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What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

If you're someone who's interested in computer programming, chances are you've considered pursuing a career in it. However, being a computer programmer is definitely not for everyone, as it takes some special characteristics to succeed as a computer programmer.

Good at Math

While you don't have to be a math genius in order to be a good computer programmer, being good at math really does help. In general, as long as you know your trigonometry and advanced high school algebra, you should be set for programming.

However, in a few instances, knowledge of more advanced math ends up being necessary. For example, for shader programming, you should be familiar with integration of multiple variables, matrix algebra, and basic differentiation. You will also require considerable math skills in order to program 3D.

Excellent Problem Solver

To be a successful computer programmer, you definitely need to be an excellent problem solver. It is vital for a computer programmer to break a problem down into small parts. They must then be able to decide the best way to approach individual pieces of the problem. Computer programmers also need to know how to anticipate and prevent potential problems. While problem-solving, they also need to keep in mind things like user experience and performance.

If you're not a good problem solver, knowing a particular language and syntax will be useless if you can't even identify the problem at hand. Therefore, excellent problem solving skills are a critical foundation for computer programming.

Patience

If you are not a patient person, you will quickly become very frustrated with computer programming. Problem-solving is not always easy and fast. In fact, it may take a very long time, especially if you're either inexperienced or working on an especially hard project.

Debugging after the coding process is also very frustrating and tedious. No matter how hard you try, you will always have bugs in your coding, and these bugs, while often easy to fix, tend to be very difficult to detect. Therefore, you will end up spending a lot of your time searching for bugs that take very little time to fix.

Well-Rounded Skills

Generally, computer programmers who are very skilled in one area tend to stick around longer than jack-of-all-trades, as specialized programmers are harder to replace with outsourcing than general programmers. Therefore, it will do you well to specialize in one area of computer programming.

However, while specializing is good, you should still know at least a little about everything, especially skills that relate to the area you specialize in. For example, if you're a core Java programmer, you should know about SQL programming and ideally a scripting language or some regular expressions.

As you can see, not everyone has what it takes to pursue computer programming as a career and succeed at it. In fact, just because you love to program doesn't mean it's a good career choice for you. However, if you feel that you possess all the characteristics listed above, then you should definitely consider computer programming as a career.

It’s the eternal conundrum of a hiring manager – you have to hire for every single position in the company without any first-hand experience. How to do it? If you can have a trusted programmer sit in on the interview, that’s ideal, of course. But what if you’re hiring your first programmer? Or what if you’re hiring a freelancer? Or what if company policy dictates that you’re the only person allowed to do the interviewing? Well, in that case, you need some helpful advice and your innate bullshit detector. We questioned programmers and hiring managers and compiled a list of dos and don’ts. Here are some things to ask when interviewing programmers:

Past Experience

Ask the programmer about the biggest disaster of his career so far, and how he handled it. Did he come in at midnight to fix the code? Was he unaware of the problem until someone brought it up? Did someone else handle it?  According to our programmer sources, “Anyone worth their salt has caused a major meltdown. If they say they haven’t, they’re lying. Or very, very green.” Pushing a code with bugs in it isn’t necessarily bad. Not handling it well is bad.

As usual, your biggest asset is not knowing the field, it is knowing people. Asking about career disasters can be uncomfortable, but if the interviewee is experienced and honest then she won’t have a problem telling you about it, and you will get an idea of how she handles mishaps. Even if you don’t understand what the disaster was or how it was fixed, you should be able to tell how honest she’s being and how she handles being put on the spot.

As much as we love to assume free Wi-Fi is secure, this is far from the truth. Because you are attaching to a service many others are connected to as well, without security measures, your device can be hacked, especially if the network is unencrypted. Because this encryption involves handing out a 26-character hexadecimal key to every individual wanting to use that network, most places opt for ease of access over security. And even with a secure network, your information is vulnerable to everyone else who has the password and is on the network.

This may not seem like such a big deal and many people don’t believe they have anything to hide on their personal devices, but remember what you use on those devices. Chances are your e-mail is attached as well as all other social media sites. You may have apps that track your finances or private messages to certain others that you would never want anyone else to see. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to reduce and prevent any unwanted information grabbers from accessing your personal information.

To start, go through your computer’s settings in order to verify your operating system’s security functions are all set to offer the highest protection. Open up the Control Panel and double check that your Firewall is enabled for both private and public networks. Then, go to Network and Sharing to open Change advanced sharing settings. In here, you can turn off file and printer sharing and network discovery for public networks.

One of the most important things to watch for is HTTPS. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure ensures secure communication across the web. Many of the major email systems use this when you log in (as another layer of password protection) but drop the security as soon as the login is complete. To keep this going, HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that gives you a secure connection when browsing some of the more popular sites. It can also be programmed for other sites you like to visit that don’t use HTTPS.

Not every place on the internet provides the choice of HTTPS, and VPNs are there to fill in the security gap. Virtual Private Networks allows data to be sent and received through public access points as if it were directly connected to a secure network. Many businesses offer this for company devices, but if you are an individual looking for that kind of security, ProXPN is a free version that can be upgraded. Unfortunately, it limits your speed, but other choices include VPNBook, OpenVPN Shield Exchange, and OkayFreedom.

With these three steps implemented, secure public Wi-Fi can be achieved. No longer will you have to worry about connecting in an unsure environment with strangers, never knowing if your information is being stolen. With all of the options free of charge, it is also an affordable means of protecting yourself that only takes a little time and effort to implement and guarantee safety.

 

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Tech Life in North Dakota

Chartered in 1884 the University of Jamestown, a liberal arts college is the oldest independent college in the state. In 2007, Jamestown began the ?Journey to Success?, a program targeted at preparing students for rapidly changing environments. After twenty years of fundraising the school has nearly tripled their student body and began construction of new buildings to replace the original structures from the 1920?s.
A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.  ~ Carlos Castaneda
other Learning Options
Software developers near Bismarck have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.

training details locations, tags and why hsg

A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in North Dakota since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about SharePoint programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized SharePoint experts
  • Get up to speed with vital SharePoint programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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