FAQ
Hello, everyone. I would appreciate any advice that someone could give me on
my future career path. Here is my situation:

I am a bright Junior in a very well-respected private high school, taking
almost all AP and accelerated classes. I am HIGHLY interested in technology,
more specifically the field of Computer Science and software engineering. I
have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
field of study in which I'm not very interested.

I would be devastated were I to find the need to leave computer science. I
love the subject, and I've wanted to be a computer scientist ever since I
was 12 years old.

Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
college? Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
finding a decent-paying job in compsci? What languages do you suggest that I
study (I'm already studying Python)?

thank you very much for your help!

--shn

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  • Kenny Tilton at Aug 25, 2003 at 11:32 pm

    Howard Nease wrote:
    Hello, everyone. I would appreciate any advice that someone could give me on
    my future career path. Here is my situation:

    I am a bright Junior in a very well-respected private high school, taking
    almost all AP and accelerated classes. I am HIGHLY interested in technology,
    more specifically the field of Computer Science and software engineering. I
    have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
    nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
    field of study in which I'm not very interested.
    By the time you graduate it will be a different world. There will be a
    shortage because everyone is being told the same thing you are. A glut
    arose because folks were being told the opposite. These same folks give
    up looking for a job in compsci after a month, you'll get a job as a
    waiter and look for a year. and you can settle for less because you love
    the work. the latter will also make you better at it than money chasers,
    and will help you interview better.

    btw, i would say this even if you were from a highly-disrespected inner
    city public school. :)


    --

    kenny tilton
    clinisys, inc
    http://www.tilton-technology.com/
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    "Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from
    Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets."
    -- Bob Uecker
  • Kenny Tilton at Aug 25, 2003 at 11:34 pm

    Howard Nease wrote:
    H What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    PS. Common Lisp

    --

    kenny tilton
    clinisys, inc
    http://www.tilton-technology.com/
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    "Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from
    Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets."
    -- Bob Uecker
  • Afanasiy at Aug 26, 2003 at 2:03 am

    On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 23:34:06 GMT, Kenny Tilton wrote:
    Howard Nease wrote:
    H What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    PS. Common Lisp
    I'd recommend considering it. I considered it, but I do not like it.
    I do greatly admire the advocate whose essays prompted me to try though.
    His essays often express my feelings with such uncanny precision I forced
    myself to try Lisp again, with much more determination than previously.

    http://www.paulgraham.com/

    I would also recommend not giving much weight to anything from ESR.

    Others will probably recommend the opposite of what I have. I think you
    should do a lot of your own exploring. Consider as much as you can, no
    matter what someone online says for or against it.
  • Michele Simionato at Aug 26, 2003 at 6:39 am
    Afanasiy <abelikov72 at hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<hgflkvsjpcfj1l0m2affhn74g61mhf6qr6 at 4ax.com>...
    I think you
    should do a lot of your own exploring. Consider as much as you can, no
    matter what someone online says for or against it.
    Hear, hear: this is good advice!

    On a more personal note, when I was more or less your age I decided
    to do Physics, even if I knew very well that the job situation was a
    disaster. Now, it turns out that the situation is still a disaster and I
    have just decided to quit the field.
    I have found some people telling me that I made the bad choice and that
    I should have chosen a more marketable field. I don't think so.
    I did what I wanted to do: whereas most of the people do for
    all their life a job they dislike, I at least avoided that for
    part of my life. I had the opportunity of doing something and I took
    it.

    If you have the chance of having something you like to do, don't throw
    it away to follow the advice of the others. Your life is your responsability.

    Michele Simionato, Ph. D.
    MicheleSimionato at libero.it
    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~micheles
    --- Currently looking for a job ---
  • Cameron Laird at Aug 26, 2003 at 9:03 am
    In article <hgflkvsjpcfj1l0m2affhn74g61mhf6qr6 at 4ax.com>,
    Afanasiy wrote:
    .
    .
    .
    I would also recommend not giving much weight to anything from ESR.
    .
    .
    .
    What's going on *there*? Eric makes plenty of mistakes,
    and he's apparently stubborn and biased in many cases; on
    the other hand, while I disagree with him profoundly on
    some technical choices, and I've been told of all sorts
    of personal failings he exhibits, in my experience he's
    always been willing to correct errors when presented with
    evidence. So: are you saying that he simply says too much
    and too early, and consequently is unreliable because he's
    outside his domain of expertise, or do you perceive a deeper
    problem with his advice?

    I ask in part because, as near as I can tell, you were the
    first to mention him in this thread. It appears that you
    regard his output as particularly hazardous.
    --

    Cameron Laird <Cameron at Lairds.com>
    Business: http://www.Phaseit.net
    Personal: http://phaseit.net/claird/home.html
  • Tim Churches at Aug 26, 2003 at 9:44 am

    Cameron Laird wrote:
    Sent: Tuesday, 26 August 2003 7:03 PM
    To: python-list at python.org
    Subject: Celebrity advice (was: Advice to a Junior in High School?)

    In article <hgflkvsjpcfj1l0m2affhn74g61mhf6qr6 at 4ax.com>,
    Afanasiy wrote:
    I would also recommend not giving much weight to anything from ESR.
    What's going on *there*? Eric makes plenty of mistakes,
    and he's apparently stubborn and biased in many cases; on
    the other hand, while I disagree with him profoundly on
    some technical choices, and I've been told of all sorts
    of personal failings he exhibits, in my experience he's
    always been willing to correct errors when presented with
    evidence.
    Except when it comes to guns - despite all the evidence that
    the ready availability of firearms to the general population
    Results in huge numbers of avoidable homicides, suicides, injuries,
    incarceration and general mayhem, ESR actively promotes a
    puerile pro-gun libertarianism AND links that view to the open
    Source culture. The aphorism which appears at the top left corner
    of his blog (see http://armedndangerous.blogspot.com/) is:
    "Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life's simple pleasures..."
    I'd suggest that the last of those pastimes makes him a less
    than ideal speaker for a junior high school (and I didn't even
    mention Columbine...) - the first three are of course perfectly
    legitimate topics for such a speaker.
    I ask in part because, as near as I can tell, you were the
    first to mention him in this thread. It appears that you
    regard his output as particularly hazardous.
    See the first few paragraphs of
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/guns/gun-ethics.html

    Tim C
  • Dave Brueck at Aug 28, 2003 at 1:33 pm

    On Thursday 28 August 2003 12:40 pm, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    The odds of getting killed that way are roughly the same as the odds
    that you'll die from aspirin or similar drugs
    No... this one is just way off. According to above URL form:

    2000, United States
    Adverse effects - Drugs Deaths and Rates per 100,000
    All Races, Both Sexes, All Ages
    ICD-10 Codes: Y40-Y59,Y88.0

    Number of Deaths Population Crude Rate Age-Adjusted Rate**
    255 275,264,999 0.09 0.09
    Aren't statistics fun? :)

    Think about it: even intuitively, 255 is *way* too low for a population of 275
    million (that's essentially zero - in a population that size 255 people
    probably die in sneezing-releated incidents every year) - I don't think that
    statistic represents what you think it represents.

    Compare, for example, an article from the Journal of the American Medical
    Association:

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/279/15/1200

    Even just considering *hospitalized* people, there were 100,000 deaths due to
    adverse effects of drugs.
  • Falling star at Aug 28, 2003 at 2:30 pm
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    LotLE>
    LotLE> USA automobile deaths are ^43k/year
    LotLE> USA gun-related deaths are ~29k/year

    Where did you get your number? 29k a year??? Don't believe it. I
    would guess the number to be somewhere in the 1000 to 2000 range.
    Unless you are including people killed by police in your figure?
    And suicides?

    LotLE>
    LotLE> The first number is bigger, yes.... but nothing at all like 100x as
    LotLE> large.
    LotLE>
    LotLE> Pulling facts out of thin air (or equivalently, our of NRA leaflets
    LotLE> or ESR's writing) is unpersuasive.

    Absolutely agree with this. Also add, pulling facts out of
    Handgun Control leaflets is equally unpersuasive. We should probably
    agree that this is an emotional issue, and leave it at that. Or as Mark
    Twain put it, 'There are lies, damn lies, and statistics'.

    However, when the little gangbangers in the neighborhood start
    popping off, it is far more comforting to know that if they pop at me, I
    can pop back, than it is to know that I can call the police. And when
    the home invasion stories run in the newspaper, I don't worry as much as
    if I had to depend only on calling the police.

    The statistic the other poster mentioned about more guns lowering
    crime: In states with concealed carry laws, *crime* is lower. Your
    statistic about gun _deaths_ being higher in states with relaxed gun laws
    is a canard. That is correlating gun deaths with overall crime. There
    are issues of population as well. Again, we are talking statistics, and
    there can be no agreement as there are so many correlated factors.

    Once, I too was of faulty mind like you, fearful of my own shadow, thinking
    that guns were the root of all evil, that they prowled the night and the
    day, waiting to leap out and harm me. Then I saw the light. :-)

    Just shows to go you the effectiveness of propaganda. However you want
    to take that. :-)


    LotLE>
    LotLE> Yours, Lulu...
    LotLE>
  • Richard Wesley at Aug 28, 2003 at 4:41 pm
    In article <Qlo3b.7388$n94.4843 at fed1read04>,
    midnight at warm-summer-night.net (falling star) wrote:
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    LotLE>
    LotLE> USA automobile deaths are ^43k/year
    LotLE> USA gun-related deaths are ~29k/year

    Where did you get your number? 29k a year??? Don't believe it. I
    would guess the number to be somewhere in the 1000 to 2000 range.
    US murders with firearms were 8,259 in 1999, ranked #4 in the world.
    Source: <http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph-T/cri_mur_wit_fir&int>
    The US is a bit better per capita firearms murders at #6
    <http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph-T/cri_mur_wit_fir_cap&int00>.
    So while "falling star" appears to be swallowing some well cooked data,
    the raw data is still pretty bad. Being in the company of South Africa,
    Columbia, Zimbabwe and Mexico is not something that a progressive nation
    should be proud of.
    Unless you are including people killed by police in your figure?
    They don't have the data for this, but estimating from where I live
    (Seattle, population 5e5, ~2/year) gives ~1000/year. I don't believe
    from looking at the data that this would affect the US ranking
    significantly. The US is in a big clump at the top of the rankings in
    both total and per capita measurements.
    Or as Mark Twain put it, 'There are lies, damn lies, and statistics'.
    He actually attributed this quote to Benjamin Disrali. Since neither of
    them had any mathematical background (indeed they were both famous
    rhetoricicians), I'm not sure they are qualified to comment on
    statistics...
    The statistic the other poster mentioned about more guns lowering
    crime: In states with concealed carry laws, *crime* is lower. Your
    statistic about gun _deaths_ being higher in states with relaxed gun laws
    is a canard. That is correlating gun deaths with overall crime. There
    are issues of population as well. Again, we are talking statistics, and
    there can be no agreement as there are so many correlated factors.
    Speaking of canards, the whole state law comparison arguments used by
    both sides in this are pretty sketchy (partly for the reasons you
    present). There are much larger data sets available from other
    countries and they pretty clearly show that the US is anomalous. What
    to do about it may be somewhat debatable, but when you have similar
    firearms murder rates to countries that have de facto civil wars, it is
    prudent to ask what you have in common with those areas might lead to
    similar results.

    One can argue that there is no comparison, but the data is so striking
    that I believe the burden of proof is on those who make that argument.
    For the affirmative, we observe that a heavily armed populace is one
    common factor, as is lack of a common culture or social identity
    (generally caused by tribal or economic differences). Personally I
    think it is both: The US populace has very little in common outside of
    its political institutions and it is heavily armed. This is
    historically a bad combination, for if you are used to demonizing others
    and you can kill them, you probably will.

    Which brings us back to this Handgun Control/NRA meme war. The fact
    that US politics is havily polarized is partly due to this lack of
    social cohesion and partly due to there being so much at stake in
    controlling the largest economy in the world. Once the debate becomes a
    shouting match and a battle of egos, social cohesion drops even further
    and you have a positive feedback loop. So in a small way, the argument
    that you two are having is actually contributing to the problem under
    discussion.

    Please note that I am /not/ arguing that the gun violence in the US is
    being caused by NRA vigilantes hunting down HCI partisans or vice versa.
    But I do believe that villification of the "other" in the media by
    large, well-funded organizations intent on maintaining and increasing
    their own power, leads to feelings of persecution and self-righteousness
    in /all/ members of society. In the end, those with poor impulse
    control and easy access to deadly weapons vent these emotions with
    tragic results. (This includes the police in some cases.)

    So I think there are actually two policy needs here: handgun control
    and more civil public discourse. I think that both are required, but I
    doubt that either will happen. But to the NRA gun nuts, I say that a
    civil society is a far better guarentee of your safety than being well
    armed, and to the HCI nuts I say, you are more likely to achieve your
    goal through a civil society free of fear, for guns are only a symptom
    of the fear, not its root cause.

    Anyway, this is waay of topic and I need to get back to work now...

    --

    - rmgw

    http://www.trustedmedianetworks.com/

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Richard Wesley Trusted Media Networks, Inc.

    "Grownups have the most uninteresting explanations for things."
    - C. S. Lewis, _The Magician's Nephew_
  • Dave Brueck at Aug 28, 2003 at 11:38 am

    On Thursday 28 August 2003 10:41 am, Richard Wesley wrote:
    In article <Qlo3b.7388$n94.4843 at fed1read04>,

    midnight at warm-summer-night.net (falling star) wrote:
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    LotLE>
    LotLE> USA automobile deaths are ^43k/year
    LotLE> USA gun-related deaths are ~29k/year

    Where did you get your number? 29k a year??? Don't believe it. I
    would guess the number to be somewhere in the 1000 to 2000 range.
    US murders with firearms were 8,259 in 1999, ranked #4 in the world.
    Source: <http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph-T/cri_mur_wit_fir&int>
    That's it!?!? Wow... I'm amazed that number is so low! That means that, in the
    U.S., you are twice as likely to die from an accident involving drunk drivers
    (http://www.madd.org/stats/0,1056,3726,00.html), four times as likely to die
    from influenza (http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r030107.htm), and 67
    times as likely to die from cancer
    (http://www.millennium.com/rd/oncology/treatment/index.asp) than to be
    murdered with a firearm. The odds of getting killed that way are roughly the
    same as the odds that you'll die from aspirin or similar drugs
    (http://www.drugwarfacts.org/causes.htm).
  • Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters at Aug 28, 2003 at 5:38 pm

    LotLE> USA automobile deaths are ^43k/year
    LotLE> USA gun-related deaths are ~29k/year

    Where did you get your number? 29k a year??? Don't believe it. I
    would guess the number to be somewhere in the 1000 to 2000 range.
    Take a look at the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
    (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

    http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10.html

    I do not seem to be able to create a direct URL, but on the form select
    "Firearm" as the "cause or mechanism" of injury. This produces 28,663
    deaths for Y2000. Incidentally, you can slice-and-dice the numbers
    using this same form.

    It is true, of course, that no all those deaths are homicides. Most of
    them are suicides, and many are accidents. In other words EXACTLY what
    I wrote in my original post. FWIW, gun accidents don't happen to people
    without guns (or at least w/o nearby people having them). And suicides
    attempted by gun succeed at a much higher rate than those done by other
    means (and are much more likely to be attempted in the first place
    because of the "convenience").

    Yours, Lulu...

    --
    mertz@ _/_/_/_/_/_/_/ THIS MESSAGE WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:_/_/_/_/ v i
    gnosis _/_/ Postmodern Enterprises _/_/ s r
    .cx _/_/ MAKERS OF CHAOS.... _/_/ i u
    _/_/_/_/_/ LOOK FOR IT IN A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU_/_/_/_/_/ g s
  • Mackstann at Aug 28, 2003 at 6:02 pm

    On Thu, Aug 28, 2003 at 01:38:24PM -0400, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:

    [...] And suicides
    attempted by gun succeed at a much higher rate than those done by other
    means (and are much more likely to be attempted in the first place
    because of the "convenience").
    What's so bad about that? We already have a few billion too many humans
    lying around anyways. Might as well let the volunteers do their thing..

    --
    m a c k s t a n n mack @ incise.org http://incise.org
    Real Users are afraid they'll break the machine -- but they're never
    afraid to break your face.
  • Peter Hansen at Aug 28, 2003 at 10:16 pm

    mackstann wrote:
    On Thu, Aug 28, 2003 at 01:38:24PM -0400, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:

    [...] And suicides
    attempted by gun succeed at a much higher rate than those done by other
    means (and are much more likely to be attempted in the first place
    because of the "convenience").
    What's so bad about that? We already have a few billion too many humans
    lying around anyways. Might as well let the volunteers do their thing..
    This just points to the need for better gun training. The fact that
    _any_ of these attempted suicides-by-gun actually fail clearly indicates
    there are a lot of gun owners who don't know how to aim properly. ;-)

    -Peter
  • Gerrit Holl at Aug 28, 2003 at 9:04 pm

    Richard Wesley wrote:
    In article <Qlo3b.7388$n94.4843 at fed1read04>,
    midnight at warm-summer-night.net (falling star) wrote:
    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    LotLE>
    LotLE> USA automobile deaths are ^43k/year
    LotLE> USA gun-related deaths are ~29k/year

    Where did you get your number? 29k a year??? Don't believe it. I
    would guess the number to be somewhere in the 1000 to 2000 range.
    US murders with firearms were 8,259 in 1999, ranked #4 in the world.
    There is a difference between 'murders with firearms' and
    'gun-related deaths'.

    Gerrit.

    --
    112. If any one be on a journey and entrust silver, gold, precious
    stones, or any movable property to another, and wish to recover it from
    him; if the latter do not bring all of the property to the appointed
    place, but appropriate it to his own use, then shall this man, who did not
    bring the property to hand it over, be convicted, and he shall pay
    fivefold for all that had been entrusted to him.
    -- 1780 BC, Hammurabi, Code of Law
    --
    Asperger Syndroom - een persoonlijke benadering:
    http://people.nl.linux.org/~gerrit/
    Het zijn tijden om je zelf met politiek te bemoeien:
    http://www.sp.nl/
  • Tom Plunket at Aug 30, 2003 at 9:47 pm

    Richard Wesley wrote:

    US murders with firearms were 8,259 in 1999, ranked #4 in the world.
    Indeed, even taking all firearm murders out of the total "number
    of murders" from that same page would change the US from the
    sixth most murderous country to the eighth; clearly the US is
    "just a bunch of violent nuts" in any case.

    It seems obvious to me that eliminating guns in the US would not
    eliminate the murders, and I would guess that at least some of
    the "murders with guns" would occur with some other implement
    were there no guns to be had. Sure, some murders would not be
    committed, but zoinks if the US were to still be in eighth place
    without guns being available?!? What would the reason be then?


    -tom!

    --
    There's really no reason to send a copy of your
    followup to my email address, so please don't.
  • Peter Hansen at Aug 28, 2003 at 10:14 pm

    Dave Brueck wrote:
    On Thursday 28 August 2003 12:40 pm, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    The odds of getting killed that way are roughly the same as the odds
    that you'll die from aspirin or similar drugs
    No... this one is just way off. According to above URL form:

    2000, United States
    Adverse effects - Drugs Deaths and Rates per 100,000
    All Races, Both Sexes, All Ages
    ICD-10 Codes: Y40-Y59,Y88.0

    Number of Deaths Population Crude Rate Age-Adjusted Rate**
    255 275,264,999 0.09 0.09
    Aren't statistics fun? :)

    Think about it: even intuitively, 255 is *way* too low for a population of 275
    million (that's essentially zero - in a population that size 255 people
    probably die in sneezing-releated incidents every year) - I don't think that
    statistic represents what you think it represents.
    Dave, I think you missed the "rates per 100,000" part, above. That
    means roughly 700,000 deaths for the population given, not 255.

    -Peter
  • Dave Brueck at Aug 28, 2003 at 4:43 pm

    On Thursday 28 August 2003 04:14 pm, Peter Hansen wrote:
    Dave Brueck wrote:
    On Thursday 28 August 2003 12:40 pm, Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters wrote:
    The odds of getting killed that way are roughly the same as the odds
    that you'll die from aspirin or similar drugs
    No... this one is just way off. According to above URL form:

    2000, United States
    Adverse effects - Drugs Deaths and Rates per 100,000
    All Races, Both Sexes, All Ages
    ICD-10 Codes: Y40-Y59,Y88.0

    Number of Deaths Population Crude Rate Age-Adjusted Rate**
    255 275,264,999 0.09 0.09
    Aren't statistics fun? :)

    Think about it: even intuitively, 255 is *way* too low for a population
    of 275 million (that's essentially zero - in a population that size 255
    people probably die in sneezing-releated incidents every year) - I don't
    think that statistic represents what you think it represents.
    Dave, I think you missed the "rates per 100,000" part, above. That
    means roughly 700,000 deaths for the population given, not 255.
    That's what I thought too initially, but the actual web page itself suggests
    otherwise. OTOH, if it *is* 255 per 100k, then that just makes my previous
    comment *more* true, and I don't think Lulu was attempting to do that! ;-)

    -Dave
  • Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters at Aug 29, 2003 at 1:18 am

    Dave Brueck <dave at pythonapocrypha.com> wrote previously:
    Think about it: even intuitively, 255 is *way* too low for a population
    of 275 million (that's essentially zero - in a population that size 255
    people probably die in sneezing-releated incidents every year)
    The page at:

    http://webapp.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate10.html

    Let's you slice-and-dice injury mortality rates in quite a few ways.
    You can check by age, by state, race, sex, and others. You can try
    different time periods and normalizations. In a morbid way, it's a
    fascinating URL. This doesn't include other causes of mortality like
    disease, but some other CDC pages have useful info there.

    The number I posted was adverse effects -excluding- medical care--i.e.
    accidental over-ingestion of aspirin, which seemed closest to the
    category Dave initially suggested.

    However, the CDC lists 2804 deaths from adverse effects in medical care,
    or about 1 per 100k. However, poisonings are at 20,230 in Y2000, which
    is 7.35/100k. I'm not sure how the CDC split out adverse effects from
    poisonings (obviously, -no- amount of insecticide is desirable to
    digest, but a lot of things have dosage transitions between useful and
    dangerous).

    Anyway, I find the CDC to be pretty darn definitive in these reports.
    Maybe not flawless, but a lot better than particular political advocacy
    groups (whether pro- or anti-gun, or MAAD, or environmental [pro- or
    con-], etc).

    Yours, Lulu...

    --
    ---[ to our friends at TLAs (spread the word) ]--------------------------
    Echelon North Korea Nazi cracking spy smuggle Columbia fissionable Stego
    White Water strategic Clinton Delta Force militia TEMPEST Libya Mossad
    ---[ Postmodern Enterprises <mertz at gnosis.cx> ]--------------------------
  • John J. Lee at Aug 29, 2003 at 6:32 pm

    Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters <mertz at gnosis.cx> writes:

    Dave Brueck <dave at pythonapocrypha.com> wrote previously: [...]
    However, the CDC lists 2804 deaths from adverse effects in medical care,
    or about 1 per 100k.
    [...]

    I'm very surprised -- that sounds way too low. Where is this category
    defined?

    Even when carefully defined in some sensible way, there must be big
    uncertainties due to the present lack of knowledge about drug
    interactions, and about other treatments causing hard-to-measure
    increases in mortality over the long term. Epidemiology is a blunt
    instrument, and we're still at an early stage in understanding
    diseases.

    Erm, anyone know the figures for mortality due to Pythons? <wink>


    John
  • Sean Ross at Aug 26, 2003 at 1:09 am
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message
    news:Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com...
    What should I study in college?
    Hi. Are you asking which areas in the field of computer science you should
    try to specialize in (take courses in)? Are you asking which comp. sci. (or
    non-comp.sci. courses) would be beneficial (for getting work, for rounding
    your knowledge, for making you happy, for all of the above and more)?

    What you should study in college may well depend on your chosen college's
    degree requirements. My university, for instance, requires us to take
    atleast 8 classes outside of our discipline (I chose to do a minor in
    philosophy, in order to meet that requirement).

    It's hard to say what you should study. What are your goals? What would you
    like to learn? What would you like to do? Do you want to be a computer
    scientist? a programmer? a software engineer? a network administrator? a
    security professional? a web-application developer, or something else?
    Depending upon what you want to do, what you should learn may differ.

    For the time being, you're still in high school, so let's start there. Take
    all of the math and science courses you can. Finite (discrete) mathematics,
    if it is offered, is particularly useful. If your school offers any kind of
    logic course, take that. If you're looking to be in management, business
    courses might be useful. Take literature courses (you'll have to write
    papers as you move further towards being a computer scientist, best get some
    practice writing now). But, most importantly, take what interests you!

    In university (or college), you can follow advice similar to that above.
    Especially, "take what interests you". Take any required maths, and, if you
    like, take any other discrete math courses. As for computer science courses:
    You'll likely have a core curriculum to follow for the first 2-3 years, so
    you may not have a lot of choice in which courses to take. In 3rd and 4th
    year you'll likely get to specialize more. If your school offers a compiler
    course, take it. Most of what you learn there is applicable in other
    domains. If your school offers an interface design course, take that. If
    your school offers software design courses, take those.

    Other than this, it's difficult to suggest courses. It depends on your
    interests and the courses that are offered. Are you interested in AI,
    A-Life, evolutionary computing? Are you interested in cryptography,
    security, networking? Are you interested in distributed or parellel
    computing? Again, "take what interests you".

    What languages do you suggest that I study (I'm already studying Python)?
    Learn C (atleast, and maybe C++). Learn an assembly language. Learn Scheme
    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language). Learn Prolog (or some other logic programming language). Learn
    Java. Learn Perl. Learn what interests you.

    I hope that was somewhat helpful,
    Sean
  • Jacek Generowicz at Aug 26, 2003 at 7:40 am
    Howard, I fully agree with the suggestion that you should learn as
    broad a range of languages as possible. Awareness and appreciation of
    other styles of programming can make you a better programmer, even in
    languages which do not provide direct support for the styles you
    learned in other languages, and whose communities are not familiar the
    lessons learned in other communities.

    It seems to be extremely popular in the field of Information
    Technology (and by association, in the field of Computer Science), to
    avoid learning the lessons learned by others in the past, an re-invent
    the wheel repeatedly, usually making many mistakes on the way.

    Try to study the evolution of different families of languages, and try
    to observe what lessons were learned in the family's history. That
    way, you are less likely to be blinded by the hype that accompanies
    the latest fad language that comes along, but will be able to assess
    its worth.

    Remember that popularity and quality are very weakly correlated.

    I don't wish to suggest that populatrity is not important, but it's
    not all there is.

    The popularity of a given idea waxes and wanes; its inherent quality
    remains constant.

    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:
    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language).
    As an added bonus, studying many langugas reduces the chances of you
    misclassifying them, as has been done above :-)
  • Sean Ross at Aug 26, 2003 at 1:54 pm

    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:
    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language).
    As an added bonus, studying many langugas reduces the chances of you
    misclassifying them, as has been done above :-)
    Okay. "..., or some other language that supports functional programming
    style)" (which would include those mentioned, and many more besides). For
    instance,

    http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Programming/Languages/Functional/?tc=1
    Aleph (1)
    BETA (8)
    Caml (2)
    Clean (6)
    Dylan (19) <
    Erlang (313)
    Haskell (48) <
    Leda (5)
    Lisp (378) <
    Logo (46)
    Lua (18)
    Mercury (4)
    Miranda (10)
    ML (35)
    Mozart (2)
    Objective Caml (5) <
    Pliant (16)
    POP-11 (6)
    REBOL (95)
    Scheme (127)
    Sisal (12)


    Whatever.
    Sean
  • Jacek Generowicz at Aug 26, 2003 at 2:12 pm

    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:

    Okay. "..., or some other language that supports functional programming
    style)" (which would include those mentioned, and many more besides). For
    instance,

    http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Programming/Languages/Functional/?tc=1
    Aleph (1)
    BETA (8)
    Caml (2)
    Clean (6)
    Dylan (19) <
    Erlang (313)
    Haskell (48) <
    Leda (5)
    Lisp (378) <
    Logo (46)
    Lua (18)
    Mercury (4)
    Miranda (10)
    ML (35)
    Mozart (2)
    Objective Caml (5) <
    Pliant (16)
    POP-11 (6)
    REBOL (95)
    Scheme (127)
    Sisal (12)
    They seem to have forgotten Python.
  • Cameron Laird at Sep 1, 2003 at 9:12 am
    In article <sDJ2b.1909$_F1.271943 at news20.bellglobal.com>,
    Sean Ross wrote:
    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:
    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language).
    .
    .
    .
    Okay. "..., or some other language that supports functional programming
    style)" (which would include those mentioned, and many more besides). For
    instance,

    http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Programming/Languages/Functional/?tc=1
    Aleph (1)
    BETA (8)
    Caml (2)
    Clean (6)
    Dylan (19) <
    Erlang (313)
    Haskell (48) <
    Leda (5)
    Lisp (378) <
    Logo (46)
    Lua (18)
    Mercury (4)
    Miranda (10)
    ML (35)
    Mozart (2)
    Objective Caml (5) <
    Pliant (16)
    POP-11 (6)
    REBOL (95)
    Scheme (127)
    Sisal (12)
    .
    .
    .
    Someone needs to talk with the googlers; REBOL and Dylan
    are not functional languages. And Lisp ... well, Lisp is
    universal, so let's let that pass.
    --

    Cameron Laird <Cameron at Lairds.com>
    Business: http://www.Phaseit.net
    Personal: http://phaseit.net/claird/home.html
  • Thant Tessman at Sep 1, 2003 at 2:24 pm

    Cameron Laird wrote:
    In article <sDJ2b.1909$_F1.271943 at news20.bellglobal.com>,
    Sean Ross wrote:
    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:

    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language).
    .
    .
    .
    Okay. "..., or some other language that supports functional programming
    style)" (which would include those mentioned, and many more besides). For
    instance,

    http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Programming/Languages/Functional/?tc=1
    Aleph (1)
    BETA (8)
    Caml (2)
    Clean (6)
    Dylan (19) <
    Erlang (313)
    Haskell (48) <
    Leda (5)
    Lisp (378) <
    Logo (46)
    Lua (18)
    Mercury (4)
    Miranda (10)
    ML (35)
    Mozart (2)
    Objective Caml (5) <
    Pliant (16)
    POP-11 (6)
    REBOL (95)
    Scheme (127)
    Sisal (12)
    .
    .
    .
    Someone needs to talk with the googlers; REBOL and Dylan
    are not functional languages. And Lisp ... well, Lisp is
    universal, so let's let that pass.
    Not to re-open that can o' worms, but last time I looked, Dylan
    supported functional programming style just fine. If memory serves, its
    word for 'lambda' is 'method.' I've never heard of REBOL.

    -thant
  • Neelakantan Krishnaswami at Sep 1, 2003 at 3:58 pm

    In article <bivkor$m70$1 at terabinaries.xmission.com>, Thant Tessman wrote:
    Cameron Laird wrote:
    In article <sDJ2b.1909$_F1.271943 at news20.bellglobal.com>,
    Sean Ross wrote:
    "Sean Ross" <sross at connectmail.carleton.ca> writes:

    (Lisp, Dylan, Haskell, ocaml, or some other functional programming
    language).
    Someone needs to talk with the googlers; REBOL and Dylan
    are not functional languages. And Lisp ... well, Lisp is
    universal, so let's let that pass.
    Not to re-open that can o' worms, but last time I looked, Dylan
    supported functional programming style just fine. If memory serves, its
    word for 'lambda' is 'method.' I've never heard of REBOL.
    Yeah, Dylan is basically Scheme + CLOS, with a Modula-style syntax. So
    it's a functional language.

    REBOL is more interesting. The original interpreter was written by Joe
    Marshall, and he wrote it so that it supported lexically-scoped
    closures (and maybe tail-recursion too?). This makes it count as an
    fpl, in my book. However, the second version was a rewrite that lost
    those features, and as a result it's not an fpl anymore.


    --
    Neel Krishnaswami
    neelk at cs.cmu.edu
  • David Basil Wildgoose at Sep 2, 2003 at 9:00 am
    Neelakantan Krishnaswami <neelk at cs.cmu.edu> wrote in message news:<slrnbl6r4u.vld.neelk at gs3106.sp.cs.cmu.edu>...
    REBOL is more interesting. The original interpreter was written by Joe
    Marshall, and he wrote it so that it supported lexically-scoped
    closures (and maybe tail-recursion too?). This makes it count as an
    fpl, in my book. However, the second version was a rewrite that lost
    those features, and as a result it's not an fpl anymore.
    I have to disagree. Here's what is said at the REBOL site
    (www.rebol.com):

    "Although REBOL is designed for easy learning, it excels in sheer
    power. Under the hood (for experts) the REBOL engine is a first class,
    functional, symbolic language with a rich selection of built-in
    datatypes, object support, incremental refinement, integrated
    networking, and automatic storage management. In addition, REBOL is
    its own reflective meta language."

    Note key words and phrases like "functional" and "reflective meta
    language".

    Also, the original inventor of REBOL is Carl Sassenrath, (yes, the
    Amiga guy).

    You're right that the second version is no longer tail-recursive, but
    that is a matter for the compiler, not the language, and could just as
    easily be levelled at the early Lisp implementations.

    I would hazard a guess that Rebol's closest relative is probably
    Scheme, so I suppose the opinions of most people will be based upon
    whether they consider Scheme to be functional.
  • Afanasiy at Aug 26, 2003 at 1:52 am

    On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 22:57:44 GMT, "Howard Nease" wrote:
    Hello, everyone. I would appreciate any advice that someone could give me on
    my future career path. Here is my situation:

    I am a bright Junior in a very well-respected private high school, taking
    almost all AP and accelerated classes. I am HIGHLY interested in technology,
    more specifically the field of Computer Science and software engineering. I
    have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
    nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
    field of study in which I'm not very interested.

    I would be devastated were I to find the need to leave computer science. I
    love the subject, and I've wanted to be a computer scientist ever since I
    was 12 years old.

    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
    college? Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
    finding a decent-paying job in compsci? What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    I would make sure to consider a field, in a non-computer science, which
    allows/requires you to use your interest/skills in computer programming.

    I believe I chose the right words, so read them carefully. I don't think
    that leaves any questions of me. Your decision should be your decision.

    Languages...

    Whatever appeals to you, but that probably depends on what you want to do.
  • Tony Meyer at Aug 26, 2003 at 2:16 am
    [Sean Ross]
    But, most importantly, take what interests you!
    This is the only rule to follow, whatever you want to end up doing at the
    end (plus the corollaries "take the prerequisites for what interests you",
    and "take whatever you are forced to by the administration"), computer
    science, business, arts, whatever. If you don't do that, then you end up
    either with poor marks (no matter how smart you are) or hating studying.

    The corresponding rule, of course, is to only apply for jobs that interest
    you. This should mean that if you've followed the above, you have all the
    qualifications you need (as well as some others, hopefully).

    Just my opinion, but based on many years of study as well as observing my
    students.

    =Tony Meyer
  • Jose Rodriguez at Aug 26, 2003 at 5:56 am
    Really hate to say this but....

    I agree with another post in that you should look into a real field
    where you might be able to use the computer 'hobby' aspects of it in
    your field. For instance, be a doctor such as an oconologist,
    radiologist, or ear-noste-throat. These are great, high paying
    positions that are becoming extremely computer intensive. I look at
    it from the standpoint of practicality.... you'll never want for a
    job since there has been a demand in most sections of the country for
    the last 30+ years, you'll get paid a ridiculous salary, and have a
    normal work week of 25 - 50 hours.


    Enjoy the Porchse, the yacht, and the time to focus your skills in
    programming.
  • Peter Hansen at Aug 26, 2003 at 12:06 pm

    Jose Rodriguez wrote:
    I agree with another post in that you should look into a real field
    where you might be able to use the computer 'hobby' aspects of it in
    your field. For instance, be a doctor such as an oconologist,
    radiologist, or ear-noste-throat. These are great, high paying
    positions that are becoming extremely computer intensive. I look at
    it from the standpoint of practicality.... you'll never want for a
    job since there has been a demand in most sections of the country for
    the last 30+ years, you'll get paid a ridiculous salary, and have a
    normal work week of 25 - 50 hours.
    Getting rather off-topic here, but I can't let this pass. A
    recent survey of doctors in the Toronto area showed that something
    like 70% of them felt that their work was very high stress, took
    them away from their family far too much, and took much more than
    25-50 hours. The article I read (sorry, no reference...) also
    indicated that the suicide rate among doctors was much higher
    than the average.

    Never make a job decision based largely on salary... do what you
    want to do, and find a way to make it pay enough to live on.
    You'll be much much happier in the long run.

    -Peter
  • Robert Kern at Aug 26, 2003 at 1:20 pm
    In article <Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com>,
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> writes:

    [snip]
    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
    college?
    Well, in addition to what everyone else has said, I would recommend
    taking some classes that hone your ability to analyze numerical data.
    There ought to be classes from a variety of departments at your college
    that can teach you this skill. It's likely *one* of them will catch your
    interest. In my experience, that core skill is easily transfered between
    fields. Once you learn how to handle the numbers, it doesn't matter if
    they are temperature readings or stock prices.

    That skill will open a large number of career paths where your CS skills
    and interests are respected and used. Many of them pay well, too.

    Of course, that doesn't help you in the slightest if you're just not
    interested in those fields. Use your college experience to explore (lots
    of things really, but let's focus on the career aspects here ;-)). When
    you visit colleges, try to ask the older kids if they had the
    opportunity to "shop around" and discover what they really wanted to do.
    To get you started, I'll tell you right now that Caltech is not such a
    place.
    Will the market for jobs get better?
    Probably. Six years is a *long* time for the computer world.

    For that matter, six years is a long time for a person your age, too.
    I'm quite sure you will be a very different person when you graduate
    from college. Trust me: I'm six years ahead of you. ;-)

    And for now, forget us old fogies, go out, and have some fun, goddammit!

    --
    Robert Kern
    kern at caltech.edu

    "In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
    Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
    -- Richard Harter
  • Terry Reedy at Aug 26, 2003 at 3:56 pm
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message
    news:Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com...
    have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
    nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
    field of study in which I'm not very interested.
    The demand for software engineers has fluctuated up and down, in
    various industries and regions, for decades. An article in the
    current Business 2.0 on the 'coming labor shortage' points out that
    you are part of the first generation in America to be numerically
    smaller than your parents generation. In ten years, when boomers have
    or are retiring, there will probably be a relatively shortage of tech
    workers.

    TJR
  • Gerrit Holl at Aug 26, 2003 at 6:18 pm

    Terry Reedy wrote:
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message
    news:Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com...
    have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
    nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
    field of study in which I'm not very interested.
    The demand for software engineers has fluctuated up and down, in
    various industries and regions, for decades. An article in the
    current Business 2.0 on the 'coming labor shortage' points out that
    you are part of the first generation in America to be numerically
    smaller than your parents generation. In ten years, when boomers have
    or are retiring, there will probably be a relatively shortage of tech
    workers.
    Note that this is true for (almost) all western countries.
    In Dutch it's called "vergrijzing".

    regards,
    Gerrit, who happens to study a field with an extreme shortage of
    engineers/scientists (applied physics), which will be only worse/better
    in 5 years... (The Netherlands)

    --
    271. If any one hire oxen, cart and driver, he shall pay one hundred
    and eighty ka of corn per day.
    -- 1780 BC, Hammurabi, Code of Law
    --
    Asperger Syndroom - een persoonlijke benadering:
    http://people.nl.linux.org/~gerrit/
    Het zijn tijden om je zelf met politiek te bemoeien:
    http://www.sp.nl/
  • John J. Lee at Aug 26, 2003 at 8:46 pm

    "Terry Reedy" <tjreedy at udel.edu> writes:

    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message
    news:Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com...
    have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for software engineers
    nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major or perhaps go into a
    field of study in which I'm not very interested.
    The demand for software engineers has fluctuated up and down, in
    various industries and regions, for decades. An article in the
    current Business 2.0 on the 'coming labor shortage' points out that
    you are part of the first generation in America to be numerically
    smaller than your parents generation. In ten years, when boomers have
    or are retiring, there will probably be a relatively shortage of tech
    workers.
    Who knows? There are plenty of clever, hard-working people in India
    who speak good English. It would be a good thing if more computing
    jobs moved there, IMHO, and that certainly seems to be happening to an
    extent already.

    A lot depends on the location and degree of horror of world events, I
    fear. Just to cheer you up ;-/


    John
  • Terry Reedy at Aug 27, 2003 at 1:50 am
    "John J. Lee" <jjl at pobox.com> wrote in message
    news:873cfo6tbl.fsf at pobox.com...
    "Terry Reedy" <tjreedy at udel.edu> writes:
    The demand for software engineers has fluctuated up and down, in
    various industries and regions, for decades. An article in the
    current Business 2.0 on the 'coming labor shortage' points out
    that
    you are part of the first generation in America to be numerically
    smaller than your parents generation. In ten years, when boomers
    have
    or are retiring, there will probably be a relatively shortage of
    tech
    workers.
    Who knows? There are plenty of clever, hard-working people in India
    who speak good English. It would be a good thing if more computing
    jobs moved there, IMHO, and that certainly seems to be happening to an
    extent already.
    The same article pointed out that 1) much of the outsourcing is lower
    level call-center jobs; 2) programmer salaries are already rising in
    India because most of the good talent is already employed; 3) the
    shortage anticipated is greater that the anticipated extra supply in
    India, China, etc. Who know...

    TJR
  • A. Lloyd Flanagan at Aug 26, 2003 at 6:59 pm
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message news:<Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com>...
    Hello, everyone. I would appreciate any advice that someone could give me on
    my future career path. Here is my situation: ...
    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
    college? Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
    finding a decent-paying job in compsci? What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    I would say that more important than learning any particular language
    is learning the theoretical aspects of the job, including the math.
    Languages change, the theory will benefit you all your life.

    That said, I agree that you should learn and study a variety of
    languages. Each carries with it a particular way of thinking about a
    problem, and once you understand that way of thinking you can apply it
    elsewhere.

    As for a job in CompSci, I'd say if you were in it for a steady job,
    doing the same sort of thing for years, getting good pay without too
    much work, you're really in the wrong field. Amazingly, a lot of
    people working today have that attitude. Many more are trying to
    figure out where their jobs went.

    You sound like someone with a real love for the field and a desire to
    keep learning and improving yourself. If that's the case, you'll do
    fine.
  • Josh at Aug 26, 2003 at 7:13 pm
    Howard Nease wrote:
    ...
    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
    college? Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
    finding a decent-paying job in compsci? What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    I'd suggest C++, because it's complex and hideous, and you'll probably
    be dealing with complex hideous things in the software industry--so
    it's best to start early.
  • D.w. harks at Aug 26, 2003 at 8:05 pm

    On Monday 25 August 2003 05:57 pm, Howard Nease wrote:
    Hello, everyone. I would appreciate any advice that someone could give me
    on my future career path. Here is my situation:

    I am a bright Junior in a very well-respected private high school, taking
    almost all AP and accelerated classes. I am HIGHLY interested in
    technology, more specifically the field of Computer Science and software
    engineering. I have heard a whole lot about the fact that the market for
    software engineers nowadays is *HORRIBLE*, and that I should double major
    or perhaps go into a field of study in which I'm not very interested.

    I would be devastated were I to find the need to leave computer science. I
    love the subject, and I've wanted to be a computer scientist ever since I
    was 12 years old.

    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future? What should I study in
    college? Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
    finding a decent-paying job in compsci? What languages do you suggest that
    I study (I'm already studying Python)?

    thank you very much for your help!

    --shn
    As a junior in high school, rather than worrying so much about *what* to study
    in college, I'd suggest carefully looking at *where* to study. A Bachelor of
    Science in Computer Science from one school won't be the same as another --
    try to think of what topics you're most interested in and find schools that
    have professors who specialize in those fields. They'll end up helping you
    decide what to study as you go, because they'll be able to see what your
    interests (and talents) are. (Something that your words on a mailing-list
    don't identify all that well!)

    For now, keep all your grades up and start visiting colleges. Don't sweat the
    other stuff just yet...the school you choose will have a program laid out,
    and you'll choose electives within it, but it'll be pretty straightforward
    and will give you an opportunity to explore and figure out if/what you want
    to study in grad school.

    Don't forget to enjoy the stuff you're learning, and don't sweat the job
    market thing. If you have the ability and the love of CS, supporting yourself
    will come along in ways you can never plan for. Just do what you love, and
    you'll be amazed at what happens.

    dave

    --
    d.w. harks <dave at psys.org> http://dwblog.psys.org
  • Stan Graves at Aug 26, 2003 at 8:46 pm
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message news:<Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com>...
    I would be devastated were I to find the need to leave computer science.
    I suppose we should just chalk that up to the angst of a 17 year old.
    There is nothing magical, mystical, or more enlightening about
    computer science compared with any other profession, vocation or
    avocation. If you really would be "devastated" to not be a computer
    scientist, I would recommend some counseling to address your
    perceptions of your worth and value as a person.
    I
    love the subject, and I've wanted to be a computer scientist ever since I
    was 12 years old.
    I've changed professional aspirations at least a dozen times since I
    was 12 years old. I've actually changed professions 6 times since I
    was 12 years old.
    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future?
    Yes. Volunteer in your community, read to children, talk to your
    grandparents and find out where you came from, visit art galleries,
    learn to cook, be a good listener, support your local animal shelters,
    always stop and buy lemonade from kids in the neighborhood, read one
    really good book a year - start with Shakespeare or Mark Twain, learn
    to dance, attend at least one ballet or symphony a year, take a nap at
    least once a month, stretch before exercising, tip generously, travel,
    spend less than you earn, and finally - understand that what you do
    for a living does not define who you are as a person.
    What should I study in
    college?
    You should learn to think and to learn in college.

    Focus on problem decomposition - there are no interesting problems
    that can be solved in one bite...everything has to be broken down into
    smaller pieces.

    Study literature - I have yet to see a single computer scientist who
    can manipulate symbols as well as Shakespeare.

    Take a music appreciation class. The development of musical theory
    and composition provides a good parallel for the understanding of
    complex systems interactions. I have yet to meet a single computer
    scientist who can manage complex systems architecture as well as
    Beethoven.
    Will the market for jobs get better? Do I have any hope at all of
    finding a decent-paying job in compsci?
    The market is going to be different than it is today. Better is a
    judgment that I do not care to make. The advice I received was to get
    a good education and increase your odds of remaining gainfully
    employed. It was, and still is, good advice.
    What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    I'd suggest English. The ability to communicate effectively is
    probably more important than any technical skill.

    If you get tired of studying English, then you might try German. I
    love the structure of the Germanic languages. If you live in the
    southwest, perhaps Spanish would be a good language to study.

    If you still insist that specific topics in computer science have any
    more value than something else, I'd recommend the following:

    - Pick a text editor. Learn it inside and out. Use it for
    everything.
    - Pick a unix shell. Learn it inside and out. Use it for everything.
    - Use a source code control system for everything - no matter how
    large or small the project.
    - Use make for every project, no matter how small.
    - Favor "standards" over proprietary tools.
    - Learn to write web pages...using the standards!
    - Learn C.
    - Learn C++. Learn it both as an OO language, and as a proceedural
    language.
    - Learn one new language a year.


    --Stan Graves
  • Paul D. Fernhout at Aug 27, 2003 at 8:38 pm

    Stan Graves wrote:
    [Lots of good advice snipped]
    Wow, this is really good advice on becoming a decent human being! I
    could not have put it as well or succinctly. This is much better advice
    for someone finishing high school soon than on any specific technical
    direction. It reminds me a bit of Robert Heinlein's quotation: "A human
    being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a
    hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts,
    build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders,
    cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch
    manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die
    gallantly. Specialization is for insects".
    http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=specialization%20is%20for%20insects

    We live in a beautiful and mysterious world -- seemingly infinite in
    time and space and meaning, perhaps with multiple nested levels beyond
    our current understanding (individual or collective). Stan's advice
    touches on how to come to grips with these deeper issues indirectly by
    engaging deeply in the human experience through the ways he outlines
    (volunteering, compassion, art, dance, music, frugality, etc.) to grow
    some deep roots to rely on when branching out into a specialization like
    computer science or Python internals.

    One good resource in the area towards career understanding is Richard
    Bolles "What Color is Your Parachute".
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1580082424/103-2338008-0446217?v=glance
    and his related books on Life/Work planning.

    Still, I might add, from a technical side, become aware of Moore's Law
    if you want to try to predict where the computer field is going to go
    over the course of your career. Computers have increased in computing
    capacity for a constant cost on the order of close to one million times
    over the last thirty or so years. In the next twenty years or so they
    will probably again increase by a factor of about another million from
    where they are now.
    http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/moravec.htm
    Ever more sophisticated virtual reality simulations and robotics (e.g.
    cars that drive themselves just for one application) will be just a few
    of the sorts of possibilities this kind of computing power will enable,
    as well as all sorts of things we can barely imagine now. Cars can even
    drive themselves now using laptops, but they will be presumably even
    safer and more capable then...
    http://www.ri.cmu.edu/labs/lab_28.html
    On Moore's Law and exponential growth see for example:
    http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/art0134.html?printable=1
    Moore's Law type growth is one reason sophisticated languages like
    Python are now succesful (over using all C/C++ all the time) and may be
    ever more succesful as time goes by. As a corollary, today's level of
    desktop computing may well cost one-millionth of what it does in twenty
    years, and so may be effectively free (well, a penny) and so may be
    embedded everywhere (so studying embedded sytems might be useful, and
    for example, learning the computer language Forth might be relevant).

    Also, to elaborate on Stan's suggestion to study literature, read lots
    of things (including, but not limited to, science fiction). For one
    optimistic view of the future, see James P. Hogan's writings, especially
    "Voyage from Yesteryear".
    http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/voyage/baen99/titlepage.shtml
    I always return to that novel and his other writings as a way to regain
    some hope for the future. And for a cyberpunkish vision, try "The
    Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553380966/102-9187646-8303318?v=glance
    But don't skimp on other classics, from "The Machine Stops" to "The
    Skills of Xanadu".

    It's quite possible in twenty years that much of your work in computing
    may be almost inseperable from nanotechnology matter replicator
    programming (i.e. your programs might compile to the hardware).
    Self-replicating space habitats made easy by related technological
    advances in computing and materials fabrication may then well produce
    trillions of Earth's worths of living space around our solar system.
    http://www.luf.org/
    Those sort of possibilities realizeable through dedication and
    commitment of young people like yourself (as well as oldsters :-) make
    all this current fighting over oil and water and land and weapons all
    seem so childish and outmoded as a civilization... Hogan's vision of a
    universe of plenty if we can just cooperate and show compassion and try
    to avoid living in fear is a good one to embrace. Choices by millions of
    people such as yourself will shape whether and how much and for whom the
    future heads in this direction.

    On the science front, read anything by Freeman Dyson (like "Disturbing
    the Universe") because he is a very decent human being as well as
    citizen-scientist. And of course, read more broadly than that --
    biographies, "Harry Potter", history, and so on. Two useful historians
    to read include:
    "A People's History of the United States"
    http://www.howardzinn.org/
    and "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook
    Got Wrong"
    http://www.uvm.edu/~jloewen/
    The concepts in these books may well shape the US political spectrum in
    the next couple of decades, and our technosphere may well then be
    reconstructed to reflect these changing social values. See also,
    "Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political
    Thought" as it grapples directly with this issue of technological
    development reflecting social values (it's kind of dry, but some of his
    other writings may be more accessible).
    http://www.rpi.edu/~winner/
    A computer language like Python (as opposed to C++) in a way reflects a
    different mindset about accessability and changeability (see Guido's
    "Computer Programming for Everybody")
    http://www.python.org/doc/essays/ppt/acm-cp4e/
    in the same way that local solar panels or home biomass fuel cells or
    better home insulation alter the political power landscape as opposed to
    large centralized nuclear or coal power plants or oil tankers. Always be
    aware that the technological systems you build reflect your values. It's
    kind of not a surprise to me that Python came from the Netherlands
    (progressive social system) or Smalltalk from sort-of-hippies in
    California :-) or GNU/Linux from Finland (well, OK, and RMS/GNU in
    Boston post-MIT, which sort of wrecks that analogy :-).

    And beware the PhD pyramid scheme. See a comment by the Vice Provost of
    Caltech on the state of science jobs today as testimony to Congress:
    http://www.house.gov/science/goodstein_04-01.htm
    In short, Prof. Goodstein says because of this focus on the PhD in US
    science, much US education and educators down to the high school level
    are somewhat inadequate to the task of imparting useful skills for other
    than those heading to do the most elite abstract research, unlike say
    the technical education available in some of Europe.

    An excerpt from that page: "The problem, to reiterate, is that science
    education in America is designed to select a small group of elite
    scientists. An unintended but inevitable side effect is that everyone
    else is left out. As a consequence of that, 20,000 American high schools
    lack a single qualified physics teacher, half the math classes in
    American schools are taught by people who lack the qualifications to
    teach them, and companies will increasingly find themselves without the
    technical competence they need at all levels from the shop floor to the
    executive suite. To solve this problem will take nothing less than a
    reform of both education and society. We must have as our goal a nation
    in which solid scientific education will form the basis of realistic
    career opportunities at all levels, in industry, government and in
    education itself, from kindergarten to graduate school. As long as we
    train a tiny scientific elite that cares not at all about anyone else,
    and everyone else wears ignorance of science and mathematics as a badge
    of honor, we are putting our future as a nation and as a culture in deep
    peril."

    I'm not saying don't get a CS PhD someday down the road to realize a
    dream of becoming a computer scientist if that is what you want
    (although please understand the difference between a software developer
    and a mathematician who studies algorithms and how that relates to the
    courses you take and universities you choose to attend) -- just
    understand what you are getting yourself into and how that PhD system
    has distorted science and technical education in the US at present (and
    that link above explains why in some detail).

    Also, on the issue of volunteerism Stan raise, contributing early and
    often to various open source / free software projects that are of
    interest to you (such as contributing to Python) is a way to both gain
    visibility in the computer world as well as to leave a meaningful legacy
    behind no matter where your career and life takes you. Obviously, get
    your parent(s)'s or guardian's permission first if legally or morally
    needed.

    All the best.

    --Paul Fernhout
    http://www.pointrel.org




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  • Peter Olsen at Sep 1, 2003 at 4:29 pm
    soundinmotiondj at yahoo.com (Stan Graves) wrote in message news:<3d6c6fc3.0308261246.32db39d5 at posting.google.com>...
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message news:<Ivw2b.1305$Ce2.314 at clmboh1-nws5.columbus.rr.com>...
    Stan Graves and Howard Nease shared the following exchange. I'd like
    to add my two cents.
    I would be devastated were I to find the need to leave computer science.
    ....
    Does anyone have any advice for me and my future?
    ...
    What should I study in
    college?
    You should learn to think and to learn in college. ...
    Study literature - I have yet to see a single computer scientist who
    can manipulate symbols as well as Shakespeare.
    ....
    What languages do you suggest that I
    study (I'm already studying Python)?
    I'd suggest English. The ability to communicate effectively is
    probably more important than any technical skill. ...
    --Stan Graves
    <soapbox-mode>
    Howard,

    Stan has already given you some excellent advice. I'd like to add
    some more.

    I believe that all of education comes down to learning two languages:
    whatever you speak at the dinner table and mathematics.

    My dinner-table language is English; perhaps yours is as well. This
    is the language we use to talk about what makes us human: our hopes,
    our fears, our loves, our hates, and our passions. You will use this
    language to court your partner, lead your peers, and console your
    family and friends.

    Master it. Use it with precision. As Stan wrote, read Shakespeare.
    Read Churchill for his prose. Read poetry. (I like Robert Service,
    plain though he may be.)

    To work in a technical field you must write about technical things.
    Read Paul Halmos' and Gil Strang's books on mathematics. Read "The
    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" by Hal Abelson and
    Gerald J. Sussman. (This is the best computer science book --- and
    perhaps the best technical book --- I have ever read.) Don't worry
    about mastering the details, concentrate on the elegance and precision
    of their description. Ideas lost your head are useless; ideas on
    paper, but not understood, are tragic.

    Buy the "Elements of Style" by Strunk and White. Keep it handy. Read
    it. (I keep a copy close to the bathroom.)

    Write simple sentences. Use short words. These things are harder
    than they seem.

    Improve your vocabulary. Excise abstruse words. Churchill wrote
    "Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are best of
    all." He was right.

    Just as your dinner-table language lets you describe the inside world
    that makes you human, mathematics lets you describe the outside world
    in which you live.

    Mathematics lets us reason with precision. Here I use the word
    "mathematics" to include almost any formal system for quantitative
    reasoning.

    I recommend that you learn all the traditional mathematics you can.
    Take what courses you can. Mathematics has helped me learn
    engineering, economics, and computer science. (It has also helped me
    write good English.)

    Still, you can learn your mathematics the other way around. Studying
    economics, physics, engineering, and computer science can teach you
    what you need. (I've found studying algorithms a particularly good
    way to do this.) One of my friends --- and also David Mertz of Python
    fame --- appear to have done it by studying philosophy.

    Over all, the purpose of education is not to get a job, but to
    understand the world and your place in it. A few of the best educated
    people I have known were barely High School graduates; a few of the
    worst have PhDs.

    And when you're done, stop.
    </soapbox mode>

    Peter Olsen, AeE., P.E.
    pcolsen at comcast.net

    "Engineering is the art of using a professional knowledge of
    mathematics and the physical sciences to improve the quality of life."
  • John J. Lee at Sep 1, 2003 at 8:37 pm

    pcolsen at comcast.net (Peter Olsen) writes:

    soundinmotiondj at yahoo.com (Stan Graves) wrote in message news:[...]
    Master it. Use it with precision. As Stan wrote, read Shakespeare.
    Read Churchill for his prose. Read poetry. (I like Robert Service,
    plain though he may be.)
    [...]

    Poor guy -- all he asked was what programming language to learn next,
    and he gets deluged with everybody's Lessons in Life ;-)


    John
  • Jeremy Bowers at Sep 2, 2003 at 12:18 am

    On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 13:46:27 -0700, Stan Graves wrote:
    "Howard Nease" <hnease at midsouth.rr.com> wrote in message
    I
    love the subject, and I've wanted to be a computer scientist ever since
    I was 12 years old.
    (Unrelated to my reason for posting: You don't *need* to leave Computer
    Science, it's not going anywhere. People choose to become professional
    musicians, too, even though almost nobody can even make a living at it.
    You can be a Computer Scientist, you just may not make a lot of money.
    C'est la vie; for me, I still have to be a Computer Scientist, I love it
    too much to quit.)
    Study literature - I have yet to see a single computer scientist who can
    manipulate symbols as well as Shakespeare.
    class Rose:
    "A Rose is a Rose is a Rose."""
    def sweetness(self):
    return "very"

    rose = Rose()
    otherName = rose
    assert rose.sweetness() == otherName.sweetness()

    Would you *notice* if a computer scientist matched Shakespeare?

    How can you compare the two at all?

    Statements like that sound all profound but are really the exact opposite;
    meaningless.
  • Stan Graves at Sep 2, 2003 at 4:14 pm
    Jeremy Bowers <jerf at jerf.org> wrote in message news:<pan.2003.09.01.20.18.27.3901 at jerf.org>...
    On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 13:46:27 -0700, Stan Graves wrote:
    Study literature - I have yet to see a single computer scientist who can
    manipulate symbols as well as Shakespeare.
    class Rose:
    "A Rose is a Rose is a Rose."""
    def sweetness(self):
    return "very"

    rose = Rose()
    otherName = rose
    assert rose.sweetness() == otherName.sweetness()

    Would you *notice* if a computer scientist matched Shakespeare?
    Yes. I have had the mis-fortune of being a maintenance programmer for
    far too much of my life. I have read reams of documentation, and
    hundreds of thousands of lines of code. I have attempted to make
    sense of code written to do one thing, but extended and tortured into
    doing another.

    This may not be the computer scientists fault - but the fact remains
    that the resulting system of code has little, if any, coherence across
    itself, let alone a deliberate connection from it's elements to
    anything that resembles the real world problem that the code was
    written to give greater insight.

    Then again, if an army of editors attempted to re-write Shakespeare, I
    doubt seriously if anythign worth reading would have survived.
    How can you compare the two at all?
    I can compare the two because they relate to the same larger idea.
    Literature, on its surface may simply be pretty prose. But literature
    is also meant to provide us with some greater insight into the human
    condition. Literature can be a stand-in for actual experience. When
    you read the report of Lewis and Clarke to President Jefferson, you
    can get a sense of what their journey was like. That is a journey
    that can never be redone - the face of the land has changed since that
    time...yet the words of the report provide a greater sense of
    understanding about the men, the journey, the land, and the times.

    In general, code is written to solve a greater problem than the
    creation of that code. As such, code, or its results, should provide
    a greater understanding into a non-code related problem.

    As such, I can say that no computer program has provided me with a
    greater sense of understanding into the problem it was meant to solve,
    than Shakespeare has provided me with an understand of the human
    conditions that he wrote about. Even with the precise language of
    mathematics, code is generally a poor stand in for actual
    understanding of a problem.
    Statements like that sound all profound but are really the exact opposite;
    meaningless.
    I stand by my original statement. Perhaps with the clarification that
    I have provided above, you may find some greater meaning in what I
    originally said. If not, I hope we can simply agree to disagree.

    --Stan Graves
  • Jeremy Bowers at Sep 3, 2003 at 2:33 am

    On Tue, 02 Sep 2003 09:14:41 -0700, Stan Graves wrote:
    Yes. I have had the mis-fortune of being a maintenance programmer for
    far too much of my life. I have read reams of documentation, and
    hundreds of thousands of lines of code. I have attempted to make
    sense of code written to do one thing, but extended and tortured into
    doing another.
    For what it's worth, you're reading the slush pile and judging the whole
    discipline with it, if that statement is accurate. To be fair, you need to
    be comparing the *best* of computer science against Shakespeare, not
    whatever happens to cross your desk. You can't judge English Novels by
    Danielle Steele, either. The whole "Turing Machine" bit (including the
    Halting Problem, incomputability, the whole "there are problems we can't
    solve, provably") has personally moved me a lot more then Shakespeare.
    Knuth has a piercing clarity. There are others. (Python itself is
    surprisingly larger then the sum of its parts, to stay on topic, and I'm
    not just saying that; I mean it.)

    (Actually, I'm not a fan of Shakespeare; he's good with words but I think he
    is worshipped because he was first; the first guys to be decent at
    something are held up as geniuses later, but I think the exact same work,
    done thirty years later after somebody *else* had been first, would be
    merely a historical footnote. So I'll take the larger point and
    extrapolate to "English masterpiece".)

    (On the later point, I'm agreeing to disagree.)
  • Asun Friere at Aug 27, 2003 at 2:56 am
    "Tim Churches" <tchur at optushome.com.au> wrote in message news:<mailman.1061927168.7845.python-list at python.org>...
    Except when it comes to guns
    You should know better than getting into a discussion with Americans about guns.
  • Paul Boddie at Aug 27, 2003 at 12:01 pm
    afriere at yahoo.co.uk (Asun Friere) wrote in message news:<38ec68a6.0308261856.3c5f85d at posting.google.com>...
    "Tim Churches" <tchur at optushome.com.au> wrote in message
    news:<mailman.1061927168.7845.python-list at python.org>...
    Except when it comes to guns
    You should know better than getting into a discussion with Americans about
    guns.
    Before we get into a long and pointless debate, it should be said that
    the film "Bowling for Columbine" does have a more sophisticated point
    about the relationship between gun availability and criminal acts than
    is typically made out or assumed (usually by people who haven't seen
    it, I might add). And with that, I'd advise anyone interested in
    pursuing such a debate to take it to the appropriate forums (and to
    see the film, too).

    Meanwhile, given ESR's latest "Star Wars trip" (as published by
    NewsForge and a whole load of other places by now, I'm sure) there's a
    strong argument for the issue of T-shirts which read "STFU ESR".
    Because like all of us, there are times when saying nothing is
    substantially better than saying something, especially when repeated
    references to "Obi-Wan", "The Emperor" and "Rebel Command" are made.

    Paul
  • Jacek Generowicz at Aug 27, 2003 at 1:22 pm

    "Tim Churches" <tchur at optushome.com.au> writes:

    Cameron Laird wrote:
    I ask in part because, as near as I can tell, you were the
    first to mention him in this thread. It appears that you
    regard his output as particularly hazardous.
    See the first few paragraphs of
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/guns/gun-ethics.html
    If you wish to strengthen a prejudice you might have about ESR's
    writings being dangerous, then, yes, read the first few paragraphs of

    http://www.catb.org/~esr/guns/gun-ethics.html

    and stop there. You will pass on with that warm fuzzy feeling that
    smug satisfaction gives you. Whatever you do, don't read on. If you do
    read on, certainly don't stop to think about what is actually written
    there. If you do think about it, then don't drop the guard of your
    prejudice.

    It is particularly important to protect yourself behind your prejudice
    if you reach the highlighted phrases:

    - it all comes down to you

    - never count on being able to undo your choices

    - the universe doesn't care about motives

    for if you do, then you are in danger of realizing that (in spite of
    the frequent references to triggers, bullets, death etc.) what you are
    reading is _not_ an article about firearms.[1]

    And then that warm fuzzy feeling will be replaced by a hollow pit in
    your stomach, and we wouldn't want that, would we now !

    I thank you (Tim) for pointing out this article.

    I thank myself for ignoring your instructions and reading beyond the
    first few paragraphs.

    [FWIW, I am opposed to the "bearing of firearms". However, given that
    I have only lived in courtries in which firearms are not borne by
    everyone, I have not had sufficient motivation to base my opinion on
    any careful consideration.]

    One learns so much more from reading opinions opposed to one's own,
    than from reading ones with which you agree. If one suppresses one's
    prejudices, at least.


    [1] Don't stop reading at this point either, because then you will
    fail to realize that it is actually _trying_ very hard to be an
    article about firearms, after all. But that only serves to
    strengthen my point.
  • Terry Reedy at Aug 27, 2003 at 3:05 pm

    "Tim Churches" <tchur at optushome.com.au> writes:

    Cameron Laird wrote:
    I ask in part because, as near as I can tell, you were the
    first to mention him in this thread. It appears that you
    regard his output as particularly hazardous.
    See the first few paragraphs of
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/guns/gun-ethics.html
    I did. 'Few' means at least three. The second and last sentence of
    the third paragraph reads

    " Every political choice ultimately reduces to a choice about when and
    how to use lethal force, because the threat of lethal force is what
    makes politics and law more than a game out of which anyone could opt
    at any time."

    Do you disagree (with what seems to me like an obviously true
    statement)? Or are you one who doesn't the 'people' to notice the
    elitist hypocrisy of being 'anti-gun' while supporting the bearing
    *and use* of guns by 'govern-men' the elitists hope to control? (I
    think it safe to say that during the 20th century, 99% of the 100s of
    millions of murders were committed by armed govern-men rather than by
    private persons acting alone.)

    Well back to Python.

    Terry J. Reedy

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