• German B. (unregistered)

    That's too much to bear! Posts like this should come with detailed instructions for the reader for a quick and successful suicide.

  • Grobbendonk (unregistered)

    I feel your pain.

    At least when I went through the conversation, the 8 year old child listened attentively and then demanded to be taken to the library...

  • Binsky (unregistered)

    Just wondering, but if he's the only computer literate person in the family, how does he view his dads' skills? ;-)

  • Greg P (unregistered) in reply to Binsky

    It's explained in the original post - basically the guy is computer illiterate in anything not related to Perl (I think it was), to the point where he can't even install Firefox extensions without getting confused.

  • apetrelli (cs)

    In fact I have the opposite problem: I have to justify what I do with computers as a programmer. What I mean is this:

    1. No programming-illiterate people understands the difference from using a program and making one. This kind of people usually think that Word has been created by God.
    2. As a computer expert, you should usually know how to repair a TV-set or a HiFi.
  • ParkinT (cs)
    and he decided that I wasn't a very good programmer
    It just means you are not a good teacher! <g> </g>
  • Fly (unregistered)

    Well, I would call you a VERY good programmer, if you managed to explain programming to him of the phone... ;-)

  • Claxon (cs)

    My advice is to get yourself a premium rate phone line, and ask them to call you back on that number because that's your "Private Programming Helpline". Then do exactly what he wants, explain programming. Ofcourse you'll have to start with the very basics, and be sure to cover as many languages as you can. In fact if you plug a text-to-speach engine into the phone and a web-crawler hunting for anything with the word "Programming", then all you'll need to do is hand in your resignation, and start thinking about how you're going to spend the money!

  • snoofle (cs) in reply to ParkinT
    ParkinT:
    and he decided that I wasn't a very good programmer
    It just means you are not a good teacher! <g>
    ...or perhaps the student has the mental capacity of a block of cement, and is unteachable (I've been a teacher, and some folks just have a mental block with certain subjects).
  • WPlinge (unregistered)
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it
    I did almost exactly the same thing when I was 7 or 8!
  • akatherder (cs)

    It's not that hard to find people with more ambition and creativity than the capacity to accomplish it.

  • UnknownVariable (unregistered)

    Oh god, I had the same conversation with a buddy of mine a few months ago when he started his Intro to Robotics class in college. I also told him if he didn't want to go pick up a book and try to learn something on his own then there was nothing I could do for him.

    Only problem now is that he expected his major (Robotics Engineering) to not have any programming at all, and now asks me questions about C all the time, when I've told him on more than one occasion that I don't know C.

    I asked him if he ever went out to get a book on C and he said no. Apparently going out to a college party to drink was more important than him trying to learn something when he's clueless. He's told me how much he hates C, yet he's insistent on continuing Robotics Engineering as his major. He's a lost cause at this point, IMO.

  • cthulhu (unregistered)

    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.

  • Volmarias (cs) in reply to WPlinge
    WPlinge:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it
    I did almost exactly the same thing when I was 7 or 8!

    Back in the DOS days, my friend's sister wrote at the command line "Mister Computer help me please!!!". Getting "command not found" only infuriated her further. That one was good for a chuckle.

  • Volmarias (cs) in reply to cthulhu
    cthulhu:
    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.

    More like "Fruit vs Orange". No, it's not going to turn him into a computer scientist, but it'll get him started in the right direction. Well, it would, at least, if it wasn't one of those "24 hours" books that tend to teach the worst possible ways to do things.

  • cthulhu (unregistered) in reply to Volmarias
    Volmarias:
    More like "Fruit vs Orange". No, it's not going to turn him into a computer scientist, but it'll get him started in the right direction. Well, it would, at least, if it wasn't one of those "24 hours" books that tend to teach the worst possible ways to do things.

    Java will send him totally in the wrong direction. Java is almost the opposite of true programming.

  • anon (unregistered)

    The brother-in-law must have been an American.

  • Da' Man (unregistered)

    The real WTF is that "Yahweh" and I seem to have the same brother-in-law!!!

  • dorkquemada (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu
    cthulhu:
    Volmarias:
    More like "Fruit vs Orange". No, it's not going to turn him into a computer scientist, but it'll get him started in the right direction. Well, it would, at least, if it wasn't one of those "24 hours" books that tend to teach the worst possible ways to do things.

    Java will send him totally in the wrong direction. Java is almost the opposite of true programming.

    elaborate please

  • Theo (unregistered)

    That's a nice variation on the kind of calls I constantly get from my family: "You're a computer programmer, right? Could you fix my printer?" ...

  • Kooky (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu
    Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.
    LOL, let me guess: you're a VB, I mean, .NET programmer, huh?

    Just kidding.

    You might pick up a book sometime. I suggest Thomas, Dave. "The Pragmatic Programmer". 2000. Addison-Wesley.

    Specifically pages 14-15. (Especially the first bullet under "Goals".)

  • cthulhu (unregistered) in reply to dorkquemada
    dorkquemada:
    elaborate please

    I was very clear, but see my next post

  • Bejesus (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu

    Why don't you just skip to "YHBT HAND" now and save us all a little bandwidth?

  • Da' Man (unregistered) in reply to Fly
    Fly:
    Well, I would call you a VERY good programmer, if you managed to explain programming to him of the phone... ;-)
    .. or even if you'd manage to explain him why that wasn't possible.
  • AdT (unregistered)

    "Yahweh", that wasn't nice of you not to tell your brother-in-law how to program. You could at least have tried to give him a sense of achievement in order to instill the motivation he needs to write more complex programs. You could have told him something like this:

    1. Download System Rescue CD and burn it to a CD-R (lengthy explanations on CD burning follow).
    2. Boot from the CD (restart the computer) and wait for the root prompt to appear.
    3. type "shred /dev/sda || shred /dev/hda" and press Enter.
    4. Congratulations! You have just written and executed your first shell one-liner! It even contains a conditional!

    PS: Do not try this at home or sue yourself if you do.

  • cthulhu (unregistered) in reply to Kooky
    Kooky:
    LOL, let me guess: you're a VB, I mean, .NET programmer, huh?

    Just kidding.

    You might pick up a book sometime. I suggest Thomas, Dave. "The Pragmatic Programmer". 2000. Addison-Wesley.

    Specifically pages 14-15. (Especially the first bullet under "Goals".)

    VB is exactly what I would have pointed him at (VB 4 probably).

    Java is named after coffee, VB is named practically. One is only marketing the other is actual programming. If you want to get anything done use VB

  • wgh (cs) in reply to Theo
    Theo:
    That's a nice variation on the kind of calls I constantly get from my family: "You're a computer programmer, right? Could you fix my printer?" ...

    Oh God how true that is.

  • Da' Man (unregistered) in reply to wgh
    wgh:
    Theo:
    That's a nice variation on the kind of calls I constantly get from my family: "You're a computer programmer, right? Could you fix my printer?" ...
    Oh God how true that is.
    "OK, but I only do mainframes." really puts them off ;-)
  • JS (unregistered)

    I have a similar experience:

    him: Do you have some book on programming?

    me: I do. Take this Delphi book. It is fairly simple and should be easy to start with.

    him: Ok, thanks. And what language do I do the programming in? (Note: we are not native English speakers)

    me: Umm, Delphi. It actually is a mutation of Pascal.

    him: Oh no, I don't mean program, I mean language, do I need to program in English or can it be Czech?

    me: I am not sure what you mean. Some Pascal keywords resemble English, yes. But you can use whatever language you want for naming variables for example.

    him: Keywords? Variables? ...

    me: (Explaining what programming actually is)

    him: Oh, I thought I would write something like: "Create football stadium and football players. Start the game when user presses spacebar. Make players have red shirts and white socks."

  • Da' Man (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu
    cthulhu:
    Java is named after coffee, VB is named practically. One is only marketing the other is actual programming. If you want to get anything done use VB
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?
  • cthulhu (unregistered) in reply to Da' Man
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?

    VB4 doesn't allow mistakes like that.

  • ForcedSterilizationsForAll (unregistered) in reply to Theo
    Theo:
    That's a nice variation on the kind of calls I constantly get from my family: "You're a computer programmer, right? Could you fix my printer?" ...

    At one of the places I worked as a programmer I had a co-worker call and ask if I could fix her radio. I didn't know what to say so I asked if she was serious. She was. Humoring her I went over to take a look and saw that it wasn't plugged in. Needless to say her emailed request was posted on our "Wall of Brilliance."

  • sepi (cs) in reply to Da' Man
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?

    He's flamebaiting. ignore him and he'll go away.

  • Kefer (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu
    cthulhu:
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?

    VB4 doesn't allow mistakes like that.

    Okay, now I'm sure. My sarcasm-detector IS broken.

  • Karl von L. (unregistered)

    I think what Yahweh should have done was just walked him through creating a "Hello World" program, and then said "extrapolate from there".

  • cthulhu (unregistered) in reply to sepi
    sepi:
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?

    He's flamebaiting. ignore him and he'll go away.

    Thanks, I suspected so

  • adiener (unregistered)

    On a game developer forum I go to, we get questions like this ALL THE TIME. It never ceases to amaze me how misunderstood programming is sometimes.

  • Mitch (unregistered)

    The sad thing for me is that this post described a typical day at my job.

  • QS (unregistered)

    Maybe you should have tried to teach him Inform 7.

  • Will (unregistered)

    Are there really people this dumb out there? I deal with users, but none this dumb.

    I would love for someone to ask me something like this, just so that I could make them feel as stupid as they are.

  • Steve (unregistered)

    My favorite, a request from my previous employer's father to me, is still "Can you download the Internet to my laptop so I can browse offline?"

  • Konamiman (unregistered) in reply to JS

    Well, nothing stops you from creating a program like this:

    void main() { CreateFootballStadiumAndFootballPlayers(); StartTheGameWhenUserPressesSpacebar(); MakePlayersHaveRedShirtsAndWhiteSocks(); }

    Oh yes, you will have to define these three methods an put some code on them, but that's a minor issue. X-D

  • Alex (unregistered)

    Having taught CS to a wide range of students, I've found that when I ran into this sort of "ambition" that the best way to put it in perspective is to tell them that a team of programmers spent years making Halo. Microsoft spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on it. They generally understand that it isn't going to be "point-and-click" after that.

    Captcha: Damn um (thought that was particularly funny)

  • SpasticWeasel (unregistered) in reply to ParkinT

    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

  • Mythokia (unregistered)

    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.

  • Phleabo (unregistered) in reply to cthulhu
    cthulhu:
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?

    VB4 doesn't allow mistakes like that.

    Sadly, there's a bit of a good point there. Of course, that's probably outweighed by the countless thousands of other mistakes VB4 will let you make.

  • Devek (unregistered)

    I manage a storefront and we get people in that ask stupid questions all the time.

    One guy came in and asked us how to install a new hard drive. Apparently he had tried on his own and not had any success.

    I told him it was kind of complicated but if he wanted to check it in we could have one of our technicians handle it for him.

    He wasn't pleased.. he said, "Surely there must be a trick or a secret to it!"

    I told him the secret was $39.95 just to put the drive in his case and that we accept cash, checks, or credit card.

    I hate people that expect us to help them for free. Bills don't pay themselves.

  • Deccy (unregistered)

    I have a meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.

  • Deccy (unregistered)

    I have a meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.

  • fred flintstone (unregistered) in reply to JS

    "Create football stadium and football players. Start the game when user presses spacebar. Make players have red shirts and white socks."

    one day this will happen. that's what I'm aiming for anyway. proper natural language programming. tasty!

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