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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Out As a Programmer?

Niris One Year In (548 comments)

I just had my one year anniversary as a full time Android developer, and it's insane how much I've learned after leaving school. Luckily there's two older guys (well, one now, the other moved on recently) on my team who are _awesome_ mentors.

1. Pay attention to everything you can in the work place. You may be a client side developer, backend, whatever, but pay attention in every meeting or conversation that you can eavesdrop on. You may not understand everything going on with the teams you don't work in, but just being exposed to their terminology and _looking up what they're talking about_ will get you far. This doesn't go for just development, either - listen to the business and sales guys talk and try to understand your clients and what they need so you can build a great product by anticipating what will work for them before they have to ask.

2. Write a blog. Seriously. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know anything when it comes to development, but I've been actively writing new posts to my blog and it forces me to grok whatever I'm writing about. Whatever you're doing, post the code on GitHub so others can read it (mine's here). Developers who read peoples code online tend to be awesome about making suggestions and asking questions that make you realize you screwed up without being jackasses about it.

3. If there are tech meetups in your area, go to them. If you're in a decent sized city (I'm in the Denver/Boulder area, which isn't huge, but it's a lot bigger than where I'm originally from) you can find multiple meetup groups related to tech that you're interested in. It's a great way to learn new things and meet a lot of awesome people in your area.

4. If there's hackathons in your area, no matter how small, go to them. You meet awesome people and learn how to work in teams that are different than the one you're in every other day. Plus there's usually free food and beer, so what's not to like about that?

5. Pick up skills that compliment your work area by doing projects that aren't work related. It helps you understand what other teams are doing and how it affects you, plus it just makes you more awesome while keeping down the monotony. As a client side developer, I've been taking a Udacity course on using AppEngine to make backend APIs, and it's been fun.

6. For the love of God, check for null pointers and other kinds of exceptions. You may not catch all of them due to inexperience in spotting them, but that's what senior devs doing code reviews are for. You don't want code going into the wild that crashes, even when data is bad. Getting a call on a Saturday saying something bad is happening is not what you want - the weekends are yours to do whatever you want, not put out fires that could have been avoided.

7. Open source third party libraries are your friend. People way smarter than me have put together some amazing things that we use every day, like Otto and Picasso from Square. Try libraries out in a sample project, and if they will work for what you're doing, give it a shot. If you can make them better in the process, submit a pull request. Like I mentioned earlier, the open source community is awesome and if your pull request isn't up to par, they'll let you know what you can do to fix it.

8. You're going to fail at some things, and it's alright. Fail early, learn what did and didn't work, and try again. Learning from mistakes is how you get better. Along this same line of thought, if you run into a roadblock that you can't figure out yourself via documentation/stepping back and evaluating the problem, StackOverflow is awesome.

about a month ago

AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000; Pass Rate Down 6.8%

Niris Teachers (119 comments)

Part of this issue is because the teachers are under qualified for teaching AP comp sci courses. I took AP comp sci in high school back in 2006 and failed it with flying colors (as did every single person in the course), but that's because they made us take the A and B exams but only prepared us for the A exam. Looking back on it, we should have been better prepared, but the teacher was learning the material as we went along, and he simply didn't hit data structures like trees (huge on the exam) or really much OOP.

about 1 month ago

Android Wear Is Here

Niris Re:Call me (129 comments)

Why not? They're called 'watches', as in you 'watch' them. They're not called time pieces.

about 2 months ago

Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

Niris Re:Families come first (370 comments)

They pay you for 40 hours a week. If you're working over that amount, you're just fucking yourself over. I happen to be lucky enough to have a team that acknowledges this at my first programming job, and it leaves a lot of time for me to learn additional things outside of work - and honestly I feel like I'm a far better developer in the short amount of time that I've been out of school than I would have been had I worked somewhere for 80+ hours a week.

about 3 months ago

HR Chief: Google Sexual, Racial Diversity "Not Where We Want to Be"

Niris Awww yeah (593 comments)

I'm a half hispanic Android developer in Boulder and I applied like two days ago for shits and giggles. Maybe this'll work out in my favor, albeit not necessarily for the best reasons, but I'll take whatever advantages I can get :P To be fair, I don't think they do Android development out here.

about 4 months ago

Agree or Disagree: We are in another tech bubble.

Niris Re:Bigger concern (154 comments)

I agree, I think the students with massive debt are at least partly to blame for their woes. I worked the entire time I went to school, so it took an extra three years past the standard 'four year plan', but I walked out with only 10k in debt and a job in my field as soon as I graduated, so my loan is completely paid off before the 6 month grace period has ended (paid it all last week).

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Online, Free Equivalent To a CompSci BS?

Niris Thank YOU Interwebz (197 comments)

As a recent CSci graduate from a state university in California, I can tell you that there's far better content online than you'll pick up in a class, so good job checking out that area. MIT has a lot of great courses on YouTube, such as their algorithms lectures from Cormen, and edX has a fair amount of content as well. There's also a lot of books out there if you can pick an area that interests you the most, such as mobile or web, that you can just read through and type up the examples yourself. The thing about programming is that you tend to learn more from doing than from listening to lectures, so if you can just sit down with a book, online tutorials, etc., and just make programs and figure out why they don't work on the first go (and when you pass the forloop/if statement section of your education, they probably won't), then you'll be golden.

about 6 months ago

Adjusting GPAs: A Statistician's Effort To Tackle Grade Inflation

Niris Recent analysis (264 comments)

Anyone happen to have a source to the recent analysis (at least the numbers)? I want to see if they have information on majors, etc. The original article is here: but it's behind a paywall. I've noticed that in my university, computer science/engineering majors average in the C range simply because the courses are intended to be difficult.

about 7 months ago

Most IT Workers Don't Have STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) Degrees

Niris Re: As someone who runs an IT company (655 comments)

Heh, I keep seeing all this assumption about student debt in grads. I should add "I don't have any student debt because I invested 80% of my school loan, cashed out and paid it off in full on top of tuition" to my resume. Will look nice under my bachelor's in computer science.

about a year ago

Boulder's Tech Workers Cope With Historic Flood

Niris Re: Colleague there (85 comments)

I worked there all summer and have been keeping up with people as well. Our office is on Pearl and it's closed because the 36 and the 7 are too dangerous / closed as well. I have been getting a lot of pictures from friends in the area and it's pretty crazy. The nice thing is a lot of the work can be done from home, and most of the guys I worked with live outside of boulder since housing is so expensive.

1 year,3 days

Android 4.4 Named 'KitKat'

Niris Meh (247 comments)

That's fine and all, but I really don't care about the OS name. There's multiple articles out there and people going crazy _just for the name_. I want to know what's new in the OS for developers, not what their next marketing strategy is.

1 year,13 days

Newest YouTube User To Fight a Takedown: Lawrence Lessig

Niris Re: Fair use "exemptions" (154 comments)

I actually have seen a lecture of his from when he released Free Culture back in 06 I believe? I was in high school and went to see him give a speech at a museum. He used a lot of music for his presentation, but every bit of it was a clip to demonstrate a point and served a solid purpose to his discussion.

1 year,23 days

Open Source Licensing Debate Has Positive Effect On GitHub

Niris Re:Was just thinking about this (96 comments)

Thanks, I'll check into this when I get home tonight and update my repo.

about a year ago

Open Source Licensing Debate Has Positive Effect On GitHub

Niris Was just thinking about this (96 comments)

Just the other day I was adding files to GITHub for my portfolio since I'll be graduating soon, and I was thinking about this exact issue. I ended up putting an Apache license header to my source files, but wasn't sure if this was _really_ the one I should have used. I just wanted to put my stuff up for when I start job hunting, and honestly don't care if others use my work so long as I have a name on my stuff (not that anything I've posted has been earth shattering or special, just random demos to show that I'm not _completely_ in the dark from school :) )

about a year ago

AI Is Funny - a Generative Joke Model

Niris Re:Al? (211 comments)

I like my coffee like I like my women, weak and light. I don't keep my coffee tied up in my basement though. Or another favorite: I like my women like I like my beer. Strong and bitter.

about a year ago

Google Announces Android 4.3, Netflix, New Nexus 7, and Q Successor Chromecast

Niris Re: More importantly (244 comments)

Look into Picasso by square. I've been using that a lot lately at work and I love how simple it is

about a year ago

World Population Could Reach Nearly 11 Billion By 2100

Niris Won't happen (322 comments)

Unless we can support that much life with food, water and other resources, war for diminishing resources will wipe out enough population before we even get close to that.

about a year ago

Federal Judge Says Interns Should Be Paid

Niris Re:Genius judge (540 comments)


I just left California for Boulder, Colorado for a paid internship as an Android developer, and so far it's only been a month, but I can definitely tell you it was a great decision. It's paid, the people are awesome about teaching the small things that you just can't pick up in a class (proper memory management, breaking functions down to small tasks, proper OOP, etc.) and reinforcing the ideas from Code Complete and Effective Java, the company is surprisingly good to their programmers and the fact that I'm not in a podunk farm down is amazing and all around it's been a ton of work, and a ton of learning. Add to it that the people I work with are all active in the meetup community, and I've been making connections that I'm sure will be incredibly useful when I graduate next semester.

about a year ago



Covering Contingencies While Starting Out as a Mobile App Developer

Niris Niris writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Niris (1443675) writes "I am currently a senior in computer science, and am expecting to graduate in December. I have an internship lined up in Android development with medium sized company that builds apps for much larger corporations, and I have recently begun a foray into iOS development. So far my experience with Android ranges from a small mobile game (basically ‘Asteroids’), a Japanese language study aide, and a fairly large mobile app for a local non-profit that uses RSS feeds, Google Cloud Messaging and various APIs. I have also recently started working with some machine learning algorithms and sensors/the ADK to start putting together a prototype for a mobile business application for mobile inspectors. My question is whether this is enough diversity in my background to not have to worry if a lot of what I have been reading about the ‘app bubble’ popping comes true, or if there’s another similar area of programming that I should look into in order to have some contingencies in place if things go south. My general interests and experience have so far been in mobile app development with Java and C++ (using the NDK), and some web development on both the client and server side. Thank you!"

What's after learning the syntax?

Niris Niris writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Niris (1443675) writes "I'm currently taking a course called Advanced Java Programming, which is using the text book "Absolute Java 4th edition" by Walter Savitch. As I work at night as a security guard in the middle of nowhere, I've had enough time to read through the entire course part of the book, finish all eleven chapter quizzes, and do all of the assignments within a month, so all that's left is a group assignment that won't be ready until late April. I'm trying to figure out what else to read that's Java related aside from the "This is how to create a tree. This is recursion. This is how to implement an interface and make an anonymous object" and wanted to see what Slashdotters have to suggest. So far I'm looking at reading "Beginning Algorithms" by Simon Harris and James Ross."


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