Could You Explain Programming Please

  • German B. 2008-01-04 08:09
    That's too much to bear! Posts like this should come with detailed instructions for the reader for a quick and successful suicide.
  • Grobbendonk 2008-01-04 08:10
    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 2008-01-04 08:12
    Just wondering, but if he's the only computer literate person in the family, how does he view his dads' skills? ;-)
  • Greg P 2008-01-04 08:22
    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 2008-01-04 08:24
    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 2008-01-04 08:31
    and he decided that I wasn't a very good programmer

    It just means you are not a good teacher! <g>
  • Fly 2008-01-04 08:32
    Well, I would call you a VERY good programmer, if you managed to explain programming to him of the phone... ;-)
  • Claxon 2008-01-04 08:40
    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 2008-01-04 08:43
    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 2008-01-04 08:44
    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 2008-01-04 08:49
    It's not that hard to find people with more ambition and creativity than the capacity to accomplish it.
  • UnknownVariable 2008-01-04 08:50
    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 2008-01-04 08:51
    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.
  • Volmarias 2008-01-04 08:51
    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 2008-01-04 08:52
    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 2008-01-04 08:55
    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 2008-01-04 08:59
    The brother-in-law must have been an American.
  • Da' Man 2008-01-04 09:01
    The real WTF is that "Yahweh" and I seem to have the same brother-in-law!!!
  • dorkquemada 2008-01-04 09:02
    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 2008-01-04 09:02
    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 2008-01-04 09:04
    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 2008-01-04 09:05
    dorkquemada:
    elaborate please


    I was very clear, but see my next post
  • Bejesus 2008-01-04 09:06
    Why don't you just skip to "YHBT HAND" now and save us all a little bandwidth?
  • Da' Man 2008-01-04 09:06
    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 2008-01-04 09:07
    "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 2008-01-04 09:08
    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 2008-01-04 09:09
    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 2008-01-04 09:10
    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 2008-01-04 09:12
    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 2008-01-04 09:13
    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 2008-01-04 09:16
    Da' Man:
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?


    VB4 doesn't allow mistakes like that.
  • ForcedSterilizationsForAll 2008-01-04 09:16
    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 2008-01-04 09:22
    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 2008-01-04 09:23
    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. 2008-01-04 09:23
    I think what Yahweh should have done was just walked him through creating a "Hello World" program, and then said "extrapolate from there".
  • cthulhu 2008-01-04 09:25
    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 2008-01-04 09:26
    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 2008-01-04 09:26
    The sad thing for me is that this post described a typical day at my job.
  • QS 2008-01-04 09:30
    Maybe you should have tried to teach him Inform 7.
  • Will 2008-01-04 09:42
    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 2008-01-04 09:45
    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 2008-01-04 09:47
    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 2008-01-04 09:49
    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 2008-01-04 09:56
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA
  • Mythokia 2008-01-04 09:59
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.
  • Phleabo 2008-01-04 10:03
    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 2008-01-04 10:03
    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 2008-01-04 10:03
    I have a meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.
  • Deccy 2008-01-04 10:05
    I have a meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.
  • fred flintstone 2008-01-04 10:09
    "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!
  • Fabian 2008-01-04 10:09
    Da' Man:
    The real WTF is that "Yahweh" and I seem to have the same brother-in-law!!!


    Hardly surprising since Yahweh is Da'Man, according to some at least.
  • Staszek 2008-01-04 10:12
    This reminds me of a chat I made once with a classmate from my first school. We haven't seen each other for a few years and drifted apart certainly. I was studying Computer Science, he was starting a career in the army.

    Hearing I am a student, he almost involuntarily sneared. Which is a common habit among lower-grade soldiers (ones that don't need to graduate university) in the army.

    But not only me being a student made him feel pity for me. CS students made him feel double-pity. Also, there was a truth he knew from his brother in law.

    The brother in law could have been actually able to 'make game like Halo', if 'game like Halo' was on the marked then. At that time we would rather say he was able to make a game like Doom if he fancied. Or a database. Or an application to count anything.

    His secret was "The Program". He had a program on his computer, that allowed him to make almost anything he wanted, despite having no formal IT education.

    Thus, both my old friend and his bro'in'lo could laugh at all these naive students who were hoping they will learn something useful at their universities.

    IT market was about to dry out soon. I should rather be thinking of learning something useful instead.

    Yes, I immediately asked about the program name. My old buddy did not remember. It had something with "Amiga" or whatever in it. And yes, you guessed it right. I exposed gross incompetence, not knowing "The Program" after studying CS for almost two years...

    I was wandering what could it be? Perhaps an office suite? Or some demo development studio? Remember the "demos" - vector animations people used to craft on their home computers in mid-90'?

    Years went by and hopefully "The Program" hasn't threatened the IT market. Who knows - perhaps it had Millenium Bug? Or some conspiracy of concerned IT specialists managed to bury it down in a well protected safe in Hangar 18?
  • KristofU 2008-01-04 10:18
    More than 12 years in the industry now, and I still cannot explain to anyone who is not a programmer what I do exactly.
    Usually when I'm done fixing someone's printer or router, they say that to do this full-time must surely be a boring job.
    I even have problems telling the new brand of web/ajax/javascript developers what it is that I do exactly.

    I always revert to analogies, like desiging cars or buildings, but even then they have a hard time linking this to computers.


  • Anonymous 2008-01-04 10:19
    Must... Not... Bash... Head... Against... Keyboard...

    I swear, most of the people using computers don't need them at all.
  • John Wilson 2008-01-04 10:21
    JS:
    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."


    Well, he's not that far off. All he then needs to do is explain, nicely, to the computer what he means by "create", "football", "stadium", "players", "start", "game", "when", "user, "spacebar", "presses", "make", "have", "red", "shirt", "white", "sock" and so forth, in excruciating detail using an exacting syntax, and he'll be .01% of the way there :)
  • R 2008-01-04 10:22
    This kind of people usually think that Word has been created by God.


    Well, this WTF *is* posted by Yahweh...
  • proko 2008-01-04 10:25
    I think that he's biggest mistake was answering yes to a question "Him: Hey, you're good with computers right?". It's almost a real WTF, because when you hear that question, you probably must run. At least I always do so.
  • Yazeran 2008-01-04 10:26
    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!

    Well In unix all you need to do is set the execute bit and then run it as root; If you are lucky, something cool/weird will happen! (refer fun with permissions section in http://www-uxsup.csx.cam.ac.uk/misc/horror.txt) :-)

    Yazeran
  • SlyEcho 2008-01-04 10:26
    JS:
    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."

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).
  • TraumaPony 2008-01-04 10:28
    That reminds me of a time long ago when my mum used to ask me how to use her banking website.

    Another time, my neighbour asked me to make an operating system that didn't crash so he could use it instead of Windows 95 (this was in 2003; I just installed XP instead).

    Although, to be fair on the man, he had been hit by three seperate trains in his life, and was shot in a Nazi POW camp... Poor bastard.
  • TraumaPony 2008-01-04 10:29
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.
  • Jay 2008-01-04 10:32
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)
  • Flash 2008-01-04 10:34
    (I couldn't find the actual image of the comic.) Here's a Dilbert strip from February, 2006:

    Dilbert is at his desk and a fellow walks up behind him:
    Generic Guy: "Hey, Dilbert, would you mind stopping by my house after work and seeing if you can fix my computer?"
    Dilbert: "Sure. And while I do that you can be at my house cleaning the grout in my shower."
    Generic Guy (with a shocked expression): "That's crazy talk."
    Dilbert: "Hey. I'm not the one who majored in comparative literature"
  • foo 2008-01-04 10:38
    Anonymous:
    Must... Not... Bash... Head... Against... Keyboard...

    I swear, most of the people using computers don't need them at all.


    Yes but WE need people to need computers. And people who need people to need computers are the luckiest people of all.
  • TheDev 2008-01-04 10:40
    Binsky:
    Just wondering, but if he's the only computer literate person in the family, how does he view his dads' skills? ;-)


    How many dads do you think the guy has?
  • Sammy 2008-01-04 10:41


    JS:
    I have a similar experience:
    ...

    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.
    ...


    Actually, up until this point it was a pretty reasonable question.

    Also - ever see Star Trek 4? (I think - the one where they go back in time.)

    Scotty: Computer. [pauses, then, growing irritable] Computer.
    Engineer: [hands Scotty a mouse]
    Scotty: [smiles] Ah. [into mouse] Computer.
  • DOA 2008-01-04 10:43
    fred flintstone:
    "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!


    This will just be your top level file. All the rest will be something along the lines of
    "The socks are 20cm high. They are made out of wool. They have a slight crease at the 15cm height...." ad nauseum.
    We need to wait till they come up with a direct brain to PC link.
  • cparker 2008-01-04 10:46
    cthulhu:
    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.
    You lose.
  • hunter9000 2008-01-04 10:48
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.

    That's why you always answer this question with "No, not really." You'd be surprised how often it works.
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-04 10:48
    KristofU:
    More than 12 years in the industry now, and I still cannot explain to anyone who is not a programmer what I do exactly.
    Usually when I'm done fixing someone's printer or router, they say that to do this full-time must surely be a boring job.
    I even have problems telling the new brand of web/ajax/javascript developers what it is that I do exactly.

    I always revert to analogies, like desiging cars or buildings, but even then they have a hard time linking this to computers.


    I generally explain to people that programming is like writing cooking recipes for absolute imbeciles who have never seen a kitchen or held a pan.

    When they act surprised and state that it couldn't be that hard I ask them, as a test, to come up with how to guide an idiot through poaching an egg.

    They get it pretty soon after that.
  • The real rtf fool 2008-01-04 10:48
    Get him to download freebasic from http://www.freebasic.net

    Tell him:

    dim as integer count
    for count = 1 to 10
    print "[BiL's name here] is the 1337 programmer"
    next

    Job done.
  • Doomsday 2008-01-04 10:48
    Haha, my uncle is the guy who wrote "Teach Yourself Java in 24 hours".
  • DOA 2008-01-04 10:49
    Staszek:
    I was studying Computer Science, he was starting a career in the army.
    Hearing I am a student, he almost involuntarily sneared. Which is a common habit among lower-grade soldiers (ones that don't need to graduate university) in the army.
    But not only me being a student made him feel pity for me. CS students made him feel double-pity.


    I have been both a CS student and a soldier and I don't get it. When you'll be working in a cozy air-conditioned office with your donut and coffee, he'll be out in the freezing wind and rain guarding some god-forsaken ammo depot. And he feels pity for you?! Not very bright, is he?
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-04 10:50
    TraumaPony:
    That reminds me of a time long ago when my mum used to ask me how to use her banking website.

    Another time, my neighbour asked me to make an operating system that didn't crash so he could use it instead of Windows 95 (this was in 2003; I just installed XP instead).

    Although, to be fair on the man, he had been hit by three seperate trains in his life, and was shot in a Nazi POW camp... Poor bastard.


    Yep. Using Windows 95? Seriously poor bastard.
  • my name is missing 2008-01-04 10:50
    The best thing to say is "it's magic, like in Harry Potter" or "it involves quantum mechanics". Usually then they bow low before you and you can run away.
  • Ryan 2008-01-04 11:00
    I get this all the time. I have a cousin who thinks that owning the program is enough to get the job done.

    "You need a logo? I can do that, I have photoshop somewhere"

    "need a webpage? I can do that, I have frontpage"

    "programming? that' easy, just download visual studio"

  • mjmcinto 2008-01-04 11:08
    Phleabo:
    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.


    Like "on error resume next". That is just sends my blood pressure soaring when I see code like that. And no, I'm not a VB programmer. I'm a C/C++/C# developer.
  • salvobeta 2008-01-04 11:08
    Steve:
    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?"


    I know what he means. I just got through "The Internet 2007, Web 2.0 Edition". Was cool, had lots of flashy interfaces and stuff, but the ending was kind of disappointing. Can't wait for "The Internet 2008" to come out.
  • Patrick 2008-01-04 11:15
    Sounds like your sister is banging a douchebag.
  • Raven 2008-01-04 11:16
    Alex:
    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)


    They spent more than hundreds of thousands. :)
    Halo 3 cost $30 million to make.
    Halo 2 cost $20 million (they reportedly also spent that again in marketing costs).

    Not entirely sure about the first one, do not think it was up there with the others, I think it is somewhere about the 5 million mark
  • mjmcinto 2008-01-04 11:17
    KristofU:
    More than 12 years in the industry now, and I still cannot explain to anyone who is not a programmer what I do exactly.
    Usually when I'm done fixing someone's printer or router, they say that to do this full-time must surely be a boring job.
    I even have problems telling the new brand of web/ajax/javascript developers what it is that I do exactly.

    I always revert to analogies, like desiging cars or buildings, but even then they have a hard time linking this to computers.




    I'm a developer, and my mother in law got kinda upset w/me one day. She asked me what I did, so I told her I wrote software. That wasn't enough for her, so she asked what exactly I did. So I said something along the lines of I write programs, you know like MS Word (which I know she uses). I told her that when she uses a program on her computer, someone like me has written code to get the computer to do what she wanted. Well, she wanted more details, and I told her she wouldn't understand the details (she's not even close to being technical). When she still pressed, I turned my laptop around (I was working on an app for fun), and showed her the code. I said this is what I do, I type this stuff into the screen so I can make programs like this, and then launched the app. She was upset b/c I didn't really explain what I do. *sigh*
  • Former Jr. Programmer 2008-01-04 11:22
    apetrelli:

    1) No programming-illiterate people understands the difference from using a program and making one.


    No programming-illiterate PERSON understands ...

  • Ubersoldat 2008-01-04 11:23
    DOA:
    Staszek:
    I was studying Computer Science, he was starting a career in the army.
    Hearing I am a student, he almost involuntarily sneared. Which is a common habit among lower-grade soldiers (ones that don't need to graduate university) in the army.
    But not only me being a student made him feel pity for me. CS students made him feel double-pity.


    I have been both a CS student and a soldier and I don't get it. When you'll be working in a cozy air-conditioned office with your donut and coffee, he'll be out in the freezing wind and rain guarding some god-forsaken ammo depot. And he feels pity for you?! Not very bright, is he?


    Same here, and the only thing I miss from being a soldier is shooting different weapons. And sometimes you don't want to be in an office in such a beautiful day, but again, the military can destroy a day like those in seconds making you march for 5 hours straight:

    "Oh! Such a nice day... gear up! Going for a Walk!"

    He must not be very smart actually.
  • pitchingchris 2008-01-04 11:23
    JS:
    I have a similar experience:

    ....

    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."


    Not unless he wants his football stadium to look like a windows error report or a blue screen of death (the ole converting a text file into an executable thing that ordinary people try to do).
  • Former Jr. Programmer 2008-01-04 11:26
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.


    Look into a good refactoring application.
  • OtherMichael 2008-01-04 11:28
    Just out of curiosity: how would you implement a Singleton pattern in VB4?


    Patterns aren't a feature; they're a hack:

    A design pattern isn't a feature. A Factory isn't a feature, nor is a Delegate nor a Proxy nor a Bridge. They "enable" features in a very loose sense, by providing nice boxes to hold the features in. But boxes and bags and shelves take space. And design patterns – at least most of the patterns in the "Gang of Four" book – make code bases get bigger. Tragically, the only GoF pattern that can help code get smaller (Interpreter) is utterly ignored by programmers who otherwise have the names of Design Patterns tatooed on their various body parts. http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/2007/12/codes-worst-enemy.html


    I don't know how to implement a singleton in VB4, but, sadly, I can do it in VB6. Well, VBA. :::sigh:::

    VBs are good for rapid prototyping/quick dev with a GUI. They don't exist to implement a multi-platform server.
  • Maurits 2008-01-04 11:36
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Anglocentrism is ugly.
  • Puppy 2008-01-04 11:45
    Staszek:
    Remember the "demos" - vector animations people used to craft on their home computers in mid-90'?

    Could you BE any more patronizing? I mean, do you remember the "books" - those collections of pages filled with strange scribblings some weird people used to stare at? The demoscene is even today alive and well, and every year there are some excellent or even borderline unbelievable productions that can impress even your grandmother, let alone skillful programmers. We've come far from the copper bars, plasmas, and sinewave scrollers.
  • anne 2008-01-04 11:47
    oh this makes me so mad! Is it OK to call these people "stupid" or do we have to say that they just don't understand computers but maybe they are smart in different areas? I have quite a few friends who are very smart in the liberal arts and couldn't program a computer to save their life -- but at least they understand that, and would never ever ask me anything approaching that! How did you not scream at him over the phone? I might explode!
  • axus 2008-01-04 11:48

    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."

    Guy, I think it wasn't her radio she wanted you to plug in. Good job staying faithful, though!
  • mrprogguy 2008-01-04 11:51
    dorkquemada:
    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


    Java was invented to run toasters and microwave ovens. When Sun couldn't manage to convince firmware OEMs to incorporate it into ROMs, they started searching for other uses since they'd spent all the money inventing it. Suddenly it was Good For What Ails You on the web, but even that didn't really work out because Java is really, really bad at user interfaces. (No, really. It's horrible. Both AWT and Swing have serious design issues, which shows that while Gosling might have been a genious at language design--in the sense that he mostly copied C++--those who followed him were tragically bad at class framework designs.) Finally, with Javascript and Flash eating Java's lunch every day (or stealing its lunch money, depends on how you look at it), Java finally found a place in the world: a server-side language, with or without JSP.

    This is something at which Java excels, although C# and .NET might eat into that a little bit, especially if the Mono Project gets to the tipping point. The JSP tag library thing could be a little nicer, no doubt, but for speed-to-market and maintainability, Java is great on the server.

    What I suspect, however, is that the dude what said "Java is almost the opposite of true programming" is actually one of those nutjob functional programmers, not a procedural programmer. They always say things like that, since there's little actual "real world" work done with their languages, which are doomed to remain as little more than toys for university professors and eccentrics of all stripes.

    There, did I clear that up for you?
  • mjmcinto 2008-01-04 11:56
    anne:
    oh this makes me so mad! Is it OK to call these people "stupid" or do we have to say that they just don't understand computers but maybe they are smart in different areas? I have quite a few friends who are very smart in the liberal arts and couldn't program a computer to save their life -- but at least they understand that, and would never ever ask me anything approaching that! How did you not scream at him over the phone? I might explode!


    I know what you mean. I have a friend whose knowledge of computers is very limited...and he knows it. Occasionally I'll get a call from him asking a question, and he admits it's probably a "stupid" question to me, but he doesn't know. I try to help him out, and it doesn't upset me. Then again, he knows a lot about cars, so he's the first guy I call when I have a car question ;)
  • anne 2008-01-04 11:56
    Also - ever see Star Trek 4? (I think - the one where they go back in time.)

    Scotty: Computer. [pauses, then, growing irritable] Computer.
    Engineer: [hands Scotty a mouse]
    Scotty: [smiles] Ah. [into mouse] Computer.


    Yes, that was ST4 -- I still say "Computer" in that great Scotty voice when I'm frustrated by the computer's inability to read my mind and do what I MEAN. yay!
  • Someone You Know 2008-01-04 11:56
    Patrick:
    Sounds like your sister is banging a douchebag.


    Not necessarily.

    It could be that that Yahweh is banging a douchebag's sister.
  • Leak 2008-01-04 11:59
    Staszek:
    Remember the "demos" - vector animations people used to craft on their home computers in mid-90'?

    "Used to"?

    http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=30244
  • Jaded - in a good way 2008-01-04 11:59
    When a user wants something implemented quickly and then tells me it is trivial/easy I just print out the relevant section of source code and ask them where I should start.

    If that doesn't recalibrate their easy-meter I swat them across the nose with the rolled up source code.

    When an annoying acquaintance asks for help when they clearly have not even tried to figure it out for themselves I always refer them to the words near the top of the screen - specifically the one that says HELP...
  • Lysis 2008-01-04 11:59
    QS:
    Maybe you should have tried to teach him Inform 7.


    Pfffft. Scheme > Inform 7.
  • bramster 2008-01-04 12:00
    Deccy:
    I have a meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.


    What. . . The first one wouldn't start?
  • tezoatlipoca 2008-01-04 12:00
    Edward Royce:
    TraumaPony:

    Another time, my neighbour asked me to make an operating system that didn't crash so he could use it instead of Windows 95 (this was in 2003; I just installed XP instead).

    Although, to be fair on the man, he had been hit by three seperate trains in his life, and was shot in a Nazi POW camp... Poor bastard.


    Yep. Using Windows 95? Seriously poor bastard.

    Actually, being hit by 3 different trains makes me question the man's wisdom in where he walks. (Either that or he worked in a shunting yard) Typically people who have been hit by a train learn (the first time) not to jog, listening to their iPods down railway lines.
  • SQB 2008-01-04 12:01
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Obviously Hungarian Notation.
  • Dave 2008-01-04 12:04
    Hey, that should be the ultimate goal of high level language designers everywhere. I'm sure there are many Ruby programmers out there just like this guy ;)
  • Lysis 2008-01-04 12:05
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.


    This is a world-wide WTF.
  • tezoatlipoca 2008-01-04 12:06

    VBs are good for rapid prototyping/quick dev with a GUI. They don't exist to implement a multi-platform server.


    You must be new around here. VBs are great for making suitabley enterprisey, inefficient middleware flann souffles.
  • dlikhten 2008-01-04 12:08
    apetrelli:
    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.


    My dear god, I am not the only one? Ever since I knew what the "any key" on the computer was I was expected to do all the set up of any electronic for anyone in my family. I said "but I just pressed a button on the computer", and they said "yea but thats more than we can understand"... I was 12, and thus the torture began!
  • Anonymous 2008-01-04 12:12
    If you want to get anything done use VB

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!!
  • SomeCoder 2008-01-04 12:14
    dlikhten:
    apetrelli:
    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.


    My dear god, I am not the only one? Ever since I knew what the "any key" on the computer was I was expected to do all the set up of any electronic for anyone in my family. I said "but I just pressed a button on the computer", and they said "yea but thats more than we can understand"... I was 12, and thus the torture began!


    I'd really like to know how to combat this problem. Because I "work with computers" I'm expected to know how to use every stupid application that my mother wants to install on her computer. When I tell her "I don't know how to use that program." I get "Well you can figure it out better than I can!" as a response.

    I'm happy to help when I can but there is such a thing as being taken advantage of.
  • cthulhu 2008-01-04 12:14
    mjmcinto:
    Phleabo:
    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.


    Like "on error resume next". That is just sends my blood pressure soaring when I see code like that. And no, I'm not a VB programmer. I'm a C/C++/C# developer.


    Then you should be used to "on error resume next" but with the more trendy name "Try / Catch"



  • WhiskeyJack 2008-01-04 12:15
    fred flintstone:
    "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!


    Works fine for me. Is your Holodeck broken?
  • DeLos 2008-01-04 12:15
    cthulhu:

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


    I know I am only seemingly provoking people but getting these beginners into VB (althought vb.net or c# would work) is exactly the quick fix they are looking for. They want little programs to work easily on their windows machines.

    VB is fairly quick and dirty to getting simple windows GUI programs up and running. They don't need to be bothered with the "complexity" of other languages.
  • belzebuth 2008-01-04 12:16
    That's a well known fact that "non IT" people think softwares work like magic.

    My mom was surprised too learn that her karaoke system wouldn't listen to her and give her a score, even without any microphone plugged in...
  • DeLos 2008-01-04 12:17
    SomeCoder:
    dlikhten:
    apetrelli:
    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.


    My dear god, I am not the only one? Ever since I knew what the "any key" on the computer was I was expected to do all the set up of any electronic for anyone in my family. I said "but I just pressed a button on the computer", and they said "yea but thats more than we can understand"... I was 12, and thus the torture began!


    I'd really like to know how to combat this problem. Because I "work with computers" I'm expected to know how to use every stupid application that my mother wants to install on her computer. When I tell her "I don't know how to use that program." I get "Well you can figure it out better than I can!" as a response.

    I'm happy to help when I can but there is such a thing as being taken advantage of.


    Oh and Yes i know why your computer is running slow, you download everything a flashy web ad tells you to and every toolbar you can get your hands on.
    Yes i know the easy fix, but you won't like it ... backup your files and reinstall.

    But I can't say this to my grandmother, she's too nice and her cookies are delicious.
  • brazzy 2008-01-04 12:19
    cthulhu:
    dorkquemada:
    elaborate please


    I was very clear, but see my next post

    You were indeed very clear in proving your ignorance.
  • macawm 2008-01-04 12:22
    My favorite reply to "Are you good with computers?" or anything else resembling that is: "Yes, as long as it is not running Windows."
  • Ubersoldat 2008-01-04 12:28
    macawm:
    My favorite reply to "Are you good with computers?" or anything else resembling that is: "Yes, as long as it is not running Windows."


    Yes, you can't imagine how many times I've dodged spending a sunday afternoon cleaning Windows machines with this excuse: hmmm... sorry, I use Linux so...

    Even at my job if a computer gets infected I don't touch it, that's why there are Windows guys around, plenty if I may.

    Just for this I love the penguin, now if for some reason Linux goes mainstream and people start bugging with it too I'll migrate myself to BSD or something else... I hear Mac's are pretty.
  • DL 2008-01-04 12:35
    JS:

    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."


    I blame Star Trek. This is EXACTLY how the holodeck works (well, except for the spacebar). The average person's perception of science and technology comes from TV and movies, and this can therefore present a very skewed view of how things work.
  • Anonymous 2008-01-04 12:36
    anne:
    oh this makes me so mad! Is it OK to call these people "stupid" or do we have to say that they just don't understand computers but maybe they are smart in different areas? I have quite a few friends who are very smart in the liberal arts

    Basically, that's how you define stupid.

    "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!

    Yes, and it will require 5 years to study, because in the future life will get so comfortable that everyone will mentally degrade into a freaking toddler, and computers will require the intellectual effort equivalent of slamming your balls into the wall to operate. Don't believe me? Look at the buzzword du jour 2007 - Web 2.0, that spawned website with as little text as possible, huge buttons and pastel colors. All for the purpose of attracting impressionable retards. And the scary part is that it works.
  • operagost 2008-01-04 12:37
    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

    So you choose your programming languages based on how they are (or are not) marketed?
  • Denzien 2008-01-04 12:37
    I don't know about you, but I like my screens Rectangular.


    I just love how giving my mother-in-law computer directives requires the qualifications "with the mouse, move the cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen".

    When asked if I'm "good with computers", I've been reduced to sarcastic remarks such as "As a matter of fact, I'm a computer God." Odds are, if they've asked the question, they're likely to believe me for at least a little while.
  • Shinobu 2008-01-04 12:38
    I'd rather take my Java history lessons from Wikipedia, thank you very much. Also, your rant in no way supports the point.
  • Anonymous 2008-01-04 12:39
    I hear Mac's are pretty.

    (METAPHORICAL MEANING ALERT) Well so are all the dumb chicks in college.
  • James 2008-01-04 12:40
    RE: the VB versus Java bickering... I'm interested to know who's defending the VB side. Growing up in coder culture, I always considered VB to be the "simplistic" end of the language scale:

    (from "simple" to "serious")
    Crayons... markers... watercolors... oil paint
    Airsoft... BB gun... 22 rifle... elephant gun
    MacOS (pre-X)... Windows... *NIX
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly


    It's not that the left side of the scale is *worse*, it's just better suited to less-demanding applications. You wouldn't write a tens-of-thousands LOC "enterprise" application in VB (OK, I know some who would, but I'm using the sane/intelligent form of "you" here) just like you wouldn't go rhino hunting with a BB gun.

    Perhaps I'm missing something where cthulu is calling Java "the opposite of programming", or where other posters are calling Design Patterns "not a feature" -- in my experience, when you introduce either of them, it's adding order in a chaotic world, not the other way around. Maybe if you're just writing a VBA script to catalog your Magic cards, that's the language best suited for the task. But when you're writing "Real World" software, Java or C# or even C++ with Design Patterns (used correctly!!!) can encourage better, more maintainable code.

    Or is my understanding of The Way Things Work itself a WTF?
  • jorn 2008-01-04 12:43
    You do realize that, two weeks from now, your brother-in-law will be a Web Developer and have several gigs designing websites for folks. You do know this, right?
  • brian 2008-01-04 12:44
    Oh yeah, my favorite thing to hear at a family function is: "Oh yeah Brian does computers, ask him". They have trouble realizing that I am a software developer and have no clue why their AOL mail doesn't work anymore. Usually when I tell them to call AOL, they drop it.
  • jmroth 2008-01-04 12:46
    Yeah, "can you program my VCR..." ;-)
  • James 2008-01-04 12:48
    I forgot to respond to the actual original post! I was going to call BS until I saw all the follow-up responses saying they had similar experiences. I have a *lot* of non-technical people in the family. I would need both hands to count the number of times I've walked my parents (both in their late 60s) through the process of attaching a file to their emails, and I still think they wouldn't be able to do it on their own. But even they don't think (as far as I know) that you can program a computer in natural language.

    Jeff Atwood (familiar to many of you, I'm sure) wrote something about how people are fundamentally "wired" to understand how computers, or they aren't, and that seems to be the way things work:

    I assume the problem discussed in the OP is related.
  • Shinobu 2008-01-04 12:52
    I'm kind of in the habit of defending all sides. For personal things I mostly use VB because it helps me get done what I want, fast. But I know several languages and when I start something I tend to use whatever I think will get the job done fastest and easiest. And apparently I have a knack for predicting this correctly, which is why I've mostly seen the positive sides of languages and thus tend to defend them all, when asked. Although really, discussing anything, particularly the noted religious topics, in an online forum will just lead to flamewars and trolls...
  • morry 2008-01-04 12:54
    In explaining programming, I like to use the "tying your shoes" analogy. It goes something like this.

    them: what is programming?
    me: it's like you telling me how to tie a shoe.
    them: ??
    me: let me show you. *removes shoe, unties it*
    me: tell me how to tie a shoe. remember - I'm a computer.
    them: take the laces in your hands.
    me: (* grab both laces in both hands, in a fist *)
    them: no, one lace, one hand
    me: (* grabs left with right, right with left, still in fist *)
    them: no, grab the left with the left hand, right with the right. and them with between the thumb and forefinger
    me: .... and so on

    you can be really irritating with this and make them define verbs and nouns like "grab", "take" and lace and stuff. eventually they begin to realize that specifying HOW to do something of any complexity is really really hard.

    as an aside, if this person had the audacity to tell me I'm not a good programmer because I can't explain it to them, I'd be so pissed off. What an asshat.
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-04 12:55
    Da' Man:
    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?

    Just out of curiosity: why would you want to implement a Singleton "pattern" in anything?

    Go on, I'm curious.
  • t-bone 2008-01-04 12:58
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.


    Dude, I had to do some conversions of a propriatary access database, with no notion of foreign keys or datatypes (some parts vendor in some niche market, you were supposed to view the database through the cd-rom, but the customer wanted it on his pocketpc).
    Imagine a database of parts and alternatives and bill of materials and pricing in danish.

    I had to look at the strings in the exe to find queries, not knowing what parameters where passed to it etc to even get a grasp on what was what.

    I'd have a better friday evening if noone reminded me... :)
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-04 12:59
    belzebuth:
    That's a well known fact that "non IT" people think softwares work like magic.

    My mom was surprised too learn that her karaoke system wouldn't listen to her and give her a score, even without any microphone plugged in...

    Sadly, that's nothing to do with IT at all. That's simply because your mom is an ignorant cretin.

    Incidentally, I believe you may have spelled your moniker wrong; although perhaps it's in the genes...
  • mjmcinto 2008-01-04 13:07
    cthulhu:
    mjmcinto:
    Phleabo:
    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.


    Like "on error resume next". That is just sends my blood pressure soaring when I see code like that. And no, I'm not a VB programmer. I'm a C/C++/C# developer.


    Then you should be used to "on error resume next" but with the more trendy name "Try / Catch"





    If the code doesn't handle the exception that was thrown, and nothing is done except ignoring it, yes, that makes my blood boil too. However, the try catch at least implies that the code will attempt to handle the issue, rather than just say "huh, there was an error...oh well, I'll just continue and pay no attention to it".
  • suzilou 2008-01-04 13:20
    some non-programmer asking a programmer "how do i make my computer do something like Halo?" is like me asking Eric Johnson "how do i make this guitar thingy sound like 'Cliffs of Dover'?"
  • Aidan 2008-01-04 13:26
    I would have directed the guy to http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/msdnvisualcsharp.aspx where he could learn C# and game programming at the same time. It even covers the XNA framework that would allow him to develop a game for the 360.
  • Shill 2008-01-04 13:28
    JS:
    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."


    Typical newbie mistake, forgetting the pants; this is why programming should be left to the professionals.
  • Dirac 2008-01-04 13:31
    JS:
    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."

    Maybe one day it'll be this easy.
  • TadGhostal 2008-01-04 13:36
    This is why they make shirts for us to wear like this one...

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts/frustrations/388b/
  • rycamor 2008-01-04 13:36
    A yes... I have spent many a night trying to get my guitar to sound like Eric Johnson's, and my fingers to actually play those notes.

    But of course, Guitar Hero will now make everyone think all you have to do is move your right hand to the rhythm, and presto! A solo comes out.
  • masonReloaded 2008-01-04 13:41
    Raven:
    Alex:
    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)


    They spent more than hundreds of thousands. :)
    Halo 3 cost $30 million to make.
    Halo 2 cost $20 million (they reportedly also spent that again in marketing costs).

    Not entirely sure about the first one, do not think it was up there with the others, I think it is somewhere about the 5 million mark


    An analogy I would use to explain to people is that you can show someone how to operate a video camera in about 10-20 minutes, but to film Spider-Man 3 would take years of training, hundreds of people and millions of dollars. Similarly, I can teach you how to write a simple program in 10-20 minutes - writing Halo 3 would take years of training, hundreds of people and millions of dollars.
  • wesley0042 2008-01-04 13:43
    Aidan:
    I would have directed the guy to http://www.microsoft.com/events/series/msdnvisualcsharp.aspx where he could learn C# and game programming at the same time. It even covers the XNA framework that would allow him to develop a game for the 360.


    Yeah, we had a Microsoft "evangelist" from CSU Fullerton come to our C++ class to show us "how to write Pong for the XBox in 15 minutes" using these cool new Microsoft tools.

    And he did, sort of. What he did was take a template, and then copy and paste in all the code from a text file opened in Notepad. Great help; thanks, guy.
  • C_Boo 2008-01-04 13:44
    SpasticWeasel:
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.

  • Heretic 2008-01-04 13:55
    There is no right answer to this question.
    You could be good at cleaning computers for all you know.
  • Militis Sanctus 2008-01-04 13:55
    That's hilarious. When I was in college (I'm a recent graduate, in the work force now) and would go home for a break, the first thing my dad would say to me after "Howdy" was something along the lines of "The computer is running pretty slow...I need you to take a look at it."

    After running a virus scan and adware scan, cleaning out his Temporary Internet Files, and so on, I came to realize that my dad can USE a computer, but he doesn't necessarily know what he's doing. The scans generally turned up dozens if not hundreds of viruses/adwares, and when all that didn't help, I opened up the computer. Keep in mind it was a couple years old at the time...but all the hardware was covered in a layer of dust at least half an inch thick.

    O_o
  • Gio 2008-01-04 13:57
    My favorite is when someone describes my job as "he works with computers." Isn't that just about everyone these days?
  • Not a troll 2008-01-04 14:00
    C_Boo:
    SpasticWeasel:
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.



    Keep moving along nothing to read here certainly not a troll about stereotypical programmer traits...this is so not a troll
  • Chris 2008-01-04 14:03
    I've had similar questions from people who thought they could just ask the computer for what they wanted in English. Some of that isn't terribly surprising.

    What *DID* surprise me, though, was when half-way through a programming class in Pascal, one of the students in the class was actually writing a program in the LAB in English rather than Pascal, even though the student had handed in several working Pascal programs prior to this. I briefly saw the screen; it looked similar to:

    "Please make the value of variable X equal 5"
    "Multiply X by 100"
    "Output X to the screen"
    ... etc.

    And the student had the balls to ASK THE PROFESSOR why the program wouldn't compile or run. The professor, having been educated in Oxford being who he was, looked at the screen and then walked away without uttering a word.

    The student dropped, and I think that was the right answer. That SAME student is now an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER. I haven't worked with the person but looks good on paper.
  • Fortyseven 2008-01-04 14:08
    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


    We'll fix it in a patch later after it ships.
  • cconroy 2008-01-04 14:10
    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!


    I once tried "hack into [friend]'s computer and play [video game]" from my TI-99/4A. Sadly I already understood simple TI BASIC, so I can't claim complete cluelessness (though I was young). I remember theorizing that it didn't work because his computer was an Apple.
  • some curmudgeon 2008-01-04 14:24
    This is why some gamers should never, ever be permitted to run heavy machinery, and instead should be forced to be beaten with an empty plastic soda bottle while repeatedly hearing the sentence "Life is not Star Trek."
  • Andrew 2008-01-04 14:31
    mrprogguy:

    What I suspect, however, is that the dude what said "Java is almost the opposite of true programming" is actually one of those nutjob functional programmers, not a procedural programmer. They always say things like that, since there's little actual "real world" work done with their languages, which are doomed to remain as little more than toys for university professors and eccentrics of all stripes.

    There, did I clear that up for you?


    Functional programming has many "real world" applications. You just don't realize where functional programming is used.

    Most programmers associate LISP with functional programming. So, let's compare it to other software "real world" people use.

    Computer Algebra & Calculus systems, like Matlab, Maple, etc., solve basic integrals by pattern matching. LISP did this since a 1967 MIT student's project; this later became MACSYMA.

    Surely, SQL is not a university toy language. SQL database queries behave like functional language searches. Look at how this SELECT is evaluated from left to right. Each step is a *function call* that filters the result-set.

    SELECT A, COUNT(A)
    FROM TAB1
    WHERE A < 35
    GROUP BY A HAVING COUNT(A) > 2;

    The earliest relational databases, or knowledge trees, were written in LISP. I believe that SELECT query planning follows steps similar to how LISP spans a tree search. Both use heuristics to improve the searching.

  • Mark 2008-01-04 14:37
    In high school (mid 80's), I had a computer that was the size and shape of a hand-held calculator, and had a display that could scroll one line at the time, and had built in BASIC. It was pretty cool for it's day.

    I had two guys approach me and asked me if I could "program pussy" on it.
  • Franz Kafka 2008-01-04 14:51
    cthulhu:
    mjmcinto:
    Phleabo:
    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.


    Like "on error resume next". That is just sends my blood pressure soaring when I see code like that. And no, I'm not a VB programmer. I'm a C/C++/C# developer.


    Then you should be used to "on error resume next" but with the more trendy name "Try / Catch"



    Only if it's something like try {...} catch(){/*bail*/}
  • Talentless Newbie 2008-01-04 15:12
    Along with agreeing with all the people who have suggested that the OP warn his brother-in-law that the scope and size of a project like Halo 3 isn't something you can just learn overnight, I'd like to add that it might have been possible to steer him towards something like FPS Creator or making simple things with UnrealScript, since that gives him quick results, but also gives him a view into the amount of work involved in making anything larger than, say, Pong.

    If he does the legwork with the simple stuff and is still serious about it after a few months, then it'd be time to move him onto, say, C and SDL or Allegro.
  • Alonzo Meatman 2008-01-04 15:12
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)
  • AdT 2008-01-04 15:20
    C_Boo:
    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.


    Hate to break it to you, C_Boo, but two trolls do not make a right.
  • death 2008-01-04 15:21
    dlikhten:
    apetrelli:

    2) As a computer expert, you should usually know how to repair a TV-set or a HiFi.


    My dear god, I am not the only one? Ever since I knew what the "any key" on the computer was I was expected to do all the set up of any electronic for anyone in my family. I said "but I just pressed a button on the computer", and they said "yea but thats more than we can understand"... I was 12, and thus the torture began!


    No way! It has happened to someone else!? We did not have computer then but ever since I was about 11 and figured out by using logic and a foreign language instruction manuals pictures how to cable the VCR and set up a timer on is so one could to record a show from TV when away on my own all that kind of stuff fell on me. Imagine a pimply 13 years old girl whining why she has to put down her book to wire a second VCR so tape copies could be made or already a young adult totally dumbstruck how two men of evidently above average intelligence fail to wire a video camera, a TV and a VCR so the playback could be watched and recorded at the same time... But... perhaps without that torture we would not have turned out IT ;)
  • Zylon 2008-01-04 15:37
    Chris:
    What *DID* surprise me, though, was when half-way through a programming class in Pascal, one of the students in the class was actually writing a program in the LAB in English rather than Pascal, even though the student had handed in several working Pascal programs prior to this. I briefly saw the screen; it looked similar to:

    "Please make the value of variable X equal 5"
    "Multiply X by 100"
    "Output X to the screen"
    ... etc.

    So he was trying to program in COBOL.

    /rimshot
  • Unklegwar 2008-01-04 15:37
    There are two answers to this:

    If the asker is a potential boss or networking contact: YES
    ELSE
    "HELL NO"
  • AdT 2008-01-04 15:41
    Andrew:
    Functional programming has many "real world" applications. You just don't realize where functional programming is used.

    Most programmers associate LISP with functional programming. So, let's compare it to other software "real world" people use.


    LISP is not a functional but a multi-paradigm programming language. To the true believer, e.g. a Haskell proponent, the functional programming aspects of LISP are as impure as the OOP aspects of C++ are to a Smalltalk proponent. E.g., in a purely functional programming language, there are no assigments of any kind.

    I agree, though, that functional programming is used in a lot of multi-paradigm applications written in (e.g.) LISP, C++ and OCAML.
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-04 15:44
    Maurits:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Anglocentrism is ugly.


    Yeah! And another thing! This use the English alphabet thingy you folks have got going on now. That has to stop!

    I say bring back hieroglyphics and use it for programming in C!

    Ok. Lessee here. I've got a Sun-thingy, something that looks like Ra with STD and a flying bird. So that must be ....
  • foo 2008-01-04 15:46
    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."


    The funny thing is someday that will be possible... and we'll have warp-drives, transporters, and holo-decks... And, you'll just ask Data to do it for you. Then Data will look at you and say: "What the hell do I need you for again?"

    And not being able to program will be like not being able to read and write.

    And your friend will have to explain what "non-programmers" are for.
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-04 15:55
    James:
    RE: the VB versus Java bickering... I'm interested to know who's defending the VB side. Growing up in coder culture, I always considered VB to be the "simplistic" end of the language scale:

    (from "simple" to "serious")
    Crayons... markers... watercolors... oil paint
    Airsoft... BB gun... 22 rifle... elephant gun
    MacOS (pre-X)... Windows... *NIX
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly


    It's not that the left side of the scale is *worse*, it's just better suited to less-demanding applications. You wouldn't write a tens-of-thousands LOC "enterprise" application in VB (OK, I know some who would, but I'm using the sane/intelligent form of "you" here) just like you wouldn't go rhino hunting with a BB gun.

    Perhaps I'm missing something where cthulu is calling Java "the opposite of programming", or where other posters are calling Design Patterns "not a feature" -- in my experience, when you introduce either of them, it's adding order in a chaotic world, not the other way around. Maybe if you're just writing a VBA script to catalog your Magic cards, that's the language best suited for the task. But when you're writing "Real World" software, Java or C# or even C++ with Design Patterns (used correctly!!!) can encourage better, more maintainable code.

    Or is my understanding of The Way Things Work itself a WTF?


    You'd write an "enterprise" application in **assembly**?

    Good luck with that.

    *shrug* the problem that people run into with VB is the same one they run into with C. They make the core application too big. In C you break it down into smaller source files. In VB you break down large applications into self-contained components.

    Frankly it's astonishing how few VB programmers really use components.
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-04 16:01
    C_Boo:
    SpasticWeasel:
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.


    Heretic!
  • CSM 2008-01-04 16:25
    Ah, reminds me of when I was young and got into computers. I got ahold of an old 286, repaired it, and began using it to play old DOS games. Then my father came to me and told me it wasn't fair that I had a computer and my brother didn't, and that I should get one running for him. So I went through a great deal of trouble to get him a machine running for him, installed a few games, but he proceeded to change the BIOS settings on a regular basis because he had no clue what the hell to do with a computer otherwise, and I got stuck fixing the problem every time. From then on I became the computer wiz-kid of my family and one of my parent's friends asked me to come over and "program" her remote control for her TV.

    Hehe, I remember shortly after this my brother had made a sandwich for himself and I told him to make one for me out of fairness. After he made it for me I dismantled the sandwich and told him to fix it. Good times...
  • Your.Master 2008-01-04 16:29
    Well...I mean, aren't you?
  • Your.Master 2008-01-04 16:30
    Alonzo Meatman:
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)


    Well...I mean, aren't you?
  • srsly 2008-01-04 16:36
    Your.Master:
    Alonzo Meatman:
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)


    Well...I mean, aren't you?


    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.

    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.
  • Hacky 2008-01-04 16:43
    CSM:
    Hehe, I remember shortly after this my brother had made a sandwich for himself and I told him to make one for me out of fairness. After he made it for me I dismantled the sandwich and told him to fix it. Good times...


    Literally LOL here! Brilliant!
  • Spectre 2008-01-04 16:45
    Edward Royce:
    Maurits:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Anglocentrism is ugly.


    Yeah! And another thing! This use the English alphabet thingy you folks have got going on now. That has to stop!

    I say bring back hieroglyphics and use it for programming in C!



    One day, I was writing a program which frequently iterated over a matrix, so I used the usual names i and j. And then I became bored and in one subroutine called them и and жи. It worked.

    James:
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly


    Arrr... This is starting to drive me mad. VB stands on the same level of complexity as C#!!! The ole' language of the 90's is gone forever, the latest version (2008) is as suitable for building real systems as Java, C#, and <your favorite language here>.
    <that_was_a_rant />
  • Vlad 2008-01-04 16:52
    I use to say I'm not. I am a programmer, not a computer specialist.
  • GalacticCowboy 2008-01-04 17:00
    WhiskeyJack:
    fred flintstone:
    "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!


    Works fine for me. Is your Holodeck broken?


    We had to quit using ours because the characters kept coming to life and destroying the house.
  • Bob N Freely 2008-01-04 17:13
    morry:
    In explaining programming, I like to use the "tying your shoes" analogy. It goes something like this.

    them: what is programming?
    me: it's like you telling me how to tie a shoe.
    them: ??
    me: let me show you. *removes shoe, unties it*
    me: tell me how to tie a shoe. remember - I'm a computer.
    them: take the laces in your hands.
    me: (* grab both laces in both hands, in a fist *)
    them: no, one lace, one hand
    me: (* grabs left with right, right with left, still in fist *)
    them: no, grab the left with the left hand, right with the right. and them with between the thumb and forefinger
    me: .... and so on


    That's a great analogy. I might use that. But I'd add the caveat that they have to assume they're talking to someone who has no idea what a shoe is or what any of the parts are called. Then, after they get frustrated, say something like, "Now that you're starting to get the idea, consider trying to do the same thing, over the phone, with someone who only knows a few words of English. Then you'll have some idea what programming a computer is like."
  • streetpc 2008-01-04 17:22
    May be already known, but...
    http://www.lifereboot.com/2007/10-reasons-it-doesnt-pay-to-be-the-computer-guy/

    Just every truth of it.
  • baboo 2008-01-04 17:28
    Yeah, like kind of how this conversation I had once went:

    Her: "So, what are you going to school for?"

    Me: "I'm getting a PhD in computer science."

    Her: "Oh, so you're learning how to fix computers then?"

    Me: "... Well, getting a PhD in computer science is just like getting a doctoral degree in anything - you're expected to contribute something never-before-thought-of to the body of existing knowledge in that field."

    Her: [pause] "Wow! So then you should be really good at fixing computers then!"

    ... Yes, really.

    (Since then, by the way, I decided to stop at my master's in order to get out into the "real world" and start coding and earning an honest living.)
  • Phleabo 2008-01-04 17:31
    Andrew:

    The earliest relational databases, or knowledge trees, were written in LISP.


    Quiz time - do you know who Edgar Codd was, what he's famous for, and why (in the light of his work) that statement is so fundamentally incorrect? A hint would be that trees are hierarchical.
  • Phleabo 2008-01-04 17:31
    Andrew:

    The earliest relational databases, or knowledge trees, were written in LISP.


    Quiz time - do you know who Edgar Codd was, what he's famous for, and why (in the light of his work) that statement is so fundamentally incorrect? A hint would be that trees are hierarchical.
  • Phleabo 2008-01-04 17:48
    Edward Royce:
    Maurits:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Anglocentrism is ugly.


    This use the English alphabet thingy you folks have got going on now.


    Well, actually, it's the Latin alphabet, so called because it's mostly the one used by the Romans (who spoke Latin and borrowed the alphabet from the Etruscans, who kinda adopted it from Greek - it's complicated).

    Anglocentrism combined with ignorance is even uglier.
  • yourName 2008-01-04 18:00
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    we should all program in lojban
  • kluminotty 2008-01-04 18:26
    Geesh, I guess people think it is easy to just go and slap something together. Last year I spoke with an individual taking a "Game Design / Development Research" course and they were agitated that they did not get to create a game in that 6 week period of time.

    Also my boss thinks for a program to create a report it should take me 5 minutes to code it, but alas he over looks having to create the design of the report, the SQL involved, the data manipulation after the SQL, and then horridly enough using XSLT to transform the XML the stupid thing outputs. "Yeah, get right on that one, Chief!"
  • kluminotty 2008-01-04 18:38
    Anonymous:
    I hear Mac's are pretty.

    (METAPHORICAL MEANING ALERT) Well so are all the dumb chicks in college.

    No lie, pretty but sometimes complicated and after you have wasted your money on it, you can't seem to get any good thing back in return.
  • zoips 2008-01-04 18:38
    As much as a despise VB and all variants, that's actually a fundamental misunderstanding of on error resume next. What you are supposed to do is in the next statement check to see if there was an error, then handle it if there was. If you don't do the error checking it's the same as having an empty catch statement. If you don't use on error resume next what happens is the whole program will just terminate because that's default error handling in VB.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go commit ritual suicide for even knowing this...
  • ikk 2008-01-04 18:39
    Agreed.

    I prefer Esperanto, but Lojban is nice too.
  • zoips 2008-01-04 18:39
    zoips:
    As much as a despise VB and all variants, that's actually a fundamental misunderstanding of on error resume next. What you are supposed to do is in the next statement check to see if there was an error, then handle it if there was. If you don't do the error checking it's the same as having an empty catch statement. If you don't use on error resume next what happens is the whole program will just terminate because that's default error handling in VB.

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go commit ritual suicide for even knowing this...


    Err, that was supposed to have quoted a previous message that was referencing the on error resume next crap in VB.
  • dkf 2008-01-04 18:57
    James:
    RE: the VB versus Java bickering... I'm interested to know who's defending the VB side. Growing up in coder culture, I always considered VB to be the "simplistic" end of the language scale:

    (from "simple" to "serious")
    Crayons... markers... watercolors... oil paint
    [...]
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly
    [...]
    Or is my understanding of The Way Things Work itself a WTF?
    To be honest, it's kind-of WTF-y. With programming languages what you've got is an abstraction hierarchy, with stuff like machine code at the one end and some of the extremely abstract stuff at the other end (and it goes far beyond VB...) In particular, while C is an abstraction of assembly, and Java most certainly is more abstract than C, I'd not place Pascal in there (it's more like stuff at the C level).

    But abstraction level is not "simple" vs. "serious". The whole idea of real programming is to use the right tool (i.e. the right abstraction level) for the job. If you're doing something like writing certain core parts of an operating system (e.g. the system call interface) then you pretty much have to work at the assembly level, but if you try to do a whole modern webserver+webapp that way, you'll go completely mad. So you go up abstraction levels, reducing the number of lines of code you have to write and making it easier to write correct code to achieve a particular task, modulo any language peculiarities along the way of course. Of course, as you go to more abstract programming languages you lose something. In fact, you lose a lot; there are many things you can't say and do, but in return you get the ability to express those things that you can do much more succinctly. However, this leads to the problem that sometimes you need features from one abstraction level at another, which is why good practical languages have ways to call code defined in other languages, one way or another.

    And why are there different programming languages at each general level of abstraction? It's simple: not everyone agrees over which trade-offs are right to make when defining the language (and there are always trade-offs). Occasionally, you see someone who thinks that a particular language is the One True Language and tries to persuade everyone else to switch to it (I've seen it from almost all sides). When you see this, remember! It's a Real WTF?! One Size Does Not Fit All. Those who think that a single solution is possible/reasonable have never tried to do it for real...
  • Jambon 2008-01-04 19:18
    In my experience, a good way to explain programming is to say, "It's like doing math homework, except you get paid for it."
  • ChiefCrazyTalk 2008-01-04 19:25
    Zylon:
    Chris:
    What *DID* surprise me, though, was when half-way through a programming class in Pascal, one of the students in the class was actually writing a program in the LAB in English rather than Pascal, even though the student had handed in several working Pascal programs prior to this. I briefly saw the screen; it looked similar to:

    "Please make the value of variable X equal 5"
    "Multiply X by 100"
    "Output X to the screen"
    ... etc.

    So he was trying to program in COBOL.

    /rimshot


    May not be a WTF. Perhaps he was writing in pseudo-code, and was going to write the actual code later? Or more likley, the work he had handed in previously was done by someone else.
  • Been There 2008-01-04 19:45
    It really *is* (as mentioned before) the Holodeck syndrome...


    When someone asks if I am good with computers, I usually answer "I know a quite a bit, about a very few things to do with computers" and follow it with "There's a lot I understand that looks Greek to many people...but there's a lot that looks Greek to me as well"


    If someone pulled that "halo" business on me though, I'd probably say "If I knew enough to make Halo as a quick, easy side project, why on Earth would I be going to work every frick'n day?"

    Seriously.
    Its a competitive world.
    Anything easy, can be done by anyone, and probably won't pay worth crap.

    The worst though, is not people who are "dumb" with computers, but think they somehow possess that "super creativity" that everyone else lacks, and for *them* all they need is their magical "idea" and the rest will fall into place with little or no effort...

    ...that is honestly insulting when you think about it.

    Hate to break it to BiL, but 1000s of middle schoolers have already come up with the idea of making "a halo game" and they *still* aren't making Bungie shake with fear.... and they probably have a better chance of success than BiL ever will...

    Short answer to BiL: "If it was that frick'n easy, it would already be done by people who know a *lot* more than you"
  • AntonioCS 2008-01-04 19:47
    srsly:
    Your.Master:
    Alonzo Meatman:
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)


    Well...I mean, aren't you?


    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.

    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.


    Do you know how much trouble it is to write cross browser scripts in javascript? Do you? Or css that works on IE, FF and etc..
    I have also programmed in C and C++, but I am now a web programmer (mainly php and js) and let me tell you that it's hard! Check out some of the js libs out there like prototype or jquery, or frameworks like EXT js just to see the amount of code it has!! Please stop being an ignorant arrogant stupid guy and try to learn something about web programming
  • DOA 2008-01-04 20:03
    srsly:

    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.
    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.


    Spare a thought for the people who can program but keep getting pulled back to "web programming" because what the vast majority of small-medium businesses out there want is a very specific app to be used by their employees to coordinate a task.
    As much as I'd like to waddle in Lisp, Python, (enter your language of preference here) the truth of the matter is that the old dynamic webpage model is the best choice most of the time.
    And remember that some of us have to keep track of all the little gotchas and nuisances of a myriad versions of PHP, JSP, Perl, Oracle, MySQL, etc along with all their assorted libraries. Add to this all the existing frameworks, packaging systems, differences between an installation on Windows vs Linux, etc and suddenly writing a proper program in say just Java starts to look very, very easy.
  • TraumaPony 2008-01-04 20:23
    tezoatlipoca:
    Edward Royce:
    TraumaPony:

    Another time, my neighbour asked me to make an operating system that didn't crash so he could use it instead of Windows 95 (this was in 2003; I just installed XP instead).

    Although, to be fair on the man, he had been hit by three seperate trains in his life, and was shot in a Nazi POW camp... Poor bastard.


    Yep. Using Windows 95? Seriously poor bastard.

    Actually, being hit by 3 different trains makes me question the man's wisdom in where he walks. (Either that or he worked in a shunting yard) Typically people who have been hit by a train learn (the first time) not to jog, listening to their iPods down railway lines.


    The first time, someone pushed him onto the tracks. The second and third time, his car broke down while driving across them.
  • TraumaPony 2008-01-04 20:30
    AntonioCS:
    srsly:
    Your.Master:
    Alonzo Meatman:
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)


    Well...I mean, aren't you?


    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.

    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.


    Do you know how much trouble it is to write cross browser scripts in javascript? Do you? Or css that works on IE, FF and etc..
    I have also programmed in C and C++, but I am now a web programmer (mainly php and js) and let me tell you that it's hard! Check out some of the js libs out there like prototype or jquery, or frameworks like EXT js just to see the amount of code it has!! Please stop being an ignorant arrogant stupid guy and try to learn something about web programming

    What are the last six letters of the word "JavaScript"?
  • http://www.golfnorwich.com/ 2008-01-04 20:33
    I don't understand...why didn't you just start telling him...he probably would have ended the call after the first two or three weeks.

    http://www.golfnorwich.com/
  • 543 2008-01-04 20:46
    JS:
    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."


    Vsak to hod na lamera, nie? :)
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-04 20:56
    Andrew:

    Functional programming has many "real world" applications. You just don't realize where functional programming is used.

    Most programmers associate LISP with functional programming. So, let's compare it to other software "real world" people use.

    Computer Algebra & Calculus systems, like Matlab, Maple, etc., solve basic integrals by pattern matching. LISP did this since a 1967 MIT student's project; this later became MACSYMA.

    Surely, SQL is not a university toy language. SQL database queries behave like functional language searches. Look at how this SELECT is evaluated from left to right. Each step is a *function call* that filters the result-set.

    SELECT A, COUNT(A)
    FROM TAB1
    WHERE A < 35
    GROUP BY A HAVING COUNT(A) > 2;

    The earliest relational databases, or knowledge trees, were written in LISP. I believe that SELECT query planning follows steps similar to how LISP spans a tree search. Both use heuristics to improve the searching.

    Andrew, much as I love the concept of lisp (and its rather bastardised brother, elisp, which is at least in common usage), this is a pretty feeble defence. Pattern matching is available in cretinous languages such as PHP4. SQL may well be LLR rather than LALR, but that hardly makes it equivalent to a functional programming language (ignoring the fact that any Turing-complete language is equivalent to any other Turing-complete language). It's even broken in its own terms, for gawds' sake.

    The one-and-a-half points in favour of a functional language are that

    (a) Functions have first-class status. This tends to weed out MBAs, hair-dressers, and Java programmers from the employment pool; and
    (b) There are no, repeat no, side-effects.

    Unfortunately, (b) is not compatible with real life. Which is why I, personally, prefer to program in Z80 assembler. Mmmm... self-modifying left-shifts...
  • Malcolm 2008-01-04 20:59
    I really enjoy your site.

    I'm a programmer, but I'm smart enough to recognize I'm a hack. What I lack in formal training I make up for with "grit".

    I've had these "are you good at computers" calls before.

    Reminds me of a popular get-rich method: buy lottery ticket, win lottery, write book about how to get rich
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-04 21:06
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Does this "Web Service (integrated)" do anything, apart from pick random letters out of a Scrabble bag?

    Does any "web service?"

    Unless it's written in VB4, of course.
  • zoips 2008-01-04 21:08
    TraumaPony:
    AntonioCS:
    srsly:
    Your.Master:
    Alonzo Meatman:
    HAH! If you think it's hard trying to explain what a programmer does, try explaining what a WEB programmer does. 9 times out of 10 they think you're a graphic designer. (grrrrr)


    Well...I mean, aren't you?


    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.

    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.


    Do you know how much trouble it is to write cross browser scripts in javascript? Do you? Or css that works on IE, FF and etc..
    I have also programmed in C and C++, but I am now a web programmer (mainly php and js) and let me tell you that it's hard! Check out some of the js libs out there like prototype or jquery, or frameworks like EXT js just to see the amount of code it has!! Please stop being an ignorant arrogant stupid guy and try to learn something about web programming

    What are the last six letters of the word "JavaScript"?


    Spoken (written >_>) like someone's whose only Javascript experience falls into the Fisher Price ages 1-3 category.

    ...someone previously said two trolls don't make a right, I beg to differ.
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-04 21:14
    TraumaPony:
    tezoatlipoca:
    Edward Royce:
    TraumaPony:

    Another time, my neighbour asked me to make an operating system that didn't crash so he could use it instead of Windows 95 (this was in 2003; I just installed XP instead).

    Although, to be fair on the man, he had been hit by three seperate trains in his life, and was shot in a Nazi POW camp... Poor bastard.


    Yep. Using Windows 95? Seriously poor bastard.

    Actually, being hit by 3 different trains makes me question the man's wisdom in where he walks. (Either that or he worked in a shunting yard) Typically people who have been hit by a train learn (the first time) not to jog, listening to their iPods down railway lines.


    The first time, someone pushed him onto the tracks. The second and third time, his car broke down while driving across them.

    Or it might be that he was in a Nazi concentration camp.

    Have you considered Reading Comprehension 101? It's quite useful in many walks of life.
  • Smash 2008-01-04 22:06
    Ubersoldat:
    Just for this I love the penguin, now if for some reason Linux goes mainstream and people start bugging with it too I'll migrate myself to BSD or something else... I hear Mac's are pretty.


    You got it wrong. Macs are petty
  • coljac 2008-01-04 22:25
    I want to know what the brother-in-law does for a living. Then you could turn it back on him. If he's a mechanic, tell him to explain over the phone how you can build a car like a Ferrari. Even better if he's a doctor...

  • cbsmith 2008-01-04 23:09

    people who use "web" and "programmer" in the same sentence piss me off. "web programmers" are little more than glorified script kiddies.

    most "web programmers" i know can't even handle writing vb let alone real programs.


    No offense, but you sound as stupid as the guy in the WTF. You know, not all "web programmers" write Javascript and CSS. I'm a "web programmer" (actually I prefer "web developer") and I haven't used JS in anger in the last 2 months (and no, I haven't been slacking off). Hell, I spent an entire year at my last job just working on a single VB.NET module (oh noes, VB in an enterprisey app!!!1one) without seeing any HTML.

    There is quite a bit more to web development than Javascript, CSS and HTML. Believe it or not, there has to be something behind all that stuff to make it pull from a database or whatnot and produce the result. Or did you reall think that there's a file called "Could-You-Explain-Programming-Please.aspx" on TDWTF's server that's hand-edited HTML?

    What you're saying is a bit like slamming a photographer for doing weddings. Yeah, there are some hacks out there that don't know what they're doing that do them, but just because someone does it doesn't mean they're a hack. It also doesn't mean you can't be skilled at it, or make it into an art form. You gotta pay the bills, and unfortunately, there just aren't that many jobs out there for Lisp or Haskell programmers. There are, however, plenty of .NET and Java positions.
  • Carlos 2008-01-05 00:03
    (sorry about my english)
    When I tell people I meet I make software, they allways end asking me what kind of computers I sell.
  • icelava 2008-01-05 00:49
    Sounds like your sister did not marry him for his intelligence.
  • asdf 2008-01-05 00:56
    C:\>do taxes
  • Ross 2008-01-05 01:01
    It's funny, yes, but it'd be a hair funnier if Inform 7 didn't exist. (Yes, the language exists. Yes, people use it. Yes, they think it's fantastic. Not my thing, but, well, a thing. And not even a "This is a programming language for people scared by semicolons" language; it's a language based on a relational calculus that is easier to express in english-like phrases than in stuff that looks like code.)
  • bonni 2008-01-05 01:03
    Oh. My. God. THANK YOU. I laughed so much at this I was "breath laughing" (you know, when you run out of air but you're still laughing?). I'm still grinning. Oh, gosh. What a wonderful laugh. I feel so much happier than I did before reading this.
  • Stephen 2008-01-05 01:26
    My partner thinks all I do is push "buttons" ugh!
  • Adam 2008-01-05 03:09
    That brings back memories. My friend's cousin once cornered me at a party and asked me to write down everything I knew about Lisp. I wish he'd asked about COBOL, I know piss-all about COBOL.
  • asdf 2008-01-05 04:29
    that's not even ambition... if he had ambition he would have tried at least to get a book and read it. for example, he wouldn't have skipped to the back of the java book.
  • Watson 2008-01-05 05:14
    See; this illustrates why programming is not as easy as some might like it to be:

    Konamiman:
    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


    Even in that code there's a bug: shouldn't the players put their uniforms on before the game starts?
  • iogy 2008-01-05 06:59
    Maurits:

    Anglocentrism is ugly.

    But it's damn practical. Same deal with URLs - would you like to figure out how to type a vowel with an accent, knowing that clever domain squatters and phishers have already registered every variation on the name using accents?

    Besides, the CodeSODs would be a lot less funny if nobody understood the variable and function names. bool_да_нет_неизвестно just doesn't have the same ring to it.
  • iogy 2008-01-05 07:00
    Watson:

    Even in that code there's a bug: shouldn't the players put their uniforms on before the game starts?

    What about having two distinct teams? If they're all red and white, how do you figure out who the opponent is? ;)

    They don't have pants on, either.
  • noniche 2008-01-05 12:27
    mmmmm, lovely bit that.
    my personal favorite starts out with: "you know computers, right?", when all they really know is i work for a high tech company (managing linux engineers).
    the first sound out my mouth is alway "well, yessssssssssssssssss".
    -nn
  • Sack 2008-01-05 12:31
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.


    It's even worse when they've called the PC Helpline and they start with that question
  • Variant does not contain an object 2008-01-05 14:21
    Phleabo:
    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.


    All of the 20+ languages I've touched in my life have their own peculiar brand of idiocy built in somewhere in the jungle of features. VB, Java, Logo, Forth, all variants of assembler, C, C++ (tho that one has a bit more than the average), SQL, Intercal...
  • apognu 2008-01-05 15:26
    More important, he forgot to say "please" at the end...
  • bob 2008-01-05 15:50
    I try to think of people who are smart yet have wronged me in some way, the list being extremely small, and I send these people directly to them.
  • Nick Carter 2008-01-05 15:54
    To bad he wasn't given a book on Javascript. He could quickly run this code right in a browser.

    eval("Morph the brother-in-law into something cool");
  • BD 2008-01-05 16:21
    I drink for the time when we can "program" with "Go get me a beer!".
  • Nielz 2008-01-05 16:40
    "Morph the screen into something cool" is actually almost how my first attempt at programming went when I was 8 or so (actually it was "boat. boat to beach"). Then my dad gave me these magazines with code listings in basic. It really did get the ball rolling for me.
  • TM 2008-01-05 22:58
    Right on, man. I usually drift out of the conversation and stop paying attention as soon as I hear that phrase...
  • Zygo 2008-01-06 00:17
    proko:
    I think that he's biggest mistake was answering yes to a question "Him: Hey, you're good with computers right?". It's almost a real WTF, because when you hear that question, you probably must run. At least I always do so.


    I haven't answered that specific question honestly or directly in...hmmm...call it 16 years?
  • Righteous Dude 2008-01-06 05:14
    apetrelli:
    This kind of people usually think that Word has been created by God.
    Oh yeah? I bet you are one of those atheists that think that programs "evolve" and are subject to "natural selection". Can't you just accept that an intelligent designer makes programs?
  • Chris 2008-01-06 05:50
    Ah, but alas; it was written in python!


    :)
  • Robert 2008-01-06 06:36
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.


    That's why I always answer that question with "No, sorry. I break them by accident all the time.". You have no idea how much pain and suffering it's saved in the long run.
  • Zygo 2008-01-06 09:54
    WhiskeyJack:
    fred flintstone:
    "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!


    Works fine for me. Is your Holodeck broken?


    Oi! Fred's not supposed to know he's in a holodeck.
  • Procedural 2008-01-06 11:09

    Their comments, as inane as they are, do point out a limiting factor of our existing languages: their expressiveness. Can't wait for a decade or two to pass by so that we can actually issue stupidly vague full-sentence orders and the computer will assemble the intended code.
  • Luke 2008-01-06 13:14
    This reminds me of when i was at school, i never had a computer at home, and only had a few months playing with the ones at school (before actual PCS with windows, they had old acorns)

    this kid from one of my classes asks me what he has to do to get a job in creating computer games, he had no idea what part of creating them he wanted to go into, but liked the idea of programming them.

    now back in the day, i didnt know a lot about the languages that the Play Station 1 used.

    however i tried pointing him in the right direction, of the web, and things like C++. letting him know hes best chances were by going to uni.

    i also told him, that he should even go to the local libary, and speak to our IT teacher. he couldn't be bothered, and just wanted me to tell him what he had to do.

    his answer, "cant i just do it on the Play Station its self. isn't that how it works?"

    he didn't really want to go down the who PC root of programming, and learning anything complex. and to tell you the truth he wasnt the brightest crayon in the box, in many areas including, logic, math, problem solving, ect.

    he asked this same question many times, normally at lest once a month, i cant remember how i got him to stop now, i think he gave up.
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-06 14:12
    Anonymous:
    Must... Not... Bash... Head... Against... Keyboard...

    I swear, most of the people using computers don't need them at all.

    That, unfortunately, is the satori for today.
  • name 2008-01-06 15:32
    void CreateFootballStadiumAndFootballPlayers()
    {
    for(;;)
    {
    System.out.println("HEY LOOK AT ME I CAN PROGRAM!");
    }
    }

    That should work mighty dandy
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-06 15:34
    Ubersoldat:
    DOA:
    Staszek:
    I was studying Computer Science, he was starting a career in the army.
    Hearing I am a student, he almost involuntarily sneared. Which is a common habit among lower-grade soldiers (ones that don't need to graduate university) in the army.
    But not only me being a student made him feel pity for me. CS students made him feel double-pity.


    I have been both a CS student and a soldier and I don't get it. When you'll be working in a cozy air-conditioned office with your donut and coffee, he'll be out in the freezing wind and rain guarding some god-forsaken ammo depot. And he feels pity for you?! Not very bright, is he?


    Same here, and the only thing I miss from being a soldier is shooting different weapons. And sometimes you don't want to be in an office in such a beautiful day, but again, the military can destroy a day like those in seconds making you march for 5 hours straight:

    "Oh! Such a nice day... gear up! Going for a Walk!"

    He must not be very smart actually.

    I don't wish to be rude, I really don't, honestly, but what exactly is the point of the Czech army? Or any but two of the European armies? Cf the admirable performance of the Dutch army at Srebenica...
  • real_aardvark 2008-01-06 16:02
    James:
    RE: the VB versus Java bickering... I'm interested to know who's defending the VB side. Growing up in coder culture, I always considered VB to be the "simplistic" end of the language scale:

    (from "simple" to "serious")
    Crayons... markers... watercolors... oil paint
    Airsoft... BB gun... 22 rifle... elephant gun
    MacOS (pre-X)... Windows... *NIX
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly


    It's not that the left side of the scale is *worse*, it's just better suited to less-demanding applications. You wouldn't write a tens-of-thousands LOC "enterprise" application in VB (OK, I know some who would, but I'm using the sane/intelligent form of "you" here) just like you wouldn't go rhino hunting with a BB gun.

    Perhaps I'm missing something where cthulu is calling Java "the opposite of programming", or where other posters are calling Design Patterns "not a feature" -- in my experience, when you introduce either of them, it's adding order in a chaotic world, not the other way around. Maybe if you're just writing a VBA script to catalog your Magic cards, that's the language best suited for the task. But when you're writing "Real World" software, Java or C# or even C++ with Design Patterns (used correctly!!!) can encourage better, more maintainable code.

    Or is my understanding of The Way Things Work itself a WTF?

    Well, whether or not it's the Way Things Work is worth thinking about, but, as you say, not relevant to the real world.

    The use of design patterns is arguably a good way to produce better, more maintainable code. It was a nice idea. I've seen little evidence of it being useful or helpful in the last ten years or so.

    It's more difficult, yet surely more important, to define what writing crappy and unmaintainable code is about. Rock on, WTF!
  • Simon H 2008-01-06 17:37
    I took the liberty of completing the program suggested above:

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


  • BillyBob 2008-01-06 18:16
    Typical conversion:

    Someone: So what do you do:
    Me: Software Engineer
    Someone: With computers?
    Me: *sigh* Yes

    From here, the conversion branches off into:

    1) Oh, I have an issue with my [Sound|Video|Game|Internet|Application] can you look at it?
    2) I'm looking to buy a computer, can you find me a cheap and good one? (Apparently I have inside knowledge on how to find cheap computers)*
    3) Can you get me a copy of X application? (don't even bother pointing them to a store/website because it must be free)
    4) A question about an iPod or similar device.
    5) Can yuo tell me how to do X with Myspace/Facebook?
    6) Vista is shit isn't it? (I think they are trying to relate with this one)

    With which you follow - None of that really has anything to do with what I do.

    Which ofcourse gets ignored and another one of the branches above is traversed :-)

    * Ofcourse, you never, ever, build someone a computer for them. You will spend the rest of your evenings being their 24/7 support centre.
  • Beeblebrox 2008-01-06 19:32
    cparker:
    cthulhu:
    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.
    You lose.


    No, Java loses. If you really want to know how to program, you have to be able to understand pointers. Some people will never, ever understand pointers. other people *are* capable of getting it. Java doesn't help you figure out which is which. At least not until they're already in well over their heads. See Joel's article on Java Schools.
  • Beeblebrox 2008-01-06 19:52
    C_Boo:
    SpasticWeasel:
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.


    Except that most people that go to school solely for business really *are* retards. See How Engineers and Managers Communicate.
  • the dude of life 2008-01-06 22:56
    With the greatest of respect to your brother in law, he's not the sharpest tool in the box is he?!
  • Ross 2008-01-07 00:24
    My brother may be a damn hippie, but I'm relieved to say no one in my family is that dumb.
  • Zemm 2008-01-07 01:45
    Watson:

    Even in that code there's a bug: shouldn't the players put their uniforms on before the game starts?


    function StartTheGameWhenUserPressesSpacebar() {
    onKeypress = function (key) { if (key==" ") { startGame(); } }
    }

    (OK I'm not completely familiar with the syntax. Last time I did anything C-like main() had to return an int, so why is it void?; my snippet here is more like JS, but anyway...)
  • winchester169 2008-01-07 01:53
    Alright, so I was reading through all this and in all honesty found it a small bit tedious until I reched that last one about the semi-colon. I honestly almost wet myself laughing.

    Thank you for a gloriously uplifting end to a rather down day.
  • disaster 2008-01-07 02:27
    dorkquemada:
    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


    No!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't encourage him! We'll probably end up with a "Haskell is the only true programming language because side-effects are the work of the Devil" rant or something equally pointless.
  • charon 2008-01-07 02:34
    TraumaPony:
    Not everyone speaks English.


    so they shouldn't touch computers, not to mention programming
  • DOA 2008-01-07 02:57
    charon:
    TraumaPony:
    Not everyone speaks English.


    so they shouldn't touch computers, not to mention programming


    Do you speak greek in your country? No? Why do you have doctors then? Seeing as the vast majority of the medical terminology is greek words written in latin characters. Why don't you just get rid of them and die?
  • disaster 2008-01-07 02:58
    Beeblebrox:
    cparker:
    cthulhu:
    The real WTF is that someone gave him a book on Java to learn Programming. Java vs Programming. Apple vs Orange.
    You lose.


    No, Java loses. If you really want to know how to program, you have to be able to understand pointers. Some people will never, ever understand pointers. other people *are* capable of getting it. Java doesn't help you figure out which is which. At least not until they're already in well over their heads. See Joel's article on Java Schools.


    That's not what he says. His claim is that because pointers are hard to learn they're a good tool to weed out people who aren't clever enough to be good programmers. Java, by contrast (he claims), is conceptually simple and therefore lets too many incompetents pass CS courses. (IMO you could solve this by making multithreading/concurrency a central part of intro-to-programming, but I digress.)

    I have a CS degree myself, and although it didn't involve much programming you couldn't finish your degree without at least some exposure to Java, C, (S)ML and Prolog (and SQL). That strikes me as fulfilling the basic requirement of giving everyone some exposure to all the major programming paradigms.
  • Kaziarl 2008-01-07 04:05
    First of all, I by no means claim to be a computer expert. I took cisco networking courses in high school, along with web design and hardware repair. For all that my acknowledge is mediocre at best. Anyway, thats not overly important to my story. My story has to do with a small classified add I had posted in a local newspaper. It was simple, stated that I would come over and work on peoples computers for them. If it was not something I could fix, I would not charge them and refer them to someone who could. One day I got a call from a gentleman who claimed his brand new monitor wasn't working. Simple enough problem really, probably a driver issue I had thought.

    So I proceed to the mans apartment, and knock on the door. It opens, and I'm greeted by an elderly man. He offers me coffee, which I take(I can't turn down coffee), then I ask him where the computer is. He shows me into the second bedroom, which has been turned into an office, and there by the desk I see a computer tower. Gateway, not sure what model, I go over and turn it on. On top of the desk however was a mac, one of the brightly colored IMACS when they first came out. So I turn to him and ask where the monitor is at. He gives me an "are you blind" look, then says it's right there on the desk. I had to actually set up the mac completely to show him it was a completely different computer, and not just a monitor.
  • Alan 2008-01-07 04:48
    I think its best to pretend you do another job.

    'I work in an STI clinic!' usually does the trick.

    Noone has ever responded with 'Really, well i have this rash?'

    :)
  • Sir OJ 2008-01-07 04:50
    lol
  • Phil 2008-01-07 05:23
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.


    even more fun is when they reply, "Me too!" referring to their ability to use Word and MSN Messenger, and the occasional Ctrl Alt Delete when something freezes, then ask if you could get them a job in programming.
  • Tukaram 2008-01-07 05:32
    Hi,

    tell them about AppleSript. The next sentence is a real life (and more or less working!) example:

    Tell application "Finder" to open directory "foo" and do some crazy stuff with every file.

    "some crazy stuff" can be the name of a sub function.

    Apart of this: AppleScript is horrible for real Programmers with C++/Java/Whatever background. Is completely different to everything else.

    Have a nice day.
  • The General 2008-01-07 05:39
    543:
    JS:
    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."


    Vsak to hod na lamera, nie? :)


    Creating the shirts in Czech would be a bit tricky. Or a bit [a href="http://slovniky.idnes.cz/?slovo=tricko&rank=&lng=cs-en"]tričko[/a].
  • The General 2008-01-07 05:43
    ^^^^ Right, that link didn't work. You can see the href anyway.
  • El Dudarino 2008-01-07 05:51
    Jay:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)


    He should look for the app servers logs to get the real error...
  • BillyBob 2008-01-07 05:53
    Beeblebrox:

    No, Java loses. If you really want to know how to program, you have to be able to understand pointers.


    SomeClass someClass = new SomeClass();

    SomeClass someOtherClass = someClass;

    Looks like it behaves pretty much like a pointer to me...

    I suspect that your beef is with the garbage collector. C++ is about as filthy as a language gets yet no one suggests you work with raw pointers in that anymore unless you really really have to.

    Is it the lack of a dereference operator?
  • Jiima 2008-01-07 06:06
    Only when ya use some lame programming language like C++ :P
    In Ruby or Smalltalk it is not recommended to use semicolon on the end of line :P

    Ok, I'm jokin'
    But it is true - people do not understand what programming really is. I didin't find people in Poland who try to program computer in "polish" using notepad, but I think that the only reason of this is, that we have IT Technology classes in middle school, and most people have to write damn simple database in Turbo Pascal (when I was in middle school a long time ago, I think that for now it is C# or something like that, M$ put really lot of money to ensure that kids in our schools will learn The Only Proper IT Technology Made By M$) - or bought it from IT-savy members of their class. But still people don't understand why me, a enterprise programmer, don't know how to write 3D game in 2 days, and don't have such a precognition skill, to say them how to fix a PC when they give me a description like "suddenly Word started to behave silly".
  • Cheatah 2008-01-07 06:12
    There actually is a language that is almost readable by nitwits. Lingo, you know, the Macromedia Director language.

    set the x of the mouse to 5

    Horrible. But I think this should be taken to a higher level. Something Star Trekish. These kind of people should interface directly with computers by talking to it.

    "Computer... Create a football game with a stadium and players in red shirts and white shorts. Activate!"

    Well, at least the idiot won't be talking to ME...
  • Squeek 2008-01-07 06:19
    Surely *all* of the above suggestions are valid VB? :)
  • The General 2008-01-07 06:23
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.

    Coding by obscurity? (The last two are UserName and UserPassword.)
  • scruffy 2008-01-07 06:29
    Hell yeah.

    I've actually come across first line helldesk guys who can't actually conceive of mortal men actually writing software, the zenith of human excelence to them seems to be those that by sheer trial and error wrote the manuals.

    These are also the sorts of people who don't understand that a Compsci degree covers more material than a vocational school leavers course.

    I've often thought it amusing that such pig ignorant people have the arrogance to assume that they know as much as anyone else... But Remember "The only reason you spent seventeen years in education was that you hadn't learnt properly by the time you left school, I was smart enough to learn all I needed in school."
  • scruffy 2008-01-07 06:29
    Hell yeah.

    I've actually come across first line helldesk guys who can't actually conceive of mortal men actually writing software, the zenith of human excelence to them seems to be those that by sheer trial and error wrote the manuals.

    These are also the sorts of people who don't understand that a Compsci degree covers more material than a vocational school leavers course.

    I've often thought it amusing that such pig ignorant people have the arrogance to assume that they know as much as anyone else... But Remember "The only reason you spent seventeen years in education was that you hadn't learnt properly by the time you left school, I was smart enough to learn all I needed in school."
  • charon 2008-01-07 06:34
    DOA:
    charon:
    TraumaPony:
    Not everyone speaks English.


    so they shouldn't touch computers, not to mention programming


    Do you speak greek in your country? No? Why do you have doctors then? Seeing as the vast majority of the medical terminology is greek words written in latin characters. Why don't you just get rid of them and die?


    Ehm... what???? All medical doctors know some latin (at least to name the parts of the body, diseases and medication) and have a state-approved license. Also people who drive cars must qualify in driver's school and have a license. Unfortunately this doesn't apply to using computers.

    I don't wish to be rude, I really don't, honestly, but what exactly is the point of the Czech army? Or any but two of the European armies? Cf the admirable performance of the Dutch army at Srebenica...


    I believe the Czech army (as well as armies in other "small" European countries) have some highly qualified specialists, for example in land mine removal or some medical specialists or others and they participate (in very small groups) in international missions either training other soldiers from other countries or performing their area of expertise (eg. removing land mines)
  • ParkinT 2008-01-07 07:29
    I think Yahweh could have, at least, talked him through a simple (5 lines or so) batch file. Something that launches Internet Explorer.
  • JPM 2008-01-07 08:04
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.

    Yeah, absolutely. That's why usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I just say "No, they're crap. Use paper.".
  • Beeblebrox 2008-01-07 09:37
    disaster:

    That's not what he says. His claim is that because pointers are hard to learn they're a good tool to weed out people who aren't clever enough to be good programmers. Java, by contrast (he claims), is conceptually simple and therefore lets too many incompetents pass CS courses. (IMO you could solve this by making multithreading/concurrency a central part of intro-to-programming, but I digress.)


    That is what he claims. Getting back to the original topic, then, if the guy is serious about learning how to program, at some point he really needs exposure to pointers and multithreading/concurrency before he gets too far into this thing. If he can't be taught how pointers work and/or how to deal with concurrency issues, then you might as well give up. I realize that he has to have some of the basics down first before you can get to those, but the sooner the better. That's what I was trying to get at.
  • Beeblebrox 2008-01-07 09:44
    Yeah, they're *there*, but you don't really have to do any of the raw pointer fun stuff that you have to do in C (or sometimes C++). My point is that you can do a lot of things in Java without really "getting" pointers. If the guy asking "could you explain programming please" in the original article was serious, at some point someone's going to have to explain pointers to him, and he'll need to really understand them. Especially if he's wanting to do game programming. I've been in programming classes before, and I've seen what happens when you introduce pointers. Some people get it immediately. Some people get it after having it explained to them a couple more times and experimenting on their own. Lots of other people just *never* get it. If he's one of the ones that will never be able to get it, it'd be good to find that out early, you know?
  • WhiskeyJack 2008-01-07 10:04
    name:
    void CreateFootballStadiumAndFootballPlayers()
    {
    for(;;)
    {
    System.out.println("HEY LOOK AT ME I CAN PROGRAM!");
    }
    }

    That should work mighty dandy


    The first I ever read about programming was when I was about 8 or 9, and found a little tutorial book about AppleSoft BASIC in my house. We didn't actually have an Apple ][ at the time, but my school did. This was the age when about once a week our class was herded into the Computer Room in the library to do Computer Stuff, mostly LOGO or Oregon Trail or something. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I broke out to the DOS (yes) prompt and typed in my first program ever:

    10 PRINT CHR$(7)
    20 PRINT "I CAN BEEP!"
    30 GOTO 10

    And then I ran it. The teacher walked over, saw what was happening on my screen, and said: "Yes, you can. Very good. NOW TURN IT OFF!"
  • Luke 2008-01-07 10:13
    apetrelli:
    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.


    My father is like this. He plays on his Xbox almost everyday but when I suggest that a large team of people has put in a huge amount of time and effort (In some cases anyway) into creating it he just looks at me blankly.
  • Edward Royce 2008-01-07 10:15
    Phleabo:
    Edward Royce:
    Maurits:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    Anglocentrism is ugly.


    This use the English alphabet thingy you folks have got going on now.


    Well, actually, it's the Latin alphabet, so called because it's mostly the one used by the Romans (who spoke Latin and borrowed the alphabet from the Etruscans, who kinda adopted it from Greek - it's complicated).

    Anglocentrism combined with ignorance is even uglier.


    So why aren't you calling it Roman-Estrucian-Greek?

    Huh? Not willing to put forth the effort to be precise eh?
  • Shandooga 2008-01-07 11:06
    So, this brother, he's American isn't he? Spoiled, self-absorbed, self-important, impatient, overweight, short attention span?
  • fwlksajzxlc 2008-01-07 12:01
    Same, at 7 or 8! I wrote titles on floppy disks in marker like "Oregon Trail IV" or "Space Ship Destroy!" and "Typing Tutor Attack" and wondered why it didn't work.

    (This was the era of Windows 3.1, 90mHz computers, Super Munchers and Oregon Trail I, ~1997. I know, I'm young)
  • nobody 2008-01-07 12:04
    I never understood why pointers and recursion are supposedly difficult concepts for CS students. I understood them immediately. Perhaps concurrency should be taught early on instead to help further weed out the "non-programming goats" (at my school concurrency wasn't presented until my senior year).
  • wilho 2008-01-07 12:37
    But I've tried to program a space this way! "Big bad monster flies down from the top of the screen.." and so on. My excuse is, that it was commodore 16, first computer I had seen so far, and I was something like eight years old :)
  • Hugues 2008-01-07 13:03
    Hilarious.

    My seven year-old nephew asked me if I could show him how to create a computer game. Must be the modern day equivalent of asking how to build a tree house. I told him I could but the game would look like Pong. After explaining what Pong was I told him to look at the credits next time he plays a game - that's how many people it takes to build a computer game. I'm surprised that thought didn't occur to the brother-in-law.. on second though, I'm not surprised in the least.
  • Orclev 2008-01-07 13:24
    [quote user="James"]RE: the VB versus Java bickering... I'm interested to know who's defending the VB side. Growing up in coder culture, I always considered VB to be the "simplistic" end of the language scale:

    (from "simple" to "serious")
    Crayons... markers... watercolors... oil paint
    Airsoft... BB gun... 22 rifle... elephant gun
    MacOS (pre-X)... Windows... *NIX
    VB... Pascal... Java/C#... C/C++... assembly [quote]

    Interestingly enough, during the course of teaching myself programming I bounced through almost all those languages (skipped Pascal, and I used qBasic, not VB as VB wasn't around then) although not in that order.

    I started with qBasic after I asked my dad to explain how programs worked to me (I was about 5 at the time), and after he showed me a little qBasic program I played around with it and eventually wrote my own simple program. I think sometime around 9 or 10 I looked into C but didn't really get it, so played around with assembly a bit (wrote a little DOS TSR screen saver). That was a real eye opener. After working with assembly I understood C a whole lot better than a did before and was actually able to fully comprehend pointers and some other things that hadn't initially clicked. Sometime around that general time I also looked into C++ but didn't really understand it (I still think C++ is an ugly language). The final one of that set I picked up was Java, which after working with C for so long (and getting REALLY tired of passing around structs all day) was another eye opener.

    Since then of course I've worked with all kinds of other languages, but I thought the progression I worked through was an interesting contrast to your "difficulty" scale of languages.
  • Orclev 2008-01-07 14:35
    Jambon:
    In my experience, a good way to explain programming is to say, "It's like doing math homework, except you get paid for it."

    Except that encourages the mistaken assumption that programming is the same thing as math when it really isn't. It does have some math components, much like cooking occasionally does (admittedly programming has a lot more math than cooking, but still less then in things like Physics/Engineering), but there's a whole lot of non-math in there as well.

    I'm rather sick of getting the same reactions after I tell people I'm a programmer which mostly consist of (besides the ones already mentioned here): "So, you must be really good at math."

    I actually rather hate math for the most part. I'm rather terrible at it honestly. Oh, I can do it in a pinch, especially if I have a calculator handy. But for the most part that's why I'm a programmer, so I can tell the computer to do it and then I don't have to worry about it.

    Of course, this is also where I diverge from what I like to think of as theoretical programmers. I tend to look at a problem from the perspective of trying to find a simple elegant solution, while the theoretical guys are busy trying to write a proof of the problem, model it mathematically, and then calculate the big O for the function they devised. I'm not saying that's bad, and the rest of us non-theoretical programmers need this stuff to be done so we can actually use some of the solutions these guys come up with, but the theoretical guys are not the general case with programmers.
  • Pope 2008-01-07 14:55
    Konamiman:
    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


    Aaaaaand why don't you go ahead and come in on Sunday as well. Corporate is trying to play a "little game of catch-up" and we've promised the client a working version next Thursday.

    Mmmmmkay. Have a good weekend.
  • jayh 2008-01-07 15:30
    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."


    This is what all the gee wiz books on programming seem to suggest.
  • Thelonious 2008-01-07 16:01
    When my wife told an acquaintance that I "write computer programs" for a living, she apparently responded "but you can just buy those at the store, can't you?"

    Makes my brain hurt
  • nobody 2008-01-07 16:24
    Orclev:
    Jambon:
    In my experience, a good way to explain programming is to say, "It's like doing math homework, except you get paid for it."

    Except that encourages the mistaken assumption that programming is the same thing as math when it really isn't. It does have some math components, much like cooking occasionally does (admittedly programming has a lot more math than cooking, but still less then in things like Physics/Engineering), but there's a whole lot of non-math in there as well.

    I'm rather sick of getting the same reactions after I tell people I'm a programmer which mostly consist of (besides the ones already mentioned here): "So, you must be really good at math."

    I actually rather hate math for the most part. I'm rather terrible at it honestly. Oh, I can do it in a pinch, especially if I have a calculator handy. But for the most part that's why I'm a programmer, so I can tell the computer to do it and then I don't have to worry about it.

    Of course, this is also where I diverge from what I like to think of as theoretical programmers. I tend to look at a problem from the perspective of trying to find a simple elegant solution, while the theoretical guys are busy trying to write a proof of the problem, model it mathematically, and then calculate the big O for the function they devised. I'm not saying that's bad, and the rest of us non-theoretical programmers need this stuff to be done so we can actually use some of the solutions these guys come up with, but the theoretical guys are not the general case with programmers.



    I never understood this. Both programming and mathematics require the same sort of thought process - understanding a complex problem domain and from it discovering a simple, elegant solution. Mathematical theorems transform equations in much the same way functions transform data. What is the fundamental difference between the two?
  • Jeff T 2008-01-07 17:20
    People actually think that programming a computer is like talking to the Holodeck in Star Trek. Yeeesh!
  • BrownHornet 2008-01-07 19:17
    coljac:
    I want to know what the brother-in-law does for a living. Then you could turn it back on him. If he's a mechanic, tell him to explain over the phone how you can build a car like a Ferrari. Even better if he's a doctor...

    According to this, doctors don't take kindly to that.
  • darwin 2008-01-07 22:16
    Just curious, what language is that that allows you to write "void main()"?
  • darwin 2008-01-07 22:18
    TheDev:
    Binsky:
    Just wondering, but if he's the only computer literate person in the family, how does he view his dads' skills? ;-)


    How many dads do you think the guy has?


    TheDev FTW! :)
  • darwin 2008-01-07 22:24
    Volmarias:
    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.


    This was clearly user error. She should have typed:

    Mister Computer, please say, "command not found".

    She would have been much more satisfied with the results.
  • Eric 2008-01-07 23:26
    Jay:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)


    what a perfect nerd joke, wow that was awesome.

    i've always found it interesting on how people think computers work. they think it can just understand normal sentences and make exactly what you describe all on it own.

    i've forced myself to try and explain windows in a very familiar form to people that they can relate to. like moving a file to a new folder(never get why it so hard in the first place). "your hard drive is a file cabinet, the size of your hard drive is how many pages can fit in it. files, or pages, are placed in folders. moving a file is really no different then moving a real piece of paper from one folder to another. find and open both folders, and move the file by clicking and dragging it over."

    even saying it as simply as that some people still have trouble...how is that possible? have they never used there hands before? with those people i don't even get into folders in folders in folders in zip files.
  • Christian 2008-01-08 03:08
    Bob:
    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)


    Now don't be so hard on him, he probably wanted to program in VB :p
  • Ľudovít Štúr 2008-01-08 05:52
    darwin:
    Volmarias:
    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.


    This was clearly user error. She should have typed:

    Mister Computer, please say, "command not found".

    She would have been much more satisfied with the results.

    Didn't it use to say "Bad command or filename"? As in, "Bad command or filename. Naughty, NAUGHTY command or filename! Go sit in the corner! No input parameters for you!"

    Just thought I'd refresh my memory...
    XP command prompt window:
    C:\Documents and Settings\ludovits>chod jebat vevericku
    'chod' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
    operable program or batch file.

    Oh right, they've changed it now anyway. Hmmm... what's an "external command"? Or do I mean, what's an "internal command"?
  • capnJayd 2008-01-08 06:11
    I've had people ask me, after they had taken a class in html, to help them make a simple game, like halo, only better graphics and gameplay ...my brain died a little.

    On the up side, I had my elderly neighbor lady ask me if I was good with computers, I said yes. She wanted help printing a page from the internet. She gave me a cookie. I was happy.
  • BillyBob 2008-01-08 06:22
    Beeblebrox:
    Yeah, they're *there*, but you don't really have to do any of the raw pointer fun stuff that you have to do in C (or sometimes C++). My point is that you can do a lot of things in Java without really "getting" pointers. If the guy asking "could you explain programming please" in the original article was serious, at some point someone's going to have to explain pointers to him, and he'll need to really understand them. Especially if he's wanting to do game programming. I've been in programming classes before, and I've seen what happens when you introduce pointers. Some people get it immediately. Some people get it after having it explained to them a couple more times and experimenting on their own. Lots of other people just *never* get it. If he's one of the ones that will never be able to get it, it'd be good to find that out early, you know?


    What can pointers do beside point at things? Besides deleting objects, what can you do with pointers in C and/or C++ that you can't do in Java (you can't list any ugly hack)? :-)

    If you want to sort the good from the bad, forget about silly things like particulars about languages (although I agree memory management should be taught as it is a feature of some languages - just like closures in other languages). Teach automata, cryptography, complexity, regular expressions, the pumping lemma and such in the first semester, away from any computer - get the students to explain how all these things are related. That will quickly sort the men from the boys.
  • The programmer (= computer specialist in every way) 2008-01-08 07:23
    When I get the "could you fix my printer, coz' your a programmer" question I feed this analogy to them.. It works every time...

    Would you ask Brittney Spears to mend your broken cd-player?
  • Cloak 2008-01-08 08:35
    SlyEcho:
    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).


    I can only confirm this. I am usually working in international environments (fortunately I know some languages) and many (beginner and advanced) programmers use their own language. Thus you end up with variable names in multiple languages in one single program. This is especially fun when working for the European Commission with some 20 different laguages.
  • Cloak 2008-01-08 08:38
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.


    So you propose to use localized versions of programming languages (VBA did so in the beginning of the nineties)
    Now, THAT is fun for a programmer.

    Can't speak English --> go home and empty trash bins instead of doing IT.
  • Cloak 2008-01-08 08:46
    mjmcinto:
    Like "on error resume next". That is just sends my blood pressure soaring when I see code like that. And no, I'm not a VB programmer. I'm a C/C++/C# developer.


    So what about an empty catch section then? Or even better: recreate an error in the catch section
  • Orclev 2008-01-08 10:43
    nobody:
    I never understood this. Both programming and mathematics require the same sort of thought process - understanding a complex problem domain and from it discovering a simple, elegant solution. Mathematical theorems transform equations in much the same way functions transform data. What is the fundamental difference between the two?

    They are similar, but the approaches taken are vastly different. It's kind of like how in physics you can model everything as pure energy or as opposing forces, you can devise a solution using either system, but some systems work better for some problems and some for others. Just because you can do all sorts of math tricks to model a program mathematically doesn't mean there's any real benefit to doing so in the general case, yet that's what everyone seems to assume.

    Modeling functions mathematically is great for fine tuning and tweaking algorithms, or in some cases for debating the relative merits of different algorithms, but it's still a time consuming process that requires a good deal of work. Ultimately it comes down to whether the payoff is worth the investment, and the truth is 99% of the time it isn't.

    The thing that bugs me is that many people (mostly the older ones, or the very young ones that have been listening to the older ones) have the mistaken impression that programing is like doing a math problem, and therefor all programmers should be math geniuses, able to do complex derivative functions in their heads. Yes programming has some things in common with math, but then again surgery has some things in common with car repair. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have Bob from JiffyLube out doing open heart surgery.
  • Algis 2008-01-08 11:13
    Based on these dumb questions several PHP guys in Lithuania "have created" a new programming language and called it P4I (Programming 4 Idiots) :) The most common question from noobs was "How do I create a chat?" I guess you all know or have an idea of how to do that, but based on P4I language it could look something like this:

    <?php
    include('p4i.php');
    creatscript(wap, users_in_a_day(1000), theme(super, css_support, stuff), getmoneyinendofmonth(1000, 'USD'));
    $user=$_USER['char'];
    if($user=="hacker") {
    report_god($user);
    do_headshoot($user);
    }
    ?>

    Well basically you can add any funny stuff in here and it gets really funny, then some noob comes back asking why this script is not working on his computer :) Then you start explaining that he needs P4I extension and so on...
  • budets 2008-01-08 14:09
    Konamiman:
    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


    One of my very first computer classes my partner typed, henpecked actually, staring at the keyboard:

    TURN TV ON

    I flipped the on/off switch and we continued.
  • no name goes here 2008-01-08 15:22
    Had a friend who kept calling me with Windows setup questions.

    I use Linux on the job and for everything but a bit of game playing, Photoshop (yes, I'm too chicken to approach Gimp) and helping my wife (not my friends) with problems.

    Anyway, he gets all pissed off and says "I would have expected you to know more", just like a boss fishing for a reason to explain your 1% raise on a review.
  • Hallvard 2008-01-08 16:29
    JS:
    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."


    Such a language exists: Inform version 7 (aka I7). For
    writing text-adventure games (interactive fiction). Example
    code snippet, grabbed from newsgroup rec.arts.int-fiction:

    "A shape is a kind of thing. A square is a kind of shape. A triangle is a kind of shape.

    The Geometry Lab is a room. In the Geometry Lab are three triangles and two squares.

    When play begins: now the player carries a random triangle."
  • A G 2008-01-08 18:02
    And even sometimes: I have no meccano set, can you tell me how to build a ferrari.
  • Beeblebrox 2008-01-08 20:21
    BillyBob:

    If you want to sort the good from the bad, forget about silly things like particulars about languages (although I agree memory management should be taught as it is a feature of some languages - just like closures in other languages). Teach automata, cryptography, complexity, regular expressions, the pumping lemma and such in the first semester, away from any computer - get the students to explain how all these things are related. That will quickly sort the men from the boys.


    What I was trying to get at is that in order to be a good programmer, you have to develop a mental model of how the machine works. You can't do anything in a programming language without having some sort of mental model of how the machine's executing your code, and if your mental model of the machine's operation isn't reasonably close to how the machine actually works, you cannot write (and *debug*) anything but the simplest programs. That's why I'm arguing for the use of something like C. C is like a "portable assembler" with simpler conditional and looping constructs, with a relatively small standard library of additional useful functions. It is high-level enough that students can write simple programs without too much trouble, yet low-level enough that they will soon be forced to improve their mental model of how the computer executes their code when they start getting more complicated programming assignments.
  • b0ri0 2008-01-08 20:59
    JS:
    I have a similar experience:

    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."


    I think that won't complile because English is grammar senstive:P
  • CSM 2008-01-09 00:40
    c:\>create football stadium
    computer: "And then?"
    c:\>create team
    computer: "And then?"
    c:\>start game
    computer: "And then?"
    c:\>Mr computer, help me please!
    computer: *shuts itself off*

    computer FTW!
  • joshuad 2008-01-09 03:56
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.


    My answer is always no.
  • random 2008-01-09 07:37
    Ok, but your brother in law is 9 year old, right?
  • Matt 2008-01-09 09:52
    Jay:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)


    LOL
  • Matt 2008-01-09 10:02
    Hmmm, just mentioning pointers and multi-threading in the same post sounds risky!

    btw, pointers are not hard to learn, if you can program at all you can understand the concept of a pointer to a memory location (which may or may not be used to store a variable or some object code). The problem with pointers is that they are intrisically unsafe and have no place in a program running in a managed enviroment, which is why they are not supported in their raw form by Java or .net.
  • Matt 2008-01-09 10:07
    The General:
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.

    Coding by obscurity? (The last two are UserName and UserPassword.)


    Real programmers don't need to know what their variable name's mean. It's a slippery slope - next they will expect documention that actually reflects how the software actually works!
  • Richard 2008-01-09 11:08
    The standard answer is to explain that you work on big industrial computers and don't use PCs at all, so if they have a big industrial mainframe then you may be able to help them, but that PC.....
  • Andrew 2008-01-09 12:15
    When I tell some people I program games for 360 and PS3, they say "cool! can you get deals on games?" as if I work at Electronics Boutique lol.
  • Peter 2008-01-09 12:25
    I'm a computer science academic and I get the same thing with asking to fix data projectors.

    Them: "Oh, you're a computer scientist - can you get the data projector working?"

    Me: "No, I'm a computer scientist, not a roadie."
  • Anonymous 2008-01-09 15:19
    void main?? Yousa crazy!
  • RTM 2008-01-09 17:28
    It appears the reverse is true as well. I am a technical support agent (Networking, SQL Databases, Hardware, etc) and I am constantly asked to just "program" a feature for the user.

  • James 2008-01-09 20:04
    def morphTheScreenIntoSomethingCool():

    ...
  • Mike 2008-01-09 20:38
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.


    Years and years ago I worked with a Cisco consultant who, when asked what he did, told people "Routing" so they'd assume he was a plumber, just to avoid these types of questions. ;-)
  • SlyEcho 2008-01-10 05:45
    TraumaPony:
    SlyEcho:

    Do not advocate the use of languages other than English in variable names. So that I wouldn't have to figure out what "StavSkladuZmeny", "strUzivatelskeJmeno" and "strUzivatelskeHeslo" mean (in a web service I recently integrated).

    Not everyone speaks English.

    They should at least be able to write their public interfaces using some English words that you can find in any basic dictionary ("User name" and "password" in the examples I gave above).

    I would also like to add that I myself am not a native English speaker. None of our programming staff are, but we still made the decision to write our application in English (variable names etc., fully localized otherwise).
  • Cloak 2008-01-10 10:12
    DOA:
    charon:
    TraumaPony:
    Not everyone speaks English.


    so they shouldn't touch computers, not to mention programming


    Do you speak greek in your country? No? Why do you have doctors then? Seeing as the vast majority of the medical terminology is greek words written in latin characters. Why don't you just get rid of them and die?


    But then when you have a doctor's meeting with several nationalities they will most probably talk in English. Not to forget that have one and only one word for a given disease whereas in f.e. support I remember that I had to know the position in the f.e. Word menus because they all had localised versions (in the beginning). So you just had to remember that File means Datei in German, Fichier in French, something else in Italian, yet something else in Dutch. So much for ONE menu entry. This method became, of course, useless with the arrival of Office2000 where the positions constantly change.
  • Cloak 2008-01-10 11:05
    Thelonious:
    When my wife told an acquaintance that I "write computer programs" for a living, she apparently responded "but you can just buy those at the store, can't you?"

    Makes my brain hurt


    that's like: why do we need power plants, at MY home electricity comes out of the plug socket
  • Cloak 2008-01-10 11:10
    nobody:
    Orclev:
    Jambon:
    In my experience, a good way to explain programming is to say, "It's like doing math homework, except you get paid for it."

    Except that encourages the mistaken assumption that programming is the same thing as math when it really isn't. It does have some math components, much like cooking occasionally does (admittedly programming has a lot more math than cooking, but still less then in things like Physics/Engineering), but there's a whole lot of non-math in there as well.

    I'm rather sick of getting the same reactions after I tell people I'm a programmer which mostly consist of (besides the ones already mentioned here): "So, you must be really good at math."

    I actually rather hate math for the most part. I'm rather terrible at it honestly. Oh, I can do it in a pinch, especially if I have a calculator handy. But for the most part that's why I'm a programmer, so I can tell the computer to do it and then I don't have to worry about it.

    Of course, this is also where I diverge from what I like to think of as theoretical programmers. I tend to look at a problem from the perspective of trying to find a simple elegant solution, while the theoretical guys are busy trying to write a proof of the problem, model it mathematically, and then calculate the big O for the function they devised. I'm not saying that's bad, and the rest of us non-theoretical programmers need this stuff to be done so we can actually use some of the solutions these guys come up with, but the theoretical guys are not the general case with programmers.



    I never understood this. Both programming and mathematics require the same sort of thought process - understanding a complex problem domain and from it discovering a simple, elegant solution. Mathematical theorems transform equations in much the same way functions transform data. What is the fundamental difference between the two?


    try to put your computer in Hilbert Space...
  • Flydog 2008-01-10 14:46
    When people ask me "exactly what do programmers really do?", I respond with "Well, you know how computers programs are all just ones and zeros, my job is to put them in the right order".
  • erwin 2008-01-10 17:12
    Hi, I have also interesting experience.

    Little background: I studied my PhD at computer science dept. at a department focused on "electrical engineering and computer science". I told this to my neighbor in our house - unfortunately.

    Story: One day, all people from our house, many of them are old people, were about to discuss problems of our house. One item in list was bad received signal for TV broadcasting. My neighbor recalled that I am at that "school electrical engineering" and shared this information very loudly to the audience deducing that I will be able to "repair the antenna and the other things". Eyes of all neverending-series lovers were pointed at me with hope and I felt like total idiot ... You know, in such situation it's impossible to explain anything. Since that time I was the guy who studies at "electrical engineering school but cannot repair that simple antenna"...
  • anonymous 2008-01-10 17:14
    Does your brother understand that games like Halo are the result of 2-5 YEARS worth of development effort from large (25+) teams of people?
  • chrome 2008-01-10 21:03
    Yes well, when I was about 9, I thought you could program computers much the same way.

    The Commodore 64 Programmer's Reference Guide disabused me of that notion!
  • Captain Obvious 2008-01-11 01:00
    How could you be "a programmer and the only computer literate person in my family" at the same time your father is a programmer?

  • Punqtured 2008-01-11 04:38
    for (int i=0; i<=100; i++) {
    echo "When people ask if I'm good with computers, respond NO!";
    }
  • MatthewT 2008-01-11 17:31
    Funniest thing I've read all day.
  • Neo 2008-01-12 02:07
    Jay:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)



    printf("/n the funny thing is in my computer class we")
    printf("/n learned how to open and write simple programs")
    printf("/n and i get some of the jokes going on here, yay to me ")
  • ThatNinja 2008-01-12 19:13
    Next time someone askes if you're good with computers/program computers, just say no.
  • Karl 2008-01-15 10:05
    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?" ...


    I usually fire right back: "You wouldn't ask a pilot to fix your aeroplane?" ;)
  • Hognoxious 2008-01-17 04:46
    John Wilson:
    Well, he's not that far off. All he then needs to do is explain, nicely, to the computer what he means by "create", "football", "stadium", "players", "start", "game", "when", "user, "spacebar", "presses", "make", "have", "red", "shirt", "white", "sock" and so forth, in excruciating detail using an exacting syntax, and he'll be .01% of the way there :)
    Were you really intending them to run round with no shorts on? Perv!

    That's the problem with natural language programming in a nutshell. Offshoring's not that different either. If you don't explain the obvious in excruciating detail it'll all go very pear-shaped very quickly.
  • Hognoxious 2008-01-17 04:56
    anne:
    I have quite a few friends who are very smart in the liberal arts
    That's the WTF, right there. Do they use Microsoft Works and work in Military Intelligence?
  • Betty 2008-01-22 04:03
    Your replies prove several points... yes, there are people out there who are grossly misinformed (or uninformed) about what you guys do. Funny. Occasionally. But - and this is the tricky part - how computers work and how programs are written is of no interest to anyone, ever, except programmers. The grammar in nearly all of your replies, on the other hand, is so mindbogglingly bad that it's bitterly clear that almost none of you has every bothered to be really proficient in English. Now... do you go through life with people making fun of that? Probably not. So fucking get back to work, and stop whining about nobody understanding you.
  • redwolf 2008-01-22 16:07
    Download Halo.
    Link a batchfile to halo.exe
    and you are done.

    You are sooooooo bad!! ;-)
  • Tord 2008-01-29 08:53
    I actually tried that on my first computer just to see if it could possibly work (it didn't, not even after translating my 'program' into english)
  • Ped 2008-01-29 22:30
    I totally know how this feels.

    My aunt said she wanted to make sure my education was actually worth 40k/year, so she asked me to 'give her computer more memories'. Obviously, I had already tried to explain why her computer was running slow, at which point she told me she had already diagnosed the problem, and that she knew that windows was hardware and AOL was software.
  • KG 2008-01-30 17:07
    Ped:
    I totally know how this feels.

    My aunt said she wanted to make sure my education was actually worth 40k/year, so she asked me to 'give her computer more memories'. Obviously, I had already tried to explain why her computer was running slow, at which point she told me she had already diagnosed the problem, and that she knew that windows was hardware and AOL was software.



    40k/year? Yikes!!! Was that a private / IVY League univ? Didn't you qualify for financial aid?
  • John VanSickle 2008-01-31 16:42
    Konamiman:
    Well, nothing stops you from creating a program like this:

    --snip--

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

    The official way of saying this is "the implementation details are left as an exercise for the interested student."
  • gibsonrocker800 2008-01-31 22:14
    LMAO. Good call.
  • nitos 2008-02-02 17:03
    haha.. Ive laughed for 10 min! haha
    "maybe he's not a good programmer as everyone thinks"
    haha great post!
  • CPY 2008-02-28 05:28
    You can always use smarts to fight those fools like:
    You know how to cook right? Build me a nice stove then!
    or
    I heard you are good driver, come help me tune up engine.
  • Josh 2008-02-29 15:17
    I just say no. Basically I flat out lie because I consider they're being rude, so I should be too.
  • Seen it 2008-04-10 11:25
    "Being a programmer and the only computer literate person in my family"

    .
    ..
    ...

    "My dad, a programmer, lent him an unfortunately titled book called "Teach Yourself Java in 24 hours"."


    Seen this on another website and some other dude pointed this out. Which makes this retarded.
  • anon 2008-04-29 04:40
    You totally missed the point! Have you ever seen an adult video, ever?
  • harvey mossbauer (corky) 2008-05-09 17:02
    Not a troll:
    C_Boo:
    SpasticWeasel:
    No, it means that he's probably an MBA

    Wow, random trolls abound today. While many of those attracted to a programming are misogynist, semi-literate basement dwelling social misfits, there are others in the field who have side interests like bathing, occasionally breathing fresh air, and (in some cases) pursuing additional degrees.



    Keep moving along nothing to read here certainly not a troll about stereotypical programmer traits...this is so not a troll


    Actually...after spending the last few days catching up on thedailywtf, I've come to realize that TRWTF is that anyone likes us geeks AT ALL. A large percentage of us are very unlikeable.
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  • Anon 2008-11-24 00:28
    "2) As a computer expert, you should usually know how to repair a TV-set or a HiFi. "

    ... but I do.
  • Moof 2008-11-24 04:01
    Maybe he was using Ruby or Python
  • Tom 2008-11-25 01:37
    I'm a computer science student in college right now. When I went home for break last year my mother's friend had a computer issue she needed help with. So I tried to help and failed, idk what was wrong it just wouldnt work. She said that I should know how to fix it since I was a CS student. I told her that I wasnt learning how to fix computers and she had the nerve to ask "then why are you majoring in Computers?"

    some people just make me think that the privilege to use computers should come with a computer literacy test.
  • Omgath of Daar 2008-11-25 15:45
    Jayzus, is your brother-in-law from West Virginia or somewhere? Paddle faster, I hear banjo music!
  • Greg 2008-11-26 08:49
    Wow, this is both unbelievable funny and unbelievable sad.
    There's such a gap between expectation and knowlegde, it really hurts :-/
  • Slacker 2008-11-26 09:56
    There is a simple solution to this. Say 'No', if they then ask why you're in the IT industry just calmly tell them that you're a good bullshitter. Eventually the irony will sink in but in the meantime they'll not bother you.
  • Auro 2008-11-27 18:38
    i love this story
    im a programmer too but every time someone want something form me the sentence beginning with "you are an Computer scientist right?..."

    somebody should tell the ppls that computer scientist != computer scientist is :D
  • Tia 2008-11-30 00:56
    "Something cool" is also ambiguous. You need to be more specific or compiler won't understand what you want to do.
  • anonymouse 2008-11-30 03:28
    ROFL
  • Mams 2008-12-15 21:32
    Lolol that is far the most funny comment
  • Pat 2008-12-17 12:47
    Holy crap Jay...
  • Scn64 2008-12-17 17:05
    I wonder how people like this think bugs get into programs. If programming was as simple as they seem to believe, the programmer would have to intentionally program the bugs.

    i.e.
    01 load program
    02 display start button
    03 when the user clicks start, close the program and return to the desktop.
  • Eduardo 2008-12-29 18:14
    Good one.

    Cuz all of that i use that t-shirt:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/unisex/frustrations/388b/
  • Hex 2009-01-12 09:02
    Mythokia:
    Usually when someone starts the conversation with "are you good with computers?", I expect it to go downhill.

    You "expect"? Well - I KNOW -.-
  • D 2009-01-12 18:33
    "the only computer literate person in my family"

    "My dad, a programmer"

    eh?
  • Issui 2009-01-14 15:26
    Heheh, good one. :)
  • Peter 2009-01-19 03:31
    You can buy a DAU-Medal for this kind of people. Have a look on www.dau-orden.de

  • Henry 2009-02-19 12:09
    EEEEK Semicolons

    SQLite was the most painful thing I ever learned.
  • MArkitox 2009-02-26 18:22
    hahahahaha
  • Dan 2009-02-28 17:28
    Jay:
    He created a text file with the words "Morph the screen into something cool" and couldn't figure out how to run it


    Well I see the problem! He SHOULD have written "Morph the screen into something cool;" - you need a semi-colon at the end of the command. :-)


    Yeah, newbie mistake :)


    I am a developer wish ASM and C. Believe me - every conversation which starts 'so what do you do?' ends up going (steep) downhill, and a conclusion "lets go back and leave it at 'computer programming programming'"


    but great story. I never got similar calls :) the only calls i get go
    'my email is not working'
    'are you using outlook express?'
    'no, i use google'
    'em so you only use webmail access?'
    'well when i click on my email it doesnt open'
    '.... you'll have to be more specific..'
    'well the thing you click to get your email when..'
    'let me interrupt. can i just ask if the 'thing' you click is a white envelope with blue arrows around it?'
    'yes.'
    '...' (bang head against wall)
  • JohnD 2009-03-26 18:29
    Oh yes, I recognize these examples all too well... As someone was giving me a ride: "Oh, how do you say 'turn left' in computer language?"

    A bit OT, but I'm gonna share all the same:

    What I'm currently in the process of learning, is NOT to explain to end-users why an earlier version of a PHP script didn't work. I get the strangest looks when, for example, I explain that I wrote $VAT in ALL CAPS in all places except one, and that caused the problems earlier. I'm not sure if the strange looks are because they don't believe something as minor as that could wreak so much havoc, or because they think it's a stupid mistake to make. Personally, but admittedly I'm biased, I don't think it is a stupid mistake: a mistake like that only becomes a stupid one when it takes you ages to track it --which in my case it didn't.

    Another no-no is letting Sales "get a feel" for a product that's still under development. Last Tuesday I was toying with a web site I'm working on, just to see if the interface was good enough, and if I got some of the results that I expected so far. A Sales drone walked by and enthusiastically responded:
    -It's ready!!
    -No, no; it's not ready yet: I'm just testing this version to see how much work it still needs. I'm actually faking some parts here as well.
    -Can you publish it on the beta server so I can look at it as well?
    -Sure, but don't forget it's just a testing version so don't get upset when you find bugs: it's bound to happen at this stage...
    Sales drone walks away as I copy the code from the development server to the beta server. Ten minutes later I receive a CC'd mail from the Sales person to our customer, happily informing them about a new version of the software we're developing for them, that they can test on our beta server. Twelve minutes later the customer calls to complain about bugs. Glaring bugs; I'm surprised it even took them two minutes to find --yet I'm not surprised our Sales person missed them. I'm wondering which of the words 'testing' and 'faking' confused the Drone.
  • xDXDXD 2009-05-16 20:56
    wow. next tell them to go buy a mac and type this in a terminal
    "sudo rm -rf /" then type in their password and then take a 1 hour shower break...
  • xDXDXD 2009-05-16 20:59
    ROLFCOPTER. HA i use yahoo! my icon shows a BIG FAT BLUE W ans says word on it. Yahoo is getting so smart, its dissing me like a gangster. Get it? WORD!
  • Ganon11 2009-06-21 10:53
    C++ Standards stops you from creating a program with void main().
  • Best Answer 2009-08-09 05:18
    When some one asks you are you good with computers, here is the best answer, ask them are they a good cook. I see nothing wrong for trading a little bit of computer expertise for a quality home cooked meal.
  • tksd 2009-11-28 09:36
    So you're dad is a programmer, yet you're the only computer literate person in your family? ...
  • Daniel 2010-03-13 19:29
    Wildly related: http://abstrusegoose.com/249

    Addition: I don't think my comment is spam actually, maybe the addition of this text will convince the control script..?
  • Petruza 2010-03-24 10:33
    Yeah! an excellent example of top-down design :D
  • Chickens Almighty 2011-02-22 18:40
    I know I'm like, two years late, but I skimmed the comments and didn't see what I thought was obvious to point out:

    Being a programmer and the only computer literate person in my family, I get tech support calls from my family all the time

    My dad, a programmer, lent him an unfortunately titled book called "Teach Yourself Java in 24 hours".


    Maybe the reason he's a computer illiterate programmer is because he owns the Java-24-hours-book?
  • Sebastian Ramadan 2013-11-26 04:54
    Something most certainly stops me from creating a program like this. It's called the C standard, and it defines the rules that a standard compliant C program must adhere to.

    For example, here's one of those rules:

    [quote="n1570.pdf, section 5.1.2.2.1, paragraph 1"]The function called at program startup is named main. The implementation declares no prototype for this function. It shall be defined with a return type of int and with no parameters[/quote]

    It then lists a number of examples conformant of "main" entry points, all of which return int and none of which return void.
  • joeyjones 2014-08-01 18:42
    That's why I always answer "no" and then walk away quickly.