I work for a large UK supermarket chain (the largest, actually) and their computer systems and supporting software are pretty old. The tills run NT4 and the SBO/print queue manager is an IBM RS6000 (a PowerPC based machine, I believe) running OpenVMS.
The most up-to-date bits of kit are the checkout servers and the employee terminals- they run XP, but all of the software they run is either 16bit Windows stuff or terminal emulators to talk to that OpenVMS machine or the datacentres; having said that, I know of at least one store in our area that's still using an IBM 3151 orange-screen terminal. The in-house word processor is Ami Pro, a dreadful piece of software. I'd almost forgotten how annoying the 8.3 filename limit was
Anyway, with mission-critical stuff, the motto is usually "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". In our case, it seems to be "If it ain't completely broke, ignore it."
I heard Douglas Adams quoted on the radio this morning. Seems to apply here.
"Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things."
Grand Central which manages multi-core programming (useless to you)
They made dual G4 Power Macs. I own one. Runs Leopard pretty nicely.
They've also been running a campaign to stop the extradition of Gary McKinnon. I've never been a fan of that particular paper, but they've been doing some good stuff recently.
accelerometers to shut the hard drive off if the laptop falls
My dad's (fairly elderly) Thinkpad has this feature. It's a very good idea.
On that topic, Here's a cool little program for recent Mac laptops with the accelerometer chip that can measure the G force on the laptop. Has earned me some funny looks on trains
The difference between a career and a job is about 20 hours a week.