Lograh (lograh) wrote,

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no substitute

I was working on someone's computer today. He's a student assistant, and as a result he shares the computer with various other student assistants who work different shifts from him.

As can be expected when a bunch of users share a computer, each one will load up their own little programs and you eventually end up with a messy system that needs some basic tune-up procedures. So, there I am working on it and he asks if I was a CS major, I told him the story about how I felt it was a waste of my time and I went for something more challenging and enjoyable, Math, instead. I ask what he is, expecting him to say Physics or Chemistry. He was, after all, somewhat familiar with computers and not entirely afraid of the system and he also had some preferances about the various merits of the differant flavors of Windows, but he didn't know anything more than the basic surface-level soundbites. Stuff like "WinXP sucks, Win2k is so much better", but he didn't know that XP is just 2k with a different UI pasted on the front. So, imagine my shock when he reveals that he's a CS GRADUATE student. He allready _has_ a degree in CS and he's persuing graduate studies in that field!

Now, sure, he can probably tell me more about database design theory than I'd ever care to know, but the poor guy was at a loss about anything more complex than "double-click here to run word". And he's supposed to be getting a graduate degree in Computer Science?!? He can barely use computers at all!

A little more probing and I discover that he's only been using computers at all for about 4 years. The oldest computer he's worked on is..

wait for it..

a 386!!!! (and you know that was likely just in a "computer history" class or some similar bullshit)

yikes. These kids these days... Getting their CS degrees without any concept of how to truly USE a computer. He'd never heard of msconfig, a program that is fundamental to fine-tuning Windows. He had never heard of keeping 10% of your hard disk free, something we *HAD* to do back in the days of unstable hard disks (or you'd start loosing data). His only experiance in Assembly programing was when he took a course on it, and he likely forgot every bit of it upon getting his grade.

damn.. 4 years of total computer knowlege, he can only *barely* use a computer, and he's getting an MS in CS.

I have met first-hand the reason modern computer programmers can't write good code. They've NEVER had to. He's never known a computer with RAM measured in KB instead of MB.. He's never known a hard disk smaller than 100MB. He's likely never seen an 8" floppy. He's never known a computer system with processor speed measured in the Hz instead of Khz. He's never used a modem slower than 56Kbs. Hell, he's probably never had to actually use anything slower than DSL/Cablemodem on a daily basis.

GAH!! I'm sounding like some old fart, and I've not been in it *THAT* long..

Problem is, he's not alone. I've spoken with CS majors all the damn time. I'm allways keeping an eye on them -- I have to, they are the new competition comming up in the world. This field can be VERY competitive and if you don't watch your back you'll soon find some young gun taking shots at your job. They all are like this kid. They got into it from zero experiance, for whatever reason, and they only know what they are taught in class. They don't actually make much in the way of attempts to learn more or improve their skills on their own. They never question the teacher. They just accept that "good programing technique" means you do it in such-and-such a way. It is truly saddening, to see them comming out of the schools with such miniscule ammounts of actual, real, knowledge.

And people wonder sometimes why I'm not impressed by Computer Science Majors.

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