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Comment Re:I don't think there will be a shortage. (Score 2) 318

Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you. You can learn basic cobol in a week, sure. You can probably even learn all the useful keywords in a month, but almost certainly won't learn all their options or the best way to use them or the caveats of using some of them. You won't learn the various gotchas waiting in the wings when defining data structures either, whether in memory, or on disk.

A month might make you able to write fairly complex stuff, but it won't give you time to learn the best ways to write efficient fast code and COBOL, despite its apparent simplicity, is remarkably easy to write nasty (self modifying if you wish) resource-hogging evilness. If you're on mainframes, it'll be longer than that before you've figured the full intrigues of things like Expediter, or, if you're really unlucky, core dumps, which can be your only way to debug.

I've worked with COBOL since the mid 90s, so I'm still considered a noob in the field, but I've seen some horrors written by people with twice the experience I have and I've rarely seen *good* code written by people with anything less than a year of it on their CV.

Bear in mind also that most COBOL is mainframe still, so chances are that as well as the language itself, you're going to have to learn DB2, JCL, CICS and suchlike. Mainframe assembly will also likely crop up in your radar and in certain financial institutions, PL/1 - all linked into one big horrible mess. You might think you'll learn COBOL in a week, but almost no company using it for mission-critical stuff will let you within a mile of their production systems until you've a couple of years under your belt.

Comment Re:"Stealthy" is misleading (Score 1) 451

That may work now, but it certainly wasn't the case at the beginning of last week.

My other half has a remote desktop system so she can work from home if required that uses a java plugin. Last week, all of a sudden, it didn't work, with just a 'plugin inactive' message on screen. Clicking on that took you to software update, which showed no available updates, because this is on a Snow Leopard machine that there wasn't an update for yet.

There was no explanation of what was going on (plugins showed as allowed in the preferences pane) or whether it was an issue with the remote desktop provider or Apple, or anything. Somewhat frustrating and took me far longer than it needed to have done to sort, including raising a ticket with remote desktop software provider, which we now have to cancel.

I do like Apple hardware and software under most circumstances, but this wasn't one of their better moves.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 878

Sure, what's wrong with recursion?

int factorial( int n )
return (n > 1)? n * factorial( n - 1 ) : n ;

Either high or sober, that's what I'd have gone for. That aside, I think it's fairly obvious that the mantra would be 'design high, code sober'...

Comment Re:Raspberry Pi? (Score 2) 137

The fixed hardware and low power of the Pi is just begging for a lightweight, low footprint OS

There is one already. It's called RISCOS. Sure, it needs some work (like pre-emptive multitasking and SMP, okay a *lot* of work), but it's small (the OS uses 6Mb of RAM) and it's very fast. And there's already a reasonable amount of software available for it, plus a working GCC implementation, so more can be ported.

It just needs volunteers. Preferably ones who will happily write hand optimised ARM assembler...

Comment Re:I think they can reinvent themselves (Score 5, Insightful) 488

They still have a commanding market share in many areas...

And that's the exact reason you're unlikely to see them reinvent themselves the way Apple did. Apple did it because they had no choice - they were getting their asses handed to them in every sector they were in, they were haemorrhaging money and were on the verge of bankruptcy. It was a do-or-die move.

Microsoft have no need to copy them. They may not be raising the roof on the stock indexes, but they're still making money and because of that, inertia will mean that they'll never look at the kind of radical solutions that Apple did; it's easier to play the safe game and make smaller profits for less risk.

Comment Re:FYI; Google even devotes a doodle to this. (Score 1) 212

Yeah, that's about right. Loading screen looked *awesome*, then you got to the game (assuming you could avoid the dreaded 'R Tape Loading Error' )and you realised exactly where all the £1.99 that the tape had cost you went...

And yet, we never learned. The very next week, it was back to WHSmiths with your pocket money for *another* £1.99 game from Mastertronic, hoping against hope to avoid the inevitable disappointment...

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 691

WIth a significant propotion of cars using plastic petrol tanks these days, I imagine you'll find they'll just jam a screwdriver through the bottom of the tank and collect whatever comes out. Even steel petrol tanks wouldn't put up too much resistance to a decently sharpened item.

Expect to see a significant increase in burnt-out vehicles as they fill the jerry cans they've got, leave fuel pouring out and throw a match into the remains to cover their tracks...

Comment Re:380V DC makes sense (Score 1) 462

Fully rectified 240V AC RMS is already very close to 380V DC

Uh, no. No it isn't. Not even vaguely, in fact. 240V effectively *is* the DC equivalent (ignoring rectification losses), the PMPO (ie. peak voltages your 50 or 60hz sine wave actually hits) will probably be around 380v though. If you want 380VDC, then you need the same or more AC.

Comment Overblown reporting, as usual. (Score 5, Informative) 337

Before anything else - this is my favourite local Indian Restaurant. Been eating there for a few years now and will continue to do so.

Secondly, 'several ambulances'? People 'writhing on the floor, fainting and vomiting'? Here's what actually happened:

Restaurant holds a curry-eating competition. Top of the list in the later rounds is the 'Kismot Killer', a curry that recently replaced a naga-based one, as too many people were finishing it easily. Anyway, if you order a killer, the restaurant staff will do everything in their power to put you off - there's warnings all over the place and you have to sign a disclaimer before eating it. If you *really* insist on eating the damn thing, you can't say you weren't warned. But anyway. So two people get to the later stages (one American, FWIW) and one of them has the bright idea of vomiting immediately after eating so as to avoid the after-effects. The other continues eating *despite being in pain and feeling faint*. I mean, seriously? So despite having the red cross present (it was a charity event), they got an ambulance to take these two to hospital for safety. The hospital gave them strong anti-indigestion medication and kicked them out.

Short version - idiots did idiotic things, complained that they shouldn't have to have any personal responsibility when the inevitable happened.

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