Thursday, 17 July 2014

07:51 - Barbara and I were watching Dawson’s Creek last night. We’re in season four, and all the high school kids are doing college applications. The big issue seems to be writing essays. Barbara commented that when she applied to colleges there wasn’t an essay requirement. I didn’t have to write one, either. I understand why an essay requirement scares these kids, though. Most kids nowadays, even college-bound ones, have trouble writing a proper sentence, let alone a paragraph, let alone an entire essay.

I told Barbara that I remembered when Jasmine, who’s now a rising college senior, was facing the dreaded essay requirement. We were sitting on her front porch talking one day. She was telling me once again how much she dreaded having to write an essay. I finally said, “Look, Jas. I’m a professional writer. I’ve been making my living at it for 15 years now. If it’ll help, you name the topic and I’d be happy to write the essay for you.”

I could tell she was tempted, but she declined with thanks, saying it wouldn’t be fair or right for her to submit something I’d written as her own work. I pointed out that this wasn’t a game, and that many of the kids she was in competition with would be taking advantage of whatever their families and friends could do to help them be admitted to the college of their choice, everything from expensive SAT tutoring to paying for professionally-written essays to taking advantage of their Old Boy and Old Girl networks. But Jas wouldn’t budge, and of course she was offered admission to the schools she wanted to attend.


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47 Responses to Thursday, 17 July 2014

  1. Chad says:

    I didn’t have to write an essay for my college apps, but I’ve seen where it is a common requirement for top tier private universities. As I recall, a lot of various application requirements are waived for non-traditional students. When I was applying for undergrad after my stint in the USAF, I was 23 and a veteran so I was classified as a “non-traditional student” and so most schools waived ACT/SAT scores, essays, recommendation letters, etc..

    I work with plenty of idiots that were A & B students in high school and don’t remember shit about most of the subjects in which they got A’s and B’s. They cram for a test, take the test, and then forget all of the material they learned for the test. If they get a poor grade their obsessive parents will call the school and freak out on the teacher and principal to the point that’s it’s just less headache to give those kids a grade they don’t deserve. They head off to college and anytime it looks like they can’t get an A in a class they drop it before the deadline and retake it until they do get that A. Then they walk around with their cum laude like it’s some indicator of their aptitude and ability. GPA is joke, but for some inexplicable reason, it’s a joke that the entire country is obsessed with.

    We give technical interviews (after the normal interviews) to verify that candidates know what they say they know. We basically turn it into an oral exam. It’s shocking how many candidates have CompSci degree with a 3.8 GPA but don’t seem to know anything useful.

      

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yep, and it’s the same across the board. The obsession with grades and GPA, along with parents’ eagerness to compel professors to give their kids the grades they think they’re paying for, has rendered grades and GPA pretty much worthless.

    I’d still give some weight to the institution that grants the degree. If I were hiring an undergrad chemist or biologist, I’d give a lot more weight to a degree from Wake Forest or Duke or UNC-CH than I would to a degree from a second- or third-tier school.

    Actually, what I’d do (which’d probably put me in violation of labor laws) is give the candidate an IQ test. I’d give that more weight than I would any degree.

      

  3. jim C says:

    I don’t find it shocking at all that a recent college graduate with a high GPA knows nothing useful. After all they were probably taught by someone, either a professor or more likely a graduate student, who also knows nothing useful.

    I hate to label a group, college professors, as useless, but in my experience most of them are. The majority of what I learned in college was from studying the textbooks either on my own or with a small group of other students. I had at most two professor, one in physics and one in chemistry, that could actually teach. Other, like one of my calculus professors and predicatively a literature professor, where completely useless idiots who could never hold down a real job.

    I think the future of education will be students taking online courses put together by the few outstanding teachers supplemented by virtual reality labs sessions.

      

  4. Chad says:

    …completely useless idiots who could never hold down a real job.

    My father always told me that if business professors knew anything about business then they would be running a successful business and not teaching college classes.

    I did enjoy my adjunct professors for programming. Rather than being full-time faculty, they had real world jobs writing programming code every day and then they taught a class here and there. So, you were learning from someone who actually pays his mortgage using the material he’s teaching you. They had lots of helpful advice on IT job searching, how projects really run in the real world, etc.

      

  5. OFD says:

    Bob was saying he wished M$ would just go away:

    WSJ: “Microsoft to cut up to 18,000 jobs or 14% of its workforce, over the next year.”

    Well, that’s a start!

    And the country’s doing swell now, nuthin’ to worry about:

    WSJ: “Morgan Stanley reports quarterly profit of 94 cents per share on revenue of $8.6 billion.”

    Looks like Malaysia is having some continued problems with its airplanes:

    “Malaysia Airlines says it has lost contact with one of its planes over Ukrainian airspace.”

    Uh-oh.

    Beautiful day on the bay today so fah; the usual chores and errands. Princess arriving tomorrow to commandeer our one working vehicle for the weekend, no consultation of OFD on this caper beforehand, natch. Same old.

      

  6. Ray Thompson says:

    It’s shocking how many candidates have CompSci degree with a 3.8 GPA but don’t seem to know anything useful.

    Not at all. Many years ago, sometime in the mid 80’s I decided to take some college course in computer science, mostly programming stuff. Wanting to improve myself and learn some new stuff. After about a month in the course I had to drop the course. The instructor and I got into a heated discussion about real world coding.

    At that time I was working for a large commercial bank holding company. I was one of the original developers of the Pulse shared ATM network. We did not have time to do flowcharts, Gantt charts, structured walk throughs and all manner of stuff the teacher was saying was an absolute requirement.

    We had a hard deadline, bus benches, billboards, radio and TV spots had been purchased and were going live on a fixed date that could not change. We had to get the code written and working. Spending time going through meetings and design reviews would have meant that a project that took a few months would have taken a few years.

    The teacher did not understand that in the real world time is money and in the banking world competition was fierce for products. Delays were not acceptable.

    He also indicated that one should desk check all their code before submitting to the compiler. My premise was let the damn compiler find my coding mistakes as it could do it a whole faster than I could. He disagreed. He also stated that one should manually walk through the code with many possible scenarios to determine problems. My premise was let the machine do that and let me see the results. It took a lot of time to step through several thousand lines of code by hand whereas the machine could do it milliseconds.

    I figured the only reason he was a teacher was because he could not make it in the real world. The more I see of college professors that I come in contact with at my current position the more I think that is true.

    We did hire a couple of people at the bank when I was there that were fresh out of college. It took several months to teach them the real world and not the college world. Spending several hours to optimize a piece of code that only gets processed once a night was just not worth it as was taught in college. Twenty lines of working code vs 5 lines of optimized where such optimization took 10 hours was a waste of resources. Computers were cheap, people were expensive.

      

  7. MrAtoz says:

    Drudge headline is now saying the Malaysian plane was shot down over the Ukraine. There goes the neighborhood. The shit has officially hit the fan. Send Lurch to give a speech, he’s still in China strummin’ his gitfiddle isn’t he?

    My wife is hired several times a year (Boeing, GE, various Feds) to work with new (and old) MBAs and biz grads they are hiring/hired. They generally have no communication skills, people skills, etc. They expect a desk, secretary and papers to shuffle. Really pathetic. As my wife says “they just want people to have the ‘papilitos’, doesn’t matter what they know. So true.

      

  8. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That’s what happened when they renamed “Personnel” to “Human Resources”. What a joke.

      

  9. OFD says:

    It’s all just a joke, and the world just a stage “…And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances…”

    MBA and CS grads to paper-shuffling jobs making good money; educated people flipping burgers and pumping gas; soldiers guarding steak and ice cream while cops form up spec ops battalions and attack their own citizens; and diplomats braying like jackasses and full of sound and fury signifying nothing at all.

    When will it all come toppling down?

      

  10. brad says:

    Well, GPA shouldn’t be a joke, but it is. From what I’ve read, grade inflation in the US is completely out of control.

    That hasn’t hit us here yet. We grade on a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 through 3.5 is failing, 4.0 to 6.0 is passing (grading goes in increments of 0.5 after rounding). If a course average is outside of the range of 4.2 to 4.8, you have to justify it. Giving a 6.0 is pretty unusual; the most common grade is a 4.5.

    The one place where it’s too common to give high grades is on projects and on the bachelor thesis. For this reason, the school makes giving a 6.0 a pain – you have to find someone to act as a second reviewer, and they have to agree with the grade. So the most common project grade is probably a 5.0 or 5.5.

    However, there is still an unhealthy tension. Failing students out of a program reduces student numbers, and the departments receive funding based on the number of enrolled students. I’m not sure how one can resolve this conflict, but it is definitely there.

    Are we college prof’s useless? It depends. There are self-motivated students who really just want the piece of paper. They often only rarely show up to class, but turn in top-notch work, pass the exam, and that’s all fine. On the other end, there are the students who are in the wrong film – they are hopeless, and the sooner we fail them, the less of their lives they waste attempting something they cannot do. These categories are pretty small, though, maybe 5% and 20% respectively.

    In between you have the great, unwashed majority: Students who needs some external motivation, or an external framework for their learning. Students who can’t understand the material on their own, but with interactive explanations you can get them there. All of these will go on to do solid, decent jobs. Someone has to change the oil and rotate the tires, or whatever the IT equivalent is.

    The problem we profs fight is staying up-to-date. Even doing real-world projects for part of my time, I am falling farther and farther behind. Like lots of y’all, I used to know more-or-less the whole of IT: from hardware design through microcode and assembly to various high level languages. Nowadays, the field is just too damned big – a generalist like me doesn’t have the time to know any particular field in depth. Hence, I now stick exclusively to freshman/sophomore courses.

      

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    What I find odd is this apparent alliance between the “progressives” and the “1%”. They should be deadly enemies, given that the goal of the “progressives” is to eliminate the free market and capitalism. Surely the “1%” aren’t stupid enough to believe that the “progressives” will leave them alone. I put “progressives” right up there with islamics on my list of people who should be shot on sight. Both groups are enemies of humanity, in much the same way that rats, mosquitoes, and pathogenic microorganisms are. Worse, in fact. At least the latter are just making a living, not harming humanity intentionally.

      

  12. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Brad, the problem is that that 5% you mention are the only ones who should be in college to begin with, and particularly if taxpayers are subsidizing it.

      

  13. Chuck W says:

    Like lots of y’all, I used to know more-or-less the whole of IT: from hardware design through microcode and assembly to various high level languages.

    Ironic. In my field, it is just the exact opposite. Tech jobs were separated from creative, and as time went on, the separation forced by unions meant things like video switchers progressed to the point where I could not have operated one if I wanted to. They required creating a kind of macro-like series of sequences to accomplish almost anything, and I had no idea how any of that worked. Same with operating what became integrated graphics/character generators for titles and backgrounds.

    But as time has glided on, the union walls have fallen, and just as in radio in the big markets, deejays and talk hosts now run their own control boards, in TV the work of loading the character generators, frame still store devices, and switchers, now falls to the producers and directors. So we have to know more now than we did 20 years ago. I have watched thousands of hours of TV programs being put together by someone else running the computer in edit suites; now I run the computer myself and do all that work myself.

    Big change in the industry as jobs are eliminated and computers have not meant more time off, but much more work and greater responsibility in all areas for those who still have the jobs.

      

  14. Lynn McGuire says:

    I now understand why Fox is trying to buy Time-Warner:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/hbo-said-valued-20-billion-152216825.html

    I have been wondering why HBO has not started their own video over internet service like Netflix. Looks like that will happen when Murdoch buys TW.

      

  15. brad says:

    It’s a matter of semantics. Most colleges and universities are, in fact, trade schools. We are a “Fachhochschule”, and historically that’s what we really were, just teaching more white collar trades than plumbing and carpentry.

    However, about 15 years ago, the schools all had to unify on Bachelors and Masters degrees. Since then, we also get to call ourselves a university. Some member of the faculty and administration are impressed by this. Me, I just like teaching, whatever they call it…

      

  16. Chuck W says:

    Yikes! That article makes out like Murdoch still has functioning intelligence. From what I saw of Rupert testifying at the hearings into the wiretapping of phones by his News International, which was ultimately shut down and from which a lot of people are now serving penitentiary time, it surely cannot be Murdoch making these moves. His brains appeared to have turned to mush. His son basically spoke for him.

      

  17. pcb_duffer says:

    Many of my college B school profs, and all of the MIS ones, had real world experience. Only one ever talked about the lure of academia vs. the outside world; he had just burned out after 20 years of working for Amex. I did have a CS prof who downgraded me for using variable names that were too long. Silly me, I thought tax_rate_state was a lot more understandable than sqx1, and if someone else had to look at it in 7 years they’d probably pick up on it quicker.

    And on those occasions when someone would call my business and ask for Human Resources, I’d tell them that we weren’t an organ bank. :)

      

  18. MrAtoz says:

    Things heating up in the Middle East.

    Plane shot down in Ukraine said to have 23 Americans on board.

    Obummer having a cheeseburger.

    Yawn.

      

  19. Chad says:

    Considering Ukraine is sort of “at war” at the moment. I don’t know why any country’s airline would willingly overfly their airspace (especially with civilians on board). Implement different flight plans that avoid Ukrainian air space and adjust airfare to compensate for increased flying time and fuel consumption.

      

  20. OFD says:

    “Someone has to change the oil and rotate the tires, or whatever the IT equivalent is.”

    That would be me: server hw stuff, install, configure, maintain, troubleshoot, maybe some design work, and this would be across the board of the o.s.’s, network, and security. I don’t do programming but can work with shell scripts, including bash, DCL and PowerShell; also the vim editor. Hands-on, can’t offshore. OpenVMS, Windows and Linux.

    “Surely the “1%” aren’t stupid enough to believe that the “progressives” will leave them alone.”

    The Progs are being used, just like the rest of us. They will be in no position to leave the Once Percent alone or not; they’re eminently expendable, just like their opposite numbers on the far right. The One Percent will be happy when we have multiple mass die-off around the world; losing 80% here in North American will faze them not at all. That’s a quarter-billion right there. All they need is enough serfs and minions to maintain them and their progeny and estates in the style to which they are increasingly becoming accustomed.

    “Obummer having a cheeseburger.”

    Hater.

    I just heard Dear Leader on VPR jawboning about how we’re gonna work with the Ukrainian gummint on this caper and are putting our security forces on it forthwith. And he’d apparently had an earlier call with Vlad the Impaler II about the sanctions we’re putting on their banksters and Vlad clued him on the crash.

    There were Americans on that other Malaysian flight, too, and a bunch of them had connections to a corporate enterprise with national security ties; we need to find out what the deal is on these other passengers. Of course that earlier flight disappearance has gone off the air now; welcome to the United States of Amnesia. There will be new flash stories of major entertainment value next week from the usual suspects, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, etc. Does anyone still watch the old major networks?

    Cheeseburger? That sounds pretty good right now…hmmmm….firing up the grill….

      

  21. Lynn McGuire says:

    Silly me, I thought tax_rate_state was a lot more understandable than sqx1, and if someone else had to look at it in 7 years they’d probably pick up on it quicker

    A person would not last long in my shop with variable names like sqx1. I or one of the other programmers would kill them quickly with a baseball bat in the parking lot. And half of our coding is still in fixed format fortran 77 for our calculation engine. Our fortran supports variable names up to 32 characters and I bounce off it all the time. It just means that you have to move to a continuation line sooner.

    Our calculation engine dates back to the middle 1960s. A lot of the subroutines were developed on the Univac 1108 with drum storage. So we have variable names like:
    X = liquid mole fractions
    Y = vapor mole fractions
    F = feed rate in lbmol/hr
    T = temperature in R
    P = pressure in psia
    FRAC = molar vapor fraction
    and so on and so forth.

      

  22. Miles_Teg says:

    The Russians have shot down a Ukrainian warplane:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-18/russian-jets-shoot-down-ukrainian-warplaine-over-ukraine/5605958

    How much ya wanna bet they also shot down the Malaysian passenger jet too? (27 Australians on it)

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-18/malaysia-airlines-passenger-plane-crashes-in-ukraine/5606004

      

  23. Miles_Teg says:

    Long variable names? Sure, but only up to a point. That’s what comments are for.

    I hated Cobol because it was so verbose, loved Fortran (the real thing, not this wimpish -77 stuff) and Pascal (you could have short or long names). Compass assembler rules though.

      

  24. Lynn McGuire says:

    Hey OFD, here you go, “The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats”:
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming-for-us-plutocrats-108014.html

      

  25. OFD says:

    “The Russians have shot down a Ukrainian warplane…”

    Gee, that’s funny; our genius intel and nooz sources are saying it was a SAM battery.

    That Nick dude in the politico.com story doesn’t have a clue; he has a little trembling glimmer of what’s in store and there is nothing that he and his fellow Percenters can do to stop it. From what he says, I do not begrudge him the mega-zillions he’s made so far; but regardless, his days are numbered. The pitchforks are indeed coming; not this week, this year or probably even this decade, but they’re coming. And it’s likely to make the Arab Spring stuff and the other capers in the Middle East look like a day at the beach. I hope we can just somehow muddle through, but I fear what will happen when push comes to shove and we have 330 million people with all these weapons in play. Never been done on that scale before.

      

  26. Lynn McGuire says:

    I am writing C++ code today (for now). Here is some code that I just wrote validating some user decisions. The variable and function names are somewhat long but very expressive:

    int vent = items [TANK_VENT_PRESENT] -> getInputIntValue ();
    if (vent > 0)
    {
    int ventStream = items [TANK_VENT_STREAM] -> getInputIntValue ();
    RepeatGroup * products = repeatGroups [“TANKPRODUCTGROUP”];
    if (products)
    {
    int num = products -> size ();
    for (int i = 0; i getElement (i);
    if (aGroup)
    {
    DataItem * streamItem = aGroup -> getItem (TANKPRODUCT_STREAM, SYM_self);
    int streamProductNumber = streamItem -> getInputIntValue ();
    if (ventStream == streamProductNumber)
    add (errors, streamItem -> makeError (“Cannot be the same as the vent stream.”));
    }
    }
    }
    }

    Eeek! Lost my insets!

      

  27. OFD says:

    Thanks much, but I’ll stick with English poetry circa 700-2014 AD.

      

  28. pcb_duffer says:

    My prof that wanted short variable names was actually a really good programmer, he was just of an era when such things were more or less mandatory, thanks to the limitations of the system, costs of storage, etc. In his world the first edition of K&R was the be all / end all, and if ‘buf’ was good enough for them then ‘buffer’ was just a waste.

      

  29. Miles_Teg says:

    I just snipped an example of some code I wrote in 1987 in Peripheral Processor Compass, the assembly language of heaven:

    * AT THIS STAGE THE DESTINATION ID MATCHES, BUT DOES THE
    * ENTRY’S TID MATCH THE WANTED TID ?

    DIV11 LDD FNTIX POINT TO CURRENT ENTRY IN FNT
    ADN 1 POINT TO CM WORD WITH TID IN IT
    CRD FNT2 READ IT
    LDD FNT2+C.FID TID OF ENTRY
    SBM XTID SUBTRACT WANTED TID
    ZJN DIV11.1 BULLSEYE
    UJK DIV6 WRONG TID – GET NEXT ENTRY

    * DID AND TID MATCH – UPDATE THE FNT ENTRY

    I agree it’s not up to Seymour Cray’s (may peace and blessings be upon him) standards, but it’s not bad and it’s written for a very unforgiving and hard-to-debug environment: a 4096 12 bit word Control Data Cyber peripheral processor. Make a mistake and you usually have to deadstart.

    (edit. Sigh, formatting got screwed up.)

      

  30. Terry Losansky says:

    Two of my favorite coding blunders I have encountered over the years:
    This was for a system service written in C++
    Main() {
    While(1)
    {
    … service code here
    }
    }
    And, the name of the one-and-only function in a C++ based application:
    Void TheBigKahuna()…

    Because of stuff like this, I try to review the code from my development team every morning – and task them with fixes if needed. After a while of this, the number of code-change tasks start to decrease….

      

  31. Lynn McGuire says:

    In his world the first edition of K&R was the be all / end all, and if ‘buf’ was good enough for them then ‘buffer’ was just a waste.

    The second edition (the ANSI edition) of K&R was the be all / end all for me. Everything else was just good advice.

      

  32. ech says:

    At my first post-college programming job, in 1978, we were required to use single character variable names except for disk files*, as we were writing in MUMPS-11, an interpreted language. Long variable names took longer to process, and CPU cycles were at a premium. All comments, except for a short line with the program/subroutine name on the code were at the end of the program, as it took cpu cycles to skip past comments. We also wrote self-modifying code, as you could execute variables. For example, when sending output to a video terminal, we used variables to contain the control codes for screen clear, bold, etc.

    *In MUMPS, all variables were potentially sparse arrays and disk files were simply variables with a ^ character at the front. You could use strings as indexes, so we could store patient data as ^patdata(“Thompson”, “Robert”, 1)= r with r being the patient record string.

      

  33. Chuck W says:

    We interrupt this thread on programming experiences for a bit of music.

    Yes, Stephen Stills was once skinny. Here are 2 segments recorded for Hollywood Palace, but with which it appears somebody has substituted the real LP track for audio. That likely explains why the sound speeds up noticeably during part of the first clip. Some of Hollywood Palace was lip-synced, some was done live, but none was recorded in stereo, so these cannot be the actual matching soundtracks.

    Stephen Stills in the lead doing his own composition, “For What It’s Worth”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp5JCrSXkJY

    The riot footage is actually from the event that caused Stills to write the song: teens protesting a newly instituted early curfew that caused the closing of super-popular Sunset Strip music venue the Pandora’s Box nightclub. Stills was from Dallas, so I guess the cowboy outfit fits. He later transitioned away from that to become the ultimate hippie.

    Neil Young up front with Mr. Soul
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRhHDS69iU0

    Young’s voice was considered “too weird” for Buffalo Springfield by producers during recording sessions, and he was thus relegated to background vocals, so he and Stills left, eventually hooking up with Crosby and Nash, to create one of the sweetest harmony groups ever to inhabit the planet.

    We now return you to all things programming.

      

  34. OFD says:

    I liked Young’s early records but not much since and couldn’t care less about his standard Lefty politics that he’s been blathering about for fifty years.

    Stills was a pioneer of this music genre and early on worked with both Hendrix and the Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield ensembles. He was also hooked up for a while with Judy Collins; yep a skinny dude back in the day but he packed on the weight fairly early on, too, with many years of the booze and dope. Like me. I still remember he and Grace Slick appearing together on the old Dick Cavett Show and they were both high as kites.

      

  35. Ray Thompson says:

    Long variable names? Sure, but only up to a point. That’s what comments are for.

    Back in my days of COBOL I started off using short names and few comments. After all, time on the keypunch was precious and a mistake in a name meant the card had to be redone (IBM 0-29).

    We eventually got CRT’s and online editing (shared terminal still) but that made it much easier to use longer names and more comments. I found from painful experience that deciphering one’s cryptic code six months later was sometimes difficult. Long names and comments helped.

    As I migrated to other languages such as ASMBLR (the Burroughs Mediums Systems Language) I was limited to six characters for any variable. Comments were highly recommend and you could have a comment on each line.

    When using COBOL you could enter Assembly instructions and we did so on many occasions to get access to system resources that COBOL just did not provide.

    I moved on to Algol which allowed, I think not really sure, 64 character variable names. I never hit the max. But since Algol had functions and procedures where variables could be isolated to that procedure or function I would short names for looping variables or temporary storage. I tended to keep all my procedures and functions to what would fit on a single printed sheet of green bar including the comments.

    Of course there was those ALGOL defines that I used extensively.

    MAYBE= (Not True) or (Not False);
    PERHAPS= (Not True) and (Not False);

    Of course MAYBE was always true so if I needed a boolean variable to be assigned TRUE I would use “Input_Is_Valid := Maybe;” or if I needed FALSE I would use “Input_Is_Valid := Perhaps;”. Yeh, it was stupid to do stuff like that but there was a reason that seemed reasonable at the time.

    There were some civilians that working on the same project that were clueless, worthless GS-11’s that got there because other shops wanted to get rid of them and moving a civil service employee was easier than firing them. Code such as the above kept them out of the programs as they would try to change something and would give up and give it back to me.

    Now I am working in ColdFusion for web pages. A language that allows for fast development but has some quirks because of the nature of the language. I use extensive comments, fairly long variable names (except for loop controls) and indenting. A decent editor designed for CF helps.

    One of the quirks is that variables are not typed, they are simply containers. Took some getting used to and I don’t even think about it anymore. Another quirk is that variables do not need to be declared. You just assign a value somewhere in the code. This does cause problems sometimes when your spelling is off by one characters on the left of an assignment. Another variable is created rather than using the existing variable you wanted to use. You get used to it.

    Because of the quirks of the language some comparisons don’t sometimes go the way you planned. For example the following would output “Variables Equal”:

    [cfset V1=”01″] (zero one)
    [cfset V2 =”1″] (one)
    [cfif V1 EQ V2]
    Variables Equal
    [cfelse]
    Variables Not Equal
    [/cfif]

    Not the square brackets above actually should be less than and greater than characters. This board will not allow those characters.

    Since the variables were assigned string values in most languages the comparison would be not equals. But in CF the variables are not typed so what you are comparing are really numbers and 01 is indeed equal to 1. You can force a string compare in the language if needed.

    With oddities that you adjust to the language is pretty good at generating web pages. The CFML is intermixed with the HTML and the two blend quite nicely allowing dynamic web pages to be created quickly.

      

  36. Chad says:

    The gist of what I was taught in my programming classes is that those super short variable names are a relic of the days when you had to write code in a simple text editor and fit that code on media with a tiny capacity. Modern IDEs eliminate that nonsense with intellitype, autocomplete, etc. So, the need for short variable names and Hungarian notation is out the window. Now, you’re expected to give your variables descriptive names that make sense to anyone who glances at it. If you want to know the type then you just hover your mouse pointer over it.

      

  37. Miles_Teg says:

    If we make coding too easy then anyone could do it… :-)

      

  38. Chad says:

    I’m convinced that the overwhelming majority of people cannot do logical problem solving (especially on complex problems). So, they’ll never be able to program worth a shit. :)

      

  39. Lynn McGuire says:

    Hey Chuck, I have been listening to my Lady Gaga “Born This Way” album and you are right, it is recorded a lot louder than normal. Really flattens the peaks on the bass. Still an excellent album:
    http://www.amazon.com/Born-This-Way-Lady-Gaga/dp/B004K4AVAG/

      

  40. Lynn McGuire says:

    I’m convinced that the overwhelming majority of people cannot do logical problem solving (especially on complex problems). So, they’ll never be able to program worth a XXXX hoot.

    I totally agree. And I have programmed with many of these people over the years. They never got the big picture of what we were trying to do so their code sucked. And sucked bad.

      

  41. SteveF says:

    I’m convinced that the overwhelming majority of people cannot do logical problem solving (especially on complex problems). So, they’ll never be able to program worth a shit.

    Ding ding ding ding!

    To be a good programmer, or any kind of engineer, you need several mental skills, with a minimal set being analysis, the ability to break a problem down into pieces; and synthesis, the ability to build pieces from parts. For almost all programming tasks you also need to be able to build a logical, sequential path from Here to There, with the nature of that depending on the problem, the domain, and usually the programming language.

    And most people, probably 97% or more, lack those fundamental abilities.

      

  42. OFD says:

    I can do all that stuff but it takes me a long time, much longer than someone already gifted with it. And programming per se excites me about as much as watching paint dry.

    Give me machines to play with, hands-on.

    Write me a good story. Show me a good movie. Play guitar like the late Johnny Winter.

      

  43. Miles_Teg says:

    “And programming per se excites me about as much as watching paint dry.”

    I guess you never wrote programs in Fortran, Pascal, PL/1 and Compass assembler… :-)

      

  44. OFD says:

    I never wrote a program in my life; your point, sir?

    Was it exciting for ya?

    Or worse than watching paint dry?

      

  45. SteveF says:

    Maybe Miles_Teg is referring to the old-school days, before CRT terminals, in which computer feedback was in the form card decks or tractor-feed paper. And coding errors could result in a hundred pages of spew, chewing up your team’s computer budget by the page.

    (Not that I speak from personal experience. Card decks and greenbar were before my time. RPI’s computer facility had a couple card readers and such, but they were for legacy stuff someone might have lying around.)

      

  46. Miles_Teg says:

    My point is that I loved programming, especially in those languages.

    You didn’t. That’s okay, I was just saying that I really loved it.

      

  47. brad says:

    When you have an interesting problem, programming is like puzzle solving. What is the best way to do this very complicated thing? That’s fun!

    Of course, as with anything, 90% of programming is boring. Validating user inputs, checking for errors, adding in the 73rd almost identical GUI element for the 47th almost identical GUI form.

      

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