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back to article Curse you, old person, for inventing computers!

Since being allowed back into public places without causing the skin of those nearby to melt or for Jurassic sealife to shuffle out of the Pacific and sneeze fire at Tokyo Tower, Half Life Wife has enjoyed several evenings out at the theatre with yours truly. My love for theatre has only recently returned, having been beaten out …

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I have plenty of respect for the older generation in computing (after all they taught the current generation what to do).

yes the younger generation may be able to bash out "code" at a rate of knots but few have a real understanding of how it all works behind the scenes, the older ones know exactly what's happening because they built what is behind the scenes and as a result know a lot of tricks that never made it into the documentation.

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Anonymous Coward

This little gem is 10 years old now, and the theme is still quite relevant: the Cascade of Attention Deficit Teenagers development model.

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Joke

Old git 1: When I was a lad, we never had these newfangled integrated bleeding development environments!

Old git 2: Aye, we had emacs, and we were glad of it!

Old git 3: Emacs! we would have loved to have had emacs, we were stuck with vi, but we were happy!

Old git 4: We did not have editors at all, we had piles of punched cards! Hundreds of lines of FORTAN, one to

each card

Old git 1: Luxury! We had no programming languages at all! Everything was machine language

Old git 2: Machine language!? We would have died for machine language. We had to hand wire connections

in our computer to program it!

Old git 3: Right!

When I was young we had to compute entire navigation table with nought more than pencil and

paper and a hand-cranked mechanical computing apparatus!

Old git 4: And the problem with kids today is that if you tell them they don't believe a word you are saying!

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Damn straight

Now get the hell off my BBS, you no good punk kids.

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Trollface

The editor wars

Old git 3: Emacs! we would have loved to have had emacs, we were stuck with vi, but we were happy!

You can't have been there, no vi use would have wanted EMACs, them people who used that, well they were different. I mean they must have been born with extra thumbs anyway. Like they weren't really humans. Pah Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping. What you want one of them for.

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Angel

"Old git 1: When I was a lad, we never had these newfangled integrated bleeding development environments!"

POTD

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"Old git 3: Right!

When I was young we had to compute entire navigation table with nought more than pencil and

paper and a hand-cranked mechanical computing apparatus!"

You were lucky, we had to use Edlin.

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Anonymous Coward

From a real old git - now almost exactly seventy years old - too young to have had to do National Service, but with more than fifty years of using computers. As a benchmark for the younger generations Mick Jagger is seventy years old in July.

When I were a lad we did indeed use a hand-cranked Brunsviga mechanical calculator to do some calculations, and hand wire connections, before we could even use our computer. But not for these new fangled digital computers, we had analogue computers.

A practical result was the first really useful seven-group zoom lens which was designed on an analogue computer (first used on TV-cameras, but later adopted for photography). The reason it became seven groups of lenses is that we only had 8 input/output modules.

But tell that to the youngsters today and they don't believe it!

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Headmaster

>You were lucky, we had to use Edlin.

Edlin?

When I were young we 'd a new invention called a typewriter and a bottle of white paint to cover up mistakes.

Before that, we 'ad to write with a pen or pencil and we 'ad to cross out our mistakes.

And we still made it through school!

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Devil

A pox on you for reviving that ungodly name

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Pint

"When I was young we had to compute entire navigation table with nought more than pencil and

paper and a hand-cranked mechanical computing apparatus!"

Damn!

I'd forgotten all about the navigation computers we used in RAF Corps at school!

Worked mechanically with the blunt end of a pencil.

Happy days!

[Well, no they weren't, but still...]

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Re: >You were lucky, we had to use Edlin.

When I were young we'd clay tablets and a wooden stylus, and there were no zeros!

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Windows

Yup - Me too!

I too hate - no, detest - movies / programs / songs about extra-marital affairs - like the new Rod Stewart one, and am one of those strange, rare creatures who's still nuts about his wife 23 years after marrying her. marriage is fantastic. B****y hard work at times, but fantastic. Anyway - I've turned 50 this week, my pet hate is the technological marvel known as the automatic till. Man, I hate those things. From the patronising voice to the patronising assistants that hover over them for then they go wrong. Which is ALL THE TIME! Whats wrong with a human?

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Thumb Down

Re: Yup - Me too!

1 human can cover a lot of self scan tills. Or 1 human can cover 1 normal till. You do the maths.

I used to work in a supermarket and often had to cover these tills and there is nothing worse than an ignorant middle aged person who thinks they're too good to have to do it themselves. Younger people somehow instinctively know how to use them. Older people accept that they don't know how to use them and so ask for help. And then there's that generation in between who like to take it upon themselves to shout at the machine for not doing exactly what they want them to, when most of the time it's them misusing the machine!

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Re: Yup - Me too!

But - I like shouting at machines.

And, I don't expect them to sulk when I do

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

That sounds like a typical 'blame the victim' type claim.

Today's attitude of "we consider you all worthless annoyances only fit to boost our profit, and should do it all yourself, since we are too important to consider you a valued customer that might even want a service provided". It's not a case of knowing or not knowing how to use the self scan tills, it's a case of it being an outrage one is expected to forgo what used to be common courtesy and be blamed for not complying. And to even suggest someone is shouting at a machine for doing what they want it to do is beyond further comment. People are not supposed to fit in with what someone's machines 'want', the machines should be there only if they are useful and provide a better experience for the customer. Besides the continuous announcements and then need to get someone to fix whatever the machine has failed on next indicates it isn't even a good move. And that doesn't consider those who chose to shop where they are valued instead, those with the audacity to think the customer can be right.

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Re: Yup - Me too!

And sometimes they definitely need a stern talking to!

My point is, I came across so many people who refused to believe they were in the wrong, or took it upon themselves to, similar to the original post I replied to, blast me with questions like "why can't you just have normal tills?!" or "Can you just do it for me?" If they're so bothered about it, queue up for longer at a manned till, or take the time to ask for help and learn how to make them work properly

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

And that sounds like a typical ignorant consumer frightened of change. You're not forced to use the self scans are you? They're there for your convenience because they're quicker, and you don't have to have an inane conversation with some PFY about your weekend plans!

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Trollface

Re: Yup - Me too!

"And to even suggest someone is shouting at a machine for doing what they want it to do is beyond further comment."

So someone is trying to put a coupon in the 'notes' hole and that's the machine's fault?

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Re: Yup - Me too!

Happy birthday, GOM. Automatic tills are just badly designed. It wouldn't take very much effort to design a simpler version that customers would feel comfortable with, but hey, why bother?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

So; you are suggesting a customer puts a coupon in the 'notes' holes because they want the machine to reject the coupon ?

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Re: Yup - Me too!

I've been known to go out of my way (at least a small amount) to shop where there are automated tills. Even with the inevitable twits who can't figure them out, and the questionable design choices, they're still faster than waiting in line for the normal tills

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

No, obviously it was a typo by the 1st AC, if you read lawl's original reply it says 'non' doing exactly what it wanted them to do. Also, what's with the random semi-colon?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

"1 human can cover a lot of self scan tills. Or 1 human can cover 1 normal till. You do the maths."

OK I'll have a discount for buying by self-checkout

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yup - Me too!

It's the designers not the customers that need to learn how to make them work properly. By that I mean the machine should pick up and scan each item and bag it instead of using the customer as an unpaid shop assistant. Either that or damn well pass the savings on in the form of a discount for using the stupid contraptions.

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PJI
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Unhappy

Re: Yup - Me too!

I take it that:

1. Design, empathy, customer care and ergonomics are not your strong points.

2. You prefer to be on the dole to having a job.

I recall when my mother asked a bank clerk, who was directing her to use a machine rather than bother the clerk, if that clerk was happy to be out of a job. The miserable clerk had failed to consider the full consequences of bad customer service and delegation to a machine.

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Re: Yup - Me too! (Darryl)

Not so. You're not matching like with like. You can't add waiting in line in one case and not in the other. If the self service tills had a queue (which, more often than not they don't, because the mass of people don't like them) then the case would match. There are three actions in cash-out. Unloading the trolley, cashing, and loading the carry out bags. The quickest system is to choose a cash-out which already has someone who has completed their unloading. Then while the cashier is busy, you unload your trolley. If you have any sense, you arrrange the order of your shopping in the order that it witll go into the carry-out bags without damage. By the time you're done the previous customer is clear. You then move up and start loading the bags with the ordered shopping, while the cashier is passing the stuff through, and the next customer is unloading their trolley. So you have yourself loading, the cashier cashing and the next customer unloading ALL AT THE SAME TIME In the case of self service, you largely lose the option of sorting the order of your loading, so your bread goes under the potatoes. All the actions have to take place sequentially. I've been iknvolved in Work Study Practices in the past, and that's how you get efficient processing. And you have the option of chatting to the cashier or not. Your choice.Added to which, the most fraught part, the cashing, is done by a (usually) skilled operator, where the suff just flies through, and if there's any hiatus (the bar code smudged or obscured), they know how to deal with it.

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Flame

Re: Yup - Me too!

Hello GrumpyOldMan, from my own experience our "fuse" tends to get shorter and shorter the older we get, and that explains a lot. How I hate people who linger in front of the ATM for longer than absolutely necessary.

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Re:Re: Yup - Me too!

"OK I'll have a discount for buying by self-checkout."

Exactly! For THIS fifty-something, it's not an issue of not being able to figure out how to use a self-serve checkout; it's rather an issue of not WANTING to use one. I worked retail too many times in my life; my policy now is that, if I am expected to ring up and bag my own purchases, then I am damned well going to get an employee discount. If there's no automatic discount attached to the self-serve machine, then I want the full service that I'm paying full price for.

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Re: Yup - Me too!

Except that inexperienced shoppers take three times longer to get through self service than a shop attendant.

I guess the maths still works, but its often faster to go through a manned checkout.

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Stop

Re: Yup - Me too!

"And that sounds like a typical ignorant consumer frightened of change"

There's a difference between being frightened of change and knowing when the change is just crap. Self-scan checkouts are a piss-poor design, the scan-as-you-go wand that a couple of the more expensive supermarkets employ is a much better solution - scan the item as you put it in your trolly, get to the checkout area, insert your wand and pay for your goods. Nice, simple, elegant design that means you don't have to queue up, you don't have to talk to anyone if you don't want, and you don't have to drag the entire contents of your shopping over a bar code scanner that only seems to work within a couple of degrees of tolerance. Not to mention if you've got any significant amount of shopping there's never enough room to stack it, but if you try and remove it to create space a loud "item removed from baggage area" starts wailing like the bagging police to the nearest member of staff who is, by and large, a snotty-faced PFY who looks at you witheringly like it's your fault the design of these things is so fekking counter-intuitive and hard work. It's not the people using it, it's the design. And by the way, I frequently have to queue at the supermarket to use the fekking self-serve tills, the only reason I bother is they reduce the "Basket only" till to one, poor, overworked lady with a queue half a mile long from all the people who are trying to avoid the existential nightmare of fighting a machine to purchase their shopping!

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Holmes

@Trustme Re: Yup - Me too!

but if you try and remove it to create space a loud "item removed from baggage area" starts wailing like the bagging police to the nearest member of staff who is

I like the self-scan systems on busy days, but this always gets me.. Why, oh why can I not do what the hell I want with an item that HAS ALREADY BEEN SCANNED.

You know what it is. It's been scanned. It's not like it's something I'm trying to cheat you on (if I was trying to steal it, I wouldn't put it through the scanner and onto the "bagging area" in the first damned place!). So why can I not pack stuff and load it into a trolley while my partner scans it? Do you want to piss me off so much that I associate your entire chain with annoyance, and go elsewhere in future? Oops. Too late. Don't care about your "lowest in the country" prices, you're too annoying to shop at.

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Childcatcher

Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

But the ones who were familiar with them were more of an elite given that the ubiquitous nature of computers wasn't there. Most people weren't going to see computers so had no chance of being able to get to grips with them.

Nowadays it's assumed that yoof know computers (like the VHS recorded before) but of course just like anything else people are on the whole ignorant of how things work making a slack-jawed work experience lad no more helpful than a cardboard cutout when it comes to actually *doing* something with these beige - but increasingly coming in a range of delightful colours - boxes that might require a modicum of intelligence.

Digital natives - my arse. What's important and always has been is the aptitude of the individual - age is irrelevant to that.

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Re: Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

You can tell how good someone will be with computers by going back 25 years or so to the late 80s. At this point, pretty much every household has a VHS player. Every VHS player can tell the time, and can be programmed to record TV shows.

The 30-something who back then couldn't even set the time on his VHS player, let alone set it up to record, these people are the targets for the "PCs anyone can use" ads. Think back, try to remember - they were everywhere.

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Trollface

Re: Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

<blink>12:00</blink>

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PJI
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Meh

Re: Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

I grant your comment about contact with computing. I recall seeing a large building with two, windowless walls that held some vast machine (probably a 100th the power of my iPhone now) and having no idea, as a youth, what on earth it really meant.

But, I venture to suggest that the average mathematical (and literacy) level was somewhat higher across most of the population than today and that, given the chance, therefore, those actually using and developing the technology at the time would not have been so far ahead of the general population at the time.

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Mushroom

Re: Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

<shaking cane>

Those damn VCRs lost time every time the wind blew and it WAS a bitch to set it back up! Why there wasn't a cmos battery used to regulate those power losses, I_don't_know.

</shaking cane>

Yeah.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Of course there are old people who understand computers out there

That's due to the fact that VCR designers seemed to think wordperfect was the gold standard in human-machine interfaces.

Also, adverts in those days were nowhere near as prolific or annoying as they are today. We just watched them and sang along to the jingles.

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Anonymous Coward

@ PJI

How do you make a building with two walls?

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Real coders use a magnetised needle and a steady hand!

Obligatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/378/

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Mushroom

Only one of many misconceptions

Other misconceptions about old people include

1. "they deserve special treatment because they fought in the war"

even though most people over 60 were born after WW2 and are more likely to have have been spliffing up to the Byrds than saving anyone from anything

2. "they're so poor"

even though the state pension is the only benefit that continually rises above the rate of inflation and there are endless free handouts - winter heating allowance, for example - which are not means-tested. You just have to over 60 (for women) or 65 (for men). Multimillionaires collect their winter fuel allowance because as far as they're concerned, fuck the taxpayer.

3. "we need to take care of them". One of the consequences of the Baby Boom is that pensioners now outnumber taxpayers of below pension age. And pensioners vote in far higher proportion. When you think about it, this makes sense - political parties court them with more and more benefits at everyone else's expense so they actually have something to vote for. The rest of us don't unless we happen to be lobbyists or bankers.

Seriously, "bad at IT" is the very least of the misconceptions about pensioners that we need to start rejecting.

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Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Point of order Mr Chairperson.

It's 60 for both thanks to the good 'ol European Court of Human Rights.

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PJI
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FAIL

Re: Only one of many misconceptions

re 1. it must be many years since anyone said that. Call your bluff.

re 2. I do not have the misfortune, any longer, to live in GB. But the pension is pretty miserable by international standards in the first place and, having some idea of the size of it, it would barely pay the average drinking bill of an 18 year old.

re 3. And just who do you think paid in to the pension and national health schemes and for your education, health care (I assume you got the usual inoculations, medicines for illness, checks etc.) and the national and local infrastructure that, no doubt, you think is there by some freak of nature? You appear to be one of those who think anyone over 60 is a candidate for compulsory euthanasia and certainly deserves abject poverty for having the temerity to live long enough to even think about retiring. One could add that today's UK tax rates are rather lower for most people than in the working years of many retired people. Personally, I think we owe them a lot, just as, provided most of your generation are more intelligent than you, your successors should appreciate your efforts.

Now, go and do your homework and work hard at school so that you can become a useful adult.

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Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Your post made me laugh. I'm 43 and have been paying tax for 25 years. I probably won't get to retire until at least 70. When I do, if my pension is sufficient to live on, I don't expect to be handed state freebies.

I can only presume that you do.

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PJI
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Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Thought you said you paid tax. So where's the freebie?

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PJI
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Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Thought you said you paid tax. So where's the freebie? Or did I misread and you meant you receive tax?

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Coat

Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Point of order Mr Chairperson.

You mean it was 60.

Now if you want a bus pass it's 63, or possibly later.

If you have a private pension with Aviva, it's still 65.

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Re: Only one of many misconceptions

I don't think you get it, PJI. My tax is not paid into a deposit account for me to somehow claim when it's my turn. It pays baby boomers so that they can afford to go on holidays and drive cars that I couldn't even afford to insure. You don't get it back.

You get benefits if you can't afford to live to a basic standard on what you have. Unless you're over 60 and a woman or over 65 and a man. Then you can get benefits regardless of your income and standard of living.

That is an expensive and yet, when the grey vote outnumbers the working vote, inevitable madness.

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@Dogged - Re: Only one of many misconceptions

Dogged wrote :- "My tax is not paid into a deposit account for me to somehow claim when it's my turn. It pays baby boomers so that they can afford to go on holidays and drive cars that I couldn't even afford to insure. You don't get it back."

Of course it does not sit in some vault until you are old. The system is meant to be a rolling one whereby, yes, you are currently paying pensioners, but in due course when you get old yourself, the younger people then will be paying your pension in turn.

Sounds fair to me. Unless politicians interfere with it. My suspicion however is that these things will be kicked away just when I should be reaping what I have sown in the taxes I hav e paid.

As for "getting benefits regardless of your income", that is not true. Membership of many private pension schemes involved "opting out" of the larger part of the State Pension. And those cars you "cannot afford to insure" may have been bought from savings. I am not sure that the younger generation have heard of "savings", but it is what people used to do buy things before credit cards were invented and their marketing droids made having debts seem "respectable".

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@Nuke - Only one of many misconceptions

As for "getting benefits regardless of your income", that is not true. -

Prosecution presents Exhibit A, winter heating allowance. No means testing, payable to anyone over pension age.

There are other like this too, including non-eligibility for NI payments which effectively can add 11% to any income. Any income.

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