

    I do think the dual setups you refer to are cool -- I just saw one in a coworker's office. My IT guy whose hourly rate is 1/5 of mine will get right on it. :-)
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    > You're not talking about programming, though. You're
    > talking about facility with computers. No one has
    > argued that facility with computers isn't a useful and
    > necessary skill to have.

    I'm talking about lots of useful skills - that something may or may not involve a computer doesn't really matter that much.

    > I do think the dual setups you refer to are
    > cool -- I just saw one in a coworker's office.
    > My IT guy whose hourly rate is 1/5 of mine
    > will get right on it. :-)

    I have 6 monitors in front of me right now. One has email, one has browsers, one has my development server, one has my work diary and status and the other is reserved for specifications that I need to reference. It's nice to not have to put a window in the background so that you can see your reference stuff and your work stuff at the same time. My setup is done with old or obsolete hardware.
  • LoremIpsumLoremIpsum Posts: 38
    edited May 2013
    some facility with a command line, including the ability to move files, create directories, and compile and run programs, is part of my definition of advanced computer literacy.

    Sure. And a "real" math person should know how to use a slide rule. The old ways are always the best -- for those who once invested a lot of time learning the old ways.
    I have 6 monitors in front of me right now. One has email, one has browsers, one has my development server, one has my work diary and status and the other is reserved for specifications that I need to reference. It's nice to not have to put a window in the background so that you can see your reference stuff and your work stuff at the same time.

    BC, you're obviously an old fogey like me. My sons use multiple virtual screens on their laptops and with a flick or a click pull up a different screen for each purpose. This is incredibly space and time efficient for them. I, unfortunately, can never keep track of where the heck everything is and sometimes start to get a headache just watching them work!
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    > Sure. And a "real" math person should know
    > how to use a slide rule. The old ways are always
    > the best -- for those who once invested a lot of
    > time learning the old ways.

    My son told me that the concept of the slide rule was pretty cool and the nice thing is that it would continue to work after an EMP attack.
  • LoremIpsumLoremIpsum Posts: 38
    edited May 2013
    My son told me that the concept of the slide rule was pretty cool and the nice thing is that it would continue to work after an EMP attack.

    What, don't you store your solar-powered calculator in a Faraday cage for just such a situation? ;)
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    > What, don't you store your solar-powered
    > calculator in a Faraday cage for just such a
    > situation?

    He mentioned that too.

    My calculator is an HP-67 - it has a built-in motorized card reader and writer. I haven't used it in probably a year. I mainly use my phone when I need a calculator now.
  • BeliavskyBeliavsky Posts: 14
    edited May 2013
    LoremIpsum wrote:
    Sure. And a "real" math person should know how to use a slide rule. The old ways are always the best -- for those who once invested a lot of time learning the old ways.

    Most of the quantitative analysts and programmers I know, including people in their thirties, use the command line a lot and are comfortable with it. There are canned stats packages that one can run using a GUI, but R, which is command-line-oriented, is increasingly popular and powerful as people contribute packages to it. Gnuplot is a command-line-oriented graphing program widely used by scientists today and is an alternative to a graphing calculator. Sometimes it is faster to type than to mouse around.
  • BCEagle91BCEagle91 Posts: 154
    edited May 2013
    A lot of math and computer science folks also use LaTeX for document preparation.

    We're a Linux development shop and most people use the command-line and xemacs for editing. It's more or less the same environment that developers have been using since the 1980s (or maybe a little earlier).
  • ConsolationConsolation Posts: 75
    edited May 2013
    You guys didn't use PDP-9s, ELFs, KIMs and PDP-15s or IBM 360s?

    I used IBM 360s. When I started working in the software industry, I used VM for my daily work, although the company's software--an extremely successful system sorting utility being the primary product--was designed to run on the "real" machines. :)

    My first home computer was a Zeos something or other. IIRC, it was a DOS machine running the first version of Windows. I remember having to use some kind of Mac at work occasionally. I hated it. It was fine as long as nothing went wrong, but if you had a problem it was impossible to get in there and fix it. At the time, I much preferred DOS, where you could get in and do stuff.

    Now, I don't want to be bothered. :)
  • LoremIpsumLoremIpsum Posts: 38
    edited May 2013
    Most of the quantitative analysts and programmers I know, including people in their thirties, use the command line a lot and are comfortable with it.

    And my sons (19 and 23) prefer to hand-code their html, css, php and javascript rather than rely on the horrible code that Dreamweaver's visual editor generates (although they do use Dreamweaver for its site-maintenance features). But then you would expect programmers and quants to be comfortable with such methods -- for most folks, however, the time required to properly learn this approach is not justified by the few general-purpose things that might benefit from it.
    A lot of math and computer science folks also use LaTeX for document preparation.

    LaTeX is great! My younger son at Brown uses it to prepare his differential equations homework. I wish LaTeX would be incorporated into web standards.
  • RacinReaverRacinReaver Posts: 31
    edited May 2013
    Strategically, one can be fully capable of understanding what could be done with technology and how it could enhance a company's processes or products, without having to actually know how to do the specific programming. There's a concept called being a visionary. I visualize things all the time and then have other people (whether internally or externally) put all the small pieces together. It's more important that I have the vision than that I have the technical skills. They can be bought at a far lower price.

    I agree, this is exactly my point. I don't think it's necessary for most people to know how to write a recursive algorithm. I do think, however, it is useful for people to understand that sort of concept.
    I do think the dual setups you refer to are cool -- I just saw one in a coworker's office. My IT guy whose hourly rate is 1/5 of mine will get right on it. :-)

    Is this the attitude your entry level employees (who may very well earn less than your IT guy) should have?


    As a side note, I've played with LaTeX a bit, written up a number of solution sets and most of a paper in it. One of my major issues has been collaboration. If you're in a field like math, it's easy. For me, in an engineering field, most people aren't familiar with it, so I need to send a pdf version, have them mark it up, and then go back and do all the edits myself. I also tried out LyX, which is a semi-WYSIWYG type editor, but it seemed all of the visual-based shortcuts they added were all the ones I didn't want.
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