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How to trick young people into becoming programmers

By jkameleon ·
It seems young people these days aren't dopes. They've seen what happened during the tech bust, and it'll be a long time before they start trusting business talk of "wonderful opportunities in IT" again. The number of those in the West choosing to study to be programmers is plummeting, and this has business groups really worried.

But rather than doing something like, say, increasing salaries or improving benefits, business groups in the US have hit on a new strategy. They're going to trick young people into becoming programming fodder.

"Entice kids to study programming by focusing on the 'products' of computer science that they're already familiar with," a Business Week story on the strategy says, "animated movies, video games, and social-networking sites?rather than the process of writing code. Not only does this make the discipline seem less tedious, it gives programming an element of cool."

So researchers, in coordination with EA, have built a game to teach kids to program. That makes the whole thing seem like more fun.

"But the real return for EA will likely come years from now in the form of large pool of software programmers for hire," the story says. "At least, that's the hope of EA and the CMU researchers. And given the plummeting number of U.S. computer-science students, it should be the hope of everyone in the business world."

Then, once you've got them trapped, you can work them hard, sack them at will, cut their pay and threaten to outsource their jobs to Asia. Man, I'm getting cynical as I get older.


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Good idea

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to How to trick young people ...

Should expand on it.
Lets trick people into being managers as well by telling them they can run peoples lives. How about boxers, you get to hit people without going to jail. Soldiers you get a gun....

What a set of nipple heads!
Obviously the reason they never made programmers is they are incapable of logic.

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And wont they have a problem, when the kids all want

by Deadly Ernest In reply to How to trick young people ...

to work independently and sell their completed games instead of working on salary.

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not a problem

by bigbigboss In reply to And wont they have a prob ...

After the kids go without food for six months, and their parents told them to find a job or else, they will smart up.

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not the same parents we had

by deb In reply to not a problem

A lot of parents these days aren't the same we had as kids where they're pushing the kids out of the house. Just read any article on "helicopter parents" to see that some parents will go to any extreme to help their kids, even if it means supporting them well into their late 20's to enable them to be completely absorbed in their own being. There's a hole new generation of geeks living in their mom's basements.

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The Business Week article is ABSURD

by TechExec2 In reply to How to trick young people ...

American university students are choosing to not study computer science because they don't think enough of career prospects in the field these days. It has nothing to do with how "cool" programming is.

The relevant factors are:

- The dot com bust started the problem. This factor would go away except...

- Corporations are offshoring many thousands of computer programming jobs to India and China (the number is very big but secret for obvious reasons).

- The US government is permitting the importation of hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign programmers under the H-1B and L-1 visas in the USA (and the 457 visa in Australia), driving down pay rates.

Getting children interested in computer games and the programming behind them will have absolutely no effect on them when they enter the university, choose a major, and plan for a career.

The BusinessWeek article, and the Carnegie Mellon University researcher's work, is absurd. And what of EA's involvement? The only logical explanation is to sell more computer game software to the children right now. It has nothing to do with converting them into computer science students 10 years from now.

Solving the problem of low interest in computer science is very simple: Make the field more attractive to the American (and Australian) university students. Stop the offshoring and onshoring (H-1B, L-1, 457). Reestablish job and career security and the students will return to the field.

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Absurd indeed, but I don't think it has much to do with H-1B & stuff

by jkameleon In reply to The Business Week article ...

Reducing the problem to H-1B is a bit simplicistic and one sided, IMHO.

In the olden days before globalization, there were dozens if not hundreds of small, more or less closed national markets, with dozens of competing companies on each of them. Each company had to do its own R&amp.

Nowadays, there is only one global market, with a couple of competing megacorporations. Demand for creative, R&amp work is correspondingly lower. It doesn't matter, whether a software product is sold in 1, 10, or 10 millions of copies- in any case, it has to be developed only once. The only thing that grows with the market is call center, marketing, and other non-technological job positions.

Employers, the business community, want to keep their supply of workforce high, of course, but I don't think they are behind the latest wave of "alarming decrease if interest"/"precipituos drop in enrollments"/"youth not excited about IT" hysteria. It's academic sphere. Lower demand & supply of IT workforce means less academic "raw material", and consequently less jobs and funding. Their lobbying is sometimes pretty silly


"There is a real danger of a flight of jobs overseas [due to lack of computer science graduates]", says Professor Shadbolt from the University of Southampton. Looks like this guy just woke up from the 10 year hybernation, or something.

Economy aside- no matter how you turn it, no matter how you spin it- IT work seriously sucks, plain and simple. For the last 10 or 20 years or so, it was all about being user friendly, management friendly, business friendly, friendly to everyone except developers. As a matter of fact, the field became increasingly developer hostile. Enormous ammount of research effort was devoted to turn the production of software into assembly line type of work- measureable, manageable, predictable, non-empiric, and so on. One has to be seriously mazohistic to study only to become a mental assemby line worker.

Our Indian colleagues share this sentiment as well


"In all this excitement about BPO creating jobs in India, we haven't really looked at what kinds of jobs they're creating. I'll tell you. They're all, without exception, low-end, sub-100-IQ type jobs, and - as the current attrition rate shows - we're consistently staffing them wrong."

This pretty much applies to the IT & programming too.

There will be no shortage of a bright, and innovative CS graduates; not because kids aren't interested in CS, but because there simply is no need for them.

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No needs for CS grads?

by jmgarvin In reply to Absurd indeed, but I don' ...

As IT infrastructure becomes more complicated and the Baby Boomers exit the work force, there's going to be a interesting gap, esp in IT.

Why? We're losing HUGE amounts of experience all at once. We're not training, we're not prepping, and god forbid we actually think about REPLACING those that are going to retire.

It seems all corporations want are part time workers and H1Bs. You want to know the scary part? While CS enrollment is down, that also means CS graduate enrollment is down. So all that cool stuff that came out of R&amp from academia is going to be no more. That gravy train is OVER...

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the biggest problem is going to be finding people who

by Deadly Ernest In reply to No needs for CS grads?

can understand the links across sub-fields. It's already a problem. Four years ago, I had some contract work for a major IT organisation, one that sold IT services. The email system was randomly messing up emails.

The people running the Lotus Notes servers said it wasn't a problem with their servers, it had to be the gateway. The gateway people had evidence that it wasn't happening at the gateway. They started keeping copies of all emails, and when we found some that we OK at the gateway, but messed up at the recipient, well, that proved it was within the Lotus Notes network. The emails came out of the Internet into the Sendmail mail servers OK, they got handed off to the Lotus Notes mail servers OK, and got messed up later.

I got the job of trying to identify the problem. Much research and testing later, I was able to map the Lotus Notes servers, and who was behind which - something the Lotus Notes specialist experts didn't have, and hadn't been able to do. Seem they didn't know a thing about networks and routers, just Lotus Notes.

Well, all the problem areas were behind three specific Lotus Notes servers. Well, the short of is - the Lotus Notes servers were all one version, except those three - they hadn't been able to afford to upgrade them yet.

The latest version of Notes can be set to handle all mail SMTP as native default. The previous version handled all mail as UUCP native default, and could be set to detect and handle SMTP as SMTP. The network used SMTP, but sometime the older version thought it was getting UUCP emails, and messed up the headers, killing the reply to addresses.

It took me 50% of my time over three weeks to sort this out, document, and give them the answer to a problem they'd be playing with for 12 months. The Notes people said I was mad, as all the Notes servers tested OK, never mind my being able to show copies of messages from either side of the suspect servers, showing them good and corrupt. Eventually, they got in experts from Lotus, and it took them 4 weeks to read, and duplicate my work, and say the same thing - cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

I was the only person in that state office who understood the basics of the network, the gateway, the servers, and how they interacted. I knew enough about them all to look at the issue holistically, all the rest are specialists in sub areas and have no idea on what happens when the data leaves their servers, or sub area. I had an argument with one senior tech because he couldn't understand why he couldn't assign the same IP address to both the main server, and its back up - that would have made his documentation easier.

No one is taught the general basics any more.

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by jkameleon In reply to No needs for CS grads?

Everyone wants it, everybody praises it, everybody sings about it, but nobody would let you gain it on his account.

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CS degree

by csmith In reply to Absurd indeed, but I don' ...

I was enrolled for my CS but many employers want certifications. I wish that acredited colleges would start teaching OS's as well as basic programing. It would give the graduating students a better chance at landing a good job. I had a former teacher in the lab I created working on his Master's in CS and could not tell me the difference between a switch an a router. Maybe this was a isolated but I am not too sure. This was not the first time this happened to me. This kind of problem scares me.

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