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Slashdot anti-intellectualism (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265742)

nteresting to note is how he justifies such trivialties as GPA scores and well-roundedness, the very things comments here tend to think are overrated.

The anti-intellectualism here on Slashdot is extraordinary. I must admit to being rather surprised whenever I see comments like "PhD's dont know nothin" (sic), or a recent post [slashdot.org] saying I hate college with poor grammar and spelling. Responses to it basically stated that a college degree was worthless.


Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265843)

The problem with school these days is that's it all about getting the papers to get a job. Period. If school was really about "learning to think" and "knowledge", why is cheating so rampant? 33% of all graduates cheated to get their bachelor's, at least here in Montreal in EE.

When you see kids running around with books titled "How to get better grades", it's clear to me that school is nothing more than a holding ground for kids because there are no jobs for them.

School is NOT about learning, it's about fitting in a given society. You can learn FINE on your own. Books exist, libraries exist.

If anything, schools are anti-intellectual. When I was in school, I was always going off on tangents and exploring all kinds of fields on my own. Did I get *any* support or encoouragement? No. None. Zero.

Follow the group, don't go too fast, don't go too slow.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265941)

Guess i was lucky, all thru school i was supported ( no, i was encouraged ) to veer off on tangents, and learn all that i wanted, on any subject i chose.

I wasnt forced to conform in the slightest..

However, that is both good and bad..

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (3, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266011)

The problem with school these days is that's it all about getting the papers to get a job. Period.

School is what you make of it. If that is your perspective, you will not take much away from the experience. School is not there to hold your hand and tell you what to think or believe. It is there to provide you with information you might not otherwise be exposed to. Schools should challenge you and provide opportunities to excel.

With respect to cheating: If somebody cheats in school, they are going to cheat in other aspects of their lives. That is a reflection on their character makeup and not on the failings of a school.

School is NOT about learning, it's about fitting in a given society.

I will have to call BS on this one. I and others absolutely did not fit into the mold in college. The crowd we ran with was decidedly counter culture and the kids with the funny hair (us) certainly did not fit into the rest of the class in terms of looks, political perspective or social acceptance. However, we all took something away from the experience and kept our punk ethos of DIY into our careers in science, medicine, engineering and business and music and we all are much happier because of it.

You can learn FINE on your own. Books exist, libraries exist.

Negative. This is not the same as guided education.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266108)

"Negative. This is not the same as guided education"

Look, I don't see how that fact that I attended a school filled with annoying, noisy kids so I can listen to some rushed lecture once a week is supposed to be so much better than learning on my own?

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266204)

How do you know what you should be learning?

How do you know what you learn is right? Or that you actually learned it at all?

A lot of the things that you learn at a univertisy are at first glance meaningless to most students, only later in life do they realise the importance of things they were "forced" to learn. No one teaching themselves is going to voluntarily take courses which they curently (in an UNeducated state) thinks is unimportant.

Bottom line: Self taught people will are severly limited in educational scope, as well as unfamiliar with the requirements of getting work done according to outside schedules.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266314)

You're right, all the books are full of shit. Only the Holy Writ of the university professor will tell me which part of the book is BS, and which is gold. Here, let me fork over 100 000$ for that bit of information.

"Self taught people will are severly limited in educational scope"

I can write better than you.

"unfamiliar with the requirements of getting work done according to outside schedules."

Do you honestly read back to yourself before hitting submit? Because you sound like the most smug & arrogant bastard that never actually worked a day in his life...

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266288)

I think you kind of missed what the original poster was saying. Sure you not a preppy person, you had neon spiked hair, or whatever your particular appearance choices were. However, how many people can honestly say they went to college to learn? I can't. I went to college so I would be able to get a good job. That's the "mold" he's referring to, not your appearance, speech patterns, etc. Higher education used to be for those wanting to learn or spend time doing research, not to train for careers.

That's not to say I don't want to learn. But at 17 (when I graduated from High School) the last thing I wanted to do was start into another school. I didn't have the desire to learn for the sake of learning. I wanted to have money in my pocket and hang out with friends. Now I'm 30 and am taking up a couple of new hobbies that have begun to interest me (woodwork and electronics). This is when learning (at least for me) really happens. I will probably look for community "learn to ..." courses that will help, but for now I'm just trying to get a basic understanding of electronics by putting together some basic circuits. A guided education helps, but I believe learning on your own is as important as learning via instruction. Neither one is perfect on its own.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266304)

School is what you make of it. If that is your perspective, you will not take much away from the experience. School is not there to hold your hand and tell you what to think or believe. It is there to provide you with information you might not otherwise be exposed to. Schools should challenge you and provide opportunities to excel.

The problem is that schools have taken the position of enforced hand holding. If you don't go along with their guidance, they will give you bad grades/kick you out which will impact your job options. Schools should challenge you and provide opportunities to excel. It would be neat if they did that.

With respect to cheating: If somebody cheats in school, they are going to cheat in other aspects of their lives. That is a reflection on their character makeup and not on the failings of a school.

Schools should be considering why there is so much cheating, and why it isn't so apparent in the workplace post-school.

Negative. This is not the same as guided education.

Yep, it's much better.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (5, Interesting)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266057)

In school: what you put in is what you get out. Want to cheat and not learn anything, go right ahead but I doubt you'll be making as much money as me in a decade or two. Talk to the Professors, show interests, discuss things, do research, etc.

Also: Go to a better school then or get a better advisor. First of all the whole "you can learn it from a book just fine" is BS imho since unless you know which book to get you won't have a fun time. In addition, for many things the feedback you get on projects (or even just doing the thing assuming it's hard enough) is more valuable than anything else.

As for "tangents" let's see I'm a Junior now and I've taken courses in: Math, CS (including grad courses in AI, Robotics and Genomics), Statistics, Psychology, Philosophy (Bioethics, and now I know the main arguments for a dozen important issues), Physics, Biology, History, Writing and a few others. I learned something in all of them, I took classes much harder than what I should be taking and while I didn't get an A in them I learned much more than if I took a class where I did get an A easily

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266067)

You went to a bad school. That is all. Hopefully you didn't have to pay for it. If you did have to pay for it, shame on you for not transferring to a decent school. You have no one to blame but yourself.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266231)

ETS in Montreal. Yes, it is a bad school, but it is very easy to graduate there.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266290)

The problem with school these days is that's it all about getting the papers to get a job. Period

bullshit. I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I've never worked directly in that field. I certainly did learn a lot of really cool stuff that I could never have learned on my own, however.

Computers were a hobby, and getting a job in the field was because of that hobby. The education certainly did help, but I definitely did not get an engineering degree to "get the papers to get a job"

In fact, I chose aero over compsci *because* I could teach myself all of the programming. I wanted a real challenge. If I wanted good grades, I certainly picked the wrong route with that decision!

If all you want out of an education is a job, then go to something like ITT and become another trained monkey. A real university is not for you.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265954)

This presupposes you think that University is an intellectual exercise. In many cases, it is the thing furthest from. It's quite often just a rite of passage. Some "PhDs" will even admit to this.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266124)

This presupposes you think that University is an intellectual exercise.

It was certainly my experience that it was and is an intellectual exercise.

In many cases, it is the thing furthest from. It's quite often just a rite of passage.

Is this personal experience or are you just talking loud?

Some "PhDs" will even admit to this.

Every PhD I know (myself included) will fully describe their program as intellectually punishing. After all the PhD is supposed to be granted upon completion of work that is novel and beneficial to society and somehow better informs society because of it. These efforts are rarely easy and require much hard work. But here is the key.....you have to do it because you love learning and enjoy making a difference.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (5, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266245)

In labor economics, there are three theories of why people pursue higher education:
  • Experience good (fun to get - think MA in US History)
  • Capital investment (like buying a machine - think BS in Engineering)
  • Signal to prospective employers/mates - university provides the filtering and winnowing process that addresses the cost-of-information and loser's curse problems that affect a non-local economy.
These theories are not mutually exclusive; in fact, all of them can be in operation at the same time. It is the differences among the roles and purposes of the three theories that causes this discussion to get so heated, here and on other forums.


Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266064)

anti-intellectualism here on Slashdot is extraordinary

It's tempting to think that this is peculiar to the live-with-mom coding set, but it's no different than any other guild-like group of people with a particular set of relatively valuable skills. Say, sheet metal workers, or turbine mechanics. Those chores will not go away, and our economy will always support people skilled in those areas no matter how otherwise closed-in they might be within their own communities or industry cultures.

But there will always some folks that read enough (Neal Stephenson, not Robert Jordan) outside their comfort zone, or hung out with those know-nothing PhDs to become more valuable. They end up being the bosses that all us techs-in-the-trenches love to hate - but the really successful ones are in part successful because they care enough about communication skills, history, etc., to seem valuable to a wider swath of society.

But the systems engineers (who are happy directly in that role) will always be needed, and those more worldly techie-boss people will probably always prefer to have culturally similar, if slightly stunted, folks doing the heavy lifting for, and direct reporting to them.

Egads: I guess I'm saying that there's a place for all of us... but the cultural class tension will always be there too. Those that make it out of the tech ghetto, though, do feel the heat from below, I'm sure.

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (2, Insightful)

brentcastle (807566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266110)

Thank you! I could not agree more. It's really disheartening that these qualities are always discredited. In my opinion as a programmer these are two of the most important things you have to show for yourself. - A relatively high GPA shows that you can stay committed even if a project(/class) doesn't interest you. This is extremely valuable in the work place as you will get many mundane projects on your way to or in between working on interesting projects. It also helps employers distinguish between a multitude of graduates who all "learned" the same languages in school. - Being well-rounded allows a programmer to think outside the box and take ideas from other interests and hobbies and apply them accordingly in innovative ways. While I'm at it I have another complaint about the "it doesn't take an education to succeed" attitude. It all stems from the extraordinary success of a few individuals who did not complete their college education as it was replaced by developing something more interesting, innovative, and usually profitable. These people are outliars and if you use their success to gauge the level of education you should complete then you are horribly mistaken and bound for a path of failure.

American anti-intellectualism (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266118)

would be a more appropriate title
Americans now take pride in their stupidity, you even have an idiot as a representative of the people (which speaks volumes)

perhaps USA just wants its own dark ages, with the decline of USA production and companies offshoring (jumping ship) as fast as they can i would say it has begun

Re:Slashdot anti-intellectualism (1)

slashhax0r (579213) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266272)

The Problem I have seen while working at a college is there are a vast majority of PHDs, while intelligent, appear otherwise. I think its usually a form of arrogance, or a lack of Spirit. Alot of Professors just don't seem like they are there to teach. I've dealt with PHds in the private sector, and they are a total different breed it seems, totally capable.. and almost godlike ;)

Do what I do... (2, Insightful)

Blapto (839626) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265749)

Actually write code. Get off of your donut encrusted seat and write code! Experience! Stop complaining... Arrgghhh.

My eyes! (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265789)

"donut-encrusted seat" just brings up very bad mental images of Homer Simpson and X-Lax. I think I need to wash my brain now.

Re:Do what I do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265910)

But how do I get off my donut encrusted seat and write code if I stop compiling?

Oh wait, you said stop 'complaining'. Never mind.

Good advice... (5, Interesting)

Omniscientist (806841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265750)

I'm currently a college student who is going to be majoring in Computing Engineering. This article is something I should have read before I started my first semester at college, specifically the "don't blow off the non-CS classes". My first semester was mainly non-CS classes and it did hurt my GPA slightly (nothing I can't fix tho). He brings up an important part, I believe, in how necesarry it is that you must be able to convey your ideas through speech and writing well. The whole microeconomics thing is some good advice too. Ooh and its nice to hear that we shouldn't worry about all those jobs going to India. The only thing that made me scratch my head in the article was this passage in relation to Computer Programming as a job:

If you enjoy programming computers, count your blessings: you are in a very fortunate minority of people who can make a great living doing work they enjoy. Most people aren't so lucky. The very idea that you can "love your job" is a modern concept. Work is supposed to be something unpleasant you do to get money to do the things you actually like doing,

I'm being a bit sarcastic here, but I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home. For those who are currently computer programmers/engineers, would you say you really enjoy your job, or does it get extremely old and tedious after awhile?

Re:Good advice... (1)

killerface (573659) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265891)

I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home Well I think that this might just have to do with the fact that these people might not like thier place of business. I'm sure that this doesnt happen to _all_ professionals. As a matter of fact I have an uncle that works for IBM, Whenever he comes to my apartment for visits, it's all he wants to talk about. And I enjoy it I learn a lot about business and programming, I think it's really cool. Back to my point though, Not every business is run like a sweatshop, so don't be scared of loosing your best friend after you get a job.

Re:Good advice... (2, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265930)

I'm not a programmer (basic doesn't count anymore does it =), I am admin + help desk + repair tech + ...etc... one-stop-shop in our company. I do everything, and after spending 8 hours 'working' on PC's and various projects (MySQL, PHP, web) I go home and I spend 6 hours working on PC's.

About the only thing I can't stand to do is the 'helpdesk' role to my family.

"Mom, I don't know what 'thingy' you are talking about or how you broke it in the first place!"

That just makes my skin crawl.

Re:Good advice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266131)

"Mom, I don't know what 'thingy' you are talking about or how you broke it in the first place!"

Oh, I share your pain.
Find relief the same way I did... Silicon Pines [satirewire.com]. ;)

Re:Good advice... (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265934)

It depends on what you do at home. If you do the same thing at home that you do at work, then yes your not going to want to do it. Use your free time to do other things, something that you wouldn't normally have the option of doing in your day to day work, use the time to learn and expand your abilities.

Re:Good advice... (2, Informative)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265951)

That's something you'll have to find out for yourself.

I for one got sick and tired of doing it professionally, but I like to do a little as a hobby and to learn new technologies.
Other people I know i have been programming for decades (started in the 70's) and still love every minute of it. And still others burnt out completely. I guess it also depends on the jobs you have had.

Re:Good advice... (1)

deadlinegrunt (520160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265956)

"For those who are currently computer programmers/engineers, would you say you really enjoy your job, or does it get extremely old and tedious after awhile?"

It is, in a nutshell, like day to day living. You have your ups and you have your downs. This coming from somebody that still loves the concept, the doing, the statisfaction of programming - it is a bonus that I get paid for it; even when it sucks.

Re:Good advice... (2, Insightful)

Swamii (594522) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265965)

I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home.

I've been 'punching out code' at the same job for the last 3 years, and nothing could be further from the truth. You write code at work, then go home and play some Age of Mythology or even write some code for my personal projects; frankly my computer is my lifeline (queue the jokes). On top of that, I'm married and have kids - fact is you don't get a whole lot of free time when you've got a family, so I look forward to my free time on my home machine, despite 'punching code' for 8 hours a day at work.

Re:Good advice... (1)

cooley (261024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265982)

Agreed Omni (about the artile being something worth reading).

I'm just going back to college to finish my degree after dropping about in '96 (I've been a sysadmin since then) to learn to write code. It's gonna be much better (meaning sitting on my ass at home) coding than sysadmining, I think.

Anyway, to answer your question I think that once I learn the difference between a pickle and a marinated cucumber I'll be quite happy. I was a little burnt out on sysadmin stuff, but it wasn't the computers it was the people, you know? After eight years doing that, I still sit at my computer (as does my wife) even in my free time. I doubt it'll be much different when I get used to coding.

I for one simply love playing with computers, and I have no issues separating work from play on the same machine.

Re:Good advice... (1)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265999)

Like any job you do 8 hours a day 5 days a week, there are going to be times when it is tedious. But it is usually the peripheral parts that are tedious. Meetings, restructures, office politics, come-to-jesus meetings, and so on ad nauseum. Programming would be much more enjoyable without all that garbage, but they are part of having a job. So you put up with them.

I work Java all day at work, and when I get home I spend my spare time working in Python and Zope. I enjoy both in different ways, and both can be old and tedious at times.

Re:Good advice... (0, Troll)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266028)

I really enjoy my job. If I didn't, there's no way in hell I would have put up with a 26 month layoff to keep working in this industry. And that's where this guy's advice falls down for me- there is no way in hell anybody is going to make a living in computer software anymore, no matter how good you are. You're better off selling real estate than doing computer programming if you want to make a living in America. The ONLY reason to do computer programming is because you enjoy it. I only wish somebody had told me that before I tried to do both computer programming AND living the American Dream of owning my own home, getting married, and having a kid. My best advice to young students is- read everything this guy says, then make your choice. You can have EITHER a job you enjoy, or you can live the American Dream. NOT both. EVER.

Re:Good advice... (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266049)

Ive had those very same issues. I even wrote into ask slashdot about it a while back http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/30/23 11222 [slashdot.org] I bought myself an xbox and havent looked back. I even got a new laptop for christmas thats used to check the weather before my drive to work in the mornings. Sad, i kinda miss hacking away on my linux machine, but id rather veg out and play xbox. Programming for a job ruined my hobby, so i got a new hobby.

Re:Good advice... (1)

ArseKicker (809466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266050)

Im a relativly new programmer so I don't know what I'll be like in a couple of decades.

"but I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home. "
I basically spend all of my awake life using my computer, I work where I live and when I stop work, I reboot into XP for games, its getting me off the computer that is difficult.

Re:Good advice... (1)

javaxman (705658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266060)

For those who are currently computer programmers/engineers, would you say you really enjoy your job, or does it get extremely old and tedious after awhile?

Well, if you get bored, you can always read slashdot...

Seriously, there are boring and/or bad jobs in just about any field, including CS ( to me, it's the "IT" side of things that sucks eggs ). Find a project or job category that you enjoy, and do that if you can. Of course, anything can get old- some people at some point in their lives just need to change careers. This has nothing to do with programming or any other specific job, it's a general thing. Even a fun gig, like game programming, can burn you out if it's too demanding or not rewarding in a key manner ( like, uh, pay ).

Me, I don't find that I have time to program ( much ) at home, but I do enjoy playing video games and editing home video movies in my free time, and I do manage to knock out the occasional little program, though it's difficult. I find I work 8 or 9 hours and I really just want to relax... but that'd probably be the case no matter what I did for those 8 or 9 hours of work.

Old and tedious? (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266104)

I've loved it for years. It hasn't really gotten old for me (20+ years), but then every few years I reinvent my career. I started out in real time, with assembly and FORTRAN on minicomputers, then learned C, then learned UNIX, early on became an X11 guru, learned C++ and Objective C (along with some Nextstep), jumped on the WWW bandwagon before 99.999% of anyone had heard of it, was an early Java guru (with a book to prove it), and so forth. Along the way I've done some free software stuff, including work with the GIMP, programming web sites, tools, etc. My career has morphed into IT manager (working at small companies, or hot spots in big ones, I've always had my hand in it), so that's another career.

The computer industry has been good to me. It paid the bills while my wife stayed home to raise our children (things were tight, but we managed). Now, I'm ready to try making a living via some of my other interests; hopefully I'll be out of high tech in 2-3 years. In the meantime, I'm fine with it. And even after I'm out, I'll still dabble, if only writing PHP or something else for web sites I maintain.

FWIW, I've never had any problem differentiating the computer at home as an email/web/etc tool from my computer at work as a development/management/slashdot tool.

School vs Work (1)

FreshFunk510 (526493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266120)

I wouldn't say I hate my job nor would I say that I love it. An honest assessment would be that it has its ups and downs (at least for me).

The thing is is that in school you are there to learn. That's why you pay tuition. In the working world people pay YOU. But they don't pay you to learn b-trees, Dijkstra's algorithm, etc. A profitable company usually has a business plan around making money. That's the only way they can live and it's how business works.

That's why a good amount of tech work revolves around financial solution, upgrading existing solutions to today's technology, online marketing, etc. I think that most computer science majors would NOT find the previous list of things stimulating.

There's a small minority (how small I don't know since I'm hypothesizing here) of tech jobs that are fun. Funs jobs don't always mean stable or well-paying.

In short, other comments have talked about education versus mobility and how mobility directly relates to staying away from tedium. Those comments are right on. The better education you have, the more you can move up and do the cool stuff instead of the grunt stuff. The grunt stuff is what gets tedious.

Finally, to put it all together, I find my job fun when I'm learning something new. Jobs aren't always like that. Companies are usually more interested in teaching you a skill and then having you do it over and over (unless you're a researcher, CTO, or, for some other reason, your position calls for it). I think a good number of companies ignore (or don't do enough) continuing education for their employees.

Re:Good advice... (1)

dema (103780) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266135)

I'm being a bit sarcastic here, but I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home. For those who are currently computer programmers/engineers, would you say you really enjoy your job, or does it get extremely old and tedious after awhile?

I basically do code all day long, except when I have sysadmin and support duties. I work in a small company of about 25 employees so the sysadmin and tech stuff really isn't much. I've been here for a little over five months and I must say its' been very rare that I've dreaded coming to work. I think every once in a while the constant coding catches up with me and I will have a day where I just can't stand it. But those times are so few that I'd have to say overall I LOVE my work.

Two hitches for me are A) Five months isn't really a long time in the broader scope of things, as I plan to be here for at least five years. And B) I *rarely* ever code at home anymore. This, for me, has been both a good thing and a bad thing. I certainly do miss working on personal projects in my free time, but I feel like my enjoyment of coding is well fulfilled here at work.

I'd have to say the best thing that having a job in coding has done for me, is cause me to code less in my free time and find other things that interest me. In the past five months, I have discovered a love for reading, bike riding, backpacking, and other activities that I never really thought about before. I have even gone as far as to change my major (doing part time schooling) to a liberal arts degree in English.

Re:Good advice... (1)

aGuyNamedJoe (317081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266144)

After 5 years in the nuclear submarine force as an officer I realized I'd much rather play with computers for the long hours I was working, so I got out, got a PhD in Comp.Sci and then worked for 25 years at what ended up as Lucent Technologies.

There were some bad times, as with any job, but for the most part I loved my job until I retired as LU went in the tank. During the entire time, playing with computers, learning new computer skills, and programming were my favorite leisure time activities -- aside from playing with the wife & kids.

On the other hand, if all I had done at work was "punch out code", I'd have been disgusted with both the job and computers, I suspect.

The value of the PhD was that it enabled me to work at a multiple levels -- I did the entire range of software / system design. However, I did not let myself be shunted into what too many times is called "Architecture" where one's output is basically design memos. For me, the architect needs to be responsible for the software and write / evolve the frameworks that it depends on. I gravitated to the Software Tools / Development Environment fairly quickly -- lots of different projects and opportunities to learn, and easy to get feedback from users of my work.


Re:Good advice... (1)

forgetmenot (467513) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266169)

Let me respond to this by saying that I am a programmer who loves his job and punches out code all day long... and yes, by the time I get home I don't want to touch a computer either.

No matter how much you love doing something, there comes a point where you just can't do it anymore. In my case, I get very focused in my work and at the end of the day my brain just says "Gyahh! Enough!" and shuts down. It's not that it gets old and tedious, I'm always finding new challenges because the technology is always advancing.

On the flip side, I hesitate to take holidays, because I go through "withdrawal" not being able to do my job. During these times I often find myself doing projects that are cutting edge but that I'd never get approval for at work, but then integrating them into the system when I get back. It can be a real high when something your boss didn't give you approval for becomes a big hit!

Re:Good advice... (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266237)

It goes both ways. I code quite a bit during the day and yeah, most days when I get home, the last thing I want to do is start working on one of my many pet projects. OTOH, the projects I have at work are mostly fun, and I wouldn't be doing or be exposed to as many different neat and interesting things if I weren't here. (*ahem* I mean, there. No, I'm not reading /. at work. Nope, nosiree.)

Re:Good advice... (5, Insightful)

saddino (183491) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266319)

I've heard from too many people that punching out code all day at work makes them very hesitant to even touch a computer at home. For those who are currently computer programmers/engineers, would you say you really enjoy your job, or does it get extremely old and tedious after awhile?

Short answer: it depends.

Long answer:

When I was in elementary/middle/high school, I used to spend long hours programming and couldn't get enough of it.

When I was in college I found myself too distracted by other things to program.

When I was working full time (programming) for a company, even on projects where I worked solo on design and devlopment, I was definitely too tired/spent to touch a computer at home (in fact, I didn't even have one at home -- but this is before the Internet made "being connected" all the time a necessity).

However, as soon as I started doing independent contracting (and working from home) I found that the freedom to schedule my day allowed me to set aside time to program for pleasure. I wrote a couple shareware games, made no real money, but enjoyed having turned one of my passions (programming) back into a hobby.

Now, I run my own company and spend all my time programming -- in essence I've come full circle and now my hobby is my career. From this point of view, I completely agree with Joel's quote, with a caveat: if you enjoy programming computers, and your programming is not "owned" by someone else, then you are in an extremely fortunate minority of people.

So, to answer your question: yes, I really enjoy my job and it's not old or tedious in the least bit, but, it took me some time to get to this point.

Third post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265753)

3P r0xxors j00!

FIRST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265756)

I H4V3 A B19 P3N0R

mewo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265766)


YES (4, Insightful)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265790)

Please, please, please! Learn to write English. My wife delights in showing me papers she's had to grade from freshman composition classes that are written entirely in txt msg spk that U or I do ! understnd.

Seriosly, bad communication skills generate huge costs in lost time, and legal fees when something goes wrong.

Re:YES (2, Funny)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265825)

Seriosly, bad communication skills generate huge costs in lost time

So do spelling errors... :)

Re:YES (0, Offtopic)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265958)

Sorry about that, bad communication can also stem from trying to get "teh frist post!!!!"

I'm actually rather shocked to be so far from that elusive goal.

Re:YES (1)

idiotfromia (657688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265850)

I haven't seen any teens use "!" as not. I'm thinking that's sort of a geek thing.

Re:YES (1)

BillyBlaze (746775) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266063)

And when talking about programming, there's many cases where code just says it more clearly and less ambiguously than human languages could hope to. Not that you should do that in a freshman comp class, unless the subject matter is very technical.

Re:YES (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266071)

It is in fact a C programmer thing- it comes directly from C and AFAIK, only C-inspired languages use it. EVERY other computer language I know other than C, Java, C# and C++ use "NOT" spelled out.

probably the best advice i woudl give (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265805)

ive been out of school for about 10 years..if i were to just get out of school, and had the initiative, i would pick a fun programming project to do on the side while i look for real work.

then over the months/year i would grow that into a shareware program that would give me income. the key is to peck away at it.

not only will they learn a lot about writing a real program, AND make money, but they will learn about all the aspects of the software business.

probably not for everyone, but eventually every programmer should try their stab at getting a product to market

http://www.bibleplayer.com/ [bibleplayer.com] Read and hear the bible on your ipod

Re:probably the best advice i woudl give (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265998)

Nevermind the coding and the composition.

You need to network. Maybe get yourself into a non-engineering frat or otherwise socialize. Meet the people that will know where the future jobs are.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265809)

Every muslim and arab must die, none of them are innocent, and if anyone ever sees one in public please kill it


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265870)

whoever had me modded as troll should go back to middle east you terrorist son of a bitch


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266145)

Thought for the day - some terrorists think the same about westerners. Maybe terrorists are nothing but trolls, and the world is one big Slashdot?

Disagree on two points: (4, Interesting)

mOoZik (698544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265818)

* Learn microeconomics before graduating.
* Stop worrying about all the jobs going to India.

First, I think it's also to learn macroeconomics, if you plan on becoming anything more than a cubicle-dwelling drone. If you want to take mattesr into your own hands, you have to have a good understanding of the big picture. As for India - which is related to my first point: it is important to look at all trends and act accordingly. If you ignore any large trend, movement, etc., you can very well be doomed to failure. When I say trend, don't misinterpret that as the equivalent of "fashion."

Re:Disagree on two points: (1)

jlleblanc (582587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266243)

He didn't say to ignore the jobs going to India, he just said to not worry about them.


Just graduated (2, Interesting)

neiko (846668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265824)

I actually just got my BS in CS about 3 weeks ago...with a rather mediocre GPA in fact (damn sociology class!). I'll let you know if there is any reason to take this with more than a grain of salt.

Re:Just graduated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266159)

How could one class result in a mediocre GPA? It's not possible. It sounds like the majority of your college performance was mediocre.

My Advice (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265885)

My advice would be to not take college too seriously. You can learn much more efficiently when you pursue your own interests in your own time. Use the college to get a degree and meet people, and your spare time to study.

So far, all the jobs and good friendships I have gotten have been due to what I do outside school hours. I do the minimum possible for assignments I don't like, and score good grades on the ones I do like, because I do them with enthusiasm.

Of course, I am one of those people who love to learn and experiment. If you're not that kind of person, most of what you learn probably comes from school. YMMV. HAND.

Non-CS Courses (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265887)

Microeconomics Joel touches on for what I consider trivial reasons. My recommendation in regard to the non-CS core classes with a math foundation is to get a broad exposure to them, including macroecon, chem, physics and of course, calculus (which is usually required anyway.) Why? Because it gives you opportunities to consider how you might approach problems or exercises in these disciplines analytically and how you might program modeling and such. I found on thing could lead to another, quite often, as classes can often be very interconnected in theories and information and were inspirational for lots of experiments in coding. Broad experience in coding is essential, unless you like to play the high-risk game of specialization (big bucks, but little call for your skills)

Non-math courses help develop a personality and there's no shortage of need in that department, where I've worked. Learn some general psychology, socialogy and language. A well exercised brain is more creative than one that only dwells on one aspect or type of challenge.

I found many formulas and ideas from classes outside CS contributed greatly to offering information and processes which normally may not have occured to me.

In short, you're in school, make understanding the concepts behind your classes your main focus, socializing and entertainment when you can fit it in, not the other way around.

Re:Non-CS Courses (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266308)

In addition, you'll never pick up the ladies if you stick to nothing but the CS/Math courses. All of the women taking those course are already married or insane.

Enjoy your summers (5, Insightful)

RadioheadKid (461411) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265917)

You have your whole life to work. Even if you think all you ever want to do is program, nothing beats those college summers for traveling, working interesting jobs like at summer camps, outdoor guides, etc. Live a little, you have your whole life to work. Obviously Joel is stressing internships for selfish reasons anyways. There's more to life than just your job. I love programming and I love computers, but I also loved those college summers I spent working with kids at summer camp, teaching swimming, camping, and hiking, traveling with my friends, going to the beach. Enjoy it!

Re:Enjoy your summers (1)

newdamage (753043) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266053)

Any job will teach you at least some valuable skills, programming or not ...at the very least any job where you have coworkers will teach how to exist comfortably in an environment where you are dependant on other people to get things done. Now, as for the whole beach/camp vs. intern argument ...I say do both. The internship I had with Whirlpool in St. Joe, MI (right on Lake Michigan) was great. Get off work every day at 4:30, and have 5 hours of free time to go to beach and enjoy the sand and the weather. I spent more time outside in those 3 months than I did in the whole year previously. So go look for those internships in California, Florida, or other states with large bodies of water nearby.

To anyone who questions why (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265922)

they have to take all these unrelated classes.

That is what college is.

It isnt training for your job, that is what other post high school education venues are for.

College IS the extra classes plus your expertise.

it is a combo of both so if you dont like it, college may not be the best choice for you.

value exists in those classes so enjoy them (even the pain in the ass ones)

Response to Joel (4, Informative)

alphakappa (687189) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265940)

Here is Sriram Krishnan's response [dotnetjunkies.com] to Joel's advice

Re:Response to Joel (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266279)

Never underestimate how big a deal your GPA is


Now, I don't have the GPA system in my college(we
have a straight forward marks system) - but I have to disagree.

I disagree with him on this point,

Giving advice on such topic really depends where you live. Joel's Advice is correct for American students, and Sriram's advice is correct for Indian students. People from both places may have the same major but the school systems are very different. I have many Indian friends straight from india and it is very hard for them to adjust to the school system.

Re:Response to Joel (0, Flamebait)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266306)

Mr. Krishnan would do well to note Joel's first piece of advice, "Learn how to write before graduating."

Thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11265948)

ML, Java, Python, whatever trendy junk they teach these days

It's nice to hear someone be realistic for once

I wish (3, Insightful)

matth1jd (823437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11265974)

I wish I would have read this piece before starting college. I have to say I agree whole heartedly with the author. I was just offered two seperate positions not because of my programming skills but because of my ability to communicate to others.

If there is one thing I want to say to those looking to go into Computer Sciene or a related field it is learn to communicate! Learn to write, and write well! Learn to communicate effectively with other human beings! This may require social interaction that involves not being at a computer. Get out of your room, or parents basement, and talk to people! Go to parties and talk to girls, get over any notions of fear or doubt you have. Be confident. Strong communication skills will get you further than you think.

The hiring manager at the company I accepted the offer from said, "We chose you because you could talk to us. You didn't talk to us like a programmer, you talked to us like a human being."


The best advice... (4, Insightful)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266009)

Learn how to communicate.

That means learn how to express yourself in a way that others will understand; tailor the message for your audience so they'll "get it."

And learn how to listen to what's being said; others may not be adept at expressing themselves, so if you can learn how to get to "what they mean" instead of just "what they said," you'll be much better off.

And the cool thing is, these skills will carry you through your career, no matter which field you study.

True confessions... (4, Interesting)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266020)

I find myself a closet programmer. By day I'm what They (tm) call a "Systems Analyst," said with a breathy expulsion like it is some sort of position involving the laying on of hands. My employer makes no bones over the fact that this is the Way of Things, so if I want to continue to get a paycheck, I will learn soft skills and management skills and all that other non-coding stuff.

But what do I do at night? I go home and write code. Why? Because I get a blast out of it.

I think Joel's article is right on; especially the piece about learning C. I was taking an inventory of my skills (mostly with 4GLs and non-bare-metal languages, though I have written smatterings of C++ and S/390 Assembler) - and the one area that I'm really deficient in is C.

Since I'm also in school for an MS in Information Systems, it might take me a little more time than I thought... but It Will Be Done.

As far as my employer goes, they can promote the soft skills and the management skills all they want; I may even find my hair forming into the PHB hair style; but when I go home and close the door, they will take my laptop only if they pry my cold dead fingers from around it.

Yuo faIl it!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266025)

BSD has always As liitle overhead his clash with

who the fuck is joel and why should we care? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266030)

really, does one mans opinion matter in this world?

who the fuck is joel?

Don't just not blow off other courses...enjoy them (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266040)

Speaking as someone who had a terrible time with English classes in High School being filled with petty, authoratative boors who enjoyed finding students out in the hallways to be punished, and thus cultivating the attitude that humanities and social sciences are utter "bullshit", college English, History, and Philosophy classes were a lot of fun. You don't have to major in the stuff, but get a broad base for it. You won't be able to later, but it's cool to shoot the shit with people at 3 in the morning about Hobbes or Locke, which you won't be able to do later in life.

Internship?? Get a real job. (1)

bsquarewi (846680) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266045)

Better advise, get a real job after the first year of your basic classes. Either a low level programmer or at a help desk at a small local company. Then work around your classes or take 3/4 load. After the first month at your "real" job you will be practically TEACHING the CS Classes you are taking. Sure, with the 3/4 load, it may take 5 years vs. 4 years, but while all the 4 year grads are out scraping for low level jobs and making peanuts, you will hit the ground running after graduation as either highly paid consultant or at least a high level programmer.

Additional Points For Students (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266047)

- Learn to code so others can maintain what you have written (brilliance is in simplicity and clarity, not obfuscation and pedantry).

- You. Must. Work. With. People. Learn to communicate Lucidly, Briefly, Respectfully and Disarmingly; if you do not understand these words, do look in a dictionary.

- Always eat well; healthy food is brain food (sometimes it takes a sharp brain just to find good food in the grocery store).

- For pity's sake, do not waste your time with pr0n! If you develop Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome, you're finished.

Good Internship (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266079)

I agree with him about getting a good internship. I got one in summer 2003 that payed $6/hour. Not many in the area applied for it due to the low pay. summer 2004 and 6 weeks before graduation I am worrying about finding a job. I figure I'd call them up and see if I could get the internship again. Turns out they called me before I could call them. It turned into a full time permanent job I am enjoying now. As to what I do? I work at PBS, make good pay and get to play with 5,6 and 7 figure TiVos. (AKA Broadcast Servers).

GPA useless??? (4, Insightful)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266083)

My company gets thousands of resumes a week. We absolutely need a first-line filter. It is GPA.

In my career I have found that GPA is a very good indicator of a whole host of things. When I get a pile of resumes on my desk, I skip the 4.0s and throw out the 3.0s, if nothing turns up in between, I go back to the 4.0s.

4.0 = uptight asshole or passionless droid

3.5ish = smart but obviously had to work at it

3.0 = probably only excelled in things s/he liked

3.0 forget it, not worth my time because you shouldn't have been in college if you can't maintain a high-B low-A average.

The 3.0-3.5 range implies they are not suzuki-method droids, but actually had to work as proof by some low grades (so not everything came easily to them), OR, they cared about something enough to get an A and demoted things they didn't care about. This shows promise in my eyes.

Regarding college 4.0s, my gripe is that they tend to be passionless about what they master, but they seem to master quite a bit. I sound like I'm knocking them, but not really: most 4.0s in college studied their ASSES off and never developed a social life. While this is admirable, there is more to excelling at a career than studying what's in a book.

I can easily recall 5 superperformers at my company (4.0 doctorates from top schools with 3-5 years experience at work), and they all share the same traits: stubborn, egocentric, verbose, scared of precision error greater than 1e-10, and always in the goddamn way of deadlines!

The dangers of stereotyping (5, Insightful)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266263)

I know several folk who had 4.0 through at least their undergraduate years, and some through a Masters or PhD. The majority of them are real people, not ubergeeks. They communicate, they have fun, they can make jokes with or without computer references, they get along with just about everyone short of Osama.

Anyone who ignored these peoples' resumes because of the 4.0 would be an utter fool.

Yes, I've known a couple of the types the parent referred to, but only a couple. Of course, now that s/he avoids 4.0 people like the plague, s/he will probably never meet another, and thus the percentage of 4.0s that are weenies will remain fixed in this person's experience, as a self-validating proof.

Beware the stereotype!

Re:GPA useless??? (1)

aquarian (134728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266287)

I can easily recall 5 superperformers at my company (4.0 doctorates from top schools with 3-5 years experience at work), and they all share the same traits: stubborn, egocentric, verbose, scared of precision error greater than 1e-10, and always in the goddamn way of deadlines!

But they were *superperformers* though...

Its . . . (3, Funny)

JJ (29711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266125)

. . . amazing how much bad grammer and poor spelings holds back you.

re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266152)

The world is full of educated derelicts. It's persistence and passion which makes you succesful. Anyone who sums a person's life qualifications on their GPA and behavior from when they were 18-22 years old is a moron and quite frankly, lazy.

Excellent article (1)

NoInfo (247461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266161)

As a lead software developer at a major software company, I must say that Joel's comments are spot-on and that, contrary to his self-deprecating comments, following his advice will do you a great deal of good.

Please, please get the internships. I promise you they will improve your career tremendously.

when I was in College (2, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266163)

I was a closet-nerd.

I joined the Football team, I went to the gym, I dated the cheerleaders... but at some point it got so frustrating to live such a falsehood.

I eventually moved out of the frathouse and into a poorly lit basement appartment and switched from a BA in Phys. Ed. to Computer Sciences.

Now I read slashdot and I live the out-of-closet life of a warflamin'geek! w00

AC Gives College Advice For US Programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266175)

learn bricklaying and plastering, plumbing, carpentry, welding

Learn Learn Learn... (3, Insightful)

Doverite (720459) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266183)

When in college try not to focus all your energy in one spot especially your strongest areas. You're already good at that, if you work at that your GPA will go up .1 . But, if you work on your weaknesses, that's where you have the most room for improvement and get the most rewards for the smallest efforts.

Yeah (0, Troll)

TechnologyX (743745) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266211)

I'm going to go write a blog post about what Joel should do with his life: Stop rehashing software with his shitty company and stop acting like he's God's gift to computing. Sod off.

Man, everyone forgets... (1)

feloneous cat (564318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266234)

What I consider to be the most important:

* Literature
* History
* Physics

Literature: because there is more in life than "Lord of the Rings".

History: because if you don't know where we have been then how the hell do you think you know where we are going?

Physics: because it may be a bitch to get through, but there is a lot than can be applied to software development.

Okay, nuf of that, back to reading my manga...

Advice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266251)

Hell learn to pirate cable and sat. tv and you'll always have friends in college. From those friends you get gfs and when that girl who always got sick on lemon gin becomes an exec guess who she's nominating for a job.

Easy street baby, yeah.

English (2, Funny)

csbruce (39509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266268)

In short, learn to write English, learn to write C, and don't worry about India!

Hinds' Seventh Law: "Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English."

Bruce's Seventh Law: "Make it possible for programmers to write programs in C, and you will find that programmers cannot write in C."

Well-rounded is a must (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11266312)

I'll never forget one of my CS profs telling the class in a 400 level that a number of the 100 and 200 level profs have found that many of their incoming students can't remember how to do long division. Many of the students I see at my university have terrible HS educations, and we are one of the top public schools in Virginia. The ability of so many that I have seen to coherently argue a point, especially without resorting to profanity and ad hominems, is simply non-existant at my school.

What's interesting to note is how well people who take advantage of the liberal arts nature of our university tend to do in CS. Of course perhaps these people value learning for the sake of learning, rather than seeing money signs when they're selecting their course schedule. I'm not sure exactly which it is.

Communications skills would seem to be the easiest way for Americans to differentiate themselves from foreign outsourced competitors. If we can eloquently communicate what we are doing to our employers and write very clear documentation, then we can add another reason to stay with us. That's not to say that Indians naturally have poor communications skills, in fact the few we have here are probably more adept at this than a number of my American peers. What it does do, is it makes it harder and harder to justify moving labor overseas because it makes it only about money, not capabilities.

One or two classes on technical communication can really make a big deal in how you are perceived if you take advantage of them. Isn't that what has been holding back OSS for so long? Arguably what has kept companies like Microsoft and Sun in the lime light for so long has been their ability to communicate to business people and developers.

Do you want to be Joel? (5, Insightful)

jeif1k (809151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266316)

Joel's assumption seems to be that every CS graduate wants to be a working programmer and a clone of Joel. Look at where Joel is in life and think twice about whether you want to be there yourself. He's running a software company producing bug tracking software, one of dozens such systems. And occasionally, he preaches his depressing philosophy of how to add more messy code to existing messy code. Sure, it may bring home the bacon, but it seems pretty meaningless to me.

Perhaps Joel's problem is that he doesn't see how exciting computer science can be. If all you do for a living is reimplement tired old ideas and trying to make the best out of inferior tools, I suppose that's not surprising. I'm sorry that a course on "dynamic logic" scared him away from grad school, but his poor choice of courses for his interests isn't the fault of grad school.

My advice is: do what excites you. Think about what you want to look back on in a few decades and say "this is what I accomplished". If you merely want to make a living, sure, just follow into Joel's footsteps and re-implement the wheel; that's a pretty safe bet for making money. But if you want to do something meaningful, you'll have to use your head and take risks. The choice is up to you. But you do have a choice--you don't have to become a little Joel clone.

Joel's Remarks on Grad School (3, Insightful)

FreshFunk510 (526493) | more than 9 years ago | (#11266322)

(Disclaimer: I skimmed most of the article except for the part on grad school.)

With all due respect for Joel, I found his remarks on grad school a bit discomforting. It's not that I don't like Joel and I think he has the occassional interesting word but I'd have to disagree with his remarks over why/when he chose NOT to go to grad school.

I went to Berkeley and worked in the research labs in their CS department. From what I saw the CS grad students did very interesting things. At the time some of them were doing high quality streaming media, using millions of robots the size of pennies, building the next generation peer-to-peer networks, etc. Sure there will be your handful of professors who want to prove that 1 = 1 but most others in tech are out there to do something cool (examples: Sun's RISK processor (berkeley), Google (Stanford), Inktomi (Berkeley), etc.)

I'm not an expert on this but from what I've heard it only pays off if you go to a GOOD grad school in CS while the mediocre ones are probably equivalent to going to a good undergrad school. I'd say that sounds about right.
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