I am writing a paper on moving from novice to intermediate programmer and got to thinking about the sort of things that people say that identify someone as a novice programmer.

NOTE: No one is allowed to feel bad for having made these mistakes. Everyone you meet will admit to having made the exact same errors at one time, except for a very few people. Those very few people are probably lying. Try to avoid having coffee with them. They are a bad influence.

( Not long ago I was on the phone with someone and they said to type something like “ls pipe command” and I actually typed the word “pipe” instead of ls | command.

as in ….
ls | mail annmaria@thejuliagroup.com

Fortunately, I did not actually hear the person say, ‘What a moron.’ A fact I attribute to the helpful invention of the mute button. In my defense, I was only on my 4th cup of coffee recovering from a conference call at 6:30 a.m. that morning with a group that apparently believed that the entire world is on Eastern Standard Time.)

These characteristics DO generally reveal you as a newbie:

  1. Thinking that just because your program ran and there are no messages that say ERROR in your log that your results are correct.
  2. Not reading your log.
  3. Thinking that just because your program ran with the perfectly cleaned up test data, or with the first 1,000 records, that all is now well and there will be no problems with it.
  4. Writing your own code for common functions like mean, log, random numbers. I don’t mean to be rude (no more than usual, anyway), but did you really think that no one in the previous decades no one thought about this and included it as part of the language?
  5. Copying and pasting the same lines over and over. – If you are doing that, I’ll bet your code is almost screaming at you MACRO! or DO-LOOP or maybe ROSEBUD! (Well, the latter is the least likely, actually.)
  6. Not using comments, which is proof of your unfamiliarity with “Eagleson’s Law: Any code of your own that you haven’t looked at for six or more months, might as well have been written by someone else.” (I did not know that had a name until recently.)

There are several more but I am going call it a night, as I have a meeting at 7 a.m. because, as the individual on the East Coast who scheduled it logically concluded, “It’s 10 a.m. somewhere.” What IS IT with you people?

Comments

3 Responses to “You May Be a Novice Programmer if ….”

  1. Key Happenings at support.sas.com on July 22nd, 2010 8:05 am

    More Advice for a New Programmer…

    Am I a new programmer? Let me see. I was a new programmer when I wrote my first program in college. I was a new programmer when I wrote my first SAS program during SAS Programming 1 class. And if I were to sit down to write a program today, I’d hav…

  2. jessica on August 11th, 2010 6:13 pm

    Ok, #5 made me laugh outloud

  3. Joana Hollinshed on May 21st, 2012 7:24 am

    One thing I want to say is that often before obtaining more computer memory, consider the machine into which it will be installed. Should the machine will be running Windows XP, for instance, the particular memory threshold is 3.25GB. Putting in more than this would easily constitute a new waste. Make certain that one’s mother board can handle the upgrade volume, as well. Thanks for your blog post.

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