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You youngin' don't know how good you have it

by Macphisto (Hermit)
on Apr 27, 2001 at 23:12 UTC ( #76234=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I was having a conversation with kilinrax and we got onto the subject of how we wish online communities had sprung up earlier, or we wished we had discovered them earlier. The younger members of this community, like zdog, damian1301 and mt2k don't realize just what they've stumbled upon. I'm sure they recognize the value of the community here, but they probably don't recognize the stepping stone they've found.

It probably sounds like one of thoes "When I was your age..." bits, ( Hey! I'm only 21 ) but it is true. For those of you who either weren't able to get to online communities or those who were here before the internet really sprang up and got moving ( god bless al gore ), compare the rate of learning you experienced with the online community you joined versus how you were doing on your own. Granted, you might have been learning at a spectacular rate, but I'd be willing to bet that most, if not everyone, began learning at an accelerated rate.

I've been sticking my noses into computer books, and teaching myself languages since I was in the 6th grade. I started in BASIC and when I'd hear of something new I'd check it out. I was doing well. By the time I was in high-school, I was fixing the computer science teachers code,and helping out with the people who were maintaining the school networks. But, I can only imagine where I'd be if I had found a good online community. Yea, I had BBSes and USENET and all that, but it wasn't a constant community, and at times could get Troll laden, or run by egos. I can only wish I'd discovered alternative OSes like Linux, Fbsd, etc, when it first started up, but I'd never heard of it until college. I'd love to be at that level right now! I'm sure that had the online communities been around earlier, I would be far more advanced in my knowledge. I wish I'd been able to see the things that Chris was doing with seemingly random ideas and turning them into incredible project. Or to have tye or tilly to bounce ideas off of or have them take a look at my code and point me in a different, sometimes better direction.

When I started learning perl, I picked up Learning Perl by merlyn read it cover to cover and went searching for more to read. I lucked out on an online search and came across I've been here close to nine months, and i can't believe how fast I've learned. I've met a ton of great people ( as well as one surly drunken dwarf ), and gotten an education that my college never could privide.

In the conversation with kilinrax, I stated, "They don't realize what they've found," and cow piped up and said, "Or what they're doing to it." And she's right. There are those that are too immature to really handle how these places should be. I'm not saying it shouldn't be immature but we end up with people trolling and just trying to get rises out of other people, which in turn brings everyone down. But, on the other hand, some may come to the community a little rough and end up turned into a fine perl-monkey machine. I remember back when zdog would drive Ozymandias up the wall, and generally get on a lot of peoples bad sides. But look at what this kid does now! He's one of the more mature 15 year olds I know. A pontiff! 2907 xp! Putting out great japhs! I'm sure that online communities such as this contributed to his maturity. I hope I'm not wrong

If you think about it, every helpful thing you do here, helps someone out, makes them a better programmer which they hopefully pass on. What knowledge we propagate! We get to practically build them better, faster, smarter ... how cool is that?

Oh yea, and we're probably training our replacement ... :)
Anyone have any similar thoughts, or just think I'm full of crap?

Macphisto the I.T. Ninja

Everyone has their demons....
  • Comment on You youngin' don't know how good you have it

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Re: You youngin' don't know...
by footpad (Monsignor) on Apr 28, 2001 at 03:34 UTC

    Hm. Seems all the comments to date are from twenty-somethings. Well, let's see what a few more years adds to the conversation, if anything.

    I've been working on computers for around twenty five years now. My first experience was with a teletype connection to a local (at the time) community college. I used it to play TREK and other games; I also used to to poke at the various libraries on programming and so forth. I never had a lot of time on it, but something stuck. I was 14 and the big argument of the day was whether or not it was wise to let TI-30 calculators into Math classes.

    A few years later, the high school I attended purchased a TRS-80 Model 1, complete with the newly shipping cassette drive for off-line storage. I quickly devoured the BASIC manuals and started poking at its version of ASM programming. The next year, they bought three Model III's. The Math teacher, placed in charge of the nascent computer lab, would frequently rail at a friend and me regarding the huge amount of time we were "wasting" to write programs to play games, to do simple little graphics, ala the "Star Wars" titles (this was 1980; "Empire" was imminent), and writing D&D helper programs (Character Generators, Dungen Generators, Dice Rollers, and so on). He felt computers should be used for real work. We ignored him and continued to poke at them as best as we could.

    After graduating (and a few adventures I won't detail now), I managed to land a very entry level database programming/PC Support job at a Federal Agency. It was here that I learned the wonders of being online. I parleyed an account at the local university, taught myself just enough Unix to use FTP and discovered wonderful treasures like the now-defunct SIMTEL20 archives and USENET. I would scan the archives like crazy, downloading free compilers, tutorials, sample code, and so forth (including copies of the infamous Phrack papers that I carefully hid from management). Spent way too many hours digging through what I found and reading what I could learn.

    After graduating college, I (eventually) took a job with a commerical software company (detailed previously) and found myself a sysop of their CompuServe forum. In the year that followed, I learned more about the product I was working on and database programming than I had in the previous five years working for the TLA agency. Not only were the questions far more twisted than I could have invented myself, the experiences were far more varied than I could have imagined.

    Throughout this time, I frequented BBS's, a few different newsgroups, FidoNET, and a few other communities.

    I kept the CIS account after moving out of tech, primarily because I didn't want to lose track of the friends I'd made online; I also kept it after leaving that company, because it'd become my primary online interface. (I actually still have that account because every so often, some sends an email to it.)

    Of course, these days, we all use the Web for such things. However, some things remain the same; specifically, there are communities that are worth investing time in. The Monastery is one and the current incarnation of that older support community is another. (I won't detail it because it's not really important.) When you are lucky enough to find people willing to freely share their experiences to teach and to help you avoid their mistakes, use that and learn from it (respectfully, of course).

    The whole idea of Open Source, public domain software, and similar ideas, is that information should be free. When you find a trove of such information, savor it and contribute back. Doing so continues the success of the movement, introduces new people to its inherent fairness, and (as you point out) trains the next generation of leaders.

    Today's 14 years olds are tomorrow's twentysomethings. By then, you Gen-X'ers will be running your own departments and leading your own teams. If you learn from the experiences you run into and the ones shared with you on your journey, you can avoid the mistakes that lead today's 40-year olds to throw temper tantrums.

    By then, of course, I'll be pottering around some home, nursing acute carpal tunnel, sweetly reminiscing about the secrets one could learn through a 300-baud modem, and fondly recalling text adventures played on green screens with 7x9 pixel characters.


      Show of hands: How many monks built themselves a terminal from a kit? (I'm thinking Heath 19).

      Not entirely defunct...

      SIMTEL20 still exists in some form...

Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by WebHick (Scribe) on Apr 28, 2001 at 01:19 UTC

    You are definitely not full of crap! God, you have no idea how much I would have killed to know about this place back in May '99, when I started learning Perl on my own. As I mentioned in a recent node, I'd still be wandering around in the dark creating bad code and being proud of it.

    This place has been a very educational forum for me and plenty others, I'm sure. Whenever I have a question, it's already been answered. Whenever I don't understand something, there's a good chance someone else has already explained it. And of course, the community itself is, for the most part, friendly.

    As for the immaturity level - that applies to all ages. I generally work with people 20+ years older than me and let me just say: Have you ever seen a 40 year old man in perfect mental health throw a temper-tantrum? It isn't pretty. Moving on...I'll go out on a limb and admit that I'm 20. I have a habit of acting my age. :( But thankfully, many monks have tolerated it, but not for much longer I'm sure. And why should they have to? Acting like a brat only brings down the quality of the site. But on the other hand, "people" experience ushers maturity. And maturity increases the quality of the site. ::Ouch:: My brain hurts. But, without knowledge a person's people skills will lack because they will no longer have something intelligent to say. So, I've once again backed myself into a state of confusion... PerlMonks appears to increase both knowledge and relational skills, thereby increasing the maturity of any visitor who wishes to participate in the community long enough to benefit from it.

    I know a very prominent CEO at a very cutting-edge and successful company who, when hiring new employees, takes an incredible approach. These college graduates come into the office to be interviewed for a very technical and well-paying job. They think that college has given them what they need to succeed and that they're some kind of commodity because they got a 4.5 GPA for their entire academic career. Most of them leave the interview in tears. This CEO forces them to realize that without real-world experience, they're nothing but a framed little piece of paper to hang on the wall. That without the ability to go where they need to get the answers they need, they're not worth investing in for they'll have a hard time progressing in their chosen field. Of course, that's just the first interview, the second concentrates on relational skills. I swear, this guy likes creating suicidal programming monsters!


Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by dusk (Friar) on Apr 28, 2001 at 18:54 UTC
    I'm 14, so obviously I've heard a lot of the "when I was your age" speeches. And...

    You are definitely not full of crap..

    As JAYPM (Just Another Young Perl Monk), I feel both honored and privileged to be a part of the PerlMonks community. With the help of PerlMonks, I am learning more and more about perl each day, and every helpful node I see, puts me at an advantage.
    PerlMonks has been the foundation of my learning, since day 1; And I have never been to a more friendly and open enviroment dealing with programming.

    I have been using UNIX for several months (although unrelated), and have been coding (or, fooling around with programming) since I was 11; I have experience with Logo, BASIC, JAVA, and now I'm learning Perl. And, from experience I can say that of all the references, and CS courses, nothing has been as helpful as PerlMonks.

    PerlMonks covers everything for serious and newbie perl scripters..

  • Seekers of Perl Wisdom: post a snippet, get a fix
  • Categorized Questions and Answers: for a more broad question, ask away in a less chaotic part of the monastery
  • Library: for detailed help on a specific element or idea
  • Tutorials: having trouble (or no idea) how to complete a task? check this out
  • Snippets Section: for small bits of sample code
  • Code Catacombs: A very useful section for both sample code, and finding solutions others have wrote to problems of your own.

    These sections, in my mind, hold the answers to Perl enlightenment.

    die "Unexpected end of rant: Line 1000000";

Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by KM (Priest) on Apr 28, 2001 at 03:14 UTC
    As an, um, elder (? I am 28) I am extremely happy to see not only more online communities (vs. the old BBSs I used to use), but also the local *UGs (LUGs, PUGs, SIGs, etc..) that crop up.

    When I started with Perl back in '93/'94 there was mostly USENET and IRC. Now, there are also many mailing lists, websites such as this, the UGs, and other ways to quickly communicate with like-minded folks. Sort of like when I was a kid, I had a Big Wheel (and Green Machine!).. and nowadays these things are motorized (showing how things have changed)!

    I wish more people would get involved with various sub-communities of the Perl community. Personally, I think there is only so much one can learn from book and tutorials. At some point it is beneficial for someone to venture out (online or not) and get involved. Not only can you meet some cool (and no-so-cool) people, but you learn a heck of a lot. Even after doing Perl for so long I still say "Oh cool! I never did it that way!" when seeing what some people write. I'll read threads here (and on mailing lists) where you _really_ see that TIMTOWTDI! It's cool to be able to do that, and you can't if you don't get involved in some way.

    So, all you youngins out there.. get involved! Stay involved! And get others to be involved!


Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by patgas (Friar) on Apr 28, 2001 at 02:43 UTC

    It seems I come from the same cloth as both of you. I'm 20, I've been teaching myself various programming languages since I was 8, and am just now beginning to use my knowledge for a (slight) financial gain.

    Anyway, I compeltely agree with you about the benefits of a quality online community such as this. I've only been attempting Perl for about a month, and I was fortunate enough to find this place almost immediately. I can honestly say that this has been the most directly useful website I've ever used. I can gush on and on about PerlMonks, but I guess I should ramble on to my point:

    While a solid online community is great, a real community is fantastic.

    Even from my BASIC days, I never really found anyone that I could relate to about programming. I tried desperately to get my friends, even family, interested to no avail. In high school, I took a BASIC and C++ class ( for obvious GPA-related reasons *ahem*) and much to my dismay, noone there actually cared about the finer art of coding, they just wanted to make flashing pictures, or loop a curse word a 1000 times. They just weren't hackers, to use the cliche. I suppose I still blame my lack of getting any great projects completed partially on the fact that I never had anyone to motivate me. Writing a few cool hacks feels good, but when nobody understands or cares, you begin to feel a little dismayed. Fortunately, through discovering Perl (and Linux), I've found out that a couple of my friends were also closet geeks. Not to sound immodest, but they're not as knowledgeable about programming as me, but they're really willing to learn, and it's great to teach them what I know, and learn things in return.

    So I can wrap this up by saying this: Use PerlMonks, PerlMonks is fantasgreat. But don't give up trying to find living, breathing people around that could be just as hacker-ish as you.

    And that's why I'm not an English major...

    -- More than perfect! Let us engage the Concord!
Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by kevin_i_orourke (Friar) on Apr 30, 2001 at 15:32 UTC

    I'm amazed at how much of a difference a community like this makes. I started learning Perl in Antarctica, without any internet access, only a copy of 'Programming Perl' and it was a slow process, all by myself.

    Just being able to look at questions other people have asked really makes life easier. Tutorials and stuff like that are also very useful.

    Kevin O'Rourke
Re: You youngin' don't know how good you have it
by traveler (Parson) on May 01, 2001 at 19:34 UTC
    This site and concept are good even for "old farts". I've been programming for about 27 years. (I started with punch cards on an IBM026 keypunch for those who remember what that was). I learned C from K&R 1st edition (and the C Tutorial from Version 6). I started learning perl from merlin's book, but I cannot say that I've stopped. In fact, I learn something every day I read stuff here.

    Thanks to all who contribute either questions or answers!


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