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Becoming a part-time Programmer

Posted on 2000-05-11
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I am trying to get into the computer industry as a proffession.  My current job limit's my computer exposure.  On my off time I would like to get more hands on experience with computer's.  I am close to finishing my a+ certification and I have heard going for the MCSE would be the next logical step.  I would also like to earn money by programming as a side job from home in a relatively short amount of time.  I am now trying to decide what direction I should go, ie which programming language(s) to learn.  Despite the lack of computer work, I'll be hanging on to the current job for a bit.  Any one out there already heavy into computer's, Happy with what they are doing, and makeing big bucks at it let me know what you recommend.  


I am looking for the best advise I can get, so I'll make this one worth 200 points.

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Question by:carcajou
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by:nico5038
ID: 2801701
Most computer software houses offer trainee ships for people that want to work for them.
I started as a trainee too and that way you're sure that you're trained in a language that can be used straight away. The company I work for is contracting people with the obligation to start their job with the MSCE training after which they are send to clients.
If you want to do it gradually, you could try if a staffing office offers this training/work possibility.

Nico
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by:simonet
ID: 2802936
There is more in programming than simply knowing a language: there's the technical background, which is algorithms, data structures, etc.

The language is simply a tool, and, if you have a good background on the forementioned issues, you'll do fine on any language you choose.

Obviously, there are easy and hard languages. A programming language's level is determined by how close it is to the natural human language. Thus, we have low level languages, of which the lowest is Assembly (please don't say "Assembler" is a language... Assembler is an Assembly language compiler), intermediate level languages, like C, C++, etc, and high level languages: VB, Delphi, etc.

The highest the level of the language, the easier it is to learn it. Pascal is often the language everyone in a computer science course (in college) starts with. It's well structured, easy, powerful and yet high level. Delphi has inherited all those qualities and added a lot more advantages to the language (in fact Delphi's language is a revised, object-oriented form of Pascal, called ObjectPascal).

For everybody who's asking for a language to start with, I always suggest Delphi (actually Delphi is not a language... it's a while development environment, made up of several tools, components, etc. It uses ObjectPascal as the programming language). Delph is much more powerful than VB, easy to learn, very well featured, and, most important, you rarely see a Delphi programmer unemployed, while there are plenty of VB programmers looking for a position.

There isn't a single thing VB can do that Delphi can't do... better and faster. Documentation isn't scarse as people tend to think, and there are lots of web resources for one willing to get started with Delphi.

And then there's C. C/C++ is an extremely powerful language, but a true C++ programmer must start programming at the age of 5!!! Not that it's that hard, but simply that there's too much into it one can get easily lost. Most of books on algorythms and data structures have been written for C/C++. The ones that aren't for C/C++ are for Pascal. Knowing a bit of C is always an asset, since most Win32 documentation is in C++.

There's also the aspect of the technology you want to work with. Today one can be a very specialized programmer, and these get a lot of jobs. For example, good DCOM programmers are lacking in the market, because DCOM is an expanding technology. My point is: you have to know what kinda technology you want to be really good at, so you can focus your studies, investments and efforts into that. There are infinite areas one can specialize at: games, client/server, desktop databases, distributed components, handheld devices, Linux tools, etc, etc, etc. Since you said you want to program from your home, I guess most of the work you'll do will involve some kind of database programming, and very few tools can beat Delphi at that.

I suggest you don't spend the money on MSCE. Choose a language you want to work with and then buy a couple books on that.

I hope this has shed some light on your issue.

Welcome to the wonderful world of programming. BTW, talking about that, I also would like to recomment an excellent book, with great insights on computer programming: "The Art Of Computer Programming", by Donald Knuth. Excellent stuff.

If you need more suggestions, help, pointers to good programming sites, just let me know.

yours,

Alex
Athena's Place: http://www.bhnet.com.br/~simonet

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by:kretzschmar
ID: 2803379
well written, alex
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by:carcajou
ID: 2805727
Thanks Alex,


I am off to purchase a copy of  "The Art of Computer Programming"  I also have Linux installed at home with a c++ compiler.  I'll spend more time with that in the near future.  

I also have had a class on Microsoft Access as well as work experience with Access.  Not more than generating quiries and reports, but thier is a class I've been meaning to take which goes over some of the more sophisticated things Microsoft Access can do.  Is Access a Respected  Database?  Is it morecomonly used in the real world?  The companies I've worked for who've used access typically were the smaller companies.  But even the larger companies I've worked for had a use for  access if not only to change a table from one database program to another.
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by:nico5038
ID: 2805761
Access is a good start for learning SQL and the basics of event-driven programmimg.
When you know the access queries, it's easy to "upgrade" to MS SQL or other databases.

The C++ is not my language as I'm not familiar with Object oriented programming. For starting in such a direction I would advise to take Java as it's widely spread and "easier" as C++. Also the demand for Java programmers will be bigger than for C++ as far as I can judge it.

Nico
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by:simonet
ID: 2806038
>Is Access a Respected  Database?  

*Respect* databases are (in order of "respectness"):

- Oracle
- Sql Server
- DB/2
- Interbase
- MySql

Note that these are the most common. There are others that may be a little better than some of the above, that those aren't really used (like Adabas).

Access if more suitable for non-professional prgramming, for desktop applications, and not likely a real C/S will ever be written using Access. IT's great for beginners, and you may even make some money writing database applications using Delphi for the front-end and Access for the database, but please note that the **REAL BUCK$** are with C/S development, which use true SQl-based RDMBS's (Oracle, SQL Server, etc).

Yours,

Alex

PS.: Before getting a copy of Knuth's book, follow the steps I outlined you: choose a language, get a few " Nutshell "  books for it, a few algorythms books and you're all set to start. Wait a while before buying " The Art of Computer Programming ".
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simonet earned 200 total points
ID: 2807767
I am changing my previous comments to a proposed answer.
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by:carcajou
ID: 2812853
Simonet,

To late, I already bought the art of programing.  I have had math at this level (with reason of course, after all some of the  problems are said not to have been solved yet.) Meaning a bit of calculus, I could use more math.

(Art of Programming)The first volume I purchased, it is a 3 volume work.

I have C++ on Linux. I have a few books on C++ and I am thinking that might be one of the language I'll try out first.  In the fall I am signed up for a Visual basics course but I will investigate others as well.


Thanks for all your help

Carcajou

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by:simonet
ID: 2813882
>In the fall I am signed up for a Visual basics

Check Delphi as well. It's much better than VB. Besides, the friendly folks in the Delphi area at EE are always willing to help newcomers.

Good luck with Knuth's book! Don't forget to add that to your resumé ;)

Alex
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Author Comment

by:carcajou
ID: 2818006
Thanks Nico,
I will look into sql, I already have a book on it and in the past I've edited an sql comment in Access.  I also heard Access used VB, which is one of the reason's why I signed up for it a while ago for the fall.  Like I said I had a class on Access and I really like it.  For most reports and quiries Access seems to be a good Relational Database.  However when you get into extremely large databases with tens of thousands of records, I don't know how well Access will perform.

I also want to learn more about Java, Perhaps even getting into setting up a web page.

Thanks again Alex,

I will defenitely check out Delphi, I'll even see if I can't get a hold of a copy for educational purposes.  Some college's will provide software at extremely reduced rates provided the use is merely educational.  (there is a copy right agreement stipulating the educational use before the install.

And Linux is something I would also like to learn more about.  I have it at home and I'm planning to learn as much about it as I can.

Kind regards,

carcajou
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by:simonet
ID: 2819345
>I'll even see if I can't get a hold of a copy for educational purposes.  

Search no more, my fried:

http://www.borland.com/delphi/trial5/trialdownload.html

Yours,

Alex
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by:carcajou
ID: 2827721
THANKS AGAIN ALEX,

I will look into ordering a copy of the trial version.

Kind Regards

carcajou
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