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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 9:08 am 
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Hello all,

For the first time, I have taken the entire summer off from "normal" work to do web development in php. I've got a great gig in my hometown, and I'm loving all the free time. However, my boss's codebase is BAD. It's not just procedural code, but mixed in with HTML and not logically grouped at all. I want to upgrade his codebase, and start some good business practices, but I can't help feeling that I'm moving a little too fast for that company. I am reading a ton of stuff online about enterprise php, test driven development, domain driven design, etc., and I would love to be working with people that were likeminded. I want to be able to bounce my ideas off people, and have sensible standards to follow so I'm not completely in the dark when developing larger and larger applications.

The thing is, web design has always been a hobby for me. I'm a senior psychology major at a small liberal arts school, and their CS program is crap. Not to mention I'd have to learn another language, since they don't offer PHP classes (Java wouldn't be bad, but at least give me Ruby or something?). I would love to get more advanced with PHP, but I feel like all the serious developers are looking for CS students with years of OOP theory under their belt. Maybe that's not even something you can learn in school, I don't know... but I feel like my expertise is growing the more I write and study this stuff, and I feel like I need to structure what I'm learning, either with a serious design firm or with a good CS education. Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Cory


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:16 pm 
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Hi Cory. Clearly nobody but you can assess what would be right for you, but it's a good idea to ask for outside perspectives. Would I be correct in interpreting your situation as that of coming to the realization that what you've been studying for the past 4 years is not what you want to do in life? That's a crushing realization, to be sure. With unlimited time and resources, your best option, in my opinion, would be to get a formal CS education, but at this late stage in your school life, that's a big price to pay. Furthermore, it's always possible that, by the time you spent several more years studying CS, you could find that it's not your real ambition, either! Hobby programming is one thing, a career is something else. A lot depends on what your options are, over the next several years. If you're living at home with parental financial support, you might choose a different path than if you have to earn your living the next few years.

What are the chances that you could capitalize on your knowledge in the two fields? Maybe find a job with an organization that specializes in web sites or databases related to psychology? There are organizations that conduct psychology tests and I would imagine that having someone with some web and database skills who also understands the underlying testing methodology would be quite attractive. I don't know quite how you would go about identifying such organizations, but it's something you could explore, perhaps online or at your local library (a good reference librarian can be a tremendous help in making "connections").

I wish you good luck in beginning your career.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:54 pm 
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:52 pm 
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I would recommend that you go for a CS degree. You will learn many useful things that you will not soon come across, even if the program is "crap" as you say. Learning the theory and even Java will be of some benefit, but having the degree will enable to be considered by companies that have teams of like-minded developers. Since you started by complaining about that, I assume that your goal is more rewarding work environment and projects.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 4:36 pm 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:21 am 
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Just wanted to share-- I came across a graduate program at the University of Michigan: the School of Information. They have a 48 credit hour masters program with specialties in Human-Computer Interaction, Information Analysis and Retrieval, Social Computing, among others, as well as allowing you to specialize in your own areas. I'm pretty sure some of their programming classes are in PHP as well, though Java or Ruby wouldn't be bad. I'm definitely going to consider going there next year. I don't think there is a comparable program in Michigan.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:32 am 
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If you want to improve the way you develop software rather than just the way you develop PHP scripts, you will have to learn other languages. There are some things that you'll just never experience with only PHP - developing things that work in real time, threading, GUI development (although that is technically possible with the PHP-GTK+ bindings), compiling, low level systems interaction, how computers do things - they're all significant areas that are interesting and fun to learn about, and, most importantly, areas that will teach you things that you can then apply to the PHP code you write to make it better.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:47 am 
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I've had people tell me that before... I think I would really like to learn Ruby, I just don't know when I'll have time. I have been hesitant to learn another language I think because PHP has such a low barrier to entry, and I feel like I can be competitive with it, but other "real" programming languages seem to require more of a technical background than I have. I do find it all very interesting though, and am always looking to learn more and become a better programmer.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:39 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2008 1:06 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:15 pm 
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