[svlug] (forw) Linux at Work

Scott DuBois rhcom.linux at gmail.com
Thu Jan 29 10:32:46 PST 2015

On Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 11:20:15AM -0500, Steve Litt wrote:
> On Thu, 29 Jan 2015 00:06:51 -0800
> Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> > Quoting Scott DuBois (rhcom.linux at gmail.com):
> > 
> > > Being 'exposed' to something or taking a class in it doesn't mean
> > > after class I would want to touch it again. Someone else makes the
> > > curriculum based on whatever criteria they use, supposedly what the
> > > industry wants. However, the industry is constantly complaining
> > > that students are coming out of the schools not knowing the things
> > > that employers _want_ them to know; so where is the disconnect?
> > 
> > Yeah, dunno.  All I can say is that there's been a major disconnect
> > between academic computing (in most places) and real computing as long
> > as I can remember.  And, most firms in my experience, your academic
> > credentials being in computer fields really isn't worth much to hiring
> > managers.
> I have nothing but great things to say about my programming education
> at Santa Monica Community College, 1983-1987 (not a degree, I was just
> taking classes for twenty bucks a class). IIRC they offered only
> Pascal, Cobol and Basic (I dropped Basic, three classes were too much
> for a guy who worked full time). It would be years before they offered
> C. So yes, there was a disconnect. BUT...

Oh, my ed at Delta, Modesto JC, and Las Positas wasn't bad. I studied a variety
of subjects from mechanical engineering, architecture, and automotive
electronics (on board computers). Some of it ended up being applicable later,
some not. Most of my employers never took any of my education into account; they
didn't care. I was left feeling like I spent a lot of time and frustration
driving long distances to get to class including homework, and the financial
investment for nothing but a personal warm fuzzy feeling; like wetting your
pants in a dark suit.

Some of the instructors I had were great, some not so much. Some obviously were
excited to be there after years of working in the field or choosing teaching as
a career. Others, just like anything else, it was a job. I had a calculus
teacher who was flat out mean and talked down to the students like the ground
she walked on should be worshipped and we should give thanks for the fact that
we were learning from her. I had a chemistry teacher mark me down for putting
_too much_ effort into my class papers because I bound them with covers and
presented them as professional as I could.

However, none of that had to do with the actual 'school' itself, that was the

> Santa Monica College taught me (and everyone else in the class who
> would listen) all about modular programing. About the evils of global
> variables (in Pascal, obviously not in Cobol). About the process of
> functional decomposition. Those of us who were listening in class
> entered the industry knowing how to translate a problem domain into a
> program FAST.

You got 'lucky' and had a good instructor or a syllabus put together by someone
who had an 'idea' of what would be useful to you at the time from their
experience. It's hard to determine what languages will be predominant in the
future or the direction technology will go.

> All the UCLA grads failed horribly. Hadn't a clue. They told me they
> could write me a compiler, but they'd never been asked to do anything
> like what I asked them to do. 

Their instructors made a determination of what skills were important to learn.
Tech is a _huge_ field, no one is going to know how to solve everything. Reading
from a file then writing that data (modified) back out isn't too bad, I've done
it. I think I have the code in my Github repos somewhere. I understand the point
you are making though.

I'm still waiting for someone to respond to my Android Image post. I'll take any
good ideas.

> I called a few of the better Santa Monica College students I knew who
> were still in Santa Monica College. Every one of them either completed
> the test correctly, or were well on their way when the 30 minute bell
> went off.
> So it wasn't just me.

Oh, no, not just you. Your test exemplified the style of material that is
presented to those students. If you would have asked for pseudo for a compiler
what would your results have been like? Sometimes the instructor gets some input
as to what gets instructed and sometimes someone up the food chain decides and
the instructor just regurgitates it to the class. Sometimes the school has
contracts with corporations to 'push' their products to the students as a
curriculum. All schools need money, and corporation are willing to go there to
push their products; schools are not necessarily unbiased when finacials are
involved and they're _always_ involved.

> I've always been grateful for the tremendous career education Santa
> Monica Community College gave me, even though it was hard to bust into
> industry without C knowledge. Because the mindset, tactics and process
> of programming are a heck of a lot more important than a specific
> syntax.

That's great! I tried like hell to get a gig in drafting after _many_ years
learning the trade including education in early versions of AutoCAD in the mid
80's. I always got shot down by the guys who had been in the industry for years
and then went back and took a few classes in AutoCAD to stay current. I even won
multiple awards at various shows for the work I did; none of it mattered. Not
the schools fault, my educators loved me and I got plenty of praise. They just
couldn't help me bridge the gap between education and profession.

Shit happens, press on.

EFF ID: 1731778

"The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has limits."
-- Einstein
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