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Which Path Do You Recommend?

Jim Branley
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 12, 2013
Posts: 27
Hello All,

My name is Jim but you might want to call me Greenhorn.

With an intro to computer programming course CIS-115 (python), CSC-151 and CSC-251 (Java) behind me I have to decide which course to take this summer. I am a 52 year old electrical contractor who has read the writing on the wall and has decided to supplement my measly business income with income from being a programmer. Some people are telling me that it will be tough for me to break the age obstacle but I have to do something and this is the path that I have chosen. That said, programming is a vast field and deciding on which programming direction to take is critical for someone my age. I would like to find work as soon as possible so I need to find something that takes a minimal amount of training and is in high demand. I am assuming that mobile development fits the high demand criteria however I do not know if it is something that one can learn quickly. If I decide to enter the mobile development industry would it be wise to still take DBA-110 (Database Programming)? Would you folks mind shining some light on this subject for me? What would your goal be if you were in my hoofs? Do you know of any career counselors that you could recommend?

Thank you,

Greenhorn
Winston Gutkowski
Bartender

Joined: Mar 17, 2011
Posts: 7772
    
  21

Jim Branley wrote:I do not know if it is something that one can learn quickly.

I hate to disillusion you, but none of it is.

That said, I applaud your enterprise, especially as an old fart myself (3 years on you). I also think your choice of mobile applications is a good one, since it's quite a niche market and therefore a much smaller "pond".

If I decide to enter the mobile development industry would it be wise to still take DBA-110 (Database Programming)?

I'm honestly not sure how much good a database programming course would help if you intend concentrating on mobile applications; however, as an old DBA myself, I can tell you that knowing some relational theory has helped me no end in being able to spot "redundancy smell" quickly. A course like that should also teach you at least the rudiments of SQL, which is well worth knowing; however, a more generalized one on persistence (Google the word) or JDBC might well do the same thing.

I think, if it was me, I might look for a more targeted subject - for example Android, or possibly Java FX - so that I could get immersed in the whole "mobile apps" thing more quickly; but I'm certainly no small system expert, so it's just an opinion.

Good luck.

Winston

Isn't it funny how there's always time and money enough to do it WRONG?
Articles by Winston can be found here
Jim Branley
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 12, 2013
Posts: 27
Hello Winston,

Thanks for the neighborly advice. I had a feeling someone was going to disillusion me when I stepped up to the bar. That said, I'd take an ounce of disillusionment over a bottle of moose manure any day.

Mobile applications seems the logical choice for me. I plan to continue with my goal of taking DBA-110 this summer unless I can find a good course on mobile app development. Since I have some Java training under my belt I should probably start with Android or JAVA-FX. I just Googled JAVA-FX and it might be promising.

Take Care,

Greenhorn
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11302
    
  16

I don't know about anything specific to mobile development, but you may want to look at some open-source projects as well. That helps you get 'real world experience' and resume items, as well as letting you see what real code looks like.


There are only two hard things in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors
Jim Branley
Greenhorn

Joined: Apr 12, 2013
Posts: 27
fred rosenberger wrote:I don't know about anything specific to mobile development, but you may want to look at some open-source projects as well. That helps you get 'real world experience' and resume items, as well as letting you see what real code looks like.



Good idea Fred, If I see something specific to mobile development to boot I will let you know.

Thanks,

Greenhorn
chris webster
Bartender

Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1699
    
  14

I salute your courage, Jim!

I can't offer much advice on your specific questions, but one thing you might consider is working out which courses you need to get college credit for, and which subjects you would like to learn about simply to expand your knowledge and acquire useful skills. The formal recognition courses are the ones you need to take at a recognised university/college etc, but the other stuff you can learn for free online if you can find the time. I've been taking courses with Coursera and so far they've been excellent. You should check out the list of courses for things that you might find interesting, but some possibly relevant examples include:

  • Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps
  • Startup Engineering
  • Introduction to Systematic Program Design


  • Coursera courses are often based on undergraduate courses at various (mostly US) universities, and based on my experience so far you can expect them to be quite challenging but very rewarding. They seem to be offered on a repeating schedule, so even if a course isn't available right now, you can register your interest to be notified when the next start date is announced, You can also view course materials for some past presentations to get an idea of what's required.

    There is also Udacity which works in a similar way, although it offers a much smaller range of courses so far. However, these also seem to be of very high quality from top universities and they may allow greater flexibility than Coursera as you can study at your own pace.

    Currently, there seems to be little formal recognition of these courses, although Udacity offers the option of paying for college credit for a few of its courses. But you may find that the things you learn are more valuable in making you a better programmer than any certificate.

    Finally, you might want to pick up some general purpose web development skills along the way (stuff like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP etc), as there is often a fair amount of low-level work around fixing up websites etc. It doesn't pay particularly well, and it's not necessarily a good long term career option (unless you get seriously good at it), but it can give you a useful sideline where you can take on short term paid work on a relatively informal basis. It's also the kind of thing you can pick up and play with at home using online tutorials and books (we old farts remember when you used to learn stuff from books!). And JavaScript in particular seems to be expanding hugely, so it's probably a good thing to learn anyway.

    Anyway, best of luck with your change of career!


    No more Blub for me, thank you, Vicar.
    Jim Branley
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Apr 12, 2013
    Posts: 27
    I did not know about the low level type coding ideas, thanks. I am halfway decent with Joomla. Maybe I can improve my Joomla skills and find work with some local web designers. Thanks also for the tip on JavaScript. It seems to be getting alot of my attention these days. Also I will take a look at Coursera. It may be just what I need.

    Best Wishes,
    Greenhorn.
    Jeanne Boyarsky
    internet detective
    Marshal

    Joined: May 26, 2003
    Posts: 30506
        
    150

    Jim,
    Another thing to think about is whether your "domain knowledge" can help. A programmer without much experience who knows the business well is still a great asset. It could be a mobile app for electricians. Or something like that.


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    Jim Branley
    Greenhorn

    Joined: Apr 12, 2013
    Posts: 27
    Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Jim,
    Another thing to think about is whether your "domain knowledge" can help. A programmer without much experience who knows the business well is still a great asset. It could be a mobile app for electricians. Or something like that.


    This has been one of my holy grails for some time now to create mobile apps for electricians. I believe it is time to start immersing myself in the world of mobile app development. Some of the others have been good enough to recommend javapassion.com and coursera and other sites that can help me learn mobile apps quickly. I may decide to not take DBA-110 at my local community college if I can find a good mobile app course online that will push me.

    Thank you,

    Jim
     
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