SPUG: Sort an array question

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRunningWolf at att.net
Fri Dec 27 15:15:44 CST 2002

Andrew Sweger <andrew at sweger.net> writes:

> On Thu, 26 Dec 2002, Andrew Reid wrote:
> > While attempting to gain more meaninful employment, I
> > happened upon this question from a prospective
> > provider of opportunity.  "Sort an array
> > alphabetically without using the Perl sort command." 
> > [snip]
> I realize that you were asking for focus on the details of the
> implementation. But I wanted to read between the lines a little and
> comment on that. When I extend similar requests to potential seekers of
> opportunity, rarely have I been interested in the implementation. In fact,
> I avoid questions that require recalling algorithm specifics (I figure
> they're in books and modules where they belong). I'm more interested in
> how an individual approaches a problem.
> Of course, I am assuming a person with sufficient problem solving skills
> wouldn't be foolish enough to apply for a position involving computer
> programming without that tool in their toolbox. I have been caught by this
> assumption on one or two occasions and it is glaringly obvious. And
> earlier in my career, I have made the mistake of hiring people that knew a
> language pretty well but didn't have problem solving skills. That took a
> few months to untangle (because they kept cranking out code).

In "Peopleware", DeMarco and Lister mention that on an average team,
the bottom 10% can create more problems than the remaining team can
fix.  A managers job, in their opinion, is to remove the bottom 10% so
that the middle few can do digital ditch digging (my words) and the
cream at the top can lead.  It's a managers job to find out what that
bottom 10% *can* do well, since it's not coding.  Finding the right
fit for the right person is *key*.  Just a little bit of sewage in a
large vat of good wine *isn't* slightly less tasty wine.

> Granted, there are programming jobs in large organizations where there is
> enough engineering infrastructure where a programmer can work from
> specifications. You will see more and more of this kind of work outsourced
> to other markets unless our economy adjusts.

I don't get what you're pointing at here.  Outsourced where?  What
adjustments would prevent/encourage the outsourcing?  What's left *in*
when the remainder is *out*?

> I might be a dinosaur.

I'm sure you are!  How many Moores' Law periods have you been in this
business?  It's amazing that anybody's brain can keep up.  It's like
starting a career in the bronze age and living through to the
industrial revolution.  How much of your original tasks look similar?

But the real question is "Can you change?".  Make sure you keep the
*good* parts when you do!!!!  :-)

Michael R. Wolf
    All mammals learn by playing!
        MichaelRunningWolf at att.net

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