General: HOWTO: Spotting the Low-Level Techie
Posted on 2011-11-13 @ 20:42:32 by r00t
I frequently visit and read an atheist and science-oriented blog called Pharyngula. Not too long back, Pharyngula moved from ScienceBlogs to its new host at Freethought Blogs. Earlier this week, there was a server upgrade, and things got wonky; comments went missing, comments were assigned to the wrong posting, etc. PZ is understandably upset and exasperated. On that blog posting, one of the commenters, ColonelZen, posed a question that I thought I would try to answer, one that I have been asked in the past. My answer may not be the greatest, and it might act as a chainsaw where a scalpel is needed - but sometimes, drastic surgery is the only real option to getting the answers needed...
@ColonelZen posted the following:
As a low level techie I can, after a bit of tech discussion, tell whether I’m talking to someone of similar (or rarely better) skill than I at that low level stuff. But if I could tell a non-techie how to identify that kind of techie, I’d write *the* book that corporate suits in tech dependent industries (all of them now) have wet dreams about and retire to a Caribbean beach.My answer:
Depending on the "non-techie" and how willing they are to do a bit of research, that could be easy - just ask the prospective candidate a few questions:I'm not giving away any answers here (I think the hint for number 1 is more than generous), but how many can you answer without looking (be honest!)? Leave your answers in the comments if you want...
Items 1 and 2 are history questions; IMHO, you aren't worth your salt if you don't know your history (especially the answer for number 2; very relevant for the internet and networking). Number 3 shows how much said techie really knows about the underlying hardware of computation - or whether it is a "magic black-box" to them. They should be able to answer in affirmative number 4 if they got number 3 right. Numbers 5 and 6 show how dedicated they are to software development; there isn't necessarily a "correct" answer to these, but the answers might reveal interesting insights into their person. Finally, for number 7, if they answer anything but "I am always thinking about computers and/or computer problems, and how to solve them", you might want to find another candidate. Maybe it's a bit unfair, but typically the best in the tech world tend to be so dedicated to the craft, that to not be thinking about such is an anathema - it is almost completely unthinkable. I am sure more than a few here (perhaps even yourself) could rattle off all the answers to these questions without needing to google any of them; I don't consider any of them to be particularly difficult.
- Who was the first computer programmer, and what was she "famous" for (ie - importance to computer history)? (two possible answers here, only one of which is truly correct IMHO)
- Who was Claude Shannon, and why are his theories important today?
- What kind of minimal logic feature is necessary for the development of a Turing-complete machine?
- Can you describe (schematic) or build that feature, using simple mechanical components?
- Have you ever dreamed in code - and did your code compile after you awoke and implemented it?
- What's the lowest level form of programming you have done, and why did you need to do it?
- What are your hobbies? What do you think about when not thinking about computer problems?
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