If you're already talking about unionizing to "fix" the problem of finding and keeping work for unemployed programmers, you've already lost.
I always thought a better, and in some cases, more real life test for a programmer would be to hand them a chunk of someone else's code, something real and in house but obviously not something that is proprietary. Ask them to recommend ways to improve it if possible, or explain why it is good, sound code if not. Good programmers will recognize good code (even in languages they haven't worked in) and recommend fixes where they see problems. Someone you want to hire will be honest about whether or not they've worked in the language and will almost immediately spot things like potential null pointer exceptions, potential leaks of connections, unhandled exception possibilities, etc. or even just poorly structured code.
No. You don't have to be a manager, but you do have to do more than sit in your office and code your little chunk of the universe because any kid out of college can do that. Heck, an awful lot of people out of high school can do that and don't necessarily require even a living wage. Older programmers should be mentoring and leading. You don't have to have "manager" in your title to do that. The best programmers are the ones who can lead teams of more than 8 programmers, orchestrating the whole product life cycle. Generally, they contribute code too, but they also worry about repeatable testing, providing a release plan, code hygiene and standards, integration and customization points, and testing. I've been on both sides of the fence, hiring and looking for work as a programmer. This has always been the reality. Your skill set should be commensurate with the years of experience you've had, which means that you should show a certain professional maturity. If you haven't advanced your skills beyond code monkey in 30 years, you've got a problem.
If you don't like office politics and nonsense then you need to get the heck out of an office that has any more than 2 people. Work for yourself and be your own boss. But then you have to make peace with the fact that you're not likely to make as much money as the guys/ladies who do deal with office politics.
You know what? I don't ignore all of headhunter notes I get. The ones that sound a little interesting, I send a little note thanking them for their interest, tell them I'm currently employed but if that changes I definitely will keep them in mind. Usually, I throw in some small talk asking how the market is for things that are more my current "hobby" than my job (I've been dabbling in a lot of mobile, noSQL and cloud programming) just to get an idea for what my Plan B, C, and D will be should I get laid off or finally decide to retire from my "real job". More than a few recruiters have engaged in conversation this way. Those I keep in my Contacts list for a later date.
Agree on your points except that Google Docs also works offline.
Actually my company regularly asks its employees to do this. I guess that did sound funny though.
Honestly, any programmer that is worth his or her salt is going to be employed no matter what their age. There are plenty of schools and non-profits looking for help. Of course they may not pay as much as the corporate office, but you'll be working. I also think you should start looking to strike out on your own as a contractor or freelancer soon after 45. I say this as a 52 year old who is exploring other options now. I'm writing some mobile apps for a local school district as part of my community service and I know from speaking with the administrator that I've got at least one way to earn should my company decide to push me out the door with my gold watch.
I've been using Eclipse since it had its genesis within IBM, so despite it's warts, I'm pretty used to it. I do like what I see in the Android Studio though, I'm just waiting for it to come out of beta.
I was just speaking to the "rights holders own the data" statement, that's all. Just pointing out that lumping Google in with others who don't provide a means to download or transfer ownership of your data is incorrect.
Does Apple have anything like Google's Inactive Account Manager?
ElementaryOS runs surprisingly well on older machines. That's pretty much what I'm doing with all my dinosaurs.
What this article is totally glossing over is the fact that Google is making a lot of inroads, not just through Android devices that are tied into Google services and apps, but also through their iOS apps which have gained a lot of traction as well. Two of the top iOS apps of 2013 were Google Maps and YouTube, both huge ad revenue generators for Google. In the long run, this could be troubling for Apple as it boxes them in to remaining mostly a hardware company. Hardware gets commoditized much faster than software and services do.
As good as Apple was, it still had its share of Fart apps in the app store. It was kind of a running gag early on. It wasn't just Android that suffered from this.