Programmers with network engineering skills

Owen DeLong owen at
Tue Feb 28 18:51:14 UTC 2012

This problem is not limited to programming.

Education in general has moved from teaching conceptual knowledge
re-inforced by practical examples and exercises to teaching methodological
and/or procedural knowledge without any effort to convey concepts.

It's much like the difference between teaching a man to buy a fish using
cash vs. teaching a man more generalized economic skills and money

In the former case, you get a man who can eat fish as long as he still
has some cash. In the latter case, you get a man who can keep cash
coming in and use it to obtain a varied diet and other things he may

Today, the indoctrination mills (hard to call them education centers
at this point) churn out people who are good at repeating the same
process and solving the same problems over and over.

Unfortunately, when faced with a problem that doesn't look like something
from their text book, they either become completely lost or they take
the hammer approach (when the only tool you have is a hammer, every
problem looks like a nail).

I'm not sure how to solve this. Teaching methodologically is much much
faster than teaching conceptually and the endemic lack of patience makes it
hard to get people to sit still long enough to learn conceptually.


On Feb 28, 2012, at 6:03 AM, John Mitchell wrote:

> <rant>
> I would wholeheartedly agree with this, but I believe its worse than 
> just that. I used to categorize myself as a full developer, now I'm 
> slightly ashamed to be tainted with that brush since there's so many 
> people using the term who don't know the first thing about programming.
> It used to be that when you were taught programming, you were taught 
> concepts (when to use a for loop, while loop, Boolean algebra), then 
> you built on the foundations by learning advanced concepts  (data 
> structures, how to program concurrently using semaphores etc etc), you 
> would then pick some optional classes to make up for some non 
> programming specific knowledge (networking, linux admin, etc etc).
> I now have a lot of friends who work in academia and they are worried 
> by a decline (as am I when trying to hire new talent). Currently the 
> teaching process is one of learning to program like a monkey, monkey 
> see monkey do. People are no longer taught to think for themselves, but 
> instead taught to program in a specific language (PHP, Java, rarely C 
> or C++ any more, C#, or VB) and that is all they know. I don't believe 
> this is a failing with the lecturers but with the fundamental change in 
> attitudes to programming.
> One of the tests I give all interviewees is write a very short program 
> in a language they have never ever used before ( personally I recommend 
> ) since this gives people a 
> chance to show they can program rather than being able to tell me "I 
> know PHP" or "I know C", suprisingly very few newer programmers can 
> make it through, or even try it, because the concept of thinking for 
> themselves is so last year.
> </rant>
> On 27 February 2012 20:02:13, Brandt, Ralph wrote:
>> Generalists are hard to come by these days. They are people who learn
>> less and less about more and more till they know nothing about
>> everything. People today are specializing in the left and right halves
>> of the bytes....  They learn more and more about less and less till they
>> know everything about nothing.  And BTW, they are worthless unless you
>> have five of them working on a problem because none of them know enough
>> to fix it.  Worse, you can replace the word five with fifty and it may
>> be still true. 
>> I know of three of these, all gainfully employed at this time and could
>> each find at least a couple jobs if they wanted.  I am one, my son is
>> two and a guy we worked with is the third. 
>> At one time (40 years ago) the mantra in IS was train for expertise, now
>> it is hire for it.  Somewhere there has to be a happy medium.  I suggest
>> this, find a good coder, not a mediocre who writes shit code but a good
>> one who can think and learn and when you talk about branching out with
>> his skill set he or she lights up.  His first thing on site is take the
>> A+ networking course.  
>> No, I do not sell the courses.  But I have seen this kind of approach
>> work when nothing else was.
>> Ralph Brandt
>> Communications Engineer
>> HP Enterprise Services
>> Telephone +1 717.506.0802
>> FAX +1 717.506.4358
>> Email Ralph.Brandt at
>> 5095 Ritter Rd
>> Mechanicsburg PA 17055
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: A. Pishdadi [mailto:apishdadi at] 
>> Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2012 8:27 PM
>> To: NANOG
>> Subject: Programmers with network engineering skills
>> Hello All,
>> i have been looking for quite some time now a descent coder (c,php) who
>> has
>> a descent amount of system admin / netadmin experience. Doesn't
>> necessarily
>> need to be an expert at network engineering but being acclimated in
>> understanding the basic fundamentals of networking. Understanding basic
>> routing concepts, how to diagnose using tcpdump / pcap, understanding
>> subnetting and how bgp works (not necessarily setting up bgp). I've
>> posted
>> job listings on the likes of dice and monster and have not found any
>> good
>> canidates, most of them ASP / Java guys.
>> If anyone can point me to a site they might recommend for job postings
>> or
>> know of any consulting firms that might provide these services that
>> would
>> be greatly appreciated.

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