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Programming Businesses Education

The Site That Teaches You To Code Well Enough To Get a Job 131

HughPickens.com writes Wanna be a programmer? Klint Finley reports that software developer Katrina Owen has created a site called Exercism.io where students can learn to craft code that's both clear and efficient and get a lot of feedback on what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong. Exercism is updated every day with programming exercises in a variety of different languages. First, you download these exercises using a special software client, and once you've completed one, you upload it back to the site, where other coders from around the world will give you feedback. Then you can take what you've learned and try the exercise again. The idea was to have students not only complete the exercises, but get feedback. Exercism.io now has over 6,000 users who have submitted code or comments, and hundreds of volunteers submit new exercises or translate existing ones into new programming languages. But even Owen admits that the site is a bit lacking in the usability department. "It's hard to tell what it is just by looking at it," she says. "It's remarkable to me that people have figured out how to use it."
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The Site That Teaches You To Code Well Enough To Get a Job

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I found the feedback you get from simply reading other people's solution to the Project Euler exercises was invaluable

  • If ever a language needed some help getting people to write *good* code instead of just being able to write code, PHP is it..

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:19PM (#47975415)

    >> the site is a bit lacking in the usability department

    Yep, that'll get 'em ready for a job in coding. You really don't need any of that new-fangled usability crap to win customers or support people anyway - if it was hard to write, it oughta be hard to use.

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:58PM (#47975811)

      I like this quote:

      "It's remarkable to me that people have figured out how to use it."

      That is a truly self-aware software developer saying that. Sometimes I feel the same way, I'll design something that will work really well, but once I put it in front of people I realize it doesn't make a lot of sense. But still, there are people who can dive in and pick it up from the start. It's remarkable to me as well when people can figure out how to use my software.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't understand how this site is supposed to be lacking in usability. It's supposed to be for programmers, not random Facebook users. It has "Getting started" and "Help" links on top of the page, and the command line client is self-explaining. The only thing I don't like is that you need to be on Github to participate. Is it so hard to write a signup form?

        • They don't even ask for any special access to your profile. Also, if you are writing any kind of script or software today and don't have a github account, you're probably not paying attention. I know in some circles it's a little less important, but github is pretty much the common denominator for development today.

          It's no less likely for their target audience to have a github account than say twitter, facebook or google plus.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can't see a button to reply to the article as AC so I'll just reply here.

      "Yep, ready for a job in coding"
      - It would be more convincing (for a job, atleast if I was hiring) if the exercises were along the lines where you'd really need one of deques, ring buffers, sliding windows, tries, classification/sorting/statistics on streaming data. Because atleast personally I find those really important/widely useful yet rather tricky to get right. So for my own projects I'm shamelessly borrowing known working code

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:23PM (#47975443) Homepage Journal

    Who is giving away their time to code review the work of thousands of neophyte programmers?

    Sounds to me more like the blind leading the blind.

    • And to be honest, why do we want to? Software development is one of the few professions left that actually pays well. Yes, yes, let's teach everyone to do it and flood the market with cheap programmers.

      • That's the dark nature of capitalism. If your job becomes redundant, you have to evolve or find another line of work.
      • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:33PM (#47975525)
        If all that's keeping your salary high is that people haven't gotten minimal training off a website, maybe your salary is too high.
        • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @01:44PM (#47976405) Journal

          My salary probably is too high. But don't tell my boss.

          It's really easy to say "Oh, that'll never be a threat to me, because I'm so skilled!" Do I think some website is going to turn out good coders? No, but I think that combined with the other 1500 "teach kids to code" initiatives it'll produce enough "good enough" to be death by 1,000 cuts.

          My wife is a photographer. A really good one...degree in photojournalism, been all over the world with the Army covering stories for them, then got into weddings and portraits, has a studio, is a PPA Master Photographer and Photographic Craftsman. Digital came out and it looked "easy" and every 23 year old girl with a camera and a dream suddenly wanted to "follow her passion" and be a photographer. And entire industry sprang up to take these girls' money and teach them photography, but mainly sell them cameras and photoshop actions and cute camera bags etc etc. Well all the old school photographers looked at this and laughed. "The work they do is terrible! The people teaching them are terrible!" Very true. It's like 98% garbage from any kind of a technical standpoint. But there's a ton of them. And they're cheap. And it's "good enough." And the photo industry has been just destroyed (I mean the part that sells pictures to clients. The part that sells shit to photographers is doing great). There used to be 10 full-time studios in my town. Now there's 2 full-timers left and 30 part-timers. The average quality of work has gone way down. But it's cheap, there's lots of it, and it's good enough. And the death of photojournalism has been covered many times on Slashdot, with what magazines are left using cellphone pictures because they're "good enough."

          Companies still outsource work to India and we know what the quality of code that comes out of there is like. But they do it because it's cheap. Now imagine they can get cheap, "good enough" code without having to deal with the language, culture and timezone problems?

          • And it's "good enough." And the photo industry has been just destroyed (I mean the part that sells pictures to clients.

            The same problem exists in any market where the professionals need to convince the clients that perfection is the minimum acceptable product in order for the professionals to stay in business. Professional engineers have some claim that "good enough" may actually wind up costing lives, but nobody I know of has ever died from a "good enough" photograph.

            • I don't know of anybody who's ever died from a kludged together web app, either. If you need a PE, sure, get a PE. That's similar to what's happened in photography. There are still some highly paid specialists, but the generalists are fighting over scraps. Most coders aren't doing mission-critical work.

              Just saying it's ridiculous to think software development will be immune from the race to the bottom that practically every other profession is facing.

              • I don't know of anybody who's ever died from a kludged together web app, either.

                Me either, but my current client suffered a security breach of a kludged together web app. Between isolating the system, investigation, remediation, compensation of affected customers, etc., this breach cost them a lot of money.

                So while nobody dies of poor web app design, businesses incur real cost. When you cheap out on development, you pay for it later on down the line.

            • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
              In programming, "good enough" is a death sentence to any project that will expand in the future or creates negative value. The way I see it is programming has compounded layering issues. If you define 80% to be "good enough", that's fine. But you put one layer of 80% on top of another layer of 80% and now you got 64% and your product is crap. It doesn't take too many layers of "good enough" to have everything go down in flames.
          • by afgun ( 634001 )
            "Good enough" is the current megatrend. Look at everything: cheap throwaway widgets (cheaper to replace than repair) rather than ones that will last for 20+ years. Things that work rather than work well. Multi-function devices (look at your phone) that do a bunch of things OK rather than one thing GREAT. As a society we want it cheap and we want it now. Most people these days aren't willing to pay for quality. They're barely willing to pay. Thank you wal-mart.
            • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @02:39PM (#47977133) Journal

              Also, people are grasping at straws. People want to get into coding because they heard it's good money, and nobody else is hiring. They don't necessarily want to be a developer or have a real interest in computing...they're just hungry and looking for a paycheck.

              It's the gold rush. And you know who made money in the gold rush? Dudes selling the picks and axes. You want to make money in this bold new era where everybody codes? Make shit like "a website that teaches you to code well enough to get a job." That's where the money is. Devs are just going to find themselves in a race to bottom, just like every other profession. It's foolish to think this is the one career that's immune.

            • Because there's no value in overengineering things that are easy to replace and where the consequences of failure are trivial. Further, most people only need the features of their phones to be "OK" rather than "GREAT" and would rather carry one device rather than 10.

              For some things - such as clothing or furniture, or items where there have literally been no earth shattering developments in the last 100 years (like, I dunno, silverware), it's okay to overengineer because doing so is actually efficient. I hav

            • What do you mean, "current megatrend" and "these days"? That particular attitude has been around for a long time. There were cheap throwaway widgets when I was young (and Japan had a reputation for doing those and nothing of quality).

              There's a good deal of justification for it, also. If high quality is expensive, it may not be worth it. If it takes longer, it may not be worth it. If it offers the user no great benefit, it may not be worth it.

          • I wish I had mod points. Spot on.
          • Pro-Am photography hsa turned into some kind of weird piramid scheme in our circles of friends. It seems like we can't go to a party anymore without some woman in her late 20s (90% of the time it IS a younger woman) trying to sell us photo sessions for $50. Extra weird when they show up taking photos, then facebook friend you and try to sell you prints of the watermarked photos they posted to FB.
            • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @05:07PM (#47978615) Journal

              You are exactly right.

              Starting about 10 years ago. There's a guy named Dane Sanders, who is a miserably bad "photographer," and he wrote a book called "Fast Track Photographer," which is basically a manual on how to be a con artist in photography. Dress well, act confident, "live your brand" all that bullshit. And then he dazzles them with the idea that they can charge $10,000 for a wedding and get flown off to exotic locations to shoot fabulous destination weddings. It's complete crap. There are a few extremely talented (or extremely well-marketed) people who can do that, but for the vast bulk of these girls living in Buttfuck, Alabama, that ain't happening.

              He teams up with a guy named David Jay who makes slideshow software and websites for photographers, and they create this girl named Jasmine Star. Pretty (by some standards), exuberant, blogs prolifically about her *AMAZING* photographer lifestyle. They each post all over the internet about how AMAZING the other two are, creating a cyclone of bullshit. You too can have this *AMAZING* lifestyle...if you buy David's software, and come to Jasmine's workshop, and buy Dane's book...

              This whole spiel is then copied by dozens of other hucksters who want in on the action, too.

              Combine this with the for-profit trade organization, WPPI, publisher of Rangefinder magazine, who wants lots of people to attend their conventions, and the camera and equipment makers themselves, and it's just a feeding frenzy. How many dumb young girls can we sell on the idea that, without any real talent or experience, they can live this amazing lifestyle that, ya know, speaks to their soul and their passion. Every girl you can sell this to, you suck her into the industry and she's going to spend $30k on gear and seminars and shit in her first two years in business.

              Then of course they never actually make any money, and get bitter and disillusioned. They either quit and go back to working at Denny's, or they realize the con and start their own series of workshops where, for the low-low price of $899 for a two-day course they can teach YOU how to live the awesome rockstar photographer lifestyle! In this world there is no place for the actual masters of the craft who try to tell people the truth, that it takes years of training and experience to make good images and that succeeding in this business is HARD. Nobody wants to buy that. They wanna be fabulous and get rich quick.

              So, yeah that's pretty much the entire industry now. It's a pyramid scheme with the camera makers at the top, then the trade organizations and labs/album makers, then the workshop speakers, and then as many dumb young girls as they can suck up at the bottom.

              The same thing is going to happen with programming. We're already seeing the advent of "rockstar programmers" who have blogs and webisodes about language features and concepts, code academy, this website here. The gold rush will be in training new coders who are super-stoked to score those $100,000/year jobs without having to get a degree or any real certification (not that I'm saying a good coder needs those things, I'm just saying the fact you don't need one is a nice selling point to people who want to get rich quick). Of course these people will mostly flood the app store with a bunch of shitty apps, but the better ones will take the low-hanging fruit jobs, flood the industry and drive down wages. In the end, the winners will be bosses who get cheap, good enough code and the people running the "how to code" websites. The losers will be...everybody who wants to make a living writing software.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                We're already seeing the advent of "rockstar programmers" who have blogs and webisodes about language features and concepts, code academy, this website here.

                I know of a couple of supergeek authors that appear as "top language experts" (and they are -they really know their stuff). They can deconstruct a language down to assembly and CPU leads. They can tell you how to optimize your code, use the language most effectively, etc.

                They are keynote speakers at developer conferences, have high-hit blogs and are quoted everywhere.

                However, you will not find one line of recent production code from them. They are too busy maintaining a social media presence and doing their

          • Maybe this will change in the future, but for now, low-quality software is generally not "good enough". If your website is vulnerable to SQL-injection, you're going to find out, and the results will be catastrophic. If your UI looks like it was designed by a chimpanzee on LSD, it is not going to pass muster. And if your developer doesn't understand complexity theory very well, the software will quickly become unusable from a performance standpoint.

            Photography is fundamentally different, due to digital photo

          • Photography has been oversupplied with photographers for decades. Sense 35mm became popular in any case.

            Your wife had luck in addition to talent to make a living at it in the first place. Which then becomes self perpetuating as she can afford the lights that separate pros from amateurs.

            All the 'professional photographers' I've known (I'm old) got to the point where they got sick of taking kids school portraits and got a real job.

            • I won't disagree with you, but holy shit did digital (plus the multilevel marketing profiteers) blow it up. Back in the early 2000's WPPI attendance (biggest trade show) was like 3000 people. A few years back it topped 16,000. And it wasn't because a greater percentage of photographers started going. And during this time the market for photography certainly hasn't had a 400% increase. Especially with the recession it's gone way down.

              My wife still makes a good living, but she's an outlier. She's one of the b

              • I'm trying to get one to part with his old 4x3.

                The problem with photography is the low cost of entry and the large number of kids who dream of being Annie Libowitz. Not really a problem with computer programming. Costs a lot of time before you get anything like a result and there are few if any 'celebrity' programmers. Photographer is in the spectrum with 'rock star' and 'actor', computer programmer is not.

                A college grad who is only then considering learning how to program is done. 10 years too late to

      • by Bander ( 2001 )

        When a web site can teach the hacker nature, then I'll start worrying.

        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:48PM (#47975675) Homepage

          LOL ... the hacker nature which can be taught is not the true hacker nature.

          • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @01:30PM (#47976245) Journal

            The hacker nature starts when a kid is six years old and takes apart a bicycle (or whatever). This is where the dad takes the kid and makes him put it back together. And then takes the bike apart, and does it again, only this time, letting the kid "modify" the bike. Hacker Nature is often drilled out (WTF are you doing, hope your happy, have fun not riding your bike because I am not helping you fix it) of kids by parents who are too busy to encourage it. I've seen plenty of parents ruin their kids with attitudes of "no".

            • by creimer ( 824291 )
              I was playing around with vacuum tubes as a six-year-old, pulling them out of old car radios in the garage and the TV in the living room. Scared the crap out of my mother whenever she saw me poking around the back of the TV.
            • My father and I had a rough time with my budding 'hacker nature' as you describe it. I was always tearing stuff apart to see what was inside. It pissed him off that in the process of exploring I would break stuff.

              In some areas, electronics, chemistry, he had some input. But he had no idea how to encourage me, or help me. He was trying to teach me Maxwell when I couldn't even get long division to cross check reliably. I felt like an idiot because I couldn't understand what he was trying to teach me.

              • I would add ... "Be a mentor to a kid that has crappy parents".

                I have kids that have no interest in IT. They want to play dress up (COSPLAY) and write stories. And short of the couple of times I got dressed up for Rocky Horror Picture Show, I have no experience in COSPLAY.

          • You've got midi-chlorians shooting out of your nose, young padawan. Don't burst.

      • Yes, yes, let's teach everyone to do it and flood the market with cheap programmers.

        That sounds to me like job security for the competent!

    • Here's great conspiracy theory: someone has figured out how to get free programmers. They post requirements/"exercises" and then give bug reports in the form of 'feedback'. In return they get code that is probably as good as any other offshore programmer. [puts tin foil hat back on]... never bothered to read the article btw
      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's Duolingo's business model for its language education software. The lessons are free to the student. After they achieve a certain level of competency, the "lessons" are actually documents that are being translated for a fee.

    • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @01:00PM (#47975837)

      Who is giving away their time to code review the work of thousands of neophyte programmers?

      Probably exactly the same kind of people who answer questions on Stack Overflow or any of the other multitude of programming fora. Believe it or not, but some people like to help just because they enjoy it. I do it because answering random questions can be a nice break in the middle of work and it keeps me thinking about programming (especially problems that I wouldn't encounter in my normal work flow). It helps keep me sharp instead of only ever thinking about what I'm working on.

      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        Trouble with stackoverflow is that there are TONS of really shitty answers on the site, even with hundres of upvotes or whatever.

        For example, when working with C string handling functions, the n and l versions, the fact that Microsoft has its own safe versions, compiler warnings when using unsafe versions, and writing portable code... when that collides the stackoverflow advice is a huge mash of good and truly awful "solutions".

  • Another one? Isn't this like the 158th "Site that will teach you to code good enough to get a job?"

  • I couldn't get a programming job after I graduated with an A.S. degree in computer programming in 2007. It didn't help that I was a help desk technician while going to school. Most recruiters won't consider you for anything else than the last position you held. Once a help desk technician, always a help desk technician.
    • Recruiters are idiots. You're going to have to do some coding for free to prove your mettle. Open source projects are always looking for coders if you can't think of anything that you'd like to write. Something like http://code.google.com/p/kerne... [google.com]
      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        I'm currently converting an old WordPress blog into a static website, using Python to extract content from the MySQL database into array structures and files, using PIP [github.io] as the MVC framework on a PHP LAMP stack, and following standard OOP practices, documentation and unit testing.
        • I'm currently converting an old WordPress blog into a static website, using Python to extract content from the MySQL database into array structures and files, using PIP as the MVC framework on a PHP LAMP stack, and following standard OOP practices, documentation and unit testing.

          Or you could just use "wget -m" or something similar.

          • by creimer ( 824291 )

            Or you could just use "wget -m" or something similar.

            To do what exactly? BTW, '-m' doesn't appear to be valid wget command switch.

            • To do what exactly?

              To mirror the website into a set of static HTML pages. This requires the blog to be up, of course.

              BTW, '-m' doesn't appear to be valid wget command switch.

              Manual [gnu.org] claims it is.

              • by creimer ( 824291 )
                I'm doing the clean slate approach by using only the exported database from the WordPress blog and programming the static website from scratch. In some ways I'm completing the circle. This particular blog started off as a programming project while in school in 2002, converted into a Joomla website in 2008, converted into a WordPress blog in 2011, and now into a static website. I need to remove a lot of crud that accumulated over the years.
        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          You sound like the guy who wrote FizzBuzz Enterprise Edition [github.com]

    • As a resume reader, I'll be honest. I'm not sure what I like less, an empty resume or a resume that says you worked at the help desk.

      If you have an education and what was a bill-paying job in college (that happened to be tangential to your programming career), your resume had better be filled with descriptions of the programs you wrote, or the roles you played on development teams -- even if those programs were just written by your study group in college.

      If you're having trouble with recruiters, focus heav

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        If you're having trouble with recruiters, focus heavily on the languages you've worked in and the types of contributions you've made programming in those languages.

        My community college only taught Java because it couldn't afford the Microsoft site license for Visual Studio C++. Needless to say, the job market then didn't need another fresh out of college Java programmer. My most notable programming achievement was writing an XML parser from scratch.

        Gotta put something other than "Attended college 2010-2014" :/

        I went back to school on a part-time basis from 2002 to 2007 while working 80 hours a week as lead video game tester for three years and working 40 hours a week as help desk technician for the remaining two years. I also ma

        • Your academic record is admirable, but frankly the reason you're having trouble is exactly as you describe.

          You're a fresh out of college Java programmer. You're a dime a dozen, and that's if you can find the guy giving out the dimes :(

          Keep knocking on doors and keep building your skills and resume. Get involved in community projects. Volunteer your time. Offer to teach kids. Get a business license, make an app (any app!), publish it to Play or iTunes; enjoy your got a job as owner and the line it adds

      • I've done my stint as a "Staffing Coordinator" for a temp agency, and I learned the most about how to apply for jobs at that position. What mythosaz said is absolutely correct. For the longest time I was doing it wrong. Worked in a Toy Store and as a data entry clerk for a medical office while I was going for my computer science degree before I transitioned over to a Networking Specialist degree and got a job in a computer shop. I made the mistake of focusing mostly on my employment in my resume and not

    • The annoying part for me is that I work as a helpdesk technician, but I find the job so unchallenging that I got bored one day and reverse-engineered the helpdesk database so I could write a bunch of perl and SQL that extracts statistics and draws pretty graphs for the boss.

      Today I extended it to also report when two open tickets are referring to the same asset and flag up a potential duplicate task.

      I'm not going anywhere though. I get on well with the team, and it's easily accessible by bus. A change of wo

  • Here's where the rubber meets the road. Beyond the code not working at all, or having redundant/unnecessary code, exactly what should they expect as feedback? Yes, there are a few algorithm patterns and idiomatic usages that are standard for every language, but there's always More Than One Way To Do It, and how consistent and high-quality is the feedback going to be? It seems to me this could easily fall into a trap of the barely-sighted leading the blind when you have non-experts assuming the mantle of
  • TFA is interesting, but more than that, this whole exercise will help us understand the problems of our industry:

    from TFA:

    First, you download these exercises using a special software client, and once you’ve completed one, you upload it back to the site, where other coders from around the world will give you feedback. Then you can take what you’ve learned and try the exercise again.

    Then later:

    "It's hard to tell what it is just by looking at it," she says. "It's remarkable to me that people have f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      learning to code doesn't have to be any more or less difficult than learning **any** complex task

      Agreed.

      I'm a skilled programmer and there is no complex task that scares me! I'm taking training in brain surgery next weekend and also ordering the Dreamliner's Operating Manual for the weekend after, as I'm planning job change this October. Just not sure whether I want to become a brain surgeon or a pilot, but who cares. I can deal with any complex task.

      • next weekend and also ordering the Dreamliner's Operating Manual for the weekend after

        who said "in a weekend"???

        I didn't...YOU did...you made that comparison, not me

        Nowhere did I insinuate that learning to really code can be done in a week...it just doesn't have to be a soul-crushing Sysiphian Crucible of constant trial and error....

        I said it doesn't have to be frustrating and stupid...not that anyone can do it in a weekend

        Learning a complex task like brain surgery is obviously more than a weekend, but it's

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @12:44PM (#47975641)

    using a special software client

    Doesn't anyone else find this suspicious? Why in the world do I need to install a special client just to download an assignment? Why would anyone who knows anything about computers agree to this? How long before we start reading the stories about what this special client was doing behind users backs, that supposedly no one suspected?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      using a special software client

      Doesn't anyone else find this suspicious? Why in the world do I need to install a special client just to download an assignment? Why would anyone who knows anything about computers agree to this? How long before we start reading the stories about what this special client was doing behind users backs, that supposedly no one suspected?

      no one suspected?the code is available to downoad.

      • OK, your hiding your ID and posting as an AC, so I hate to even respond to you. But someone might just accept what you say. I don't. It has been seen that it is notoriously difficult to download source and compile it and produce a binary that is a perfect match to the posted binary. Until I know that this is being done by trusted sources (not ACs), then I'm not going to trust that the source code is a true match to the special download client that is being provided. And if I can download the source code wit
        • Notoriously difficult? Hardly. If you have a Go environment setup for development, you can simply `go get github.com/exercism/cli` and you have the source and a compiled binary in `$GOPATH/bin` named `cli`. Rename `cli` to `exercism`. Review the code.

          I agree, it's a big WTF compared to just walking through something like project euler, but reviewing the source and compiling yourself is not difficult.
          • Notoriously difficult?

            Yes. The binary produced by a compiler and linker depends on the version of the compiler and linker and libraries, the flags and options used, the locations of libraries, the link order, and a myriad other things.

            I've even found it notoriously difficult to get some open source projects to compile AT ALL because of differences between compiler versions. I'm always amazed when it happens, and there is no question that the binaries that are produced are different.

            Rename `cli` to `exercism`. Review the code.

            The question is not whether you can "review

            • Ok, great, you're talking about ALL binary distributed software. You're original comment was ambiguous enough to imply the source for the CLI was somehow overly complicated to access and compile. Instead, you could just go around copying and pasting your comment anytime anyone releases a native executable making your point rather ... what's the word? ... bleh
              • Ok, great, you're talking about ALL binary distributed software.

                I was talking about the claim that it is notoriously difficult to get the same code to compile to the identical binary on two different systems, or even one system that has had any kind of upgrade to it. You said it wasn't. I disagreed.

                You're original comment was ambiguous enough to imply the source for the CLI was somehow overly complicated to access and compile.

                Huh? My're [sic] original comment refuted your claim that making identical binaries was not notoriously difficult. Not even the OP said it was hard to compile, he said that it was difficult to get an identical binary to verify that the distributed executable was produced fr

                • I hadn't noticed you weren't the OP I responded to. Nothing I said suggested downloading and compiling source would produce truly identical binaries. At best, what I wrote could be interpreted as a big *whoosh* at not realizing the OP I responded to devolved the conversation to such a generic issue in computing that it felt out-of-context to the OP that started this entire thread.

                  There's nothing "insightful" about raising this issue anymore than if I pointed out the fallacy in trusting verified sources.
                  • I hadn't noticed you weren't the OP I responded to. Nothing I said suggested downloading and compiling source would produce truly identical binaries.

                    When the OP said it was notoriously difficult to generate identical binaries to a downloadable executable by compiling the source you told him he was wrong. All you have to do is use a specific environment, you said.

                    Well, that sounds like you claimed you could get the identical binaries, so yes, something you said did suggest that.

                    There's nothing "insightful" about raising this issue

                    Yes, if there are people like you who proclaim that it isn't hard to generate identical binaries to compare to downloadable ones, then it is insightful at least to point out th

                    • look fucktard, I said you could download the source and compile the source. I said nothing more. Just because you caught on to the context of the OP I replied to doesn't mean I did as well. Jump out of your imagination and actually read what was written. I have, and have corrected myself.

                      You want to rail me for something, it'd be missing the context switch as I was considering the OP that started this thread causing a misreading of the OP in question. You'd actually have a valid point.

                      Unlike you I'm s
                    • I wasn't saying that, because it is so hard to build your own exact copy of the binary that releasing the code is pointless, which was apparently stated here. I was saying that in this particular case where there is no good reason at all for the user to need a special downloading client then releasing the code that supposedly is the special downloading client is not enough to make me trust it. I see no reason for a special downloading client just to get the assignments, so I'm not going to go through the po
    • In particular when other sides manage to do everything within the browser. A good example is hackerrank.com. There, you can edit your code for a multitude of languages (Bash, Brainfuck, Haskell, Scala, Ocaml, Octave, R, ... just to name a few) within the browser. When you hit submit the code is compiled and run on the server.

      I don't want to use a stinky client, just because these people can't code their website properly.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    when i first learned to code on my own one of the hardest things was 'where do i start' and then 'what the hell do i do next'. What do i try to code? Series of exercises that lead people along is very useful and will save alot of time. If they can at a minimum make things less greek to get you past the base entry level it makes it alot easier to google and figure out what to do next.

    when i need to learn something new, the initial phase is a pain because 'where do i start' and 'what is important'? even with

  • by ndykman ( 659315 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @01:12PM (#47975995)

    Sure, it looks like it, and there are plenty of people with jobs out there that can lash something together. I worked with somebody at a startup would was struggling to get a web page working. After a few minutes, I realized the problem. She had no idea that you could loop through an array backwards.

    We don't need more "coders". We need more software engineers and computer scientists.

    Actually, maybe not. Maybe we need a workforce that is organized and that would stand against employers who insist on completely devaluing our field in a search for easy money, tossing aside qualified people in search for exploitable labor. That's the problem. I think we should be defending our industry and those that have the proper skills to do it well. Just because the latest, most visible trend is to hack together a mobile application or web site for a quick buck doesn't change the need for fundamentals.

    Things like data structures, algorithms, discrete mathematics, computer architecture, etc. do matter. Not having a basic understanding of computers and computation leads to an astonishing amount of bugs, security holes and wasted effort. Some people have just accepted this as the cost of business. I say it's past time that we really stood up and say, no, things should be better. But since we can't collectively bargain, we are stuck.

    I know, who cares, the money is awesome. It'll be like that forever, right? What does it matter that nobody can count on having a career after ten years because they are seen as too old with an outdated skill set.

    This isn't about school, although I think a proper CS education is still the best way to learn this stuff. But you can get it with diligent self study and experience as well. In the end, real programmers have the conceptual understanding to adapt and excel in the long term. That's what we need more of. Real careers, not just jobs.

  • Face Palm (Score:4, Informative)

    by lsllll ( 830002 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2014 @01:54PM (#47976555)

    Looking at their example [exercism.io] conversation, I had no choice but to face palm. Having never looked at Ruby code before, I was able to deduce perfectly well what the first iteration was doing. Do we really need to expand a function that can accomplish its task in one line into a function that may be a little more readable?

    I wonder how today's programmers would make do with resources that were available in the early days of computing, or even when the IBM PC came out. Having to deal with small amounts of RAM caused programmers to be extremely creative in their programming. Granted that we do not have to go to such extremes today to write programs, reading about such practices is still very inspiring.

    • I'm working with Ruby code all day, and you were quite right to facepalm. That wasn't some convoluted one-liner, it was perfectly readable and didn't allocate space for an unnecessary lambda as the final "clean" iteration does. Anything more complicated than that and breaking it into pieces wouldn't hurt, the one-liner cleverness gets old ready fast if abused.
      Ironically enough, the clever code of old that had to be creative to deal with low specs is one of the cleanest, clearest, most elegant code I've s
    • ^^ THIS

  • OK, I admit I'm not much of a coder. But there are times when someone says, "oh, all that is needed is a script to do this and that, etc." Looks simple enough, maybe I will see about writing some basic (no, not BASIC) code. Not that it is perfect but enough to git er dun. I find lots of websites on how easy it is to do various code languages with "hello world" examples. But the $500,000 question(s) I have is where do I write the code? Purchase an editor or use a simple editor (i.e. Notepad). Then when that
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're not a coder at all. And there's nothing wrong with that, you just need to start at the absolute beginning. Start by learning some algorithms in pseudocode (Quicksort, trees, linked lists, graphs, etc.) so that you become familiar with the programming mindset (logic and visualization).

      Then pick a language that you can starting implementing them in (Python, done). All you'll need is Linux distro like Ubuntu and Ctrl-Alt-T to get a bash shell and vim. Or a Mac since it's BSD-based. No Windows.

      Once

      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

        All you'll need is Linux distro like Ubuntu and Ctrl-Alt-T to get a bash shell and vim. Or a Mac since it's BSD-based. No Windows.

        Linux, that seems to be almost a must if want to be a coder. I have a mac. Now this bash shell and vim I guess I need to learn about these before coding. That's what I was talking about, other "stuff" to deal with in addition to learning code.

    • I've coded in notepad before, in a pinch. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it!

      Regarding where to enter the code, that will depend a bit on the programming language that you're using. For instance, if you're writing in Java, Eclipse or Netbeans would be a good choice. For ruby or python, emacs is nice. Any decent introductory book on the language that you're using should point you in the right direction.

      Good luck!

  • ZERO feedback (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm an experienced programmer (for almost 30 years). I first read about the site about four months ago. I like Ruby a lot, but haven't used it as much as I'd like, so I thought that exercism.io would be a fun place to get some feedback. I submitted my first program that very first day. Today, four months later, my submission has two views and zero comments. Wow, that's going to help a lot. I guess there has to be some minimal mass of developers to actually look at the code and make comments. But for now, th

  • I thought that all you need is BOFH.

To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.

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