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The Parish Hall => The Geek Forum => Topic started by: Basilios on November 13, 2013, 12:30:06 PM

Title: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 13, 2013, 12:30:06 PM
I'm thinking about going back to University to get a proper degree. Second time lucky. I'm leaning heavily towards a BSc in Computer Science or Software Engineering. Can anybody tell me a bit about it. Specifically I'm thinking about the Maths behind it. I was very good at Maths in High School but only the algebra side. I was pathetic at geometry (mainly because I hated it). However I did end up with an A in Maths anyway. I was also very good at Physics and ended up with a B+. My original plan was to study Engineering. Unfortunately, I was a year young for my grade with a late birthday which meant that I had to make the decision at 16 to decide what I wanted to study... and being an idiot, and wanting an easy ride and the life of alcohol and drugs that I was already quite into, I settled for Journalism and Philosophy. Ultimately not a bad idea because I did well in Philosophy and my degree helped me back into the faith (with the help of a good Catholic Thomist in the department).

Anyway, since I find myself unemployed and bored with the crappy jobs I am getting, with no foreseeable career in site thanks to a useless degree and a year in a monastery (which most employers seem to think is just a place of navel gazing idiocy for zealots with no life skills) I have the opportunity (thanks to very caring and successful parents) to go and do another degree. CompSci looks like a good idea. I enjoy working with computers, and I took CompSci 101 in my second year of University and got a 1st class pass (not sure how that translates into GPA but basically it's the best mark you can get).

I am just worried that I won't manage with the Maths side of things since I've been out of school for 5 years and mainly humanities focussed since then. I mean, I can still do sums (duh) but I'm deathly afraid that my 5 year gap has made my brain mushy.

So really, just looking for experiences from anybody with similar qualifications or knowledge in the field!

Thanks :-)
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Jayne on November 13, 2013, 12:43:16 PM
Both my husband and oldest son are software engineers.  My husband's experiences are long enough ago that they may not be relevant (and he is a math genius so he might not recognize difficult maths) but my son graduated relatively recently.  We can probably arrange for you to get in touch with him, if you would like.

Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 13, 2013, 01:02:17 PM
Both my husband and oldest son are software engineers.  My husband's experiences are long enough ago that they may not be relevant (and he is a math genius so he might not recognize difficult maths) but my son graduated relatively recently.  We can probably arrange for you to get in touch with him, if you would like.

Thanks Jayne. Maybe you could just ask him - "How hard is the math? Will someone who was very good at algebra be able to cope after 5 years?"

You're a star  :D

Edit: the only reason I don't wanna go through the trouble of making definite contacts yet is that this is still just an idea. I have 2-3 careers/good jobs in the works too, and I would start in Sept 2014 so a lot could happen. Really I'm just making inquiries right now into everything so I can make a good choice.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Kaesekopf on November 13, 2013, 03:57:08 PM
I have a large number of friends who majored in computer science/software engineering.  I too can put you in touch with them (they are also traditional Catholics). 

The math from my college's CS degree entails:
Calculus
Discrete and Combinatorial Algebra
Probability and Statistics
and some other math electives you can choose.

It's not terribly hard, from what I've seen.  I've taken Prob and Stats, and I'm no math genius. 
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Jayne on November 13, 2013, 05:00:05 PM
Here is my son's answer:
Quote
The math is hard.  I didn't do any geometry, but there is algebra, calculus, combinatorics and optimization, and differential equations. These built on eachother and were necessary for control systems, logic, and algorithm courses. We also took stats, managerial science (accounting mostly), and physics (electrical, kinematic, dynamic, and astro (but I think that was an elective)) courses that relied on high level math. These were more about well rounded education than actual softeng specific courses.

This is all for engineering which emphasized well roundedness. I think that a more specialized compsci degree may require less mandatory high level math (I'm sure there would still be low level, but that may be less of an issue).
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Aquila on November 14, 2013, 10:47:57 AM
EE major in progress here. Programming doesn't take a ton of advanced math skills. You will probably only have to take Calculus I at the most; however you will definitely have to get good at algebra and statistics (and you may need Calc II depending on the statistics....). You will probably take a course in matrix theory as well (which isn't that hard from what I understand).

Basically, programming is just thinking logically and paying attention to little details. It's no harder than learning a foreign language. I am an EE but I know a decent amount of C and a bit of Python.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: The Harlequin King on November 14, 2013, 11:21:51 AM
I went back to school recently to learn computer programming. Even though it's just community college, I've found the introductory math harder than anything I ever did for my history degree. I'm pretty much just limping along.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 14, 2013, 12:14:26 PM
Oooh thank you for all the responses so far!

I am not too sure whether I feel encouraged or discouraged  :laugh: :doh:

I'll have a think again and speak to my mama and get back to you all again. I'm so freakin' scared of not being able to do the Math oh lawdy.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Aquila on November 14, 2013, 02:02:06 PM
I went back to school recently to learn computer programming. Even though it's just community college, I've found the introductory math harder than anything I ever did for my history degree. I'm pretty much just limping along.

This guy is absolutely gold for math help. He has published over 2000 short videos covering Algebra through Calc III, Trig, Statistics, etc. In my opinion he's the best math teacher I have ever seen, and way better than Salman Khan or anyone else I've seen on the Internet. I believe he is a grad student at UTA.

http://patrickjmt.com/

Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Aquila on November 14, 2013, 02:04:15 PM
Oooh thank you for all the responses so far!

I am not too sure whether I feel encouraged or discouraged  :laugh: :doh:

I'll have a think again and speak to my mama and get back to you all again. I'm so freakin' scared of not being able to do the Math oh lawdy.

I was terrible at math in elementary and high school. I did two years of general humanities courses after HS since I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I chose engineering since I like technology and it's a good career. The key thing is to just get over the mental math block. There is a deep prejudice that "Math is hard/for nerds/is not cool" in the USA. Once you overcome the cultural bias against math, it becomes logical, lucid, and even beautiful.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 14, 2013, 02:28:45 PM
Oooh thank you for all the responses so far!

I am not too sure whether I feel encouraged or discouraged  :laugh: :doh:

I'll have a think again and speak to my mama and get back to you all again. I'm so freakin' scared of not being able to do the Math oh lawdy.

I was terrible at math in elementary and high school. I did two years of general humanities courses after HS since I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I chose engineering since I like technology and it's a good career. The key thing is to just get over the mental math block. There is a deep prejudice that "Math is hard/for nerds/is not cool" in the USA. Once you overcome the cultural bias against math, it becomes logical, lucid, and even beautiful.

Oh no, I have nothing against Maths at all. I was good at it, and I enjoyed it (algebra, calculus and trig anyway, hopeless at geometry mostly). One of my good friends in Uni was doing a PhD in Maths. I used to be super confident in my abilities which is why I applied to be an engineer first time round with my University applications (and was provisionally accepted). But it's been so long that now I'm afraid of my math skills.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: MilesChristi on November 14, 2013, 02:29:55 PM
I second the beauty of math
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Kaesekopf on November 14, 2013, 03:58:12 PM
ITT engineers saying math is easy.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Kaesekopf on November 14, 2013, 03:58:54 PM
EE major in progress here.

Awesome.

What's your specialty/concentration?
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: RobertJS on November 15, 2013, 07:45:47 AM
I say, research the latest list of promising certifications in specialties of IT, and pursue those. They take less time, cost much less, and you don't have to take a lot of waste-of-time courses that you would for a degree. As well, the waste-of-time courses often contain brainwashing content. And, do a lot of tech-related stuff at home in your spare time. Get some low-level job at first, such as in desktop support. Try not to work at Wendy's, or some other non-tech related job.

Math is largely a waste of time, unless it is geometry. Geometry helps you think logically and more orderly.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Veritas on November 15, 2013, 11:01:52 AM
You shouldn't waste your time on such imaginary things. Learn something practical and real.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 15, 2013, 11:11:50 AM
You shouldn't waste your time on such imaginary things. Learn something practical and real.

Computers are imaginary?

TIL that learning programming and computer science is imaginary.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Veritas on November 15, 2013, 11:13:13 AM
You shouldn't waste your time on such imaginary things. Learn something practical and real.

Computers are imaginary?

TIL that learning programming and computer science is imaginary.
Computers are real, duh. I'm talking about maths and science. They don't exist, are made up, distract us from the faith.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 15, 2013, 11:14:45 AM
You shouldn't waste your time on such imaginary things. Learn something practical and real.

Computers are imaginary?

TIL that learning programming and computer science is imaginary.
Computers are real, duh. I'm talking about maths and science. They don't exist, are made up, distract us from the faith.

You're a troll from the atheist forum. I am almost 100% certain of it.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Veritas on November 15, 2013, 11:15:30 AM
"The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell"
- Saint Augustine
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Veritas on November 15, 2013, 11:16:45 AM
You are the troll, by ignoring the advice of Saint Augustine.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Cesar_Augustus on November 15, 2013, 11:21:40 AM
Mathematicians is what astrologers and numerologists were called in Saint Agustine's time.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Veritas on November 15, 2013, 11:22:55 AM
Mathematicians is what astrologers and numerologists were called in Saint Agustine's time.
There is still no difference. Statistics and astrology, it is all the same.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Aquila on November 15, 2013, 02:12:15 PM
Mathematicians is what astrologers and numerologists were called in Saint Agustine's time.
There is still no difference. Statistics and astrology, it is all the same.

 :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Aquila on November 15, 2013, 02:13:46 PM
EE major in progress here.

Awesome.

What's your specialty/concentration?

I've been putting that off, but I am leaning towards Communication Systems. Have to decide next semester....
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Recovering NOer on November 16, 2013, 04:24:36 AM
Was that troll (under both his names) really from the atheist forum after all?  That wouldn't surprise me.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Heinrich on November 16, 2013, 09:40:35 AM
I have a friend who is a very successful Software engineer. Knows his stuff, makes good $(supports 13 people), has security clearances, and majored in English and Latin.  :o
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: james03 on November 16, 2013, 07:40:04 PM
I doubt there is any geometry required.  Also, find out the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering.  I see no need to learn Calculus for Computer Science, though maybe it is a weed out course.  Logic is probably a requirement.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Gardener on November 22, 2013, 01:31:26 AM
Talk to the Security guys, Server and Network Admins, and the hiring managers of IT depts.

I have a buddy from near Nottingham that works in the industry here in the States. If you want, I can put you in contact with him to be in contact with those across the pond. However, if I set that up, DO NOT DARE forsake contact.

The secret is not so much what you have on the cert/degree side, but what you can do. The certs/degree get you the interview. The applicable knowledge is the key. As it stands, you have minimum 2 years based on stateside paths: 1 year certification path and 1 year help desk job. The help desk is eh... but it's experience. Beyond that, all on you. I know a hiring manager who turned down a guy with a Doctorate in CompSci but hired a dude who had zilch save experience. Dr. Stick up his bum had a chip, whereas Mr. Experience was a go-getter sans-'tude. He's just NOW getting a single cert (Comp forensics) and is at 60k dollars. No degree, no certs. Just chutzpah and a break.

      
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: The Harlequin King on November 22, 2013, 10:47:06 AM
Gardener: yeah, that's a pretty common theme within the computer science industry.

You know how people on trad forums often somehow manage to acquire more knowledge of theology and other things Catholic than priests, all on their own free time? The same can be said for people who work in the computer industry. However, IT is kind of like low-church, American style Protestantism where anyone can be ordained provided you can quote crazy amounts of Bible verses from memory... or in compsci land, code.

Still, for my own part, I'd rather go to school because I'm not techy enough to learn what I need to know just from tutorials on the Internet. I'm guessing Basilios is the same, since I gather we have much the same kind of personality. Also, an advanced degree may still be in order if you want to go on to do things like, say, design new graphics cards for nVidia or something like that.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Kaesekopf on November 22, 2013, 11:41:21 AM
Still, for my own part, I'd rather go to school because I'm not techy enough to learn what I need to know just from tutorials on the Internet. I'm guessing Basilios is the same, since I gather we have much the same kind of personality. Also, an advanced degree may still be in order if you want to go on to do things like, say, design new graphics cards for nVidia or something like that.

That would probably be more computer engineering type stuff.  Unless you were coding the firmware, perhaps...
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Geremia on November 22, 2013, 01:57:26 PM
which most employers seem to think is just a place of navel gazing idiocy for zealots with no life skills
You have that written on your CV? Interesting
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Gardener on November 22, 2013, 02:23:53 PM
Gardener: yeah, that's a pretty common theme within the computer science industry.

You know how people on trad forums often somehow manage to acquire more knowledge of theology and other things Catholic than priests, all on their own free time? The same can be said for people who work in the computer industry. However, IT is kind of like low-church, American style Protestantism where anyone can be ordained provided you can quote crazy amounts of Bible verses from memory... or in compsci land, code.

Still, for my own part, I'd rather go to school because I'm not techy enough to learn what I need to know just from tutorials on the Internet. I'm guessing Basilios is the same, since I gather we have much the same kind of personality. Also, an advanced degree may still be in order if you want to go on to do things like, say, design new graphics cards for nVidia or something like that.

Formal learning isn't bad, that's for sure. It provides a standard which employers can expect and gauge how promising the candidate is before and after hire.

The key for most people, as I understand it, is to do certs to get into the low end of the hiring pool and then work up through experience. Experience only CAN work, but it's more rare. The low end seems unglamorous but it does provide a good swath of industry exposure. One might be thinking they want to be a Server Admin, until they realize a knack and passion for Networking or Security, etc. It's best they realize that before investing in a degree focusing on such a thing.

Chances are that if one is not naturally attracted to the techie aspect from childhood they need schooling. Little Timmy who has no degree but decided to build a balloon-lifted signal retransmission station to go with his homemade drone, to extend its onboard video signal and cellular telephone monitoring feed, can probably do quite well without schooling. Little Timmy is rare.

IT is so broad that it's almost a useless designator. One can be in IT but barely be able to operate Command Prompt and does all physical stuff (running cable, setting up server rooms, etc.), and another might be a coding whiz but know little about hardware. The key is to know a little about everything to figure out where the strengths and passions are found.

Best to talk to guys in the industry locally. Also, soft skills are a big factor as I've been informed: going back to Little Timmy -- if he can do all that but spends conversations eating boogers and alternating ingestion with mumbled examples from anime, he might be a genius but he is all but useless save the dark dungeons of some company who has an army of such persons. If he can engage a know-nothing and explain the concepts, he's pretty much golden. It's easier to train a person on hard skills than soft skills. I get the impression Basilios has the capacity for soft skills naturally. The hard skills can be learned.

At some point one must quit asking about the best pool and choose one to dive into.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Jayne on November 23, 2013, 08:24:12 AM
My husband's degree is in nuclear engineering and he was mainly self-taught in computers (because there wasn't much in the way of computer courses back then).  His first job out of university was working on safety and shut down systems for nuclear reactors.  Which were run by computers.  He has worked in software design ever since but still has no "official" education in it.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 23, 2013, 09:18:11 AM
Oh I almost forgot to update here!

Ok so I spoke to a few industry professionals; both programmers and IT managers. Told them my situation and plans and goals. I spent 2 days shadowing someone running a small team (1 programmer, 1 1st support the general manager of them both) in a bigger company. His advice to me was definitely not to go back to University unless I have an absolute passion and talent in the field of CompSci and a near guarantee of a job.

What he said is that since I already have a degree, which just shows the ability to work and do stuff with the brain, I need to get practical qualifications starting with the CompTIA A+, Security+ and Network+. All of these are cheap, easy enough self-study things that employers respect in entry-level IT positions. After that, I can apply for entry-level positions and from there if I show drive/talent/ambition/etc most managers or recruiters will send me for more certifications in wherever my skills lie (networking, security, programming). These higher level certifications usually mean more than a CompSci degree anyway in the sense that they are practical and show a working knowledge (for most people this is what you really want).

This made a whole lot of sense to me, so that's my plan for the moment. I haven't discounted going back 100% yet, but since intake for Uni starts in September I have almost a year now to try my hand in this route!

Thanks all  :)
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Jayne on November 23, 2013, 12:10:22 PM
This sounds like a great way to do things, Basilios.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Gardener on November 23, 2013, 06:56:17 PM
Sounds like you got similar advice to that which I was given when I jumped into IT headfirst. :)

Below are some links on things. You will NOT necessarily understand it all at first. It's a lot like the Faith, in a sense: A bit here, a bit there, and one day, bam, it makes some sense. Then you get to discover something hard to figure out and then you keep going. So do not get discouraged.

Here's some stuff to get you started:

A+ : http://www.proprofs.com/certification/comptia/a-plus/practice/index.shtml

OSI Model:
Networking:
Don't worry about Security stuff YET. Get an understanding of the A+ and basic Networking concepts.

IP Subnetting: (Peter Packet - this will bend your head at first, in all likelihood. Just keep going back to it. Binary is actually VERY easy and subnetting will eventually make sense.)

Spend an hour a day on these resources, seek out more knowledge, etc. and by the time you get into the courses you really won't have any issues. The courses themselves are not hard. Just do what you're told, accept the information as given, and use your head to connect dots.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Basilios on November 26, 2013, 08:15:26 AM
Hey Gardener, thank you very much. That's awesome :-)

I've just received Myers book on the A+ exam. It's a tome, but looks fascinating. I'm a bit afraid of it all because he seems to recommend having had 6-12months experience as a Technician. I have 0. But I do know people go into the A+ with 0 experience and pass so not too afraid. I'll just study hard.

May I ask what your job is and which certifications you have?

I'm going tomorrow for a 2 day work experience thing that I set up with the help of my family. Hopefully it'll give me more ideas and direction!
Title: Re: Any CompSci grads here?
Post by: Gardener on November 26, 2013, 12:55:27 PM
Hey Gardener, thank you very much. That's awesome :-)

I've just received Myers book on the A+ exam. It's a tome, but looks fascinating. I'm a bit afraid of it all because he seems to recommend having had 6-12months experience as a Technician. I have 0. But I do know people go into the A+ with 0 experience and pass so not too afraid. I'll just study hard.

May I ask what your job is and which certifications you have?

I'm going tomorrow for a 2 day work experience thing that I set up with the help of my family. Hopefully it'll give me more ideas and direction!

Don't worry about the 6-12 as a technician bit. I went from very, very basic knowledge (as much as anyone on here who can navigate the internet, create a word document, etc.) to where I am today.

Where am I today? Only a few months ahead of you, actually. I do not yet have the A+ or Networking+, and my ultimate goal is likely Security (but Security+ is a cert, not a position).

The other day we took an A+ practice exam and I received an 85%. 95% is passing the A+. That's just through half the course. Most of the 15 questions I answered incorrectly, and without any study up, were things I had learned early on and were not quickly recalled. Basically, in 4 months I increased my knowledge 80-85%. How? By just taking what I was taught and retaining it, looking for the principles and applying them, and some things were just absolute memorization. My next half of the course is the remaining 25% A+ material and then a half-semester A+ prep wherein all we will do is take practice exams for 8 weeks.

However, I give all credit to Mary. I have prayed and prayed and prayed to do well.

Networking is fairly simple, though more complex than A+. The OSI model is really helpful in dxing Networking issues.

I also have employed a test-taking strategy I find helpful, and depending on how your stuff is set up might work for you:

Answer all questions known off the bat. Anything not immediately recalled or that you want to think about, write down its number and possible answers; come back to it. All lab simulations are done at the end of the exam, even if it's the 2nd question in the exam.

This strategy might not work with the format of the actual exam for certification, but it keeps me calmer when taking the tests otherwise.

I'm telling you, this stuff AIN'T hard. One of my favorite things to do/pet peeves is watching the guys who geek out on this stuff (ya know, wear shirts of computer companies, have mag subscriptions, etc.) get flustered over a simple concept because they will not follow directions. They have a high level of learning but they don't get the basics and so they get led astray on things. It's very much like the Faith.

I'm telling you, there's nothing to worry about. It's just another step in the road. Just count on Mary to give you the graces to do well and in all things seek the will of God. Doing that, applying yourself, and maintaining a "can-do" attitude will see you rocking the info with no problem.

Feel free to PM me your email address so I can load some virtual appliances to Google Drive and you can start messing with Server 2008, etc. in Virtual Box.