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Comment Personal vs Research? (Score 2) 375

As a senior engineer I'm expected to keep an eye out for technology that may be useful for the company. I set time aside to poke around, see what's out there, and play with new stuff. Some of this may end up being only of personal interest, while some of it may end up being useful for the company. Until I have a look at it, I won't know.

I'll spend half a day on something on my own responsibility, a morning or an afternoon, before I seek buy-in from my boss to proceed further.

...laura

Comment Where are these Cobol positions? (Score 1) 367

Serisously: Where are these Cobol positions in desperate need of filling?

If they really are desperately needed, they should translate into 80 000€+/Year, 40 hour workweeks, 30 days of vacation, zero-fuss relocation support and some other niceties. Give me that and I'll drop my current hard-pressing hipster-induced TypeScript/JS/NodeJS ambitions instantly and dive into Cobol right away. I'll be the Cobol master in a year and enjoy it aswell. And as a guy with ERP/E-Commerce order processing experience, I get serial processing (which banks still do for transactional safety) and other old-school super-conservative ways of doing things.

But somehow something tells me they want people no older than 28 with 10+ years of Cobol experience and top-grade proficiency with Oracle 4.x and some obscure version of AIX. And offer a laughable 44 000€/Year and I have to move to Frankfurt, a town that is ugly as hell and has real-estate and living costs move off the charts big time, even more so since Brexit.

So, unless I get a call by a banking Ops manager telling me that he's in desperate need for Coders willing to move to Cobol and if I would care to give it a shot and offers me something along the lines stated in the first paragraph, I'm not really holding my breath or feeling to much pitty for the banks.

My 2 eurocents.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 5, Interesting) 367

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) 213

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) 217

*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) 542

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:This is, how the system should work (Score 1) 158

Standard Oil was accused of "predatory pricing" moving into an area, underpricing until the competition left, and then raising its prices using it's new-found monopoly power.

It was only a couple of decades ago that anyone looked at the data.

Turns out that they did indeed move in with lower prices, and that their competitors fled, but they kept the lower prices. (and why not? unlike their competitors, they were quite profitable at those prices).

hawk

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:They are also often newer (Score 1) 166

Don't look at me for sympathy :)

I bought this house in a middle class neighborhood about 30 years ago. It has degraded to lower middle class. (Hey, it makes for cheap security: noone in the neighborhood has anything worth stealing, so burglars don't bother us . . .)

I can get highspeed from Cox, may many poxes befall their house.

Centurylink, which used to be the phone company, can't deliver more than 3 mbit service here (but, gee, if I dig the trench to the street, they'll supply 8 conductor rather than 4 conductor phoneline . . .).

Bizarrely, they send an add every week or two for their Prism and high speed, even though it can't be purchased . . .

I'd take it in a heartbeat. Heck, I'd probably buy from russian hackers or the devil to get away from cox . . .

hawk

Comment Re:I hope he wins his suit (Score 1) 727

"Doctor" had a long established meaning before the modern MD in the US was concocted: a doctor was a person who had acquired significant knowledge in an area, *AND* had contributed to that body of knowledge. (It comes from the Latin verb "to teach").

The modern MD was created specifically to borrow the prestige and legitimacy of the doctors of the university at at a time when contemporary medicine was at least as likely to cause harm as to help. It created a system of training, but dropped the second prong (contribution to knowledge).

As a real doctor, I find the borrowing of my title an adequate tradeoff for the vastly improved healthcare, but I get a good laugh when a mere MD tries to distinguish that he is a "real doctor." (If he as actually published in a peer reviewed journal, or developed a new technique, he is indeed a real doctor. But they are a small minority).

MDs also like introducing themselves as "Dr. Smith"; real doctors rarely do--I've never done it outside of a classroom.

The DDS is kind of an MD knockoff with the same missing second prong.

Chiropracticy, well . . . they should only be allowed to operate under the direct supervision of real physicians, but that's another issue. "Menace" would be a better title than "Dr." for them, but I digress . . .

And as for attorneys . . . the (american) JD is actually the old LLB (Bachelor of Law). In about the 1960s, law schools started switching over, even offering replacement diplomas to their alumni. It was about some kind of parity with MD.

The LLM is a legal master's degree, almost always in tax in the US.

And then there is the LLD, the PhD equivalent, an actual doctor. These are rare, you see an occasional law school dean and so forth. And, notably, Neil Gorsuch, the newest Supreme Court Justice, holds one. (for all I know, he's the only JSD or LLD to ever sit on the court, but I haven't bothered to look, as it's really not that important).

Substantially all medical school and law school faculty have published and contributed to their bodies of knowledge.

hawk, doctor of economics & statistics

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.

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