Thursday, August 22, 2013

Many people can code, few can implement; or, why it was hard to learn new tricks in the old mainframe world

About this time in 1987, we were meticulously setting up files and regions to run a complete parallel of a batch daily billing system at Chilton Corporation in Dallas.

For thirty days, we kept listings (Daily Billable Volume) of old and new in a conference room, comparing them by eyeball, and by an assembler program that compared print files.  The compare was written by a young man from Vietnam who, in a hot Texas climate, really could carry notes on sticky pads attached to his legs. 

The management used to say, “Many people can code, but few can implement.”

That was indeed the case.  You spend your time using the same skills, unable to try anything new because everything has to be perfect to go into and stay in production.

That was the culture of the batch (and online) workplace of the 80s and 90s.  It wasn’t that much fun.
I wonder, what is it like to work at Facebook or Google and implement something?

We didn’t have to work nights and weekends as much as people today, because we served mostly businesses.   But we were salaried, and not compensated for overtime. 

Ever heard the saying, "If it works it's production, if it doesn't, it's a test"? 

Ever been accused of having an "astonishing lack of curiosity"? 

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