System people and CGB

Thu Jun 25 15:42:00 EST 1992

I saw this debate by chance when I helped one of my biologist friends work
on the network. I didn't want to say anything until this morning I found some
computer people spoke out. ( I myself am a systems analyst. )
I happen to be a CSMS. Before I worked here, I worked as an administrator
(also a program advisor and a technician) in a Medical Center for several
years. There I had experience working with biologists, and I know what the
"computer gifted" biologist is like. To make things easier, I prefer to use
word CGB to refer to this kind of scientist.
First, I should say that in most cases, they are only people who THINK OF
themselves as CGB and they are NOT. They often talk around fake knowledge of
computer, to make people think of them as smarter than other biologists.
One possible reason that they do this is that they are worse in their own
major than those non-CGB.
Second, what is worse is that some CGB always want to practice their
"knowledge," rather than only talk. Believe me, they screw up. I remember a
CGB doctor I used to consult with. He was in charge of a small computer lab
in his Dept. He wrote a user's environment program by himself. The performance
of that program was strange and chaotic. People didn't realize it until they
noticed the computers periodically hung up somehow. I gently told him that he
he wrote some infinite loops by accident, rather than say his "program" stinks.
The amateur practice of CGBs is funny, but not yet danger until they start to
try hardware stuff. A doctor I knew didn't trust the technician in his
department. He designed and assembled his own EM shield system. He knew a
little about power supply systems, such as the difference between ground and
neutral. (I happen to be EEMS too and practiced for several years. Trust me,
"A little leaning is a dangerous thing") Next he burned his instrument in that
"shield", instead of himself (Thanks God !)
I do respect real CGBs. Dr. Duncan is one of them. His "Advanced MS-DOS" is
even used as a textbook for grad of CS in some universities. But point is,
in that way, the person is not only "gifted," but also interested in it, and
takes it as kind of his own career, the same as he did with biology.
I have no argument about whether someone should hire a CGB instead of real CS.
If you really think someone else is a CGB, go ahead and hire him. As along as
you are not tired of his Bio-comp excuses for screwing up and he doesn't care
his biology career at all, nothing is wrong.
Talking about "system people", a biologist really should think of what
kind of person he really want in the first place. Very often, people hope that
the administrator knows how to handle all "computer" stuff, especially
various application packages. If he doesn't know even one application, people
will "disappointed in his performance", and doubt "if he really can program his
way out of a paper bag". In fact, it is you yourself who should take care of
applications, that lets administrator really "administrate" and "program." Don't
try to think that hiring a system person is the same as hiring somebody to wash
test tubes (even that "somebody" may become another doctor later). That is
totally different. Think of it this way, a good CS expert will save you a lot
of time and money on the stuff you don't understand and don't have to understand
and a bottle washer only saves you time on something you do understand but don't
want to do. In that sense, a CS expert is potentially a stepping stone towards
Nobel prize, and a fake CGB may screw up that chance and blame on you.
However, I do agree that a real programmer is usually self-taught. Actually
I am one. But that is only useful for not only looking at the GPA when
recruiting an administrator. Don't use this excuse to hire a fake CGB or do the
job yourself. That way, you may ruin your shin future or someone else's. To me,
the biologist is more of a genius than a computer person like me.
Finally, the "big buck" is strange. Nobody around me thinks that computer
career is more lucrative than biology. If someone changes his(her) career from
biology to computer for that reason, I really feel sorry for him(her).
Good luck to anyone who wants to find a good "system person." If you couldn't
find one, let me know.
*                                                                       *
* How many programmers it takes to change a light bulb?                 *
*                                                                       *
* None! That is a HARDWARE JOB!                                         *
*                                                                       *
*                                                                       *
* David                Chicago, IL, USA                                 *
*                                                                       *
* Tel:                 Email:                                           *
* (312)508-5625        $lpahm0 at luccpua(bitnet)                          *
* (708)866-3475        $lpahm0 at luccpua.it.luc.edu(internet)             *
*                                                                       *

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