back to article IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

Telephone operator, please put me through to… What's that? You want me to address you by your first name? Well, that's jolly friendly. I'm (thinks quickly, decides to use Starbucks name) "Alex". And how should I call you? Right. Alexa, please put me through to… Yes, I said "put me though". You don't understand the question? It …

Silver badge

20W50

In between various programming and sysadmin jobs, I worked for a couple of years measuring the viscosity of 20W50 engine oils. I wonder how long before that trade vanishes?

The crankshaft and camshaft grinders I used to write the control software for will be gone too, soon.

16
0
Silver badge

Re: 20W50

P.S. Just reading the squid mailing lists and another thought struck. With HTTPS becoming more and more common, caching forward proxies will become less and less useful.

11
0
Anonymous Coward

"caching forward proxies will become less and less useful."

They just become very useful to snoop into encrypted traffic...

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 20W50

I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals to sell / trade / partex them on, the viscosity hiding a multitude of mechanical sins?

(At least until the bugger seizes / won't start / gets the next oil change service)

4
0

Re: 20W50

Still fit it to my 45 year old MG - mind you, it does seem to come out of every orifice known to the A series. I wonder if there is a 50W50?

10
0

Re: 20W50

As you say 20W50 was the stock oil for A and B series engines. The oil pump on the B series is easy to change but on the A series it is a bugger being behind the flywheel. Solution: a pint or so of straight SAE 90 gear oil to thicken the engine oil a bit to get the pressure up. Make sure the little green light goes out then sell it.

The skilled occupation of fraudulent s/h car trader may not have disappeared but it has changed.

12
0
Bronze badge
Boffin

Re: I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals

No, that's 50 weight.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals

with regards to squid, peek and slice works quite well. our domain has issued a domain truated cert to the squid box which happily man in the middles https. obvuously this is well written into the agreements (the actual agreements that the school will monitor all network traffic was writtennin from the first network which was nice )

so caching proxies are still useful even in https days providing your users are made aware of course.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: 20W50

Still fit it to my 45 year old MG - mind you, it does seem to come out of every orifice known to the A series

Must be a different A series to that in t'missus' Moggie Minor. It's yet to display any signs of oil incontinence and only gets a top-up at the yearly service.

And it's only a year younger than me. Admittedly, it gets fondled more than I do..

0
0
Silver badge

Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

When I started learning IT at school, a lot of attention was paid to punch cards, kimball tags and other almost obsolete tech which I saw hide nor hair of when I reached work a year or two later.

Come to think, most IT learning is chasing things heading toward obsolescence in the vague hope of jumping on and getting paid for a short while before it's trashed in favour of something else you know nothing about.

repeat until dead...

It's no wonder a lot of IT bods are increasingly in favour of a slow-down, if not total Neo-Luddism,

37
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

It's no wonder a lot of IT bods are increasingly in favour of a slow-down

I think that's partly because the same stuff keeps coming back, just in a different wrapper with a new brand name, rather like Opal Fruits - and a wide-eyed innocent new generation believe they're the first to have experienced the wonders of Starburst. Computers may look different these days - just as your TV no longer comes in a large floor-standing teak-veneered cabinet - but they're still mostly doing the same things, just faster: it's just that the teenagers who seem to be in charge of them, like all teenagers, want to have their own private language.

56
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

"When I started learning IT at school, a lot of attention was paid to punch cards, kimball tags and other almost obsolete tech which I saw hide nor hair of when I reached work a year or two later."

When I started work, my first COBOL programs were on punched card. I even produced one with a hand punch, because the data prep department was busy.

You got one compilation run a day in those times.

21
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

At school I thought that identifying a winchester disk would be something that would need to be a regular skill.

Or how to DTP a newsletter in ClarisWorks (is DTP even a thing anymore?)

Or even in my spare time that knowing the Windows for Workgroups 3.11 installer like the back of my hand would somehow pay off. By the time I reached full time grad employment it was the eve of the Vista era.

12
0
Bronze badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

But even with TVs there is now no benefit to having skills and knowledge of their internal workings unless you work for the likes of Sony or LG - there are no more repair shops on the high street.

Your TV blows you don't take it in for a new valve, you throw it in a skip and nip down to the only electronics retailer in the retail park for a shiny new 50" OLED (or whatever the latest fad is)

Similar with PCs, they slow down people don't ask you to install more RAM or reinstall Windows ME (why did every Packard Bell seem to have this mess?), they throw them in the skip and buy an iPad.

22
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

When I started learning IT at school

My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left. It reportedly took them a full year before anyone knew what to do with it, educationally speaking.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

Been there, done that.

Come to think, most IT learning is chasing things heading toward obsolescence

Looking back over 44 years of coding and related things, there has been a lot of learning, but also a lot of forgetting. Mainly detail stuff. I can no longer remember the commands for various IBM MVS SORT statements, but I don't think I ever could. I had a card (still in a drawer somewhere) that reminded me. Ditto the syntax of Fortran IV. But I'm still coding.

The things that matter are not the details. It's the ability to analyse problems, design clear solutions, develop test strategies and persuade users to reveal what they are actually trying to achieve, rather than what they think they want/need (cf. earlier article this week on wanting a Print button)

Those are the skills I learning in the 1970s, and I'm still using them today. Teaching people to code is one thing, but it's just scratching the surface of the job skills.

41
1
Bronze badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

Or how to DTP a newsletter in ClarisWorks (is DTP even a thing anymore?)

ClarisWorks?? Hah, *luxuuury*!

I used to do DTP in PFS:FirstPublisher. I even found a copy of a Worldcon bid flyer (Midadlanticon) I did some 30 years ago.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left.

We had one, a DEC PDP 11/20 (here seen providing auxiliary output.

1
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

Actually, my plasma TV died a few weeks ago.

Found a bloke (looks a retired electrial engineer) up the road that fixed it for £100 including parts.

As good as new!

So, thought I would have to take it to recyling but turns out it was a short on the Y board and Panasonic sell a repair kit.

Very nice, helpful, bloke too.

20
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

"You got one compilation run a day in those times."

You were hard done by. We got 3. You were even harder donw by. We used FORTRAN.

5
1
Bronze badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

Plasma screens. I fixed one a few years ago it had 3 separate power boards with large heavy heat sinks and a shed load of caps on each one. They had paid over £2000 for it and it had been on 12 hours a day for 4 ish years in a pub. £100 for the board and 6 of us to lift it back on to the mounting bracket. They don't build them like that anymore and I think it's still working !

9
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

I repaired Teletype ASR33s as a part time job when I was at school.

They were a marvelous collection of clutches, cams, springs and levers. Serial binary data in, printed pages out. Like a laser printer, only noisier, no graphics and yellow paper...

12
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

The very CDC 6600 I used to work on is on display in the Science Museum. I feel old... oh bugger I AM old.

8
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

I still do a tear-down just encase I can fix it.

2
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

When I trained on a IBM360 Mark 1965, complete with a card sorter, mag tape storage and, I do believe a thundering 256K of RAM, I obtained a Certificate of Competence on the IBM 026 Keypunch Duplicator. Whadda thrill that was.

Then there were the weather map machines, fascinating technology involving chemically treated paper, a spinning glass cylinder, an IP26 PMT, various tone activates relays to set the drum sped, and several SAMOS earth satellites. Oh, and a modem eventually upgraded to 1200 baud. My piece of the action was still tube technology.

2
0

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

COBOL? That new fashioned thing? I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left

Mine had a link to the Barnet Council Burroughs mainframe - but I didn't get to use it because I didn't do the IT A level (becuase I hadn't done the O level - even me pointing out that I built my first computer at age 12 and was programming in hex[1] thereafter didn't get me into the A level).

However, I did get to use the BBC Micro machines that our forward-looking maths teacher had bought out of her budget and installed at the back of her classroom. Out of lesson hours, they were free for any pupil to muck about with.

Which is why the first pre-assembled computer I bought[2] was a BBC Micro. Followed by buying a Watford ADFS board and sideways RAM/ROM card (which I then upgraded with a read/write switch to cope with those pesky ROM images that would try to self-corrupt..).

[1] No assembler - we didn't buy the Zeap Assembler until later. Before then it was hand-assembly all the way. Good old Nascom 1.

[2] Technically, my parents bought it. But it was mine dammit! And I paid[3] for the scorchingly-fast 12/75 non-autodial modem that I used to run up my parents phone bill by making calls to the Almac BBS in Scotland..

[3] Well, *technically* my brother bought it since he worked for a GEC company at the time. But he didn't seem to ever use it so it ended up as mine. Possession and 9/10ths and all that.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

I feel old... oh bugger I AM old

You are only as old as the appropriate-other person that you feel. Which, given that she's two years older than me is old[1]..

[1] She's older than me but in considerablely better condition. It's not the age, it's the milage..

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

Some of the IBM S/370 TPF code that I herded in the early 90's was written about the same time I was being born..

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

COBOL? That new fashioned thing? I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

Autocoder does predate all the still-used HLLs; it had some influence on FORTRAN and COBOL (as Grace Hopper wrote the seminal paper on "autocoding" in '55, though ultimately COBOL was far more influenced by Hopper's own FLOW-MATIC).

Autocoder is an assembly language rather than an HLL, of course.

SNOBOL (one L), on the other hand, is younger than COBOL - as you might guess from the name. SNOBOL was invented in '62, three years after CODASYL released the COBOL specification, and two years after the first implementations appeared.

I played with SNOBOL myself many years later (sometime in the '80s; I don't recall on what system), and it's a cute language for string processing. Its use of CFGs rather than regular expressions for its pattern type makes for generally more-readable code. Formally the "extended" regular expressions most languages have these days are just as powerful, but CFGs are more expressive and less terse. But ed begat grep, grep begat awk, awk begat Perl, and their progeny multiply and overrun the land.

0
0
Silver badge

Dont worry

There is one job that will exist as long as people are allowed to users conmputers, The Hell Desk.

The BOFH and the PFY will always be in demand due to the fact the (l)users will never arrive at a level of intelligence/rational thought that they should have possessed before being allowed to interact with a keyboard.

53
3
Silver badge

I've been working for the same company for nearly 30 years (how time flies when you're being told that you're supposed to be having fun). When I first started, they'd made a huge investment in kit and staff for capturing documents to microfilm for long term storage.

I'm willing to bet hardly anyone we've employed during the last decade or two gives a flying fig (or even knows) what microfilm is.

24
0
PPK
Happy

Archive

Long term archive is a big thing in the broadcast video/audio arena. A good role for the 'mature' engineer can be keeping alive old broadcast kit - 1" tybe B/C reel to reel machines, Umatics, analogue Beta, so that years of material can be digitised.

The funniest thing is that 'tape is dead' has been the mantra for quite a few years, so everything has been archived to files - the US Library of Congress standardised on lightly compressed (J2K) video with uncompressed audio, with harddisks as the storage medium. But most projects I've worked on have archived the files to... tape.

So every <x> years or so, as the LTO5/6/99 drives start to wear out, and the MXF file format becomes the preserve of the keepers of ancient lore, it'll be time to flip it all forwards again - like Majikthise and Vroomfondel, on the gravy train for life! Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage down the back of their cyber sofa...

29
0
Silver badge

The best use for microfilm (or microfiche as we used to call it when it arrived in postcard-sized sheets instead of reels) was night-shift entertainment. For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies.

Well we didn't have hacker movies in those days so perhaps we thought we were 007.

19
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Archive

"Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage"

Ah, that'll be holographic storage, been around the corner for as long as I can remember, bit like a practical fusion reactor. Though I think microfluidics are making a comeback after four decades. Speaking of fluids, here's one for the weekend.

19
0
Silver badge
Windows

Re: Archive

And re-writeable CDs / DVDs last less time than a passed around C15 tape for a spectrum.

17
0
Silver badge

Re: holographic storage

Unlike magnetic bubble memory which actually made it into some military products. I wonder what archive life is and how small/capacity and fast it can be? Flash isn't archival, but certainly seriously beats bubble memory on speed and capacity.

I expect commercial fusion power stations before we see consumer holographic storage or proper performance VR with focus & movement tracking of eyes as well as head.

4
0
Silver badge

"For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies."

Stuff the movies, this was real life:

We had a new IED control board in for examination. As per normal the IDs were scratched off the ICss. Our resident electronics guy was pretty good at working out what they were from the surrounding circuitry (usually 74 series TTL plus 555s). But on this device there was also one of those ICs in a little metal can. That was a bit of an unknown. We cut the top off the can then I set up the big Zeiss microscope for incident illumination and read the part number straight off the die. I remembered seeing it advertised in WW. The complete operation if the device was analysed in about an hour.

13
1

Re: Archive

Oh YES! Never mind my flying car, when can I run my house with a compact fluidic computer?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Archive

we have a circa 1997 rewriteable CD and a burnt CD at work. it gets fired up once every 6 months or so to see if we can extract from it. It has a zip file full of data files and we are curious as to the lifespan. they both still work. The original unit was a HP 6read 2 write burner and the cds are also both HP brand.

we also have an ide 20mb 3.5" ibm branded hdd. we used to fire that up but cant be bothered any longer. im sure we can waffle together ide to usb but until we get a new apprentice we probably wont bother.

0
0

When I worked at the Worcester (MA) public library they were just beginning to convert the old magazines into microfilm. Also they used a system with vacuum powered carriers to transfer call slips into the sealed stacks where we pages would retrieve them and bring the books to the main desk

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Archive

Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage down the back of their cyber sofa...

Or worse - has a peckish moment and accidentally fries the long-term DNA-based storage cube in order to eat with their toast.

I love the taste of data in the morning.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Archive

we have a circa 1997 rewriteable CD and a burnt CD at work

I suspect that your media was one of the earlier metal-foil based one rather than the later (cheaper) dye-based ones.

The metal foil based CD-R's are still used for archival purposes. The dye-based ones are not because they often have less than five years of useful lifespan. Which is not too bad for a car-use music CD but is pretty crappy for data that you want to be able to read after 20 years.

0
0
Silver badge

microfilm (or microfiche as we used to call it when it arrived in postcard-sized sheets instead of reels)

And let us not forget microcard - microfilm printed onto cardstock, and read with a reflective reader. The US Federal Government supplied a lot of material to archival libraries in that fashion. I read many pages of it during one of my stints in graduate school.

The stuff I was reading was ephemera, things like DoD pamphlets for civilian employees. No real records or major publications. It's possible they only used microcard for that sort of less-critical stuff.

0
0
Silver badge

the Worcester (MA) public library

I patronized that institution as a child. That would have been up through the age of 6, I think. Still have a few fond memories of the place, though.

0
0
Silver badge
Trollface

Round goes the wheel...

Yes, for the people who do things, there will always be different things to do. If you want centuries-long stability in your job, join (just you try) the "extractors of value" set. See also, management, sales and marketing, nobility etc., etc.

12
1
Silver badge

Re: Round goes the wheel...

Nobility mostly went bust when Industrialisation and imported food & cloth killed ability of their Estates to make money from agriculture (mostly wool, which is why eradicating wolves was seen as so important and the "woolsack" in Parliament).

Managers, Politicians, senior civil service...

5
1
Silver badge
Windows

Strangely enough

There still seems to be a residual demand for COBOL programmers.

Not that I can remember much about it. Or anything else, for that matter.

14
0
Silver badge

Re: Strangely enough

I remember that leaving the full stop off the end of the first line in an otherwise perfect 500-line COBOL program would produce a 500-entry error report forty minutes later.

13
0
Silver badge

Re: COBOL error handling

I remember once in my first work in a bank's IT department a room filled with 90+ developers, typing silently (as silently as those wonderful keyboards allowed us to be) when suddenly we hear a really loud and prolonged "Fuuuuck!"

Everyone turns to the new guy, who's turning bright red by then.

His compilation had just produced over 4000 errors and he thought he'd have to rewrite his program from scratch... I think he was as embarrassed about his loud expletive as for the public explanation he got from our manager about the error count.

From the on we would hear, day in day off, someone muttering the prolonged fuuuuck after something was awkward, had really gone bad, or just because.

9
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018