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College dropout

Paul Ralph
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 10, 2000
Posts: 312
I used to attend the cattle drive, but then gave it up after getting a VB job. (Hold your screams please.)
I'm now back to working with Java (hooray) and would like to restart. I finished the first two or three assignments when the Trailboss was in charge. Fortunately, I still have the "Looks good!" replies on file as well as the actual programs. Do you want me to resubmit my work or can I just forward the emails showing success?
Paul R
Rick McKay

Joined: Feb 26, 2001
Posts: 3
I too am a dropout, but I'm not so enthusiastic about getting back into the cattle drive.
I have a few reasons for this -- maybe you can convince me to change my mind.
My main reason is that the nitpicking is just that: too nit-picky. I want to learn Java, but I'm a professional and don't have time to email in my code, wait 3 or 4 days, then get back a huge list of niggling suggestions about my code, most of which are pretty much trivial, and don't really assist me much in attaining the goal of learning Java (IMHO). The emphasis on style is way out of proportion. In addition, many of the nitpicks are VERY debatable -- and I didn't come here to worry about stuff like that.
I've programmed in several languages, starting in about 1983: BASIC, Pascal, C, C++, assembly, VB, Perl, and Java (learned in that order). From the start I was fairly well-trained, and I write well-organized code as a result. I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I think this overall assessment of myself is accurate. I don't really need training on coding style. I don't have a problem if someone says to me, "We usually do it this way in [Language X]," but I won't necessarily use that style -- although I think *I'm* more likely to use it than most (meaning 80-90% of all software developers out there, I'm guessing).
At present I primarily code in Perl, and enjoy it immensely. There's tremendous freedom and flexibility, and it's easy to get stuff done. However, I'm learning Java for a number of reasons. Having roots in C/C++, I'm quite comfortable with Java. I bought Just Java 2 upon recommendation from this site, and I've gone through the first 5 chapters or so this week.
I've been a little turned off by the book. As long as the author sticks to the fundamentals of Java, he seems to do fine. I've read better books, but this one is decent. But the hype about Java, combined with some inaccuracies about Perl and C, really make me take his non-technical comments with a grain of salt.
Maybe this is all just me. Maybe most people need the nitpicking. I just want to learn how to write code. Maybe this site is too elementary for me? Am I missing some point here? Maybe you can convince me otherwise.
If you're willing to reply, and it's not too much trouble, please CC: me via email as well, or at least let me know you responded, as I've been having trouble accessing this site the past few days:
AIM: perljavageek

AIM: perljavageek
bill bozeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
I'll give my two cents. Most of us here have some other experience, but not the years you do, or at least that is what it seems like to me. For most of us, style is about as important as knowing the code. Maybe this is too elementary to you, but I do think everyone can learn something from these assignments.
I don't think the nitpicking should change. This shouldn't be the only place you go to learn Java, and you shouldn't think that going through the Cattle Drive will teach you Java. The Cattle Drive is just a way to have a real life person look at your code and say, well, I would do it this way... If you already have years of experience in other languages, and a good foundation to work from, then you probably don't need the Cattle Drive. For many programmers though, it seems they don't get that strong foundation. They learn thier style from trial and error and write the way they feel. The biggest benefit I got out of the Cattle Drive was that it did teach me style. I knew how to do the assignments, but I didn't realise how poorly I wrote them.
So do you need it or not, I don't know. I would guess from your statements, probably not as it will probably annoy you more than help you. I know I was annoyed sometimes, but at the end of the assignment, I saw that my code was always better than when I started. The more I did, the better I got. Now I can usually get an assignment done in 1 or 2 tries.
I would like to see you go through it, but I would like to see anyone go through it. But I don't think the style will change and I don't think it will teach you the language. I just think for most of us it helps give us the foundation that is needed, and points out some of the common mistakes we can all make.
Daniel Dunleavy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2001
Posts: 276
Well, like yourself I have many years of experience. I have been in the biz since 1981, and many of those years consulting. One good thing to learn is to be flexible enough to go with someone else's standards. I go from one shop that does it one way, and some other shop another. Should you tell them you are not willing to adhere to their internal standards? If everyone at a company codes the same way, its easier to pick up someone else's code. I may not choose to code this way after the cattle drive (ex bracket placement), but it may make it easier for them to go through our code if it is somewhat similar.
Johannes de Jong

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
First of all welcome back Paul
Rick in a professional project you will have to adhere to their Style Guide as well. They teach the people that follow the Cattle Drive the discipline to do just that, and lets face it a lot of programmes need to be kicked to do that.
Also the people that "nitpick" here do it for free, the least we can do is follow their "rules". For one it makes our attempts easier to read/follow.
As I see it its a matter of respect for their time.
Marilyn de Queiroz

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9059
Originally posted by Paul Ralph:
I finished the first two or three assignments when the Trailboss was in charge. Fortunately, I still have the "Looks good!" replies on file as well as the actual programs. Do you want me to resubmit my work or can I just forward the emails showing success?

If you can show me the "Looks good!" replies, that will be sufficient proof and you can continue from there.

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt
paul wheaton

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20971

You are certainly welcome to do the assignments without sending anything in. I think for every person that sends the assignments in, there are four people that don't.
There are many lessons in the style guide and in the other nits that are picked.
The most important thing for us is that that style guide makes nit picking a lot easier. Once we have you whipped into shape with the first three assignments, the challenge of looking through assignment Java-4 is easier on us.

permaculture Wood Burning Stoves 2.0 - 4-DVD set
Arthur Lyman

Joined: Dec 30, 2000
Posts: 11
It seems that someone with your background should have little trouble adapting to a specific style guide. It was mildly frustrating at first to resubmit what looked like simple assignments 2 and 3 times over, but I understand how a uniform style for all is to be preferred to one that is well-organized but personal. If no one else will ever have to look at or maintain code that you have written, it doesn't matter.
In any case, people here are spending their free time to correct these assignments, and to make too much of their guidelines, has the appearence of looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Originally posted by Rick McKay:
I too am a dropout, but I'm not so enthusiastic about getting back into the cattle drive.
I have a few reasons for this -- maybe you can convince me to change my mind.

(Marilyn added missing ubb tags)
[This message has been edited by Marilyn deQueiroz (edited April 18, 2001).]

Arthur E. Lyman<BR>
Johannes de Jong

Joined: Jan 27, 2001
Posts: 5089
Arthur, my reasons for staying with the Cattle Drive is that the fact that I know someone out there knows that I'm doing makes me do it.
I'm not saying they are waiting for my next assignment, but somehow I feel a bit of quilt that forces me to finish it because they have spent their valuable time nitpicking my assignments up to know.
But that said I do learn from some of the nitpicks. They at times do force me to go and rethink my approach and then I come up with a better way.
But just like everything else in live the Cattle Drive stays a very personal experience.
Hope to see you active on the Assignment Log again soon
[This message has been edited by Johannes de Jong (edited April 14, 2001).]
Chris Spierings

Joined: Mar 29, 2001
Posts: 25
I've been working with Java now for about 4 months having gone from mainframe into VB, into project and IT management and now into Java. My perspective on the suggested documentation and coding practices are that they really add value to the work done.
I'm a victim of my past (EDS) where documentation and standards were nearly a religion. They were a bit "oppressive", however the really great thing was any EDSer could often come along and decipher what had been done and it seemed we had shorter ramp up times when people moved in or out of a project.
Having been the customer of IT consultants who provided code of varying degrees of documenation and little or no style consistency we found it to be hit and miss in taking over the support of the system. When I assumed management of that IT shop we implemented coding standards to avoid the problems we'd undergone in the past.
Given the velocity with which development takes place today I think documentation and "style" (I'd call it coding standards) seem to suffer in the interest of getting things done. The thing that I'm seeing now is that without the "style" and documentation, picking up when others move on is more difficult and as a result time consuming and expensive.
I'm probbably the worst style offender on the cattle drive but I feel there is a high degree of wisdom for it. I may not like it but in the real world my view is that your boss or customer will appreciate it in the long run.
Like I said a victim of my past and certainly only one opinion.
Peter Gragert
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 16, 2001
Posts: 424
I 'thougt' I was good in programming (experience of about 30 years in a lot of languages). So its a a piece of cake to do the assignments. It was up to now with respect to get a program done what was assigned.
BUT I was very often 'nitpicked' about this and that and if I compare a first with a last version, the last version was in a sence better, so I became humble.
The most important aspect: The last versions were (hopefully) better to understand even by 'newbies'.

Nitpickers, you do a good job!
It means, I would rejoin the Cattle Drive.

Joined: Apr 21, 2001
Posts: 2
I am new to the cattle drive.(Have yet to post my first assignment) But am thoroughly looking forward to having them nitpicked, torn to shreds even.....
Marilyn de Queiroz

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9059
Tomgreg, please read and register with a first and last name. Thanks.
tomgreg vasile

Joined: Apr 28, 2001
Posts: 7
tomgreg is now "tomgreg vasile".....
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: College dropout
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