27 June 2007

The Black Knight is learning Python

Mary Brandel recaps the top 10 dying computer skills. Number 1 is COBOL: I'm not sure whether the top slot means closest to dead or most likely to survive.
... you can actually learn Cobol at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, which according to Mary Sumner, a professor there, still offers a Cobol course. "Two of the major employers in the area still use Cobol, and for many of their entry-level jobs, they want to see that on the transcript," she says. "Until that changes, we'd be doing the students a disservice by not offering it."

All the same, it's probably worth deleting this bullet point from your resume.

(Link via kottke.org.)

25 June 2007

Stone soup

Joel Spolsky takes a little time getting to the point, but it's a good one: A top-quality software product is achieved incrementally:
Commercial software—the kind you sell to other people—is a game of inches.

Every day you make a tiny bit of progress. You make one thing just a smidgen better. You make the alarm clock default to 7:00am instead of 12:00 midnight. A tiny improvement that will barely benefit anyone. One inch.

There are thousands and tens of thousands of these tiny things.

This past week I began contributing to the development team's wiki: a compendium of product management information that includes everything from profiles of our competitors, to product plans for the next year or so, to resources for software engineers like tips on debugging. Just a few pages, but they will make the wiki just a bit more useful, and therefore make it just a bit more likely that other people on the team will contribute and read. And ultimately, our product line will be just a bit better.

14 June 2007

Why didn't I know that?

Via Lifehacker, ChuckOp points out that Ctrl-C can be used to copy the complete contents of a Windows message box to the clipboard: no text-selection required (or possible, of course). V. handy for grabbing an error code on the way to Googling a diagnosis.

13 June 2007

Version 22?

Good Lord, EMACS is still being actively maintained. Who knew?

Back in the day, I could hack my way to a couple of useful macros: reformatting tricks, and I seem to remember making a VT100 act like a Prime Computer block-mode terminal, something like that. But I never drained the cup of Kool-Aid, like using the editor to run the COBOL compiler and my regression test suite.

(Link via Compiler.)