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Comment Re:Where are these Cobol positions? (Score 1) 371


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) 371

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 Sigh (Score 0) 177

Global network.

10,000 chargers.

That's one every 5750 (ish) square miles.

Well done.

P.S. There are about the same total amount of petrol stations in the UK (though it used to be 4 times as many back in the 60's, but obviously ranges have increased and super-stores are now the preference rather than small independents), but in the UK that still gives you a petrol station every 9.5 square miles or thereabouts.

To be honest, according to: there are nearly 4000 Tesla and non-Tesla locations where you can charge a car just in the UK, with 12000 charging points. Even in the UK, electric is only one-half of petrol availability.

These Tesla stations are really a minority. They don't need to double, they need to do something radical like ten times the number of chargers just to start competing in the US alone. And continue that until saturation.

God knows how much electric 100,000 fast-charging stations pull. I doubt it's any more environmentally friendly than even 100,000 petrol cars.

Comment 34 years (Score 2, Interesting) 171

So, after 34 years, in a world of on-demand entertainment, mobile devices, in-home electronics, video conferencing, etc., Stallman is using a decade-old laptop, watching no entertainment at all, presumably has nothing in the line of other devices (e.g. tablets, phones, CCTV, etc.) and can't talk to anyone who doesn't use the same kind of software as him (e.g. everyone on Skype, WhatsApp, etc.). And he also thinks you should go to jail for wanting to put a restrictive licence on things you own?

And we're supposed to follow this guy's ideals?

The guy's a moron. And that's coming from someone who does do an awful lot of things the open-source way, including my own programming.

If you want to fix this problem, rather than mouth off, try and fix some of the primary problems identified by the FSF - which has included open-source video conferencing for years. Hell, they're still talking about an open-source alternative for Flash which has lived and died in the time they've been trying to create one.

The sentiment is overblown, the direction is a good one, but the reality is so poor that everyone gave up waiting (e.g. for Hurd which only recently got SATA functionality...). And you're seriously advocating a years-old laptop as the way to live? That laptop stopped manufacture before millions of the users of things like iPads and WhatsApp were even born.

Not only are you bad at fixing the problem, you're bad at finding interim solutions, and bad at making suggestions, and nothing but bad press for people who DO still want free and open kit.

I'm incredibly disappointed that NOBODY with these large organisations with tons of skilled people on board has thought to monetise the exact thing they can do : Make a series of machines that are free and open from top to bottom. You can use sales from them to develop further. People would buy one just for a certified "open" tag.

But, no, the closest you can get is System76 who recycle old IBM laptops still and who have just thought about getting into the game of end-to-end production.

We could have been doing that since the 386 era when this guy first started mouthing off publicly, but nothing has been done in that direction.

I'm all for free software but, you know what, I have to talk to real people. That means a mobile phone. I have to use computers. That means ones I can buy in a shop today. I have to live and enjoy. And that means playing games on Steam and watching movies on Amazon.

Because there are precisely ZERO viable alternatives, short of a 10-year-old laptop and giving everything else up.

Comment Re:Well there's your problem (Score 3, Interesting) 106

1) It's a mechanical device under huge manual and braking stress. They break. They can't not break. Maybe you haven't seen it, maybe you just don't use the break or own enough cars or care enough to check.

2) I used to buy old cars. 5-10 years old. Until recently, I never bought new. I used to change car when they didn't pass the relevant tests, so I bought a lot of second-hand cars. Almost ALL of them had parking brake problems. From "it doesn't do anything" to "it needs a serious amount of adjusting" to it literally could not be released once activated.

3) My dad does all my repairs/maintenance as he worked in the trade for decades. Ask him if mechanical parking brakes never fail.

4) My new car, a year or so old now, has electric parking brakes. I distrusted them, like you. When my car was new, I took it to a couple of off-road locations to test lots of things (I'm not a boyracer, speed was NOT one of them, I'm literally talking about "Oh, I don't like that... how does that work if..." scenarios) - best way to get to know and trust a car is to actually activate these things in a safe place.

Electronic parking brake? Massively outperforms a mechanical one. I could not make it not activate on demand. I could not make it activate inadvertently (it appears the button/toggle that controls it has debouncing that's undergone a lot of testing to avoid inadvertent activation, but yet work whenever you need it to). And there's a reason I couldn't make it work inadvertently... the parking brake is not just a parking brake but your only non-hydraulic method of stopping the car in an emergency.

I deliberately read the latest car design requirements from the government and, at least in my country, the parking brake must still operate independently so it can be used in the car of a brake failure. I was worried they were obsoleting a safety backup, but in fact the requirements are much more stringent now than most of the old cars I used to drive.

And so I took it on a non-public road. And I poodled along and pressed the parking brake. Holy shit did it stop. Even on gravel. Okay, so I got braver and braver and asked it to stop me from faster and faster speeds (never going stupid, but still - on a motorway this might need me to stop the car before it hits a line of traffic, late, after I realise the normal brakes don't work).

HOLY SHIT. You have no idea how effective it is compared to a traditional cabled parking brake (no handbrake turns, for sure, because you just don't get time, but then I would never attempt that anyway). I only avoided whacking my head on the steering wheel each time because I knew it was coming after building up from the slower speeds (presumably airbags would kick in in a collision, I'm not testing that though!).

I tested the "auto-release when you drive". I couldn't make it release when I didn't want it to. Literally, you have to have enough driver-instructed forward motion that you would hear the brakes screech anyway if you did move and it deactivates a fraction of a second AFTER you're actually moving against the brake.

Hill starts? I actually worry now that with electric parking brakes, you never have to be able to do one properly. They make it that reliable and easy. I've literally never rolled back, not even an inch, unless you are absolutely 100% negligent and wait for the brake to release and then suddenly let get of everything and it still takes a second or two to roll back because the car has to have been moving forward to release the brake.

And if I hold the foot-brake for a few seconds while stationary, it knows that and just puts on the parking brake too. It doesn't do it while moving at even a tiny speed where you can barely see the wheels moving even if you're doing that by holding the normal brake. It knows the difference.

Someone put a lot of testing, thought and effort into my car's electric parking brake. I couldn't make it do things I didn't want, even when I was completely abusing the mechanisms to try to fool it.

And, reading online, it warns you if it fails in any way, which mechanical ones do not. The number of people whose cars I've driven only to be told "Oh, no, you can't use the handbrake, it doesn't work" and there's NO indication of that. The electric brake? The first single failure and you get the brake warning light which you can't get rid of until you've OBD'd it away. And it reappears the second it goes wrong again.

5) Mechanical light switches in my house have been mostly replaced. Because although they might "work" they have severe limitations (e.g. the number of switches that can be joined to control a single set of lights, without electronics, relays, etc.)

There's a reason that people are moving away from mechanical, moving parts towards electronics that can verify themselves. Nobody is saying "they can never fail", we're saying "they fail much less and most of the time you'll know they are failing", which I've found to be a big problem with mechanical parts with older cars.

Electronic ignition (i.e. digitally controlled, not just a mechanical replacement).
Electronic parking brake.
Electronic braking systems.
Electronic power steering.
Electronic injection and timing.

If you don't like it now, I suggest you stop driving, because there's no indication that mechanical means will ever return or that they are even capable of meeting modern safety standards any more. And when those old cars die, you will never see another built like that.

Yeah, the complexity in something that used to just be four cylinders and a few belts is scary. But there's a reason. They do far more than mechanical ever could, far better.

Nobody claims they're fail-proof. But given the old wrecks I used to drive, I have far more confidence in an self-checking electronic part that's almost impossible to fool, over whatever some bastard has done to the parking brake cable over the years.

Comment Re:Users lie. (Score 1) 169

From cold boot, with BIOS, yes.

From normal Windows 8 "sleep" power off? Seconds.

I'm not picking and choosing my metrics here. I gave you worst-case, real-world, observed. They don't take 4 minutes to load bloat because they're a managed system. Nothing on startup that doesn't need to be, everything works and loads in seconds when you want it.

And even 30 seconds isn't "too long" to wait for a computer to turn on. Normal working day, however? It never goes off so doesn't even figure.

If I wanted to Wake-on-LAN them just before people got in, they wouldn't even know. But they're so quick, it's not worth taking the time to write the script to do that.

P.S. Stock, commodity Lenovo clients. Nothing special. All same image.

Comment Users lie. (Score 5, Interesting) 169

500+ users
150+ machines.

Not one of them is slow enough to discourage a user (doesn't stop them trying to claim that).

Windows 8.1. 8Gb, SSD. EVERYWHERE. Everything you could want to do, office-wise, will fly. We have no power usage and EVERYONE has the same exact source image for their machine. Even IT.

The biggest restriction is really that we *only* have Gigabit to the desktop. Plenty of oomph on the switches, more than enough backbone, massive internet line, servers and storage sitting mostly idle, but sometimes the gigabit is a bottleneck (e.g. 1Gb profile takes 8 seconds to download!).

But turn the PC on, within 30 seconds you are at the logo-wallpaper of the logon screen. Type in your username/password, if it "knows" you (i.e. it's your computer or you logged in there recently), if gets to desktop in 10-20 seconds. If it doesn't know you, it's profile download and (possibly) GPO setup etc. which can take a minute or two admittedly. Applications launch and then work. You can open EVERYTHING on the image at once (I know, I've done it) and it still works just fine.

Last time someone claimed something was slow (after re-images and all sorts), we took the machine apart on their desk, "changed" the hard drive for the exact same drive through some sleight of hand, re-imaged it again. They still - months later - keep telling me how much faster it now is (than the previous re-image of an identical image on the exact same hardware? Really?).

It's all in their head. In the same way time slows when you are bored and speeds up when you're in a hurry, they perceive it differently when they're desperate to get something important done, but nobody's ever demonstrated an unreasonable logon, program startup, or response time.

After years of doing IT and actually collecting metrics on this (perflog etc.), I just take it in my stride now.

The irony: The IT Office machines - including my own - are their rejects from last year, that were deemed "slow". I put the exact same image back on them, put the IT software GPOs on (so they actually have MORE junk than a normal machine), and have been using them for 3 years now.

Eating your own dogfood kinda throws out all the crazy performance theories. And if it's bad enough to bug them for even ten minutes, I assure you it will bug me more using it for EVERYTHING every single day of my working life.

Comment Sigh. (Score 1) 167

"Revenue was not a top priority -- a remarkable oversight for any company, and a particularly galling one for a payments company. Eventually, with cash running low, Tilt went looking for a buyer..."

Well - this is what happens when you just throw $65m at someone but don't provide them with a set of targets, metrics, viability tests, check-ups, performance reviews, performance-linked investment etc.

Of course revenue's not a priority if some idiot finances you to the tune of decades of operating income without ever needing to do anything specific to get that money.

And once the valuation hits 5 times that, which is ludicrous if they don't actually have money or technology at that moment, only "potential", they have even less incentive. Short of a clause or two, they could just sell up and disappear, having made millions doing nothing.

To be honest: Never heard of them, don't care.

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