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When is a beginner not a beginner?  RSS feed

 
Pete Letkeman
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First, I'm not too sure this is the correct place for this question/discussion. If you can think of a better place for it and you are able to move it then please do.

When is a beginner not a beginner?
I realize that there are many different areas and topics under the umbrella topic of Java, so in some respects we are all beginners in one area or another.

I have spent about 15 years programming in ASP Classic/VBScript, and I'm well aware of things like loops, database connections, HTML, decisions constructs, methods/functions and more.
That being said, generally speaking when I think of a solution to a problem, I don't think of it first in Java or maybe not at all in Java.
Yet I'm fairly certain I would not be at a total lost (maybe at 90% loss but not total), if I had to work on something like a JSP page/site.
Still I'm preparing for the OCA 1Z0-808 exam. I've got a few books, I write smaller programs (usually 100 lines or less) to test out things and more.

However there are much more Java savvy people out there like Campbell Ritchie, Liutauras Vilda, Tim Cooke and Roel De Nijs to name just a few who have been doing Java for some time and who I would not consider to be beginners.
I know that one cannot simply say that "if you are not Java certified you are still a beginner", or can they?
Even if someone is Java certified they may not be the best programmer out there so they could be a beginner (maybe?).

I also know that I should not compare my Java knowledge to other people listed in this post or to people who have just signed up to this site or anyone in between.
But I should compare my Java knowledge today to that of my Java knowledge of last week or two weeks ago etc.

So this leads me back to the somewhat ambiguous question of:
When is a beginner (in Java) not a beginner (in Java) anymore?

Please don't get be wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a beginner. We all started out printing something like "Hello World" to the screen or something along those lines.
And even if one is not a beginner, they can still learn and help out any manner of people on this site and else where if they choose to.
In fact, I think that when you help out someone, you learn and understand topics even better then previously sometimes.

I'm curious to know that your thoughts are on this.
 
Paul Clapham
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Pete Letkeman wrote:I know that one cannot simply say that "if you are not Java certified you are still a beginner", or can they?


I've been programming Java since about 2000 and I don't have any Java certifications. So, I'm not a beginner.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Paul Clapham wrote:I've been programming Java since about 2000 and I don't have any Java certifications. So, I'm not a beginner.

No Paul I would not say that you are a beginner.
I was not trying to imply this about anyone and I was defiantly not trying to insult anyone either.
My apologies if I did so in my initial post.
 
Tim Cooke
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Well shucks, you called me out by name I appreciate that. Thanks.

Like Paul, I too hold no Java certifications, yet I've managed to convince a handful of companies to pay me to develop Java applications for them for about a decade now.

When you say "generally speaking when I think of a solution to a problem, I don't think of it first in Java or maybe not at all in Java" I can't tell whether you are presenting this as a positive or a negative. Personally I see that as a positive because programming problems often are not programming language problems and the solutions can be applied in many languages.

Comparing yourself to others around you can be a really brutal exercise, I find. See, there's this thing called "Imposter Syndrome" where you view your peers as being much better and more accomplished than you and that you will for sure be uncovered as an imposter, a fraud, at any moment. I know many developers, and I mean quite senior and excellent developers, who feel this way. Perhaps it's the thing that drives you to get better, to 'catch up' if you like. Personally I try to focus on my own progress and worry little about what everyone else is doing. If I feel I'm learning and improving then I'm happy. Rarely, more like never, have I labelled myself as any level of competence in anything, even something as familiar as Java.

Talking about "Hello World": I still do that from time to time even now. For any new language I try out, the first thing to do is get "Hello World" working with nothing but a command line and Vim.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Tim Cooke wrote:Well shucks, you called me out by name  I appreciate that. Thanks.

Hey, you are welcome. Again it's not like I tried to insult anyone by not intentionally mentioning others. I know that there are many others on this site and in the world who know Java, but I did not want to spend too much time listing all of their names.
Tim Cooke wrote:When you say "generally speaking when I think of a solution to a problem, I don't think of it first in Java or maybe not at all in Java" I can't tell whether you are presenting this as a positive or a negative.

I would tend to lump this into, well maybe not the negative column, but defiantly not in the positive column either.

For someone who knows Java and thinks in Java they can get probably get started right away and they wouldn't have to research things like the Predicate interface or how to understand Lambdas.
They can just start typing and trying things out (after doing some planning), they know the classes or where to find the classes that do what they want to do (e.g. java.util.function for Predicate).
While, yes it is good to think of a problem in general terms. Usually one is hired as a Java programmer or something like that and your employer wants results.
Your employer may not want you to spend X hours working in Dot Net on a solution when all that they have in house of Java.
Yes, it is nice to know more then just one language/environment, as each has their own pros and cons.
But I think that thinking in terms of what Java can do for the problem at hand is the way to go when you are presented with a problem what your employer expects you to solve using Java.

Tim Cooke wrote:Comparing yourself to others around you can be a really brutal exercise

I know that I shouldn't do this, sometimes I do, other times I don't. When I do, I do try to do it the way that you mentioned, in that I try to catch up to person X as person X seems to be rather smart in that area.
I know that there will always be someone who is better then me at everything I do. Someone who can, for instance run the mile five or more seconds faster, or someone who can jump higher or longer or someone who can do Java programming better.
But, if I compare my self to them then I have something to strive for. However in the end, I know I should compare myself to myself as I stated originally in the first post.

So, as I suspected, even if you are not certified you may not be considered a beginner.
And if you are certified you still may be considered a beginner.

Which leads to, and maybe (probably) this can't be qualified:
When is a beginner not a beginner?
 
Liutauras Vilda
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I accidentally appear on some lists from time to time, Pete Thanks anyway...

To be brutally honest, I'm quite confident by saying - I'm least experienced among at least active moderators here at Ranch. When I say least, I have in mind quite a gap. But that is expected to me and normal, as I don't program decades as many here, but I'm doing steps forward - that's important, and even more important I think is, that those steps would be quality based down to their tiniest details.

I think everybody here mandates quality. And if one thinks, he/she can solve problems in an elegant way, so the code would be well readable, maintainable - I think that "beginner" stuff starts fade away.

Cha, Tim ironically said he managed to convince some companies, well, I too - just with little to no irony

Now, am I beginner programmer? Well, comparing to quite a few Ranch members - for sure! I have lots of stuff to learn, and I'm glad I found this community, where I can learn from senior Ranch members. There are a lot people out there who are not even moderators, but very experienced and respected for that.

Now, beginner/not beginner, you know, I'll say with one phrase which is written on one of the buildings in the country where I born, and it sounds like: "Everybody of us is an artist, but only artists know that".  It is a nice and with a deep thought phrase.

Did I say that I'm Java (OCA) certified? Who cares as we know by now. It isn't the thing, which can define something unambiguously about your experience.

Pete, keep up with your great recent contribution, such examples inspire thousands, so the community grows and builds a bigger picture.
 
Pete Letkeman
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:I think everybody here mandates quality. And if one thinks, he/she can solve problems in an elegant way, so the code would be well readable, maintainable - I think that "beginner" stuff starts fade away.

This sounds good to me.

I was not trying to get you or anyone to to think about themselves. And I know that cannot force you to do anything you don't want to do, especially from my little corner of the world.
This post
https://coderanch.com/t/683736/java/split-string-int-equal-halves#3208595
by Campbell Ritchie was what inspired me to think about this.
I know by many standards I'm a beginner, and I'm fine with that. Like I said Campbell Ritchie got me thinking about what a beginner is.

Thank you for your kind word Liutauras. For the most part I do try to put some thought into my posts and this short writing is exactly what I need to get better at. That and I need to get better at programming in Java.

I like your quote and it looks like it was first said by Joseph Beuys. I've attached an image as to what I think you were talking about, which I got from European Council of Artists' Facebook web site.
I could have linked directly to this Facebook URL, should I have? It is fairly clear where I got the image and such, isn't it? I don't want to break any copyright laws or anything like that.
everyone.jpg
[Thumbnail for everyone.jpg]
Everybody of us is an artist, but only artists know that
 
Tim Moores
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I know that one cannot simply say that "if you are not Java certified you are still a beginner", or can they?
Even if someone is Java certified they may not be the best programmer out there so they could be a beginner (maybe?).

On the subject of certifications I have some observations to share.

  • In the job markets I'm familiar with (Europe and USA), Java certs count for very little. Anyone hoping to get a boost on their CV by adding them will likely be disappointed. From following these forums for years it's clear that this is different elsewhere, like in South Asia.


  • Part of the reason they count for little may be a) that there is not infrequent cheating (anyone following these forums will be aware of that), and b) the exams cover some in-depth aspects of the language, but mastering those do not make anyone a well-rounded developer. Maybe one could call it the difference between programmer and developer. Simplifying a bit, they seem to teach writing functional code, but not necessarily good code, or scalable code, or concurrent code etc. There are some more advanced exams, but the ones people seem to take most frequently suffer from this (OCPJP, OCEJWCD)


  • So I would definitely not say that being Java certified makes someone a good programmer, or an advanced one. It's neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Tim Moores wrote:So I would definitely not say that being Java certified makes someone a good programmer, or an advanced one. It's neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.

    Yeah. And in some cases might be even suspicious if one has many certificates, as it may lead to think that person just concentrates on getting certified as much as possible to boost resume or so, but does he really knows how to program if he just keeps taking certificates on and on...
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    I do believe as Roel De Nijs stated here https://coderanch.com/t/683282/certification/Recognition-certs#3207437
    Roel De Nijs wrote:Your Java knowledge will definitely increase and you'll get a solid understanding of Java and OO basics.

    That is if you prepare for the certification properly and you do not cheat, or memorize the answers etc.
    However that was regarding certification notification in the marketplace and not necessarily about beginners.

    I'll accept that my initial question was somewhat ambiguous or ill defined.

    I also agree with Liutauras Vilda and Tim Moores, that certificates may not advance your career as much as you hope they would.
    Even if you have a certificate you could very well not be a good programmer.

    To me, personally, it does seem kind of strange to say that I am a beginner (which I know I am) yet I'm able to follow along with some posts and help out on some other posts at the same time.
    I feel almost as though I'm not telling the truth when I say I'm a beginner. 

    Edited, could not use the word which starts with d when talking about exams.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Interesting discussion, but I am not sure it shou‍ld count as “meaningless” nor “drivel”.
    I am not sure whether I am a beginner or not; having nearly thirteen years' experience in Java® means I shouldn't be a beginner, but I usually write research code or teaching code, so I am not used to producing commercial apps. I still make mistakes.
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:To me, personally, it does seem kind of strange to say that I am a beginner (which I know I am) yet I'm able to follow along with some posts and help out on some other posts at the same time.
    I feel almost as though I'm not telling the truth when I say I'm a beginner.

    But why to bother? If you see you can help - please do so. If you can't as don't know particular area - that is perfectly fine too. No need to consider yourself as a beginner if you don't know something from Java world. Somebody mentioned, programming isn't a particular programming language. Programming language is just a tool. Actual programming is your head and an ability to solve problems with it. And once it comes to the part when you actually need to use tool - you either choose tool which best suits to accomplish that particular task or tool you feeling most comfortable with or tool you have been told to use. You can't know all tools well, but you know used concepts behind them.

    So, if you have 15 years experience in programming, I wouldn't consider myself as a beginner, but again, who cares? Every company is looking for a person who either could accomplish tasks of their as of now, or looking for a person who they see could grow and be a good team member in a near future.

    For me too sounds mission impossible to say you are Mr. X are beginner and you Mr. Y are not. I don't think there is sharp edge for that. Yes, there are people who know wider set of tools, concepts - so they are more knowledgeable, but always there are betters out there who know even more. So who isn't a beginner? Which knows most? And all who below them are beginners? Or just a group of lower chain are considered beginners? See, the more further you go to forest, the more trees appear.

    Just forget that stuff and get move over it and do your stuff.

    Back to certificates. If there are almost 2 identical persons, one with certificate, and one without, probably safer choose is the one with certificate, but again - that would be verified instantly during most of the interviews and practical tests.

    Knowledge gained during preparation for certification can be helpful in answering some questions quickly over the phone (first interview), and maybe later, as you still get used to some sort of questions and can answer them way quicker than the one who never thought of them. So to say they are totally useless you can't, they certainly give you knowledge - but don't think they are panacea.
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:“meaningless”... I am a beginner

    Of course you are. Look at the Beginning Java forum moderators list, it says so. Probably for the past 10 years, might even more

    Fixed typo
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    Campbell Ritchie wrote:Interesting discussion, but I am not sure it shou‍ld count as “meaningless” nor “drivel”.

    I agree it's interesting and I do not know where this belongs on the forum. If someone who knows where this should go and has the ability to move it then please do so.
    Campbell Ritchie wrote:I still make mistakes.

    Everyone makes mistakes, even if it's only a typo. Hopefully when one makes a mistake they can accept that they have made a mistake and they can learn from it.
    Liutauras Vilda wrote:But why to bother?

    Everyone has their own internal dialog/voice which they have to deal with and it may be constructive or not. This happens to be mine when it comes to Java at the moment.
    Liutauras Vilda wrote:If you see you can help - please do so. If you can't as don't know particular area - that is perfectly fine too.... ...Just forget that stuff and get move over it and do your stuff.

    This is what I'm trying to do.
     
    salvin francis
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    Your post somehow reminds me of the Sorites paradox.

    A few points in retrospect...

    Is your code solving some real world problems and making life easier for others ?
    Is your code making your life easier ?

    If your answer is yes, then you are not a beginner by my standards.
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    salvin francis wrote:Your post somehow reminds me of the Sorites paradox.

    That is an interesting paradox.

    Do you recall when/how you came upon that before today? Was it in school or just happenstance? Not that it matters, I just thought it was interesting.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the matter salvin francis.

    I really do value your input and everyone input and I hope that doesn't sound hollow or anything like that.
     
    Paul Clapham
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    As I mentioned earlier, I started Java around 2000. So at that time I was a beginner in Java. One of the things I found pretty quickly was Sun's Java forums. (Historical note: Sun was the company which created Java; it was bought by Oracle several years ago.) I looked at them and quickly realized that with a little bit of study I could answer a lot of the questions which people were posting there. After all I wasn't a beginner in programming by any means.

    I learned a great deal about Java by answering questions on those forums -- sometimes my answers were wrong but that's a learning experience too. (To this day I still post wrong answers sometimes.) So I recommend answering questions on forums as an approach to learning -- it seems like you've noticed that too but you're maybe unsure about trying it.
     
    Pete Letkeman
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    Paul Clapham wrote:So I recommend answering questions on forums as an approach to learning -- it seems like you've noticed that too but you're maybe unsure about trying it.

    Great advice. I'm on the site throughout the day and I do same thing as you and answer questions, sometimes I answer incorrectly but then I try to learn from that.

    Going back to the reason of the first post, which was inspired by a post by Campbell Ritchie, I did not want to seem to be a fraud by saying that I was a beginner.
    Yes I am a beginner in Java, but I do have more then 15 years of computer programming (ASP Classic  and other languages).
    So I say I'm a beginner (100% true) but I can answer some advanced questions which other beginners may stumble with.
    And then if person X states "But you are a beginner so how could I know subject Y?". It's not that anyone hear would necessarily do that and everyone hear has been great to me thus far.

    Again my own internal voice/dialog doesn't always behave as I would like it to. So it comes back to some of my insecurities.
    I don't say this to get sympathy or anything like that, that just happens to be the way that I am thanks to experiences which have happened in the past.
     
    Campbell Ritchie
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:. . . Yes I am a beginner in Java, but I do have more then 15 years of computer programming . . .
    That is a bit like a lorry driver saying they are a beginner at driving lorries, but have many years' experience driving buses.

    I think I knew that before; you have mentioned it in other posts.
     
    Paul Clapham
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    Pete Letkeman wrote:Again my own internal voice/dialog doesn't always behave as I would like it to. So it comes back to some of my insecurities.


    You've probably heard the saying "On the Internet nobody knows you're a dog" ... and likewise you don't have to announce that you're a beginner, even if you are one. Just walk in and get to work. Sure, it's okay to say that you're unsure about something but you don't have to depict yourself as being unsure of everything.

    As for insecurities, imagine how I felt when I got an e-mail asking me to be a Ranch moderator. Me... a person who made a career out of never being promoted but just surfing the changes in computer system development? Really? But then I realized that I could do that. And here I am.
     
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