Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brand knowledge

I have a tendency to get intimidated by stuff I'm unfamiliar with. "I'm an OCP", he declares and respect is immediately established. Afterall, he knows what a tablespace is.

But the more I learn, the more I ask, "Is this it?". The instructor makes a decent effort at teaching the course contents. As I look around though, it hits me that some things can't be taught in one day, or one week. The teacher writes some statement on the board. We all type away and feel happy about ourselves when the command runs successfully. Even more so if we missed out a character first time round and got some terrifying error message. And so the class goes on, to more complex statements.

It's a pity though that most guys don't really understand the mechanics of what they are doing. Faced with a query that's not written on the board for them to type, or for which a template isn't otherwise available, it's a real struggle. It's not their fault. In fact, considering some of their backgrounds, it's admirable the stuff they're able to do after just a couple of days. They'll get certificates indicating their knowledge of this and the other. CVs will declare proficiency in all sorts of things. I wonder what happens when they actually get those jobs.

The instructor, also, can't be expected to get across certain things in the duration given for the course. Will he talk about the intricacies of programming language constructs, or tell you what to type to get certain desired results. He himself probably took the same course so he couldn't help with that anyway. But who cares about concepts. All the boss cares about is results.

I was talking with one of my fellow students. He had indicated in the obligatory introductory session at the start of the class that he had just finished campus. "What were you doing?", I ask. "Computer science". I'm intrigued. "Where?". Such and such university. Interesting. "So, what kind of job would you like to do?". "DBA". Very interesting. "Just Oracle DBs or also stuff like SQL Server?". "Si SQL is part of Oracle". "No. No. No. SQL Server. As in ...". How do I describe what SQL Server is. To a computer science graduate. It doesn't shock me as much anymore this kind of sitution, but I'm still baffled. "Microsoft SQL Server. The Microsoft ...". "Oh, the one for windows...", he cuts me off as some quasi-recognition shows on his face. I don't pursue the issue any further. I'm just glad I didn't have to finish my description. "The Microsoft thingy" was going to be my next attempt at an explanation of what I was talking about. Onto my next question to fresh comp. science graduates. "Would you like to do some programming?". Actually, I don't know why I still ask this question. The answer is always the same. "NO!". Always delivered with such finality. He goes on to proudly declare how he didn't write any code for his final year project. "Good for you". What a pity.


Blogger egm said...

Great post! It is sad that concepts fall by the way side as a results-oriented culture comes barelling through. The thing is, if those concepts being shunted aside are taught and internalized, then the results will turn out to be of a much higher quality. But I guess the will to put in the effort is simply not there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger matejivu said...

I have had the pleasure(or should i say the pain) of interviewing fresh graduates for IT jobs. Normally i pose obviuos questions to get the flow of his/her talk. But the answers i get leave me a worried man. Even HR guys can tell this guy is wrong. Like this one guy who was uploading stuff into a website. So i ask, "where dies these stuff go to?". Into the website, he says. Okay, am an IT guy, where exactly. "As in in The HTML pages", he replies. No futher questions, i rest my case.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger 0.5 said...

They just don't teach them like they used to. And it will get worse. Our generation got a considerably worse education than our parents. Can you now imagine the stuff they are teaching these kids? You folks will remember they diluted the courses, multiplying them several times over. I am still fuming i did not get to do Compiler Construction.

These days, it is packaging that seems to be important. By the time you are unwrapping your package, you are already sold and the seller has moved on. You live with the consequences. When I was doing my MCSD, I discovered I knew more than the teacher! I had 2 and a half years of solid and state of the art .Net development with a software house. I watched my brother suffer through his final year project as he wrestled with the concepts of Visual Basic.

And then there is this thing where guys hate programming. Programming is the heart and soul of computer science. Period. You cannot say you are an expert on computing unless you have an intimate grasp of programming concepts and can put them to use when there is need. Unless, you are in networks or hardware.

The degree sounds fancy....Computer Science ....woooohooooooooo! Plus akina Bill Gates and many other people have become billionaires from this so it is very enticing. Until one lands in class to very dry and boring Mathematical pre-cursor courses. By the time you are taken through the paces of akina C, C++ and Assembly, most people want out, or they realize sadly that this is not the path they intended. But we are not rich. You can't go wasting your folks money experimenting with courses. So you get stuck. Teachers in high school should get serious about giving kids proper and well researched career advice.

One thing is for sure. Put OCP, CCNA or something after your name and your negotiating power drastically broadens.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 3:02:00 PM  
Blogger aJamaa said...

Some time back I was having a discussion with one of my colleagues around some Unix system we were working on and at some point if Unix is a real OS and if so if one can install MS Word on it.

All is not lost though my kid bro is now on holiday and he is struggling to get JBuilder to run on his pirated SUSE Linux. This is after he use Delphi to do some hardware interfacing project in 2nd year but found that he could not get a Java library to seamlessly connect the Serial port.

The four years I spent in ICS rank as the best time investment I have ever put in. Even though I will probably never write a C program ever again.

Thursday, June 28, 2007 3:35:00 PM  
Blogger symo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, July 06, 2007 6:17:00 PM  
Blogger symo said...

great post. recently I was doing an sms application that my bosses demanded and the way it was described to me i knew i would implement it in SQL Server 2005/ T-SQL ....triggers/stored procedures combination. So i ask the manager if the choice of database system matters and i am told it does not, infact he says it has to be done in SQL Server 2005.

I ask him to confirm by colleting all necesary information and he says it will be SQL Server 2005 and the appliction would be hosted by Cellulant.I ask if Cellulant uses SQL Server 2005 and its affirmative

So me do the T-SQL code..awesome stuff and system is ready to be tested. But we have to interface with Cellulant. That is how one fine afty i find myself at the Cellulant Office with my Application in a CD to do the integration. The IT Manager is with me too. So i ask them to let me load my DB Application on the server Machine running SQL Server 2005...and the cellulant guys go 'wait a minute, sql server 2005? we use MySQL Server 4.1 on linux'

Then i take a good look at the IT Manager and ask him why he didnt tell me that the guys use MySQL Server instead of SQL Server. Then he looks at me for long and then asks "ARE THEY NOT THE SAME THING?"

what could i say?
I gave him a look that suggested he should resign and recommend me for his job.

but how can a manager miss such a detail

Friday, July 06, 2007 6:22:00 PM  

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