MathGroup Archive 1997

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: Useful Dumb User Questions

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg9048] Re: [mg8988] Useful Dumb User Questions
  • From: Mark Evans <evans at>
  • Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 01:42:27 -0400
  • Organization: None
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at


Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  Forgive me for saying it but you are
wrong on all but one count.  Taking your points in reverse order:

5) I have been on the newsgroup for at least 18 months.

4) Mathematica is not advertised as a programming language, but as an
"empowerment tool."  The marketing brochures do not have asterisks
pointing to fine print that says "Up to six months of computer science
language study may be required to see these benefits."
	To say that Mathematica is a programming language is to say something
against the grain of the product's marketing.  So I evaluate the product
as an empowerment tool for technical professionals.  If it were sold as
a programming language (exclusively), I would evaluate it on that
basis...and even there, it would fall down flat (speed, debugging, file
i/o, types).

3) You could not be more wrong.  I was recently flattered by a software
manager at the company where I am consulting.  He offered me full-time
work and told me that, having interviewed literally hundreds of
programmers to staff his company, and having gone through a few
incompetents, he estimates that only one in ten programmers is really
any good.  His estimate includes the interviews he held with former
staff people from big companies like Texas Instruments.  Speaking from
my own experience, I know good code when I see it and I know bad code
when I see it.
	True, one expects people to show some willingness to learn their way
around a new tool.  My point was that I have seen that willingness
evaporate in highly educated technical people who have significant
computer experience.  The reason is that even with the willingness, they
make no progress, because they are not gifted programmers and
Mathematica is hard to use.  Touche.

2) Whatever the source of condescension, it is unpleasant.  Instead of
condescending at all, the wizard who thinks a novice needs to read the
book should just say so plainly and leave it at that.

1) Yes, you do, and thank you; but I think that you are the one who
needs to grow thicker skin.  Try not to be so defensive about the
product.  There is a vast amount of room for improvement.  I would like
to see Mathematica become a true empowerment tool!

Best regards,


  • Prev by Date: Re: Useful Dumb User Questions
  • Next by Date: Re: MMA3.0.0 bug in symbolic summation
  • Previous by thread: Re: Useful Dumb User Questions
  • Next by thread: Re: Useful Dumb User Questions