MSCS Worth Less Now

I majored in Eletrical Engineering when I went to college. Not sure exactly how I picked that major. I think an advisor said it would be optimal. It was around my junior year, when I was taking a course on transistors, that I decided Computer Science was better for me. I signed up for Comp Sci 101. It was boring. I tried to skip the remedial courses and jump right into the good stuff. However the Computer Science Department woud not let me. Therefore I decided to just get my BSEE.

I tried my hand at an engineering job. It sucked. Well it sucked for me at least. Then I searched far and wide for a company to take a gamble on me to be a programmer. I got lucky and was hired as a Junior Programmer Analyst. My company paid for educational expenses. So I decided to go back to school and get a Masters in Computer Science. I figured I could take all those interesting courses I was denied during my undergraduate studies. For the most part, it worked out well. I got into a program that was a non-thesis option. Take ten courses approved by an advisor. Get an MSCS.

Now I am starting to hear that the MSCS degree is worth less and less. In fact having an MSCS without a BCSC might be a liability. This is due to colleges that church out MSCS degrees to make money. Yeah. I might have been in one of those programs way back when. But I did learn a bunch of stuff during graduate school. Just maybe not as much as someone going for a normal research style masters. Oh well. Luckily I have a lot of experience under my belt. By now, my degrees do not matter that much. I just pity the people coming out of college, looking to go into an MSCS program.

Triple Fail

Some memebers of our testing team called me the other day. They wanted help figuring out how to test a fix for one of the customer problems. This was an easy answer. Nobody had fixed the bug they were talking about. So the test team showed me the documentation stating that the bug was fixed.

I dug deeper and determined that it was a documentation error. Our database team had fixed a different trouble ticket that sounded the same. I coached our test team on figuring out how to duplicate the problem for the bug being fixed. We were off to the races.

Later our configurtion management guy produced the final documenttion for our software release. I noticed the wrong trouble ticket was still being referenced. I called our CM guy up because I know him. Told him that he had a problem. He showed me the guidance from the test team. Then he realized what they sent him. I was hoping this woud be the end of this issue.

Finally I caught an email going by to our customer. Again the wrong trouble ticket was being referenced. I alerted our CM guy once again. Then the database guy who wrote the orginal documentation asked me some questions. I set him straight. In enters my boss cold. He had a million questions. It took about 5 phone calls with him to answer all his questions. When things get screwed up, he usually has to ask a lot of questions to be sure.

The thing I hate about all this is that there were many screw ups. At no time was I the source of the screw up. I was joint pointed out that somebody was failing at different points of the flow. In the end, I get all this extra work to clear it all up. I do this to try to ensure the end product to the customer is as good as possible. But this is not my job. That's why we have quality assurance. I guess the bottom line is that someone is not doing their job right.

Windows 7 Pain

Our customer is finally getting around to updating workstations to Windows 7. Part of our team is dedicated to getting our system to work with Windows 7. Guess what? Everything does not work. I could have told you that. Initially I figured we would have problems with registry access, maybe file writing, and some GUI controls. Turns out our biggest pain is the Windows registry.

Turns out we cannot write keys to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE. Leave it to Microsoft to break this feature that used to work. There is some new Windows 7 beast called the UAC. If we could turn this feature off, maybe we would be cool. But we do not manage the system settings for our customer.

One of our lead developers put together a hack to use HKEY_CURRENT_USER instead. However that leads to some other headaches. A hack is a hack after all. This might be what we roll out with. There is a short schedule to ship Windows 7 compliant software.

I remember when I first tried to port some of my own tools to Windows 7. Had the same problem. Could not write to the registry. Oh well.

Good Programmer

Last week I read this post about the signs you are a good programmer by C. Lawrence Wenham. Was some food for thought. What I found more interesting were the signs that you are a fantastic programmer. The first sign is that you "can recite from memory all of the includables in the C Standard Library". Oh snap. I should be able to do that. Been working with C for over 15 years. But do you know what? I probably cannot name all of those includes.

Of course I know and . I think there might also be an assert header as well. I also know and . But what are all those other include files? Damn. I looked them up. There are 29 total files. Looking at them, some were relatively familiar. Others I could guess their content. There were one or two that I had never heard of, and could not fathom what they were about.

Need some more practice to graduate into the fantastic programmer position. And that's just the first requirement!