Everyone should know programming…

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Since computers first appeared, they have gone on to make human life better and easier. What troubles me is that still only a handful of people can really tell a computer what to do. Yes we are way better than a few years ago; but still a lot of people don’t know how to harness the power of a machine to solve their problems. Make their day to day life easier.

There will always be those who know tools better, and can solve problems faster. But if the commoner was able to instruct a computer how to solve a problem, we would be much better off. What keeps the commoner away? Computers still cannot understand natural language. We can reasonably state that it will be a long time before they can understand natural language instructions and code for themselves. However as languages improve and allow people to specify instructions at a much higher level, giving the instructions should be easier. I hope this enables more people to program.

The other remedy to the situation is that we learn to speak the language of computers. Fundamental programming logic should be a part of school education. Just as kids learn languages to talk to other humans, it is necessary that they know how to talk to computers too. What do I mean by fundamental programming logic? Anyone who understands programming in one language, understands how to communicate with a computer. It is then no big deal to learn programming in another language. Just a matter of picking up the syntax.

Why is this knowledge needed? Machines are better at solving certain types of problems. Excellent candidates to carry out repetitive tasks. But people who are oblivious to the world of computers and programming, often don’t realize the many ways in which these machines can help them. As a result a lot of things that can be automated are still waiting for someone who understands both the task and computers to automate the process. Tell the machines how to do it once… and no one will have to waste their time doing it in future. To make that future happen, everyone should know some programming.

Code phata!!

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I don’t know where and when this phrase originated, or how it came to be part of the indian IT scene. But a very comman phrase that many must have heard of was “code phata”.. Phata is a hindi word, that literally means tear. Now we all know that compueter programs are not written on paper, and it cannot in the normal sense tear. So when does the Indian IT engineer use it?! It is used when the program crashes or throws exceptions. So when someone yells “code phata”, they have found a bug; that causes an application to crash

When I heard it for the first time, I thought it was something that just my programming team used… one of those phrases that a team develops when the work together for a long time, but later I learned that they all had picked it up from previous work places. Being a little inquisitive, I spoke about this to college friends who are now in IT too. And they all had heard it at their workplaces too.I have not been able to trace down the origins of this phrase, but if you are an Indian IT engineer, chances are very high that you have heard it.

Why am I writing about it?! Well, it is not popular enough yet to be included in a dictionary yet… lets say the dictionary of Indian IT slang! But who knows, one day it may just make it. I guess this is how language develops, borrowing from other languages where there is a confluence  of cultures; coined by groups who need new words and phrases to communicate cause the language does not offer simple alternatives. To catch a jargon in the making would be quite cool, isn’t it!

To all you programmers out there, hope you keeping writing great code, and that you don’t hear ppl yelling “code phata”, around you.

What you cannot do yourself isn’t easy!

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If you can’t do something yourself… then it is not easy. And you have to no right to call it an easy or simple task. Does this happen only to me, or do you too find people who call certain task easy? Tasks they know nothing about, and have no means of completing or at times even attempting. I can’t get the logic! If you have never attempted something, how can you know it is easy?

If you are tempted to call a certain task easy, attempt it once by yourself. If you can finish it of quickly and without much effort; then go ahead and call it easy. Before you say, a plumber has it easy, try fixing your own taps. Before you say, a housewife has a great time just sitting at home, try doing all the chores yourself once. If you fail, appreciate the skill of someone who makes a difficult task seem easy.

I have been amazed by all the different skills that humans can achieve. Skilled people make the most difficult tasks seem like an effortlessly natural act. That doesn’t reduce the complexity of the job one bit, but it does give a testimonial to their having mastered the job. To walk up to a person whose job you don’t understand, and to tell him that he has it easy in life; is an insult to that persons’ skill. But worse than that; it shows how stupid the person passing the remark is.

The next time you are tempted to call as task easy, think if you can manage it all by yourself.

Avoiding technical jargons

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I work in the IT industry. So for most of the workday I am surrounded by people who work with computers and often do a lot of programming. And you can’t help but to notice the use of words, metaphors and even jokes; that a non-programmer would not be able to understand. There are cases, like when you are discussing a technical issue, where the use of technical words becomes unavoidable. I believe every profession has a jargon that only fellow professionals will understand. Then why am I so vehement to avoid technical jargons?!

But this becomes a habit and people use jargons even with non-programmers who would not know them. Using jargons hampers communication. The best method of communication is to stick to a simple language. It needs conscious effort to keep your language understandable to all. Isn’t it good that everyone should be able to understand you?! The more people understand you, the more you exchange ideas. You will find several problems that you can solve that way. Language generates a gap between those who face problems and those who can solve them.

When I formally learnt communication at college we were taught that you have to always keep your audience in mind. Audience is every person who listens to what you say. Not just when you are giving an important presentation. When unsure of the background of your audience simple short words are what you need. Yes that communication barrier that you heard about can exist even with people you know, and programmers more than others seem to be falling prey to it.

 

Avoid Jargons! Communicate better! Live smarter!!