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My Q&A with the experts answers

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The full "Q&A with the Experts" thread.

This is just my part:

Answers without some context about the person answering can seem ...odd
I work from home full time, not in a office cubical, not in a Google-esque free run campus.
I did not go to university: At all. I grew up with ham radios and Commodore computers.
I make software to use/control devices such as barcode scanners, sensors, cameras and so on: Not business models, web integration, cell phone apps.
User desktop applications: Point of sale systems, security systems, Amusement park ride integration

Question said:

What is the most valuable skill you have picked up for programming professionally and why? Or to phrase it differently, what is the one skill you would encourage novice programmers to pick up if they want to succeed?

Organization and time management. If your code isn't organized you're fraked. If you can't be self managing, you're doubly fraked.

Question said:

How often do you see mathematics used throughout software engineering that isn't in gaming, but rather for code optimization? When designing algorithms that are applied in real world applications, do you find a firm grasp of Number Theory helps to optimize algorithms, and when openly discussing mathematics are you often greeted with blank faces?

Algorithms aren't just math... They are processes for getting something done. The algorithm for taking my weight is always the same: Morning, post-bathroom, pre-breakfast, naked. Don't get so tunnel-visioned on one definition or word. Most of the math I deal with is regarding images... If the average image is 18 megapixels... shotting at a rate of one every 15 seconds... how many an hour... how much network traffic does that create... Now double that for sending to the server then back out to the sales station... If the image is 18megs, and you have 5 copies in memory while you manipulate it... So basic high-school math tends to cover it.

Question said:

Let's say you're at a interview for a job and the interviewer asks you to make examples of bad and good software and explain. What would you say? (Would interpret it as a trick question, or give the answer?)
Aren't there already about 10 threads on DIC for this question? I would rattle off a dozen examples of good and bad software, and explain why I thought that. Its pretty straight-forward question.

Question said:

Did you pick up coding style from the people you worked with or some other way?

I'm completely self-taught. So my style comes from reading lots of books, tearing apart lots of sample code and community projects, combined with common sense and lots of mistakes. I feel we learn more from our mistakes. When you go back to a program after 6 months and it makes no sense you should learn from that and realize: I should comment my code better... I should use meaningful names instead of x, y, z...

Question said:

Again the situation when you're on a interview. If the interviewer asks you what was wrong in your previous job post? (Would you risk of revealing some firm secrets by answering that or would you avoid that question somehow?)
I beleive you never bad mouth your past employer. I even say "I won't bad mouth them. If I ever leave here, I won't bad mouth you. But I can tell you what I am looking for." I don't try to con my way through interviews. I show them the same person they are getting. I speak honestly and plainly. If they hire that person we all win. If I present someone other than myself the worst thing that can happen is they hire me because then I have to be that other person for my career.

Question said:

do you still find yourself motivated to go home after work and learn some technology related things outside of work

Question said:

How do you guys make it so that the job remains exciting.
This comes up a lot here, doesn't it? I don't have to work at it. I don't have to trick myself into staying motivated. If you have to find clever ways to stay interested in something, then don't do it: Its not for you. If you are looking at software engineering becuase it is clean, indoor professional work there are dozens of jobs that fit that description. If you are looking at coding because you LOVE coding and would do it for free if there was a way to eat and keep a roof over your head, then stay.

Question said:

AdamSpeight2008, Curtis Rutland, tlhIn`toq, modi123_1, [email protected], baavgai: (NET related): You have done a lot of .net projects and being in .net industry for a time now, what specific topics or knowledge from .net advanced learning someone need after finishing his degree(or any) so he can be hired and do well in .net industry?

What is the .NET industry? That's like saying "plastics": Do you develop new kinds of plastics or do you make plastic cups? I don't see coding as an industry; its a skill used in other industries. You don't get hired in the .NET industry. You get hired at a company that does something to make a profit. So what kind of company do you want to work with and around? I can get a job writing software for photography, or geology... working in an office or on an oil rig. Everyone in every industry using a computer nowadays. So pick an area you like and make that your special area of interest. If you love weather and programming then merge them. Maybe you love 3d puzzles, so make the next greatest cargo pallet loading optimizer application. If your passion is fuel efficiency then go to work at UPS or SAAB in their intelligent routing software projects.

Question said:

AdamSpeight2008, Curtis Rutland, tlhIn`toq, modi123_1, [email protected], baavgai: What is your advice for .net languages learners(VB & C#) in order to improve their knowledge?
Aren't there like 20 threads for this one already? How do you improve your knowledge? Hmmm... Read more! Code more... Find projects to do that are outsite of comfort zone so you have to learn something new just to complete it.

Question said:

In your corner of the industry, what differentiates an experienced programmer/hobbies from a professional?
Programmers get paid enough to earn a living at it. I know that sounds smart ass, but its the truth. Hobbiests don't care how long it takes to complete a project. Often they take a long time because it is there hobby, like growing flowers for fun versus finding the fastest way to grow flowers to sell. Professional coding is targeted to make money for your employer. Do it right, do it fast, don't muck around, get to market. If you make the employer money you are worth your salary. If you aren't worth your salary because it takes you 20 hours to do 4 hours work you won't be earning a salary.

Question said:

What is your opinion in regards to the authenticity of the Tiobe index? Is it a reliable source to use to determine which language is the most used/popular?

I've never heard of it. So I guess I'm out of the loop. My idea of a reliable source is the help wanted ads (, newspaper, whatever). Look at the jobs available and the pay offered. If you see 6 jobs for VB6 and 6,000 jobs for C# you should be able to compute your own index pretty easily. If you can't, you should be doing a job with your name on your shirt asking "Do you want to biggie size that for just 35 cents more?"

Question said:

SixOfEleven, stayscrisp: I'm a CS graduate who is a programmer analyst at a local community college and I make games on the side. My goal is to get into the game industry but I find it very difficult to find any "Entry-level" programming jobs. It seems as if every programming job description I come across require 5-10 years experience with 1-3 AAA titles shipped.
Is there any trick to making myself more marketable to an employer, beside including my meager (at least in my eyes) personal projects in my CV/Resume?
Should I look for an open-source game/engine to contribute to?
Do employers care about those projects that are not "professional" (i.e. personal projects)

Not aimed at me, but I have a story for it. A dear friend's son is an amazing 3d artist. He tried for years to get on at any game studio. In the mean time he did jobs waiting for a career. Like all those actors that work at the Cheesecake factory. When he did get on, it was for a 6 month probationary period. Then a second 6 months. It takes a lot of proving yourself to get on full time, sometimes. The compitition is fierce and there are thousands of kids who all think it is cool to make games competing for 20 jobs. Make sure you have a plan 'B' to put food on the table while you keep trying for that dream job.

Question said:

Do you find that you are happy with your line of work? If you could change to some other (realistic) line of work, would you?
If you don't find coding to be a realistic job then why are you here?

Question said:

What would be the most important 10 job interview questions and answers someone would need to know?
Software interviewing books. Go for it.

Question said:

At what age did you seriously get into programming?
I sold my first piece of software at age 15. It was for car sales people to track their customers, remind them of upcoming birthdays, kids names, likes and dislikes... all that stuff that a Mercedes salesman needs to give the customer personal warm fuzzies.

Question said:

How much have you learned after your first professional employment?
Lots. That was 25 years ago.

Question said:

@Curtis Rutland, modi123_1, tlhIn`toq, baavgai, and [email protected]:

1. What do you think is the greatest strength and weakness the .Net programming languages have compared to other languages in general?

2. What do you think is the greatest strength and weakness C# has compared to other languages in general?

3. What do you think is the greatest strength and weakness C# has compared to java specifically?

I don't code for a living in other languages, so I don't really have a frame of reference with other languages. But being able to read/write C# gives me a good ability to at least read some others. I couldn't write some of the codes I comment on, but problems are often more about logic than syntax.

Question said:

How do you guys use your programming languages for your company?
Uhhhh... Dude... I like write programs they can uhhh, sell to their customers and stuff... Ya know.
Tip: Don't show up to interviews so stoned that you are asking questions like this.

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