...the pilot of an airliner didn't have an intricate knowledge of his plane. Would you want to fly with him if he didn't know what everything did, or at the very least how to find out in big hurry for the really technical things. I sure wouldn't.
So why do people continue to use products without having any knowledge of how it works. I don't claim to know everything about computer systems and how they work. I do, however, know enough to find out the information I don't know. And I use this little power called inference to read between the lines and figure things out. When I try to help my computer illiterate friends fix something, they don't realize that 90% of what I tell them is a guess based on my knowledge and past experiences. Even when I work on my own machines, half of what I do is experimentation. One of my mother's friends called me today to help with an Outlook e-mail virus. I basically said "tell your husband to buy an anti-virus program, or start over from scratch", because I didn't feel like explaining how booting off a floppy would keep the virus from begin loaded (or how it possibly might be loaded anyway and she'd really be screwed). My boss called be last night asking if the IDE port on the SoundBlaster 16 PnP I just gave him would be causing an error in Media Player. I just told him to read the damn help because I didn't want to explain the difference between ISA, PCI, IDE, and how sub-systems physically on the motherboard can be on the PCI bus, etc for the 15th time.
OK back to the topic. If everyone had to do a little programming, the whole world would be better. I'm not talking about "Hello World.". I mean something real. Program a graphics display program, or even text reader. Hell, I'd be happier if Reading The F* Manual was a requirement before buying a computer. We all need a license to drive, and since the gov't thinks computers are a "huge threat" (sic) to society, why not have something to prove you know enough to use the machine. And no age limit of course (that's for qslack :-P ).
Most "geeks" spent most of their adolesence coding in someway, or building hardware, or both, or even just read the computer mags and books until they got their own machine. When we got our second-hand Commodore 64 on Christmas about 8 years ago, I was ecstatic. Especialy since my dad also got me a BASIC programming book. Ever since then, I've been compelled to learn as much as I could, and not only about computers, about everything. I cook for living currently, and since I have no formal culinary training I'm constantly asking what certain spices do, and how a certain food cooks the way it does. Even though I most likely will not be continuing cooking fulltime for much longer, I still want to learn.
OK back on topic for real this time. Real programming does seem to be dead. Laziness has killed it. The plug and play ideal has be taken to the extreme. People always say "Oh we have the CPU power, we don't have to optimize so much anymore." Screw that!.
According to the specs, 128 MB of RAM is reccomended for Mac OS X. 128 MB!! If the OS has a footprint so huge that you need 128 MB, something is wrong IMO. I understand that system are getting more complicated, but come on. And you know most of that memory will be used for eye-candy. Which brings me to the next point. Real programming is dying because Real programming (with exceptions) usually doesn't give you a result that any Joe Schmoe off the street will notice and be awed by. Coding a new compression algorithm may get you faster compression and great ratios, but that only looks good on charts and graphs. The [stupid,useless,wasteful] graphical effects in OS X do grab peoples eyes and suck them in. Granted, alot of cool graphical effects are done using Old Skool Real Programming, but the modern stuff is done using packaged code, usually bloated already.
Enough ranting. maketo, I agree. Yes, Real programming does seem to be a lost art. But I feel it will make a comeback. We are coming up on a point in history where a lot of things are going to be changing. Barring a nuclear war, asteroid, massive EMP, or other catastrophic event, the human race will be changing, very soon I hope and believe.