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Comment Re: How about a 4th option ? (Score 1) 287

You might like to pay attention when the muck spreaders are out - the stuff that they're coating the fields in is not plain old organic dirt (or even soil, which is an incredibly complex substance in its own right). It's not even shit anymore, it's a complex growing medium that's covered by numerous patents.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 1) 287

Given that most of this code was originally targeting systems from the 1960's and 70's, I can't imagine there being an insurmountable number of lines of code

According to Wikipedia, Gartner estimated about 200 billion lines of COBOL code in 1997. To put that in perspective, that's more than the total amount of open source C code tracked by OpenHub.net. Can you imagine persuading someone to rewrite all of that C code in a newer language?

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 4, Interesting) 287

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 Image processing (Score 1) 101

When I started my PhD in image processing, I was given an 80-column, 24-line text terminal to the department microVax (approximately 1 MIP, shared between about 40 people). I was lucky, and got one of the good ones, it had an amber phospher :)

Seriously, the only place to see the results of the algorithm was on a shared display downstairs in the lab - which was in high demand. I ended up doing a lot of terminal-style graphs (mine wasn't a tektronix terminal, so I only had text-like characters) to prove an algorithm worked before actually seeing it.

And now I look at the technological ability of my freaking phone, and I wonder at just how far things have come in 30 years or so...

Comment Re:Pay your fucking taxes instead (Score 5, Insightful) 164

And that's exactly the attitude that leads to this situation: the belief among a large subset of the population that they will eventually get rich and benefit from all of the loopholes that aid the rich. The overwhelming majority of the richest people in the world were born rich. They didn't come from being lower middle class and work hard to earn their money.

Comment Re:So what's the issue? (Score 3, Interesting) 205

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:Slow news day (Score 2) 185

IBM used to have a bunch of aptitude tests for entry-level technical jobs. I was recently speaking to a retired alumna at my college who applied to their admin track and after doing the tests for that was asked if she'd be willing to try the technical track tests. She did well in those and stayed with the company for 10 years, helping to design System/360 and 370. She was particularly smug about the fact that her boyfriend at the time had failed the same aptitude tests.

Comment Re:Another outrage article (Score 2) 269

Then, almost by definition, it is worthless

And yet it works in exactly the way Libertarians are telling us things will work: companies put an agreed-on label on their products, they have an incentive to check unreasonable-sounding claims from their competitors as do consumer groups, and there is redress through the courts (and bad publicity) if anyone is caught cheating. For once, it's a free market solution that is working with a minimal amount of government intervention.

Comment Re:Yes, inherently unpredictable, needs percentage (Score 1) 214

*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:Unrealistic for you, maybe (Score 1) 527

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: Filed under: Nobody needs this! (Score 1) 205

Thrift stores, goodwill, ebay, etc. Plenty of ways to get rid of things already purchased... in order to make room for new things.

One of these months I should measure exactly how much of the closet is mine and how much is hers. It's a good thing I don't have many shirts (because I don't need many), because I am left with very little.

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