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Comment Re: How about a 4th option ? (Score 1) 308

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 2) 308

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:If it ain't broke don't fix it. (Score 1) 308

I was replying to an AC that referred to the language as COBAL, hence the intended misspelling.
  I worked for a large financial corporation starting with peripheral operations on punch card readers, and microfiche printers long ago. I've worked with removable platter DASD, on DEC PDP-11/70's through Tandem Himalaya machines, then into Unix and Solaris on SUN and Cray hardware. It sounds like we have similar backgrounds. I did mention that there was huge price to just get into the game at the mainframe level though. I've had to debug more hex dumps in old JES environments than I care to remember

Comment Re:If it ain't broke don't fix it. (Score 1) 308

They are learning COBAL. The problem is the language is COBOL. Programmers should learn Hexadecimal and Binary (machine level code) and then go into application layer programming from there, but that is neither cool or trendy.
AFAIK there are still no viruses on MVS & VM systems. TPF and CICS still function wonderfully there is just a huge price to get into the game with a mainframe system vs. PC/minicomputers.

Comment Re:Apple = the Gap (Score 1) 53

Was thinking more like Hot Topic or Old Navy but the Gap works as well. I've not used apple hardware since high school, when as the designated AV Geek I set up an Apple II in the library and reassured the librarian that the sounds coming out of the disk drive were normal. The rest of the computer lab was using Commodore 64's. I had a TRS-80 color at home, and my dad had a CPM machine from work that we played Zork on. I won't play in Apples walled garden so any music or 'pop culture' will be a mystery to me. Slackware, RH, Solaris, Windows, OS2, MVS, VM, DOS/VSE, I've played with and supported them all without needing or wanting to take a bite of the poison apple.

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:Slow news day (Score 2) 189

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) 270

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:The Cloud (Score 2) 82

This isn't the reason the cloud makes a terrible backup. The thing that you want to avoid with a backup is correlated failures: things that cause a failure of your primary store should be different from things that cause a failure of your backup. Your house burning down or thieves coming and stealing your computers will cause failures of both your original and on-site backups. It's a lot less likely that the founder of your cloud provider will be arrested for the same reason that you lose your laptop.

Remember: it only matters if your backup storage fails at the same time as your on-line storage.

Comment Re:SF salaries are too low (Score 1) 353

No, he's right. To afford a standard of living comparable to what the same engineer would be able to afford elsewhere, he needs to make $500K/year. That's obviously not sustainable for his employer, which means that the rational thing to do is start moving jobs out of the bay area (which some companies have already started - Microsoft closed the bay area Microsoft Research site a year or two back, for example).

Comment Re:Poster does not understand Algebra (Score 1) 353

You can address that by having a progressive tax. In the UK, there are tax-free savings accounts that have a limited pay-in amount per year[1], income on which is exempt from income tax. You could do the same thing with a wealth tax: anything in a tax-free savings account doesn't count. You could perhaps also add an exemption for money in your primary residence, up to the median house price in your region. Beyond that, add a tax-free allowance of something like $50K and most people will pay nothing.

The real problem with such a scheme is that it's open to tax avoidance. It's fine for poor people, whose wealth is typically in cash form and so easily valued, but what about wealth held in private stocks in off-shore corporations? Those currently don't even need to be disclosed, and if they are then it's often very difficult to determine the value of the company (especially if it's a shell company that owns other shell companies that own real assets, with arbitrary levels of indirection in the middle). To make it work, you need complete financial transparency on all private companies.

[1] When they were introduced, this was about £3K, which was pretty reasonable. If you're earning 50% more than minimum wage in most of the country, you can get close to this. Now it's over £10K, which effectively makes it a tax break for the rich. Unfortunately, it doesn't roll over either, so if you have irregular income then you couldn't put in nothing one year and then £6K the next.

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