Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Survival tips for the 'common programmer'

Learn Learn
For the 'common programmer'[R.K Laxman - 'Common Man' variant], the importance of a good foundation in computer science and continuously upgrading your knowledge cannot be emphasised further. The reason for this post are the many interviews conducted over the past few days which have been very disappointing and a few talks with my colleagues.

In addition to computer science fundamentals, what definitely appear to be missing from the many software professionals is the passion to learn stuff, the desire to look into the details to know how things works

Your basic foundation, which should have at least covered computer architecture, OS fundamentals, Networking fundamentals, programming concepts and constructs
(for a more exhaustive list, check out the syllabus from any of the B.Tech or B.Sc Computer Science courses) seems to be missing.

Second, you need to be aware of whats around and happening in this field; now how would I do that ? Subscribe to postings via a good RSS reader - Google Reader is a good option. Nearly all websites support for RSS subscriptions. Most importantly, make sure you read through them periodically.

Information Overload ?
Now, while reading through the many stuff, how do you make sure its relevant to you ? There is no way anyone could read and understand each of the topic (that would take 25hrs daily... behind bars perhaps?). An easy option is to not go into the details of the implementation, but be aware of the concept; as in, know the fundas. Unless the posting itself is of an interesting nature and you want to go in deeper.

The same logic applies to newsgroup postings; subscribe to newsgroups which appear interesting, but be aware of what needs a closer read. The experts appear to 'read between the lines'; you could skip paragraphs and sentences to read through the article to get an overall idea. If it does appears interesting, go back and read all the lines.

Overall, just make sure you are updated - make the above two steps a habit :)

Look Further
Now, when you learn something new, make sure you delve a bit more deeper than the skin to understand the hows and whys. These two questions should clear a lot many doubts on why the stuff is there in the first place and how the stuff solves it.

eg:- Most of us appear to know that the foreach construct in C# lets you loop through each items in the collection (solves the 'why' part). All good. Now, how does it do it and how can I extend my System.Object descendant to be made usable within the foreach construct? Enter IEnumerable interface.

Another one - Threads in C# do let me run jobs in parallel ('why' part). Now how does the CLR manage user threads? Did you know that a thread need not be created at the OS level each time a /new Thread()/ is called ? Enter Thread pool managed by the CLR.

What needs to be stressed is the importance of going deeper into anything you learn by answering the above two questions each time.

All the best fellow programmers. Would like comments on how you guys learn and update yourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your ideas. The way u write them is amazing.