computer scientists, which is the best school?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by jefhatfield, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #1
    i have my own computer repair business and sometimes i tutor people or even teach a class...and have at times been asked to teach at the junior college

    i have been trying to transfer business school units taken in grad school over to computer science mating the two disciplines, but i am also open to just taking a pure techie degree

    right now, i am looking at 4 schools

    NYU Online - a business and computer MS degree which focuses on telecommunications management and is equally computer science/engineering and general business...cost is a about 30 grand but school is incredibly well known and regarded worldwide

    Golden Gate University Online (northern california) - same type of MS degree as NYU but local, to me, and half the price but school is mostly known in business circles

    University of California, Santa Cruz Online (northern california) - computer engineering degrees (MS and PhD) - this degree focuses entirely on the techie side of things and incorporates no business course work...the school is most well known for its liberal arts but again is only half the price as NYU

    California State University, Monterey Bay on campus in my town(northern california) - same type of MS degree as the NYU and also local, and one sixth the price of NYU...this school was not on my list but it just got accredited since the doors of the school opened relatively recently

    ...all degrees can be used towards a PhD ...however UCSC is the only one where no units will be lost and where the MS and PhD degrees meld right into each other and are most related to computer science in a more specialized way where as the other school's programs have more a non specific emphasis on computers and focus on corporate leadership or entrepreneurship within the computer industry

    now if price was not a factor here, i would naturally choose NYU but if i do, i know i can only do so with a stafford loan through my local bank who will help me through the process...i have met top shelf school graduates (harvard, stanford, nyu, etc) bitch about the endless monthly payments on their student loan but i have heard others say it was the best thing they ever did, even with all the sacrifices the extra time and money this type of school can require

    thoughts??
     
  2. legion macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    How do you expect this degree to help your future? This isn't an attack on your desire to go to school (which is commendable) but once you graduate, who are the individuals that will be looking at your education on your resume and what will they prize most? It's a fairly important question since today "computer scientists" is a really broad term and the opinions of working professionals in whichever field you intended to enter are really the only important ones.

    Since you mentioned a lot of No. Cal. schools, I wonder why you aren't investigating UC Berkeley. Top programming schools today would be MIT, Caltech, UC Berkeley, Stanford, UIUC, Carnegie Mellon (pretty much any of the supercomputing centers as long as you had an advisor with matching interests) I'm guessing you have an MBA (from the business credits); grad school for Computer Engineering is more about matching advisor to advisee interests so visiting the department and talking to the professors is important. In the end, if you have a well-known advisor, his credentials will carry you further than your school's name (plus in the last few years, many of the top people have switched schools and/or gone into or out of the business sector.)

    I wouldn't be worrying about finding a degree that integrates Business into computing. Since you already have a MBA, your business credentials are covered. "Business + computing" is a business degree; "computing + business" is every computing degree today due to a "that's where the money is" sense at universities.


    My 2cents as someone who finished grad school in the computer sciences (computational neural/programming) 6 years ago ;)
     
  3. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #3
    for my teaching, i can get a better rate for teaching with an MS or PhD in the computer science department/computer networking section/hardware section...about half the teachers in this field in my area have only a BA/BS

    in my job, all computer hardware and software knowledge i get through degrees and certifications cannot hurt though it is hard for any school to teach what is in the field on a daily basis since things change very fast

    cal berkeley is a great school, as is stanford, but at this time, neither have an online program which i could work around my business and i am not willing to take time off from my clientele since they are my bread and butter...i do know harvard has a master's degree in computer science online but i have not looked into that particular program yet in detail

    but if cal berkeley and stanford do offer distance learning in computer related subjects in the future, i will look into them...i do like the schools that are near me so i can use their resources if needed and get advisement and mentoring if needed at the location even though distance learning is the main idea here

    of course, if someone like NYU, which is 3000 miles away from me, accepted me and it meant me never setting foot on that campus, i would still be incredibly honored to be affiliated with such a world class organization's distance learning program ...same for harvard which is also about the same distance away from me
     
  4. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #4
    so legion, or anyone else...in the context of the four schools, three distance learning schools and the fourth being csumb in my town which is in class stuff, who of the four schools looks the most attractive?
     
  5. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #5
    so no computer science students out there with an opinion?

    since it's not what i studied in my undergrad studies, i have to admit i am clueless as to what is my best choice for a school in the four i carefully picked out...i know the real world of computers, but i also know that is a far cry from how things go with computer studies in a school setting and what they have to offer

    one friend of mine who teaches cs on ms/phd level thinks that school is so far in a different direction than application, that computer science studies are only good for making computer science teachers, but i don't think it's that black and white:p
     
  6. legion macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I don't know any graduates from any of the programs you've mentioned, so I can't give you a first-hand opinion. However, the UC school system in CS is fairly good, plus you wouldn't loose any credits and you'd (one way or another) have access to the rest of the UC school system's resources outside of Santa Cruz.

    As for grad school CS... I wouldn't say it's particulary good to "make teachers" but it defintely is research oriented (more pure science theory than immediate commercial application.) Then again, pretty much all science grad programs are like that and are really helpful to let new graduates get their feet wet in their chosen field (plus it just helps to build your cv)
     
  7. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #7
    I'd very much like to help you, jefhatfield, so I read each of these posts multiple times and gave it some thought.

    After trying to put myself in your shoes, here's my ranking:

    1. UC Santa Cruz Online. Price is OK. Prestige is good. Focus is tech. PhD can most easily follow. No units lost.

    2. CSU Monterey Bay. Price is great. Prestige is OK. Focus is business and tech. The benefits of an in-person campus are not quantifiable, but shouldn't be discounted. Example: The chance to make business connections through professors, department staff, and other students. But, being new, this program is more likely than others to have growing pains and technical problems (staffing, materials, unpredictable class sizes, etc.).

    3. Golden Gate University Online. Price is OK. Prestige is OK. Focus is business and tech.

    4. NYU Online. Price is prohibitive. Prestige is great. Focus is business and tech.

    My reasoning: Paying double for increased prestige is not to your benefit as much as having any masters degree from any university. You have both the business and technical background to succeed in any program. You've said before that a Ph.D. would not be out of your sights. Tech studies would be more immediately practical than business+tech because (1) you work and teach tech and (2) tech changes the fastest, as you say, so it's an area in which furthering your studies can pay off most in both practical and intellectual ways.

    On balance, the in-person campus (CSUMB) almost had the edge, but a newly accredited program isn't going to be smoothly run, so I gave UCSCO the edge.
     
  8. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #8
    i thank you for your well thought out inputs

    here are a few points i have been able to get from research on this journey ;)

    1) UCSC...................i just met a person who got his online education through the university of california santa cruz extended education and he chose to attend the classes via satellite and through instructor led lectures...he highly recommends it so i have a personal recommnedation now from an alum :)

    this program selects their professors based on the latest current knowledge of a subject and will utilize a person with only a bachelor's or a degree in a completely different field if they are better than some computer science phd who is not up on the new stuff...their claim is that they have the best person possible for that particular programming language flavor of the month...and they go through teachers faster than baywatch did with bombshells to ensure the latest and greatest thing and most of their teachers are working in a field directly related to what they teach

    this is a new approach for the university of california system and it seems to work well for them...originally after the gold rush years in california and in later decades, this growing state had a great need for higher education and the greatest shortage that was to be projected in the future were college professors and secondary school teachers...the university of california rose to meet that specific challenge

    as the state prospered into the next century and after world war II, there was a need to step down the theory and train a vocational and technical workforce and the state university system got started on that philosophy...they did not want to compete with the educational and reseach goals of the university of california system, so they insured their existence by being less rigorous and more career oriented

    2) POLITICS AND SEX WITHOUT THE SEX...................to this day, the inevitable political climate of both systems are very evident in their administrations and student body with the state university being more conservative and the uc system being more liberal...many equate berkeley's liberalism with the vietnam war but it has always been this way with the university of california...even ultra liberal uc santa cruz had a huge fight with the conservative farming town it decided to come down onto...since then, santa cruz has been dominated by a very left wing presence in its citizens and city council

    all that being said, i am politically moderate and i do not care what political leanings a school has and at this point, i am only interested in learning my craft to a better level to be able to know my stuff, and then serve my customers, and probably in that order since it is what grad school demands of its students

    3) RESEARCH FOR THE GLORY OF THE FIELD................my friend who went through the uc santa cruz progam liked it very much and he specialized in java programming and he also wants to get an industry certification from sun microsystems and when he has both his degree and certification together, he will embark on further studies on java by himself

    this gave me an insight into how involved programming could be on a postgraduate level for just one language and he already has a job as a teacher so he just did this for a challenge since it was the hardest thing he could think of studying in the computer field and he knew almost nobody ever really can master that language easily

    at the postgraduate level, i can see how the intensity of any subject needs the student to be into it for just the pure study of it and not look to it as a way to get a job since this is more than technical, vocational, or a glorified finishing school which some BA/BS programs seem to be

    i saw this trend when i was in high school in the 70s and there were some experimental classes designed at preparing the student for the real world and teaching skills like balancing checkbooks over pure mathematical theory, and pairing up one girl and one boy for every student and making a "married couple" go through the semester paying bills and balancing a home budget as opposed to a microeconomics class, etc and this was the beginning of what i saw as a hands on teaching method as opposed to studying compartmentalized disciplines for the theory of it

    my phd mentor who got his phd up in oregon, but now teaches down here, had a friend who studied a language and developed it further and went broke doing it...the computer science field is much richer with LISP and this was his goal and money never played into the equation...i have heard of and met some linux folks up in the bay area and santa cruz (south bay) who even went to far as to be insulted to get paid well and it fit their leftist and marxist views but though i am not a fan of all out consumerism and monopolitistic behavior like microsoft, i cannot admit to being a computer knowledge purist for the good of mankind...and i do not picture myself getting deep enough into the field to honestly be able to "help" makind in any significant way in the field of computers :p
     
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #9
    Unless the curriculum requires it, you don't have to get heavily into any particular computer science subject to get a master's degree. You can sample a range of courses on different topics, from automata theory to programming, from networking to computer ethics. But, chances are, you will have an area of special interest. And that lets you get more deeply into that topic.

    Even as you study in your ivory tower, you may find new inroads into the job market. Professors who you get to know (which is easiest in person, of course) may be looking for research assistants and they often have one foot in industry themselves. You may or may be interested in such opportunities.

    I really wish you luck with your continuing education. All of us in the computer industries have to learn constantly, just to keep up (like the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass), but university studies really let you expand your breadth without the requirement that everything you study be immediately practical.
     
  10. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #10
    of the many programs i have seen, telecommunications management master's degrees and e-commerce master's degrees seem to be broad brush generalist degrees still with an eye on immediately practical applications and seem to be taken out of the page of an undergraduate program and seem ideal for those who didn't touch the subject of computers in their undergraduate years

    the graduate programming and software development courses, and also hardware engineering, are geared towards one of two things...either preparing one for a phd or specializing in a field perfect for the foundation for a theoretical thesis...to basically move the field forward for the field's sake

    from what i have seen in silicon valley in the last 25 years are non computer science majors dominating the field because it's a way to make a living and most everybody i have seen who succeeded in this field fell into it...it kind of reminds me of actors in hollywood who fell into it as opposed to having come from 4 year degrees in acting...life would be more fair if the actors who are in hollywood made it first through having attended acting school in college for four to six years, but as luck and fate would have it, there are too many stories of people who never really gave a second thought to developing acting skills on a collegiate level, but maybe had a connection or had the looks or personality to become a hollywood star

    i have also seen this with successful artists with the majority not coming from the ranks of BFAs and MFAs

    but that being said, i find equal merit in broad generalist job training grad degrees and specialist theoretical grad degrees because whether it's increased commerce or increased knowledge as the dominant factor, people are helped in the process as the world progresses in technology and commerce which will overwhelmingly be good for humanity
     
  11. Engagebot macrumors regular

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    #11
    I'm a 4th year computer science student at Louisiana State University

    For us, Computer Science is the hardcore programming/software development side. no business stuff or anything like that.

    We have ISDS, which is the pre-IT type field, but the problem is, they dont really teach any good computer classes. some basic HTML, java, networking, and stuff like that is all you get. The more broad computer majors now seem to teach a lot of different things, but nothing well enough to go back to school for.
     
  12. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #12
    thanks for the input, engagebot

    i have looked at the different philosophies of a broad business computer science approach and a strict coding and software developement approach and i think the IT field will grow again and be able to use both types of people who will be managers or software developers

    but there are also the downsides of both in the business world of computing

    for the computer business types, there are always companies who often favor cpas and mba/number cruncher types to take those positions who may know nothing about computers...this is all too common and imho, not the best approach

    in recent years there have been increasing outsourcing of software development to india, china, and russia and i have seen some excellent coders from these countries and there is the fear that software programming jobs will ported out of the country to the point that it will be tomorrow's textile industry (which was decimated in the usa in favor of cheaper offshore labor)

    i like the idea of learning all types of skills for my business and even if there are skills i learn which i never use, that is also ok, too

    as for programming languages, i dabbled in java and visual basic and hope to do some html and c++ but i don't really see myself offering custom programming as a part of my services...my biggest competitor in town does have a person who will make up websites or custom apps for businesses, but their bread and butter is computer repair and network troubleshooting
     
  13. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #13
    If you don't mind, I'll continue babbling in case it produces something of value to you!

    I think there's not much of a practical use to knowing "a little bit" of Java or Visual Basic. You either know enough to maintain an application, or create one, or you don't. As part of a jack-of-all-trades set of skills you might want to have, it never hurts to understand a technology and take the mystery out of it, but if you don't plan to sell programming services, an emphasis on programming seems less useful. I don't see why anybody would start a new project with C++ these days. Using C++ may improve performance over Visual Basic or Java (even with Java's "just-in-time" compilation), but the cost of an application depends more on human resources than on CPU cycles and Java is less error-prone during development than C++.

    I wouldn't lump HTML skills in with programming skills for two reasons. First, learning more about web page creation on your own may be just as good as a university course, whereas programming really can benefit from formal study.

    Second, practically anything you do for a client could involve presenting results nicely as a set of web pages (instructions, documentation, or even your invoice!), so you ought to know how to crank out good looking pages with whatever tools you like. (You probably already do.) Call that level of skill Level 0.

    Level 1, the next step up, is to know how to plug in features that you don't code yourself. Examples: server-side scripts (e.g., using perl) written by others; tools like Front Page that uses Windows-specific server features; the Javascript that Dreamweaver can produce with a few clicks.

    Level 2: Know how to create back-end applications with front-end web interfaces with applications like FileMaker Pro.

    Level 3: Program complete applications yourself with a full-scale programming language.

    My point? Just because you don't plan to get to Level 3 doesn't mean you can't dabble in Levels 1 and 2.
     
  14. csubear macrumors 6502a

    csubear

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    #14
    Well this is just my thoughts

    I think that if you want a better idea of how things work you should go for a masters in computer enginerring. but.. you would need some undergrad background in electrical enginerring. but i think you would get a better view on how things work. i might be a little bias. :) Taking computer science without a proper background on how things work is like the mechincal enginerrer who skiped physics. Sure he can tell you all the forumals, and maybe even build some neat stuff, but he will never be able to tell you how this stuff works..

    well i am rambling...
     
  15. Engagebot macrumors regular

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    #15
    No problem.

    As far as what everyone tells us at LSU, the computer science degree with a minor in business or ISDS (IT) is supposedly a better way to go than the other way around. Just depends on what exactly the school is teaching (and who you ask!).

    its kind of funny, i see tshirts all over the place in my classes that have this calculus equation written on the back:
    limit (as GPA -> 0.0) of (computer science) = (ISDS)
     
  16. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #16
    Re: Well this is just my thoughts

    i totally hear you csubear ;)

    today's network engineers often have a credential like a certification such as an mcp, mcse, ccna, cne, etc and when i was in tech school our teacher said the network engineers of his time all had bsee's or bsel degrees and they had to know skills such as soldering, physics, and higher mathematics...then one day he and his cronies got replaced by mcse's without degrees...but times have changed and the bar is considerably lower...however many certified techs, about half of them according to vb magazine, have some sort of bachelor's degree but many not in the technical fields...like me and many have found that a technical certification pays more than most degrees anyway

    many computer science graduates today spend some time on math and physics classes, but the generation of programmers before them often possessed a math degree and had a good handle on physics since it was the norm and many had a master's in some form of engineering like the ee/el set as well as mechanical, civil, structural engineering degrees, etc and knew their math very well

    i had a friend who is a programmer/cs teacher who has his "old school" professor buddy teach the physics behind programming and artificial intelligence and his lectures were way over these student's heads since few had that type of a background, but in the old days his high end physics and mathematics were understood by the average computer science student

    today, we have processors that do all of the math, but in the days before math co-processors, people had to do a lot of the tedious and very hard stuff themselves...ip routes were determined using decision science and game theory, among other things, to figure out the best way to route an ip packet...today, we have switches and routers and all that business

    many graduate programs in computer related topics today don't require the candidate to have a math, physics, or electrical/electronic engineering bachelor's degree...but this was very common in the past and as time goes on, i think we can have great advances in the computer field from some math phobic people

    as my mentor put it, what was once tied in with mathematics will now take an artist to come up with a better mousetrap...accounting was considered a science, but now due to it increasing complexity, accounting is called an art...but that does not mean its too "out there" as some high end CEO friends of some presidents and ex-presidents found out the hard way:p
     
  17. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #17
    being on the hardware side of things, i will only plan on level 1 and 2 in the coding specialties...i will hire a pure coder if i need those sets of skills and sometimes a client wants artwork via photoshop and illustrator...i will learn some of those basics if i have the time, but i outsource the graphics stuff to my wife who has a bfa in the subject and 20 yrs experience with fortune 500s

    the best thing i learned about having employees is to staff to my weaknesses

    and computers and clients??, well, with its growth and specialty in so many areas, makes it key to stick to one of three main areas...hardware, software apps, software programming ...if a person has the time they should have an overview, some business knowledge, and a specialty within of one of the three main areas...i don't think anybody could master all major areas and maintain a business and keep it functioning well
     
  18. csubear macrumors 6502a

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  19. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #19
    thanks csu ;)

    i have so much respect for computer students who make programming (or related stuff) their main entree

    when i was a freshman, the data processing students at my school (forerunners to the computer science students) took fortran, pascal, cobol, basic, assembly language, and machine language and many other students took one of these as a general ed class or elective

    fifteen or more years later i saw all this fuss about dos, html, perl, unix, and C

    now i see visual basic, java, and C++ and the local colleges around me seem to teach these three exclusively

    i wonder what it will look like five years from now

    what is most interesting is that the best people i have seen as programmers don't speak english or speak very bad english and one of the professors i had to take speaks with a very heavy french accent and it is murder for me...his class was in danger of being closed so he had me sign up since he's my friend and i was trampled like carolina prolly will at the superbowl...he he...the programming path for programmers and engineers was C++, advanced C++, visual basic, and then java and strictly in that order

    i can't think of something so confusing as into being tossed into java as a first real sight of what programming is about taught by a teacher who can't pronounce vowels correctly:p :p :p
     
  20. Engagebot macrumors regular

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    #20

    hahahaha! you have no idea...

    but yeah, at LSU we start with a few C classes, then take a break for some assembly, then back to object oriented either C++ or Java (depending on which you choose). Our last little bit is web-related VB.net, javascript, xml, and asp. we're supposed to be phasing in a cocoa/unix class too, but i'll be gone by then :(
     
  21. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #21
    That's part of the fun! I had one physics teacher who was speaking English with such a strong middle eastern accent that I didn't realize it was English until the 2nd or 3rd day. And I had one computer science teacher, who became a good friend, who talked with a strong lisp so we really had to concentrate hard when listening to him. (No, he didn't teach us LISP programming. Shame on you for even thinking of such a bad joke! :) ) I have coworkers who are not native English speakers and it adds to the chances to miscommunicate when working as a team. Over the long run, these problems lessen, not worsen, as we get used to, and learn to cope with, the mixtures of people working together.
     
  22. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #22
    Some computer industry prognosticators think that software devolopment will be ported overseas and the future is in hardcore brick and mortar engineering and networking and computer hardware engineering. Others think hardware is passe due to competing lower costs for gear and that the future lies in programming, especially for custom-made applications.

    My opinion: Generalizations are always wrong, of course, but both sides have a point. Programming is being sent to the lowest bidder, overseas, whenever it can be commoditized. The definition of that class constantly evolves. The sets of jobs that leave and don't leave town are constantly evolving. Database-based application programming used to be a speciality - now if you can define what you want, you can buy it cheap from $10/hr programmers, especially if it is based on Microsoft's favored language of the month, e.g., VB, Visual C++, or now .net and C#. What's left? Design work for an overall system. Work that requires frequent face-to-face work with the clients/customers. And the most creative programming where you are inventing an application while programming it and couldn't really separate the task into Step 1 (write down specs) and Step 2 (code it).

    What that says is that entry-level programming jobs will be harder to find domestically but that if you somehow get experience under your belt and move up to more expert levels, your skills will still be in demand.

    The way to get rich in programming isn't to sell your mind and fingers by the hour. It's to create something that pays off continuously ever after. Is that easy? No. It takes an ability to see what's needed before others do, somebody to market what you've created, and plenty of luck to write that killer app everyone will want. Tinkering with a product to sell upgrades is a lot simpler than getting started with a new product in a new market. I'm not saying that you have to be a one-man shareware author to succeed. You could just as well be part of a company that makes good profits off of excellent software.

    Hardware is another issue and I'm not so sure how the world is changing in that regard. For maintenance, it's hard to beat having a local hardware guy, in-house or down the block, when you have a system to maintain. Networking is a job that's sometimes entirely cerebral (configuring a router, tracking down an intruder) and sometimes hands-on down and dirty (cabling, board-level work). It's hard to outsource a little bit of it, so it's usually all (somebody else runs your network) or nothing (you run your network).

    For hardware design and all its facets, the work can go on anywhere there are talented people. And manufacturing will always be determined by price/performance, which includes the extremely high costs of setting up a facility.
     
  23. jefhatfield thread starter Retired

    jefhatfield

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    #23
    in pacific grove, ca i knew a man involved in car transportation and his neighbor was a math teacher who programmed for a hobby and together they came up with a product for gas pumps and it has done relatively well and they sell their product for $3500 or so (maybe more now) and gas stations everywhere use it today

    in the same city, there was a professor who came up with an operating system he almost sold to ibm but was outsmarted by bill gates (so what else is new ;) ) but he made a nice profit but he could have made much much more and he got depressed from "what could have been" and ended up dead after a barfight nearby in one of his drunken depressed tirades...his girlfriend was in college with me and it really made me hate gates for years

    i had a friend who was a translator interpreter who got together with his real estate buddy and they tried to write a translation program and sell it but it did not have a real market then...today, there is a market and the big companies jumped on this concept because they knew when it was likely to be sold...when i worked as a tech salesman at office depot, people bought translation programs all the time

    another acquaintance of mine who is a hardware tech tried to design a game which was very funny but adult in nature but it didn't sell very well but he got good coverage in the local news:p
     
  24. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #24
    Here's a Computerworld report on the sad state of domestic programming jobs.
     

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