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Re: Splitting P&P templates into two

"Thaddeus H. Black" <t@b-tk.org> writes:

> Jay Berkenbilt writes,
>> I think I spent about 16 hours total on all the
>> questions.  I did them in small chunks over one week.
> For my part, I think I spent about 120 hours total on
> all the questions, including assigned practical
> exercises.  I did them in small chunks over four months.
> This is just another datum, to those whom it interests.
> Some of the applicants like Jay are probably smarter
> than I am, or have education or professional background
> in computer programming (mine both lie elsewhere).

I'm really sorry if I implied anything like this by posting the number
of hours I spent.  I was completely not thinking in this direction at
all.  My point was only that the number of hours I spent was too long
to do it in one sitting, as must be the case for anyone no matter how
much background they have, so I agreed that being able to answer in
pieces would be useful.  As for being smarter, there's no way to
measure.  As for having more education or background, I've been doing
UNIX programming and system administration since 1987 and have been
using Linux as a user, sysadmin, and programmer since 1992, and have a
BS and MS in math/computer science, so it would reflect very badly on
me indeed if I couldn't answer the questions faster than some other
people. :-) In fact, I bet I was slower than some people with
comparable background would have been, at least partially because I
tend to be on the verbose side (in case you haven't noticed. ;-]).  I
hope no one construed my statement about the time to be judgmental.
This was definitely not the intent.  (I'm not suggesting that you
personally took it this way, but it occurs to me that some people
could have. :-])

> One further question, just for curiosity.  In your
> experience, who has more overall knowledge in computing:
> the typical computer-science degree holder or the
> typical DD?

I don't have much experience with the typical DD, but my general
experience is that uneducated self-taught hacker types are often more
knowledgeable than degree holders without experience but often end up
"knowing" a lot of things that are untrue or doing things in
unsystematic ways.  If forced to say which is more important, I'd
probably say experience is more important.  That said, I think both
are important for some things.  My canonical picture of a good
programming candidate (when I'm trying to hire one) is someone who has
a good formal education but has been programming and hacking computers
since before they got that education.  That's for a programmer,
though.  My employer's system administrator is one of the best I've
ever known or worked with, and he has no college degree.  Yet he is
very systematic and able to solve difficult problems well.  On the
other hand, he doesn't usually understand the theory behind why or how
things work.  This isn't that important when you're trying to get your
servers working, but it's pretty important if you are going to design
a new programming language.

It all depends upon what you are going to do.  For people who are
primarily to maintain packages, responsiveness, follow-through, and
coordination skills may be just as important as computer science
background.  For the technical committee or people developing
infrastructure, maybe some more background is important.

I guess this is a non-answer because I'm basically just saying, "It

As for the original question though, it's hard to imagine how allowing
people to answer questions in pieces is bad for anyone whether you're
the AM, the person who takes 16 hours, the person who takes 40 hours,
or the person who takes 120 hours.  That point doesn't seem to be in
debate though. :-)

Now I'll stop talking and get back to work.

Jay Berkenbilt <ejb@ql.org>

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