Thurman Speaks About Learning About Computing

It is 3:00 PM on 04 July 1999 and it is 105° outside with 25% humidity. I went for a walk and passed a park that had plenty of shade trees: not a person in sight. [It is hot!]

It is nice to see there are students working at learning about computing over these hot summer months. Given technology's rate of change, we cannot afford to take three months off.

If you are taking classes from me this fall, then I want you to get excited about the material that we cover. I get excited sharing it with you. Just like you, I am forever learning about computing.

Learning about computing is not easy; it requires hours of study. Today, there is a big window of opportunity to break into the computer profession, or to act on that entrepreneurial spirit. Look at what is going on at Stanford University -- Stanford State of Mind. [Hints: Yahoo and Google and VA Linux Systems.]

I am often asked if it is necessary to have a CS degree in order to get a programming job. The answer is clearly no; however, you must have the talent to become a "programmer" and you have to relish learning about computing. I must emphasize that a CS degree provides numerous benefits. Many companies will not hire someone without a degree and I say "good for them." If at all possible, stay in school and work as hard as you can.

Do not set a goal like the following: "I'm going to get an 'A'." Your goal needs to be to learn the subject matter as solidly as you can. At this stage of our career, we are establishing a foundation that will support us while we are constantly learning about computing.

Learning about computing is best accomplished by doing exercises and by following good examples. If you are interested in learning about computing, then the A's will come naturally.

I'd rather put on a course where I am a mentor and you are a "men-tee." Let's be a group within the computing community and see if we can create something that will benefit other people who are learning about computing.

I am an advocate of the Open Source revolution (although I find "revolution" to be a daring word). I am convinced that there is going to be lots of Open Source news for at least the next year (i.e. well into the year 2000). Open Source provides a great collection of materials to aid us in learning about computing.

There are too many new "things" starting to bud in the computing industry that are not going to go away soon: the Internet, WWW, Java, Open Source, security, "eThis" and "eThat," and so forth. These are areas of computing that must be mastered to be successful. We always need to be learning about computing.

csZerO::Learning About Computing

Author: G.D.Thurman [gthurman@gmail.com]
Created: 10 Jul 1999