Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I'm a dinosaur (by K)

I started in the IT industry in April '77.
I was completely broke and met a friend of mine who was doing a "Diploma in Computer Programming."
Sitting with him working at RPG and COBOL I thought "This is easy."
So I asked him how much he would make a year when he finished.
After picking myself up off the floor, I thought "I have to learn this!"
Problem was, I was broke, unemployed and definitely couldn't afford to take 2 years to get that piece of paper.
Worse, I had got woeful scores in High School, so I'd have to do a raft of courses before I could even start.
So I just walked around the various business districts asking to speak to the local IT person and tried to get a job.
It took 2 weeks but I got in.
An accountant who was building a computerised accounting system was mildly interested.
It was a tad embarrassing for both of us...
Him: "Do you know what RAM is?"
Me: "Male sheep?"
But he hired me.
For the princely sum of $75 a week.
I lived in an condemned, abandoned house which was falling down and crawling with cockroaches.
I made and ate Pea with Ham soup for a month.
But after 6 months I was in charge of a product.
I had learnt Assembler, de-compiled CP/M, located and fixed a dud memory chip on a SuperBrain and wrote a new screen driver.
I also rewrote the Report Writer component for the system.
I discovered a bug in the integer handling code for the MBasic compiler and sent a fix to Redmond.
So my career started.
Since then I've used just about every language invented - yes, I even used APL once.
I was instrumental in creating a new language and was a paper millionaire for a while.
1,000,000 lines of K&R C.
Even have the "executive" pins given to me by AT&T and others.
I was even in contact with ESR with fixes for Sendmail, Prof J Ousterhout, Al Stevens and so on.
I wrote a self-published manual for Systems Administration on SunOS.
I used VisualAge.
I have my name on a MAN page.
Now I'm 55.
And I did an ego-search.
Now that's depressing.
And now I'm surrounded by kids.
Kids who don't understand stuff.
Kids who don't have a clue about DRY or YAGNI or were all this stuff they use comes from.
And they don't seem to care.
They assume Factories and Builders and Adapters are the way it's always been.
They've never heard of "Mel."
They get entranced with a specific technology and when all you have is a hammer...
So they lumber along crashing about like drunk Elks at a pool party missing the point at every turn.
Because they don't seem to care about why things are they way they are.
They just seem to twiddle knobs, mash buttons and pull levers until magically it works.
And if you try to explain, it seems like they're just waiting for you to finish so they can continue twiddling, mashing and pulling.
So much for the Scientific Approach.
Sure, they're passionate and committed and excited.
But you can't tell them squat.
They waste hours and build rubbish that will lurch along, become un-maintainable while they move onto the next exciting technology.
Now I know that the worlds changed.
I know that the old idea of a job that you went to each day and did what your boss said is fading.
I know that everyone with a laptop and inspiration is essentially the same as a factory of yesteryear.
I'm not talking about the "Death of the Job."
It's just the lack of care and responsibility.
I'm guess I've been EOL'd and become surplus to requirements.
Might as well go and eat worms.

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