Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

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ertyu
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by ertyu »

A bit off-topic: what would you recommend a person with econ/stats background learn? have been thinking about picking up "something IT" (as has everyone and their mom) but I have no idea what that would be. Thus if anyone does chime in to give advice, please assume a complete ignoramus.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by ZAFCorrection »

A little OT, but in my experience being good at programming is of limited usefulness as an auxiliary skill in engineering. Since so many people don't know programming, the workflow everywhere seems to involve bits of gui software. If you know python and want to run data analysis that way, you're probably going to get a bunch of stink-eye from your boss and still need to export it for plotting to something like jmp or origin.

And all this random software has its own bespoke scripting language for you to drop in the trash the second you switch jobs/projects. It's maddening.

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Sclass
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Sclass »

I’m not sure why that would be an issue. With Matplotlib or Numpy one can do all that stuff with a one line call. Origin is expensive.

The replies in this thread did get me thinking about the necessity of learning how to write a few lines of code and set up say a sort, iterative calculation or a watch window. I guess it really depends what you want out of this game. Most people have nothing to do with it and live perfectly happy lives.

We can choose our battles such that custom computing solutions are unnecessary. But to me that seems limiting.

I see a world for the taking. Using an army of autonomous slaves who don’t eat, sleep or demand raises. All I need to do is pick up the sharp stick and think of ways to use it.

Logic is a good start but I really think some practical skills setting up a system, implementing an algorithm and managing I/o is also good. Setting up real tools to do real jobs is good.

I’ve known two entrepreneurs who started their businesses using Microsoft Access programming. They were not trained in any way. One solved a problem with monitoring student attendance and now he has a mom and pop business selling software to track dropouts from California schools trying to get high school diplomas from the state. Another guy runs a British motorcycle shop (old triumph, bsa and Norton’s) bankrolled by sales of his motorcycle shop inventory tracker written in Access. They both have created useful tools from a readily available and cheap (arguably crappy) machine and sold them to bigger entities who don’t want to bother with building a tool. I think these two people have created a nice living this way.

A number of years ago I figured out that I could monitor some well known websites for a particular deal I sought using a bunch of python scripts running on my pc so I could get in front of some other competitors who wanted the same thing. It took them awhile to figure out why I was so quick on the mouse. I stepped it up a notch and ran the data to my cell phone (no smartphones back then) so I didn’t have to be sitting at my desk. Finally the vendors caught on that I was always catching things as they posted them and they changed to a more fair system.

A few years later I ran some virtual vending machines. I’ve written about them here. Just automated downloads and email responses to PayPal payments. I’d pick up the money every week. Download was the same for ten years. I even coded the website to change itself everyday so Google would rank it high as a non stagnant site.

I did all this while working full time because the computer and a few lines of code allowed me to automate the process.

It’s all a game. Depends what you want out of it I guess.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by ZAFCorrection »

The problem is the output file in people's preferred format then becomes The Data, and if you need to redo anything that you did at the beginning, it can become incredibly tedious integrating it with whatever was subsequently done in The Data.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@ertyu - if you want "something IT," project manager is honestly probably the best role for someone with a stats/econ background. Project managers need enough technical knowledge to write up work for the software engineers to do, but they also have to understand the business/econ background so they can make the best decisions for the business. A project manager basically translates what the customers want into engineer-speak, and then the engineers translate it into computer-speak.

borisborisboris
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by borisborisboris »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:38 pm
A bit off-topic: what would you recommend a person with econ/stats background learn? have been thinking about picking up "something IT" (as has everyone and their mom) but I have no idea what that would be. Thus if anyone does chime in to give advice, please assume a complete ignoramus.
I would actually reiterate my prior advice above, but emphasized especially for econ majors.(Source: My own major was 'finance' which is basically watered-down econ).

Basically, the fundamentals of SQL (and optionally, R) pair amazingly well with the fundamentals of microecon. Companies need to make lots of microecon type decisions like: what price do I charge, which sales channels do I invest in, does product engagement (or whatever) increase renewals. The information to answer these questions exists in data warehouses populated by CRM systems, billing systems, etc., so it's really valuable if you can be the person who knows how to manipulate that data AND how to answer the business questions. Most people can only do one thing or the other.

As a bonus, SQL is one of the easiest programming languages to learn, because it's not a general purpose language. There are a limited number of things it can do, and an even smaller number of things you'd need to do often. A week on YouTube goes a very long way here.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by tonyedgecombe »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:12 am
@ertyu - if you want "something IT," project manager is honestly probably the best role for someone with a stats/econ background. Project managers need enough technical knowledge to write up work for the software engineers to do, but they also have to understand the business/econ background so they can make the best decisions for the business. A project manager basically translates what the customers want into engineer-speak, and then the engineers translate it into computer-speak.
I don't think I've seen many project managers handling requirements gathering in my career. Usually they have a fairly thin and high level understanding of what's going on.

Scott 2
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Scott 2 »

Project manager ownership of requirement gathering tends to vary by organization size. At a smaller company, it is common to have the project manger do business analysis. I've seen cases where they even do some of the systems analysis - entity relationship diagrams, in the rare case even database diagrams. Organizations vary whether that hybrid BA/PM role is called business analyst, project manager, product manger, product owner, etc.

alex123711
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by alex123711 »

Also how viable is the 'self learning' or bootcamp route that seems to be all the rage at the moment?

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Alphaville
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Alphaville »

alex123711 wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:44 am
Also how viable is the 'self learning' or bootcamp route that seems to be all the rage at the moment?
someone has to build the pyramids ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by tonyedgecombe »

alex123711 wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:44 am
Also how viable is the 'self learning' or bootcamp route that seems to be all the rage at the moment?
If you already have a track record you are fine but for junior positions there are plenty of candidates with a CS degree to choose from. Bootcamps aren't widely valued from what I've seen.

Blackjack
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Blackjack »

tonyedgecombe wrote:
Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:08 am
If you already have a track record you are fine but for junior positions there are plenty of candidates with a CS degree to choose from. Bootcamps aren't widely valued from what I've seen.
Difference between US and UK probably. I know several hiring managers that grab kids out of bootcamps explicitly because they are cheap (read 70-80k/yr), whereas a young person with a CS degree is gonna cost high 80 to low 100s depending on where I'm hiring from. This is, of course, if you have the ability to actually take time and learn how all of these things work. But once you have a real job under your belt it is as Tony says, very easy to move around and find different jobs.

Salary potential in the field is also pretty absurd, especially if you find yourself willing to move around and put some kinda gruesome hours in for a few years (average near me is >100k and more like 150k, several friends in my city are >200k, and i know a couple people in the bay or NY working for big name companies on >400k salaries as well). Seems like you can work in this field for very few years and retire quick if you get your spending low enough.

guitarplayer
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by guitarplayer »

Is programming a transferable skill / does programming extrapolate to other areas of life well?

zbigi
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by zbigi »

guitarplayer wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:35 am
Is programming a transferable skill / does programming extrapolate to other areas of life well?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, programming is useful in pretty much all areas of human activity - whatever we do, can be potentially partially automated (or at least managed/controlled) by software. On the other hand, programming is expensive and thus requires certain scale of activities before it makes sense to introduce it. So, in practice, as a programmer you usually end up working as a cog in various large-scale organizations.

jacob
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by jacob »

guitarplayer wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:35 am
Is programming a transferable skill / does programming extrapolate to other areas of life well?
Filling out tax returns :) I do not mean this in the sense of building a program, but that having a programmer's mind makes the process easily understood and executed. What's equally interesting is whether having a programmer's mind makes some processes or concepts harder to understand or execute?

Also, do object-oriented, functionally-oriented, and LISP programmers minds really work the same way?
Maybe this is one for daylen.

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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by daylen »

jacob wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:54 am
What's equally interesting is whether having a programmer's mind makes some processes or concepts harder to understand or execute?
QM, synchronicity, love, and spirituality. :)

Whenever you have apparent conflicts between "local" and "global" limits towards infinity. Perhaps being more pronounced when medium-sized stuff is assumed to be composed of other medium-sized stuff, because the refactoring capacity will be quickly overwhelmed in such instances. On the other hand, really large stuff being modeled by really small stuff is easy for programmers to grasp (i.e. it's just CM/SM at that point).

Medium stuff in the limit doesn't compute well. As surely the algorithm must terminate at some point! or else what is the point!? Though, if we look deep enough into how something "here" affects something over "there", then we may be able to convince ourselves that something over there could exist in "theory". This is still "thinking" though, and the "feeling" of immediate, boundless depth capitalizes the R in "Reality".

Object-orientation favors larger groups of Ne-Ti agents(*), and functional-orientation favors smaller groups/individuals with Ni-Te(+). Reasoning being that an OO approach seems to work better in situations with muddy outcomes (perhaps due to human input), and a functional approach seems superior in situations with clear outcomes. Another way to think about it is that Ne-Fe spreads connotations out across the system whereas Ni-Fi concentrates connotations (preferably forming just one gap of uncertainty/flexibility in reasoning).

Rule of thumb: When working on fuzzy, human problems start with high-level classes spawning instances executing simple methods, and when working on clear, linearizable problems start with the objective from A -> B.

(*) I imagine it is a bit more complicated than this, as a new team with already experienced engineers may make more reliable yet slow progress favoring the ground-up, functional orientation. Basically, objects are for when you do not yet know your objects very well. If you know the objects then just implement the damn function already!

(+) Though, following and interpreting a functional trail may be aided by Si.

macg
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by macg »

guitarplayer wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 3:35 am
Is programming a transferable skill / does programming extrapolate to other areas of life well?
To preface, the "programming" I do is mainly scripting, with some python web programming thrown in for internal use - functional, "tools" type sites. I have experience with several languages, however...

My answer is yes. For me at least, programming increases my (admittedly already present in some form) proficiency in things like logic, or problem solving, or automation/process/systems thinking, or the ability to simplify things.

But I think that's because by programming, by doing it every day, I'm just practicing all those things. So I'd never argue that there weren't other ways to get the same proficiency...

Campitor
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by Campitor »

I've done some scripting in SQL, batch, Visual Basic, and Powershell to automate procedures that would otherwise require too much hands-on work.

Programming is like any other tool - the diversity of what can be done with it depends on the user's imagination. So the real question is this: are you imaginative enough and logical enough to do useful things with the programming tools you can access? If you're participating on this forum, I think the answer is probably yes. The only limitation is how hard you push yourself to master the skills - no amount of instructor led training will replace the self-motivation required to become masterful at anything.

And does programming translates to other skills? I think it does. Anything that involves logic (breaking down problems to their component pieces in order to develop solutions) trains the mind for a plethora of challenges. Just my humble opinion.

ducknald_don
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by ducknald_don »

jacob wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:54 am
Filling out tax returns :) I do not mean this in the sense of building a program, but that having a programmer's mind makes the process easily understood and executed.
I've often thought that governments should publish their tax rules as pseudo code.
jacob wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:54 am
What's equally interesting is whether having a programmer's mind makes some processes or concepts harder to understand or execute?
There appear to be some inflection points that some people just can't get past. I used to train people on a niche no-code product which was tree based. As long as you were at one level of hierarchy then most people would grok it but as soon as you started nesting about a quarter of the class would start drifting off. Recursion seems another, I've even worked with programmers who can't grasp it.

GandK
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Re: Is programming still a valuable skill to learn?

Post by GandK »

Campitor wrote:
Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:12 pm
And does programming translates to other skills? I think it does. Anything that involves logic (breaking down problems to their component pieces in order to develop solutions) trains the mind for a plethora of challenges. Just my humble opinion.
This is my experience, although some "programmer skills" are the result of programmer training and some is just INxJ... as an FJ instead of a TJ I see the divide pretty clearly in my case. On one side there's the formal logic and the organization/project planning. Those definitely came from programming; that is not my nature at all, although I enjoy both. And then there's abstraction, patterns, and "seeing around corners," which are innate for me so I brought them with me into software development. They were also called into use all the time in my career.

I use the logic and planning quite a bit now in retirement... this week alone I've used it to manage menu planning and healthy cooking on a small budget, prepared 3 months of 6th grade math lessons, and designed and built a database for a small nonprofit.

The abstraction etc. is just how I've always done everything. In retrospect I feel very fortunate to have worked in a career where I could constantly use, and therefore strengthen, so many of my natural gifts. Perhaps especially abstraction, as more and more things in our world become virtual and I am following those developments with ease and enjoyment compared to almost everyone in my offline circle.

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