Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Brick Science

American Digest points out an amusing essay on the crapulence of some neer-do-well coders. Sadly, I encounter these people all the time.

I was fortunate to never have completed a course in Computer Science while at Rice. On the other hand, I was also very unfortunate as Rice has a truly fine department and I would have loved the chance to study programming languages or computer security from true experts. But I was fortunate as I learned how to write programs the old-fashioned way: by studying the code of masters and reading the right books. I had many friends who were excellent programmers, and they put me on the right course with things like the dragon book for compilers, Knuth for algorighms, or the ARM for C++. (No kidding — I learned C++ from the ARM and couldn't figure out why the compilers I tried out didn't seem to implement quite the same language as what I read. It was very eye-opening about what was right v. what was right now.) I learned Linux from the sources and studied good operating system programming from Lions. They both taught me how disgusting and unneccessary most software bloat is, and how a simple implementation is a thing of beauty.

Of late I've learned Java and its companions and become steeped in its culture, and discovered that JUnit is the best of the lot. I'll be happy to return to greener pastures, but for now I'll be satisfied simple with greenbacks for my troubles. I also learned that bird in hand isn't to be sneezed at; I can mix metaphors as well as languages.

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