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[Discuss] learn or teach programs

markw at writes:

> <rant or not>
> I have an issue with trying to get people to program or develop software.
> You don't see lawyers saying we need more lawyers. You don't see many
> professions trying to actively recruit people.
> People who want to program gravitate toward it. They don't need help.
> Conversely, people who have neither interest nor aptitude won't do it no
> matter what.
> Personally, and maybe a little selfishly, our profession could use fewer
> engineers who could have just as easily been MBAs to make room for hackers
> who could change the world.
> </rant>

Well, I wouldn't be too concerned about this program:

`Try the "date" command now: find out what
date it is, and after the computer has responded, type "ready".
And don't forget the RETURN!

I think more in terms of hobbiest users. These days I often see people
in forums who came to Linux via Ubuntu and never had exposure to a Unix
command prompt at university or at a job. Some of them have heard of the
command line and want to learn more about it. There are lots of web
pages and books they could read, but I happened on this program and
thought it was a shame it wasn't fully available on modern systems. If
nothing else, sooner or later an enthusiast may be told that The Unix
Programming Environment is a good book and, assuming he or she can get
past the talk of # as the "erase character" or the mention of terminals
and dial up modems, he or she will read, "your system may have a command
called learn..." I just think it would be nice if that were still
true. And I have to admit to a bit of the "village green preservation
society" thinking when it comes to software, at least software on
UNIX-like systems. So, for instance, I found myself slightly pissed off
when this happened:

$ perldoc perltoot
PERLTOOT(1)           User Contributed Perl Documentation

       perltoot - This document has been deleted

I'm not particularly interested in how Linux, the BSDs or other free
software relate to industry... well, except for occasionally wishing I
could use them in my job instead of MS Windows. But I try to squelch
that kind of thinking when it pops up. Thinking about the industry in
general doesn't lead me to very pretty or happy thoughts, so I try to do
as little of it as possible.

I'm not sure why you're concerned with those of us who aren't stellar
programmers or how we interfere with hackers' job prospects. It's not
been my experience that we take any jobs a hacker would be happy in. For
instance, are you really dieing to convert the MFC and COM parts of a
billing application to the same thing except with those layers done with
Winforms/C# and C++/CLI? Or are you saying if people like me weren't out
there the people with money would be forced to turn to the hackers and
these kinds of technologies wouldn't proliferate? Maybe, but are there
that many hackers?

But really I'm mostly only curious if anyone knows more about the
history of these programs. The, "this really should be in debian,"
sentiments I probably should have left out (hmmm, among other
things). Maybe I'll look in FreeBSD's repository and ask on the panix
news groups when I get back to this. Or maybe I should just shut up.

Mike Small
smallm at

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