January 11-13, 2015

I’ve been doing a lot of technical interviewing lately, and I have a suggestion for the nation’s universities’ Computer Science departments:

Quit making your undergraduate curricula so polyglot

I feel like a decade ago, you had a pretty good chance of talking to a Computer Science student who had at least a solid 2 years of Java or C++ under his or her belt, and at some schools more like 3 or even all 4 years.

This was of course highly problematic – it meant that you would encounter students who hadn’t the foggiest idea about web technologies, or how to use useful scripting languages. But at least they knew a pretty solid range of advanced topics in their department’s language of choice.

Lately I’ve been talking to a ton of students who had maybe two semesters taught in Java freshman year, and then perhaps a couple of classes in C, and some more advanced classes in Python, and perhaps a web class in PHP or Javascript, and then maybe some crank of a prof teaching in a functional language.

Which is neat, right? They get exposed to all of these different languages, blah blah blah. 

So they can barely remember how to write a for loop in any of them.

I would like to suggest that perhaps a minimum of four consecutive semesters or eight core CS courses should be taught in the SAME LANGUAGE, which should be enough time for the students to get past the initial learning curve, master the basics, and pick up the more advanced concepts. 

Because right now I’m talking to too many students who’ve essentially repeated the basics in three different languages & never seen advanced topics in any of them.

Anyway. I’m backlogged on writing diary entries again. Let’s see:

  • Sunday was Sunday, with the added bonus of a power outage at WXDU that resulted in no show for me. But I was able to switch our internet radio stream over to a higher-quality audio processor. I think it sounds better. You tell me
  • We watched the Golden Globes. I don’t have a lot to say about that, other than to register my annoyance that Selma didn’t win anything. I mean, I enjoyed Birdman, and I enjoyed Boyhood, but I liked Selma better. And COME ON there have already been a lot of movies about WHITE MEN.
  • Our Alien-series film festival has ground to a halt due to Having to Work At Night After Work. Yuck.
  • My nighttime work has mostly been refactoring someone else’s 10-year-old PHP code so that it doesn’t throw 10,000 errors every time a page loads now that we’re on PHP 5.x. It’s actually fairly straightforward, just gotta put EVERY SINGLE HASH KEY into single quotes instead of barewords.
  • M has had real work-work to do, which is a drag.
  • My work has been rendered far more pleasant by my incessant repeat playing of the new Sleater-Kinney. Gonna be hard to knock this one off of my #1 spot for 2015. It’s January 14th as I’m writing this. Yep.
  • I finished reading Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan. What a great read. Thanks for the recommendation, zmagg! I’m kind of gobsmacked that there are more books in this series & I can read them RIGHT NOW.

January 11-13, 2015

January 4-6, 2015

Been reading Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan, after a brief but glowing review by my friend zmagg. It’s most excellent hard-boiled Sci-Fi Noir, gory in some places, very explicitly sexy in others. The pacing is outstanding, and it has quite effectively scratched my usually divergent itches for vintage-style hard-boiled detective fiction & straightforward sci-fi.

Sunday was Sunday. The cold itself is effectively over, but the dry cough lingers. I’m told it will continue to linger for weeks to come.

I flew past the post & shipped the first major milestone release of my holiday project. It took a lot less time than I had figured it would – partly because I remembered more Javascript than I thought I would, and partly because Node, Mongo & their respective communities have rendered basic web-application development just absurdly easy.

There are still plenty of new features in the pipeline. I halfheartedly tried to mess with it some tonight, but I can’t ever really get into that headspace after I have been at work all day. So it’ll be a Saturday-morning thing from here on out, I guess.

This hasn’t always been the case – I did the entire movieminder.com rewrite in the evenings after work (and occasionally late into the night). But that was the late 90s. (Was it really? We were living on Bim Street, so it had to be pre-2000 …)

I don’t have anything pertinent to add to any current/ongoing political or ideological discussion. That is highly likely to change any minute now, so I’m not sweating it too much.

I’ll be in Austin in two weeks. Feel free to share food & drink suggestions.

January 4-6, 2015