Steve Rowe's Blog

Ruminations on Computing - Programming, Test Development, Management and More

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  • Blog Post: Some Programming Languages to Consider Learning

    Learning a new programming language can affect the way you think. While most modern languages are Turing Complete and can theoretically all accomplish the same things, that’s not practically true. Each language has its own strengths of expressiveness. For instance, trying to write dynamically typed code...
  • Blog Post: 10 Programming Languages Worth Exploring

    Now that I've completed the final class toward my Masters Degree I have the time to explore some things of my own choosing. One thing I intend to do is to learn a new programming language. This article I discovered via Reddit is a good place to start. It lists 10 languages worth learning. These are the...
  • Blog Post: Stroustrup on What's Wrong With CS Programs

    Similar to thinking of Joel Spolsky (and me ), Bjarne Stroustrup (the inventor of C++) says the way we teach CS today is broken . That is, it is at odds with the needs of the industry. Having just completed a Masters in CS I can say first hand that this is true. Some of what I learned was applicable...
  • Blog Post: The Company You Work For Matters

    In an episode of Stack Overflow Podcast, Jeff Atwood made an interesting point.  He spoke of the difference between companies that deliver code as their product (like Microsoft) and companies who use code to support other business interests (the IT department inside Weyerhauser for example). ...
  • Blog Post: Hello World Podcast

    MacBreak Tech has a recent podcast talking about learning to program. They begin with the question "how do I start programming games" and break it down. Pick a project. Don't learn for learning's sake. Learn to accomplish something. It will give you a structure to hang your learning on. Pick...
  • Blog Post: Do We Need A New Kind of CS Degree?

    Joel Spolsky suggests that we should have something called a BFA in Software Development . That is, a Bachelor's in Fine Arts focused on creating software. I think he's onto something. I've called for something similar in the past. Presently there are two sorts of degrees that seem to be offered in the...
  • Blog Post: What Self-Taught Programmers Are (Often) Missing

    Some self-taught programmers can hold their own with the best coders out there. Others, although smart people, are fundamentally less good at programming. While there is variation among classically trained coders too, they are on average better than their self-taught peers. Why is that? Why can't self...
  • Blog Post: Practice, Practice, Practice Makes Perfect

    I was sent a link to this article as a followup to my post about learning to program over a long period of time. The article isn't about programming but rather about comedian Jerry Seinfeld. When he was young and working to be a comic, he had a particular technique for learning that applies to the act...
  • Blog Post: You Can't Learn To Program In A Hurry

    A friend turned me on to this essay from Peter Norvig entitled Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years . In it the author attacks the idea of the "Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days" kind of books. They make it look easy to learn to program. Unfortunately, it isn't. You can't become a good programmer in a...
  • Blog Post: Why Algorithms Matter

    New programmers often don't appreciate the power of algorithms. They have one criteria for a piece of code: does it calculate the right answer? If it does, they go with it. Every CS program has at least one class on algorithms. However, if you are a self-taught programmer, you may not have been exposed...
  • Blog Post: More Resources For Teaching Children To Program

    As I've stated before , I have a young son who I have been trying on and off to teach to program. I still owe you a post talking about what I've found does and does not work. In the mean time, I ran across this article which give several good resources. It mentions many of the standbys including Lego...
  • Blog Post: Three Types of CS Programs

    In my mind there are three different types of programs you might find when looking for CS or CS-related degrees. When choosing a school to attend, it is important to understand what their focus is going to be. If what you want out of a program doesn't align with what they are teaching, you'll run the...
  • Blog Post: Teaching Your Team To Program

    The world of testing is becoming a lot more technical than it once was. While there is still a need for strong exploratory testing, the need for test automation is increasing dramatically. Test automation requires programming at some level. Good test automation requires skilled programmers. Thus the...
  • Blog Post: Teaching Yourself To Program

    Following up on my last post, I'll give some instruction for those testers who want to become programmers. As I said, last time, don't expect to learn everything you need to at work. The forces in play will almost certainly conspire to keep you from being able to. If you desire to expand your horizons...
  • Blog Post: It's Difficult to Grow a Test Developer

    A lot of testers begin life as software test engineers. That is, they execute tests but don't do any (or much) programming. The dream of many testers is to become a test developer or a developer. Reciprocally, the dream of many test managers is to grow their testers into test developers. Is this a realistic...
  • Blog Post: You Can't Teach Height, But Can You Teach Programming?

    There's an old basketball saying--attributed to Frank Layden of the Utah Jazz-- that "You can't teach height." No matter how much skill you have, if you are short, you'll be at a disadvantage on the court. You can teach someone to be a better player, but you can't make them any taller. Recently, there...
  • Blog Post: Teaching My Son To Program

    A few months back I read the article , "Why Johnny can't code" by David Brin. He talks about the trials he had teaching his son to BASIC. Just yesterday, I came across this article by Nat Torkington entitled, "Why Johnny Can't Program." This one talks about his adventures teaching programming to youngsters...
  • Blog Post: Language Choices

    It has been asked several times which language is better for a test developer at Microsoft, C# or C++? The answer really depends on what group you will be working in. Different groups require different skills. It is my perception that C++ is by far the dominant language today but that will not always...
  • Blog Post: So You Want to Be a Test Developer

    So you have an interest in becoming a test developer, eh? You’ve come to the right place. In this paper I will lay out what I think is the best path to take to becoming a test developer or really any sort of developer. Test developers are really just developers who happen to report in the test org. Becoming...
  • Blog Post: Advice for CS Students

    Joel Spolsky (of JoelOnSoftware fame) is well-spoken and often has a lot of good advice for programmers. This recent essay gives advice to college students on what to study. His advice consists of: Learn how to write before graduating. Learn C before graduating. Learn microeconomics before graduating...
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