I’m never going to understand the idea that start-ups are for young people. It is like the ads you see where people want a 25-year-old with 15 years of experience, you know,
“Expert in C++, systems administration, Linux, Windows, SAS, R, Hadoop, Ruby, Python and Java. Must have 5-plus years experience in development for mobile platforms.”
That’s where you get all this nonsense with people claiming to be programming since they were nine. That’s funny because I have seen plenty of nine-year-old boys, usually on skateboards, and none of them were programming.
If you really do have experience programming in multiple languages, at least within your group, if not you personally, it’s a big advantage because some languages are better at certain tasks than others. It’s not that you can’t do pretty much anything in any language. Hell, I’m sure I could do structural equation models using Excel if I wanted to badly enough. It’s just more effort.
For example, our game is going great in terms of collecting data, but there is one slight problem. The problem is that we want to track the time students in each class spend playing it, the correct and incorrect answers, and a lot more. When students take pop-up quizzes their username is captured, but there were some parts in the game where that was not happening. This is a beta-test after all. We give the school the update in a week or so that will have this fix in it. What to do with the first three weeks of data that we have collected?
Simple – there is a PHP script that writes the data to MySQL database. One of the options is to download the data as an OpenOffice spreadsheet. I could import that into SAS and it has a field with the timestamp. Since we know what hours each class is scheduled to use the game, I assigned the records based on time of day to class and am now whipping out a nice little pdf report for the teachers and administration. I’m also merging that with other data that includes the username, grade, class and scores on the quizzes so we can give each teacher and the administration a complete picture of how the students are doing.
Even easier, though, was to download it as a csv file, do some of the simple data things- typing, variable names, breaking the long-ass string into columns – in SPSS. That was especially easier since my main computer is a Mac (I do have bootcamp on it and a Windows machine on the other desk behind me). I then output the file as a SAS dataset and away I went.
(Side note: Although the SAS Web Editor for academics is a great stride in the right direction, I still think they need to get moving with a Mac native version.)
Our game is not an “app”. It is not something we did in a week with an SDK. While there is no question that a lot of start-ups are done by people who are very young, there is also the fact that a huge percentage of them fail. Something that only uses one language or one area of expertise (and how many things CAN you be an expert in at 25 years old?) may be far more easily replicated or replaced than something more complex.