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  • Is IT Skill Set Sustainable?

    Home Forums Outside the box Rumors and what-ifs Is IT Skill Set Sustainable?

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      • #2346069
        AskWoody MVP

        Hey Y’all,

        I don’t know if the title is the best one but it was the only thing I could come up with.

        Along with askWoody I also post on StackOverflow. Over the last week and a half I’ve slowly been pruning Tags for topics I have no interest in. It’s been a long slow process and I don’t think I’m anywhere near done.

        So it hit me that with so many different technologies, most of which accomplish basically the same thing, do we benefit or suffer as a result. I mean really does business and/or society really benefit from hundreds of programming languages? Yes, I know competition drives innovation, on the other hand have you tried recently to get a Cobol or Fortran programmer to maintain that legacy system?

        Wouldn’t we all benefit if the syntax for a Loop was the same in all languages, just the underlying code different? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually transfer your spreadsheet from Excel to Google Sheets without worrying about compatibility issues?

        Last, but not least, my all time favorite why is an = sign an assignment in some languages and a comparison in others?!

        What say y’all? 😎

        May the Forces of good computing be with you!


        PowerShell & VBA Rule!
        Computer Specs

      • #2346082

        I can see your point, but how would you like it if there was only just the one world language (e.g. French)  and only one country (e.g. Australia – rather than the US as some people seem to think is the case!)?  Look how Microsoft has attempted to impose one browser on us (Internet Explorer, then Edge, then CrEdge…).

        Monopolies lead to control – see George Orwell’s 1984, for example.  And some countries which I will not name.

        Diversity leads to flexibility…

        Thank heaven we can still use the Command Prompt…!


        Ascetics go without, mystics go within.

      • #2346093
        AskWoody MVP

        (playing devils advocate) The IT security sector would probably frown at the mere suggestion, being a major financial beneficiary to the current senario.
        Programming fragmentation is good – for IT Security sustainability

      • #2346116
        AskWoody Lounger

        I was just yesterday thinking about the problem of excess complexity.

        During that thought experiment, I remembered a graphic idea I proposed
        to our arithmetic teacher, back in grammar school. It went like this:

        there are 3 lines that connect 3 points in a plane (triangle)
        there are 6 lines that connect 4 points in a plane (square)
        there are 9 lines that connect 5 points in a plane (pentagon)
        and so on.

        A “line” represents a contingency or connection of some sort
        e.g. a change at one point has some effect on the point
        at the other end of that straight line segment.

        Now, compare the average number of “processes” typically
        running under Windows XP, with the average number of “processes”
        typically running under a current version of Windows 10 Pro x64.

        Task Manager reports the number of “processes” currently running.

        A Windows OS “process” corresponds to a “point” in our graph above.

        What’s the correct mathematical formula for the total number of
        line segments connecting all discrete points in a plane?

        I submit to you that this formula is a good, first-order
        approximation for the sheer complexity that exists
        in any given Operating System.

        I can’t ever remember a time when a computer Operating System
        was not extremely complex.

        And, I started using and developing computer systems
        during my first year of grad school, June 1971.

        So, this coming June I will celebrate my 50th anniversary
        with computers.

        My one “claim to fame” is my habit of offering recommendations
        to Microsoft that are instantly ignored e.g. like spending a
        whole year doing nothing but bug fixes, and postponing
        any new developments until after that year of bug fixes is past.

        • #2346118
          AskWoody Lounger




          n = number of discrete points

          Now, use that formula to compare
          the complexity of 60 running processes
          the complexity of 160 running processes!

      • #2346132
        AskWoody Plus

        As a computer translator author the wrote & maintained everything from RPG to COBOL and IBM assembler to COBOL (most of it), COBOL INTERCOMM to CICS Command Level and IDMS, IMS, TOTAL and other data base conversions as well (all written in PL/I), I’ve run into the gamut of coworkers…both contractors and client employees in the 35 years or so I was doing mainframe work.

        About 1980, while writing a translator for a multimillion dollar conversion project, Wally, one of the contractors on the project from the same company as me and I started chatting.  I’d guess he was at least 65 years old and I was in my mid-30s.  He had been relegated to the ‘documentationalist’ for the project as the prior 20+ years of his career was spent writing assembler on the ‘early iron’ and a smattering of RPG thrown in.  It wasn’t his first career, I suspect.  Simply put, he failed to keep up with the newer technology and got left behind.

        I decided then and there I’d never fall into that trap.  Although I almost did as in the early ’70s, I did a bunch of contract work on Burroughs mainframes and missed the ‘early days’ of CICS and TSO as well.  Thankfully, in ’75, I went to work for a competitor contract firm and spent my contracting time writing mostly COBOL and using TSO as well.  My really early days as the systems programmer for a small IBM 360/30 OS/MFT shop paid off.

        I picked up a number of languages, from Fortran (in college), multiple assemblers, multiple COBOLs, and even ALGOL while on Burroughs projects.  I learned PL/I for a project and the client was amazed when told after it was done that it was my first PL/I.  I also learned how to ‘beat’ JES at its own game, too.  Some years later, I also ‘beat’ one of the well known mainframe security systems, too.

        Although I bought a PC/XT and wrote and sold (with very limited success) software written in assembler for it after first designing a super fast TSO-like full screen editor, my hopes to make it there fizzled.  So I went back to mainframe contracting again.  When I finally retired in mid 1999, I thought I was finished programming for a living.

        Unfortunately, the major jolts in the stock market in the early 2000s wiped out my retirement and forced me to look for work.  The unfortunate reality was that although I had far more experience and background than mainframe shops were looking for, once they saw the high school and college graduation dates in their online job application forms, I’m sure the Del button was their immediate response.

        In the ’90s, while on multiple projects in the Washington DC area writing custom translators (anybody want a ‘Report Writer” removal translator?  it was flawless! – or how about a Honeywell to IBM JCL translator?) I encountered a young whippersnapper know-it-all programmer that truly thought C++ was assembler language!  Through the years, I glanced at C and C++ and saw it simply as a stupified combination of PL/I and Algol.  Who in their right mind would use := when = has worked for countless years!

        Perhaps I should have gone to a local community college (high school with ash trays) and got a couple of idiot certifications on PCs for what I had picked up on my own through the years.  WOWEEE!!! I could be a network technician for about 1/10th of what I was getting paid as a self-employed translator writer!

        So yes, I ended up doing exactly what I swore to myself I’d never do…be left behind technologically.   Such is life.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2346168
        AskWoody Plus

        There are special types of computing that require that its software be programmed in a specific language as the most appropriate to the task. For example, Fortran was designed from the beginning for implementing computer calculations of mathematical formulas and in its current version is optimized for vectorization (computing parts of a program that can be run independently of each other without waiting fort he results of one before computing the next, would be a simple example). For this reason Fortran, not C++, for example, is chosen for writing software to do the type of massive number crunching, using supercomputers, required for certain things such as creating and running weather models, or analyzing the output of particle collisions in atom smashers such the one at CERN.

        I am familiar with Fortran, to some extent with C, less with C++ … and that’s more than many of my colleagues in my own discipline, that often have to write software for their own research work, because there is none available for much of what they do.

        As to the proliferation of languages besides the above, I imagine that some of if is because of similar reasons: programming language is a tool and one should use the tool most suitable to the task at hand, or make a new one if none is available yet. And some of that proliferation might be because of why not?

        As to having an “universal programming language”: Humpty Dumpty is now on the floor and is not likely to be put together again any time soon. I would put the chances of a few (let alone just one) programming languages being used in the future, close to those of global government and of communicating with aliens from distant star systems any time soon.

        And that, in turn,means that problems with programs still being in use after most or all those that were familiar with the languages they were written in have retired or passed away, is not a problem likely to go away any time soon, or get better, either.

        But, hey!: one never knows.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2346255
        AskWoody Plus

        So yes, I ended up doing exactly what I swore to myself I’d never do…be left behind technologically. Such is life.

        you could have been describing my IT career from ’68-’99. lol

        • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by PFC.
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