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Comment Re:Half way there (Score 3, Interesting) 71

They can't - there's a housing shortage. Giving one group of workers prices the others out of being able to afford a home. Housing quality in many areas is rather grim. There''s not enough space in front of each house for more than one car, roads aren't wide enough for cars to park on either side and have more than a single truck or ambulance get through. Driveways are "shared" between homes so that different garages actually open onto the same driveway. Some homes are only sold as leaseholds (you own the house but lease the land for 99 years, and pay rent each year) rather than freeholds (own both house and land).

In the USA or Canada, the federal government owns all non-developed land, and so they can sell it off as and when needed. In the UK, all the undeveloped land is either owned by private estates or farmers. We have to take land used for food production out of operation in order to build more homes. UK already imports 45% of food. Married couples are being forced to house share with a room each because of the shortage in the South East. There's now the problem of beds-in-sheds-to-rent in back gardens and communal rooms in London.

Comment Re:You were hired to work for THEM (Score 0) 349

Your understanding of "salary" is probably not in line with law, though it depends on your industry and state. It's very complicated (you can make a good living specializing in it as a lawyer). Here is a 5-minute rundown.

For most people in most industries, their "salary" is the minimum amount they can expect to receive from their employer each week, no matter how much they work. If this situation does not apply to you, then you become a non-exempt employee and are subject to all the hourly rules like overtime. This is the part that probably trips you up, as it leads to a lot of misunderstanding:

However, whether an employee is paid on a salary basis is a "fact," and thus specific evaluation of particular circumstances is necessary. Whether an employee is paid on a salary basis is not affected by whether pay is expressed in hourly terms (as this is a fairly common requirement of many payroll computer programs), but whether the employee in fact has a "guaranteed minimum" amount of pay s/he can count on.

In other words, just because your payroll system requires you to fill out a timesheet with 80 hours and your check seems to agree does not mean that is anything more than an implementation detail.

Comment Re:How about we worry where all the white males ar (Score 2) 224

Probably, they have retired or left California and moved to Colorado or Texas. They saw the H1B replacement program in progress 20 years ago. Housing became so expensive, employers were unwilling to pay jumbo salaries for jumbo rents and mortgages so they figured it's cheaper to hire people who are willing to house-share.

Comment Re:Childbirth? (Score 1) 224

Maybe it varies from region to region, but in some areas, a software engineer/programmer only has a lifespan of six years because the competition is so fierce (entry requirements are having a GPA of 7.5+ from a prestigious university and being a team captain on the school competition teams). Everyone is determined to get the most interesting work in order to beef up their portfolio and get onto even bigger more interesting projects or to get a salary large enough to buy a house. Anyone male or female without that determination gets squashed flat, pushed into bug fixing, maintenance, tech writing, sales or marketing or just leaving.

Comment Re:You were hired to work for THEM (Score 1) 349

my salaried position requires me to work 40 hours a week, or more if the company decides I need to

That's probably against your state's work rules, but calling them out on it will likely cause you more grief than it is worth. They don't get to dodge overtime rules without also accepting the loss of the ability to demand 40 hours.

They should not be using company resources for personal projects, but like the 40 hour rule this is also widely disregarded. You can fire people for any reason in most states, so as an employer why use hours when it can get you in trouble? Just make up whatever reason you want, so long as you can back it up.

Comment Re:You were hired to work for THEM (Score 3, Insightful) 349

It depends, though. At least in most of the US (it varies by state), a salaried employee is supposedly being compensated for the job that they do, not the hours that they keep. If the job requires certain hours, then technically you should be using hourly employees. There are obviously fuzzy areas, and many, many businesses play fast and loose with the rules. Anyway, if the employee is salaried is doing what is asked of them, then they are still guilty of using company resources for a personal project. But that's a far lesser sin than "stealing" hours, which is what is implied in the question.

Comment Re:Where are these Cobol positions? (Score 1) 360


A quick hunt around UK jobsites shows a number of large companies (not banks) looking for COBOL programmers in the £35-45k range. That's the price range of someone who just does basic network management, who can be replaced in seconds.

The banks aren't giving salaries but they state benefits, etc. but much of their job descriptions are "experience with finance stuff" with COBOL thrown in occasionally.

Though I'm sure it probably is harder to find a COBOL programmer than other languages nowadays, they aren't trying very hard to attract them based on searching "COBOL" on a number of jobsites. Either what little demand there is is being met, or they just aren't advertising them at all.

Comment Language (Score 2) 360

Why does the language matter?

I have to learn all kinds of new, esoteric and niche languages all the time as part of my job.

Surely what you want is to hire a business or banking programmer and make sure they are then made competent in COBOL (gosh, maybe you could utilise your ageing COBOL workforce to teach him?), no different to bringing in a guy trained on a competitor's system and training him on YOUR system.

It worries me that a bank would be hiring a programmer who *can't* do several languages, especially languages that have been around for decades rather than languages utilising entirely different paradigms, or that can't pick up new ones as they appear.

If you hire some - I don't know, whatever the language of the moment is, say Java or something - programmer to replace all this system, you'll have a system tied into Java. Which will, as Java is starting to show, start to get replaced itself by the time that guy has gone and you've only got rookies running the place on the old-guy's code.

Massive expense, to be back to square one, after decades of dodgy code that was trying to stabilise.

Advertise for programmers, teach them COBOL as the "in-house" language. Then, so long as your business systems have the tools for them to create and execute those programs, you're sorted for a long time yet. You don't even need to care that every other bank in the world has moved to Java or whatever if you do it right and have standardised interfaces or conversion tools.

I think this is not related to "we can't find people who could program in COBOL" as much as "we already have a bunch of cheap outsourced programmers who only know Java and they can't learn anything else".

The time taken to familiarise yourself with such a critical codebase to the point of confidence in pushing your production code should VASTLY outweigh the time required to actually learn something like COBOL from scratch, in this kind of industry.

Comment Depends on what you count (Score 1) 360

Because it's cheaper.

That depends on what you count. It might be cheaper in the short term to keep patching together an increasingly obsolete and aging system than to develop a new modern one but if you look at the longer term the higher maintenance costs add up. On top of this there is a lost opportunity cost: you could miss out on new, profitable technologies and methods if you have an older, less flexible system which is why banking innovation seems to be increasingly happening in companies outside the sector e.g. things like Apple pay.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 0) 360

COBOL isn't hard to learn, and it can be understood/read/debugged a lot easier than many of the more contemporary languages. Banks that want to maintain COBOL systems need to just hire new CS graduates and give them time to come up to speed on the COBOL language.

All this may be true but why would they do that when, if they replaced it with something developed in the current century, they would not need to. A delivery company could train it's employees to drive horses and then use horse carts to make local delivery runs but why would they? Well perhaps for a sales gimick but otherwise using old technology often gives significant disadvantages beyond the need to train your employees.

Comment Re:A lot of programming was done without a keyboar (Score -1, Offtopic) 111

Well, I think the point here is by the time THIS game was developed, use of keyboards was a pretty standard thing in programming.

That just shows the only hardship they had to deal with was their own short sightedness by not providing a simple means to program the device using available technology. That's hardly something to brag about.

Comment Re:Common (Score 1) 50

What is frustrating about this is how easy it would be for the cops to roll these guys up if they wanted to. I mean they're providing a mailing address, even if it is a PO Box that isn't going to keep them anonymous for long. I bet it wouldn't even take too many arrests before the volume of mail really dropped. The people who do this need to mail fraud thousands of times every week just to get a few bites.

For the scam to work at all they need a US address. Ain't nobody gonna fill out a SCE "bill" and then mail it in an international envelope to Belarus or something. I guess they could be using a remailing service, but at the least the cops could get their account shut down.

Comment Re:Image processing (Score 3, Interesting) 111

I was given an 80-column, 24-line text terminal to the department microVax

And I'm typing these very words on a 79-column 25-line text terminal on a N900, using elinks. It's too much pain to use a graphical browser with only 256MB ram (built-in microB is insecure, unmaintained and can't even do SSL anymore; modern "slim" browsers need 1-2GB minimum), elinks works fine.

Still better than a modern Android/iJunk dumbphone.

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