I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
I've been doing an awful lot of teaching these last few weeks, and part of it has made me think a little more about university degrees, and whether or not they're useful.
I had a great time at university, and am very happy with both what I had learnt in my degree and the social connections that I made. However I also have a number of friends and associated who are very successful and skilled, but have no tertiary qualifications at all. Indeed, my first year computer science teacher explained that if we really wanted to make money we should have left school at sixteen to become bricklayers. There's a shortage of bricklayers, and by the time we would be graduating our bricklaying alter-egos would be running their own tax-effective business and own three houses.
So, is it really worthwhile spending three or more years of your life to get a piece of paper? For the individual I really can't say, but for a trainer with a class filled with postgraduates, the answer is yes. Hell yes!
My class of recent graduates learnt much faster than any other class I can remember. We covered four days worth of material in a mere three days, and spent the extra day covering extra theory and object oriented design in Perl. Regardless of the rewards to the attendees, it was a very rewarding experience for myself.
Now, it could just be luck that I had a particularly smart class, but I think the fact that most were fresh out of university was a factor. If nothing else, holding a university degree shows that you know how to learn and absorb knowledge, and are able to adapt to new situations. I know that should almost be self-obvious, but it's not something I had encountered in such a stunning way until recently.
I have strange dreams sometimes, and usually I forget them. But last night's one stuck in my head. I was at a conference, and Audrey Tang was giving a presentation. Not just any presentation, but the best presentation I had ever seen in my life. It was truly spectacular, and used many new presentation techniques I had never before encountered.
I was saddened by the end of the presentation, not only because it was so good, but because if I took my new-found techniques everyone would know that I lifted them directly from Audrey's keynote. They just won't be as cool.
It took me 90 minutes after waking up to realise that the whole thing was a dream, and that I could use these great new techniques and have them appear original!
My happiness lasted but a few mere seconds before it also dawned upon me that unicode doesn't have frozen bubble glyphs. And even if it did, "&penguin; &penguin; &orangeball; &igloo;" probably wouldn't be a valid Perl 6 program, regardless of how much cool stuff it did in my dream.