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Saturday, 22 January 2011

The often underrated value of Googling skills

I recently stumbled upon this question over at Stack Overflow:
can anyone help me find out url from given paragraph using regex c#
From reading this you can learn a few of things about the asker:
  • They have *some* software knowledge as they know they want to use regular expressions (regex)
  • They didn't use punctuation
  • They don't know how to use Google
Programming is is such a large area that is constantly undergoing change that it simply isn't possible to know it all, and anyone who tells you that is likely already light-years behind.

The internet however does know all of the answers, and any programmer at any level should know about and exploit this excellent resource. Of course you know this - because you're doing it right now.  In fact it has been said that software developers are simply Googling machines.

Whats at the centre of the internet?  Its Google of course! Google is a tool - period, and any one whos been tasked with writing even a single line of code should know how to use it and use it to its full potential. And since you're reading this that likely means you.

So why arn't educational establishments teaching Googling skills to computer science students?  I graduated in 2008 and certainly didn't get any formal guidance.

Which brings me back to the question above.  The asker would have got an answer instantly if they simply knew (and had the motivation) to do a search.  Perhaps if all software related education taught the use Google that above question would have never been asked.  Of course the asker could have simply been lazy - in which case shouldn't be developing software at all...

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