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Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 4, Interesting) 343

Indeed. If there is a market for COBOL programmers (and it's clear there is), then the obvious solution is for unis and colleges to spit out more COBOL-literate CS graduates. Honestly, if I was ten years younger, I'd probably delve into it myself. It is, after all, just a programming language, and hardly on the same level of trying to learn Sanskrit.

As long as you have a real fall-back so your career doesn't dead end. What can easily happen is that you do X then more of X because it's the only place you get a salary/career development until you've done X so long nobody will really hire you for anything else. I see this with for example some SAP consultants, essentially SAP customers want to hire you for your SAP experience and the rest of the world doesn't care that you have a general IT degree 5 or 10 years ago because your experience is all SAP-specific and they don't run SAP.

Now they're probably safe since that ERP is burrowed so deep into many companies they'll never get out, but for something like COBOL you could end up doing it for some years and then the legacy system is shut down and nobody wants to give you anything but a junior non-COBOL position. That is if they'll even hire you or if they'd rather have a recent college graduate. Or you might have to relocate to find one of those increasingly rare positions that actually value your COBOL experience, which of course only makes it harder at the next crossroads.

If you write cell phone apps as a hobby and can show them a portfolio or something, maybe you'll get away with it. No, you're not a dinosaur who only knows an outdated language and best practices from 50 years ago. Or some other way to be able to transition away from that COBOL career more smoothly. Some of my older colleagues noted that the parking inspector at work used to be COBOL programmer some 20 years ago, they updated their skillset and apparently he didn't.

Comment Re:So what's the issue? (Score 3, Interesting) 211

How about someone in the bank just puts here age in like 10 years younger than she is, what's the big deal if their system thinks he is 106 instead of 116?

Well, the bank is usually allowed to issue IDs that many people who don't have a driver's license and don't want to carry their passport use. Intentionally falsifying records like that is not something I'd do without explicit approval from my boss in writing, because a note is unlikely to prevent such false documents from being issued. And that would probably escalate all the way to legal, who might have to check whatever agreements they have with the government, who will then probably say no. It's just not worth my own skin to be customer friendly.

Comment Re:Yes, inherently unpredictable, needs percentage (Score 1) 216

*and* some panicky manager started having $deity damned _daily_ meetings about it.

This is my favorite bit when something very unexpected happens and managers make us twice as late by creating a ton of overhead about when/how/why/re-estimating/re-planning and plain old nagging to get it fixed. If what you care about is getting it actually done, let me work. If you need an alternative other than not delivering I can help you find that, but other than that you're not helping. You're slowing us down. This is particular frustrating when you're not 100% assigned to a project, yeah I'm supposed to spend 30% of my time on this... you spent 10% of your time, maybe that made sense to you. But you just spent 33% of your development time on BS, was that worth it? That way we have the same meeting in a few days on how nothing is happening.

Comment Re:Why would anybody live in a city? (Score 3, Insightful) 107

Because cities have a lot of different kind of people, different kinds of shops, art spaces, restaurants, performances and so on. Suburbs are far more homogenous. They're like that bar in Blues Brothers that have "both Country and Western".

And cities are a lot more accessible; when you get older you may no longer be able to drive or get around easily, and you will certainly start to appreciate the closeness to various medical specialists, nursing facilities and emergency services.

One major trend here in Japan is that as the population grows older, so does the move into urban centers accelerate, and that's exactly for this reason. Baby boomers are selling their suburban homes and rural houses to get convenient, accessibility-adapted apartments in the city.

Comment Re:Unrealistic for you, maybe (Score 1) 539

Insurance is for accidents, not routine maintenance. Its that way for your car, it should be that way for you too.

Well that would be nice if we could simply swap parts and be back in factory condition. The reality of it is that many of us have or will get problems that sneak up on us like back problems, heart problems, eye problems, bad shoulder, bad hip, cancers and such that come gradually or relapse or are semi-chronic that you can't just trivially cure but do a lot of medication and preventative measures but ultimately you don't really control and the insurance company knows long in advance that you're a hot potato that probably will require expensive treatment in the future. Catastrophic insurance works great for a major trauma like a car crash. It works much less well when they more you'll depend on your insurance in the future, the more the insurance company will want to get rid of you.

Comment Re:Asset forfeiture? (Score 2) 82

Of course, this is the same country that allows asset forfeiture. I'm sure your wallet is guilty of some crime or other...

It doesn't have to be, here's how it goes:

It looks like you're carrying lots of money. Drug dealers carry lots of money. Hence I will confiscate this money as possible drug profits. If you can show a paper trail in court, you can have it back some day. If you can't, tough. If you need the money right now, tough. Oh and there's no presumption of innocence and no free legal aid since it's a civil matter, if you lose as you very well might you'll also lose a ton on lawyer and court costs.

One joint was sufficient to confiscate a sailboat. A cheating husband's wife lost their jointly owned car because he was illegally using it to have sex with prostitutes. People's homes have been confiscated because their kids or tenants have been selling drugs out of their room. Rental companies have lost their property because the people who rented it used it for smuggling, even though the company wasn't even a suspect. Basically you can get robbed without any fourth amendment protection, it's insane.

Comment Re:Do we really need more people? (Score 1) 188

In most wealthy countries, kids are a liability because you have to feed, clothe, and shelter them without them delivering any kind of return on investment. In poor countries they tend to be an asset because they end up being extra farm hands, laborers, etc.

The value of child labor is quite modest, they work at slave labor rates. The primary reason to have kids is to have them support you economically and otherwise when you're elderly and they are young adults because being old and childless is harsh in many poorly developed societies. High risk of child death leads to "insurance", 95% of the women have an extra child because 5% of them will die. Losing a child is of course always a tragedy, but in the western world you'll still get to live at a decent nursing home and have most your needs taken care of so you don't need a fallback plan.

From what I understand, the population boom in Africa is not really necessary anymore. But it takes quite some time from you stop needing it until people realize it. Not to mention a lot of cultural momentum, if it's normal to have five kids many women will have five kids. And as you get wealth the pyramid starts turning, instead of having five kids to support you maybe it's you who want to divide your wealth on two kids and not six poor kids. It's a lot of psychology involved, not just economics.

Comment Re:Is this legal? (Score 2) 60

You answered your own question. You can get rid of the manual review. Plus, if you can just point a big-ass data stream at Watson and it can actually ferret out malfeasance, you can also get rid of the folks who program those "other forms of automation".

Instead, you'll be replacing them with a smaller number of people who can choose training sets and interpret Watson's output. You'll also see savings in your programming costs, as you've replaced several fraud detection systems with a single, unified system. So you get a smaller workforce.

You also get a more bifurcated workforce, with a small number of jobs being up-skilled (and more-highly paid), while a larger number of jobs are down-skilled or eliminated altogether. Whether this works when translated to a large portion of the white-collar, service-sector workforce as a whole is left as an exercise to the reader.

Comment Re:Beta testing self-driving vehicles... (Score 1) 53

Well, eventually they will figure it out how to make self driving cars safer than more than 99% of human drivers. When that happens, I'm not sure, but it will happen. Now, if you introduce them too early, a very risky and unsafe version of self driving cars that is maybe safer than 20% of the human driver population, but less safe than 80%, then anybody of those 80% using a self driving car would mean a safety risk.

Except that's not really how it happens, you don't need to be a race car driver to be a good street driver. A good street driver is merely consistent, appropriate speed, paying attention, obeying the traffic rules. It's not a skill level, it's a fail rate. You do things right for a year or five years or twenty years and then for some reason you fuck up. As in failed to yield, ran a red light, didn't see the pedestrian, fell asleep at the wheel, didn't check their blind spot, lost control of the car fail. I can guarantee you that all the SDC test vehicles are better than 100% of humans at not rear-ending anyone.

If it's not coming officially it's coming unofficially with all sorts of assistants where technically you drive yourself. And people will ignore it, but we'll dismiss them as Darwin awards.

Comment Re:Electronic gate (Score 1) 121

You only have a gate on your property? How did it get past the gate and the guard at the entrance to the subdivision let alone the gate at the end of the driveway.

Yes gate in my gated community, I dont trust these rich fuckers, and it helps keep the asshole retired guys on the HOA board off my fucking lawn and away from the house.

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