[FoRK] Advice From An Old Programmer

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Jun 23 13:10:38 PDT 2011

On 6/23/11 12:50 PM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 12:38:52PM -0700, Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
>> The one and only class that most benefited my career in high school was
>> 4 years of typing.

I had a half-year, using manual typewriters.  But I was already typing on computers all night every night.  Touch typing on an Atari 
400 (resistive pad with slight plastic outlines).  The speed-reading course was probably also useful, although I started at a fairly 
high speed and maxed it out (1000 wpm, for fluff reading anyway).

Not sure what class was most important.  They provided a good base I guess, but I learned all of the really interesting stuff on my 
own from books.

> Hah. We didn't have these, but I figured I better learn touch-typing
> if I wanted to use computers effectively, so I paid for my own lessons.
> Never regretted it.
> Ditto English. I knew I was going to need it, so I made sure I picked
> the right high school (our equivalent) courses and read enough literature
> to make sure it sticks. Thought also about Mandarin, but never found the time.

Spent time on Latin, French, and German.  Should have learned Spanish, but there was no chance to practice any of them outside of 
class where I grew up.  I should pursue Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin, but it's low priority.

> What I missed is picking up enough hands-on medicine and handcraft-style
> (welding, metal milling, and such). Too late now, I guess.

You should find or open a TechShop / Hacker Dojo like place (slightly different models, the latter is non-profit and far more open / 
flexible / permissive).  There's a new TechShop opening up 3 blocks from where I live now!  No more driving occasionally to Redwood 
City.  Ran into the one in SF after Google IO, they're just a few doors down from Moscone.

They have great classes, and great machines to play with.  I'm going to have to start carving out some time to get up to speed on 
SolidWorks, start welding, laser cutting/etching, etc.

> What's the knowledge or skill you wish you knew?

The list is long.  Perhaps after my afternoon rewrite.


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