Recent Feature Articles

Jan 2021

Go Forth, Young Programmer

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The past is another planet, but a familiar one. Back in the far off year of 1989, Rick Poleshuck took a job with a company that made a computer product for nurses's stations in hospitals. Now, this product was for notes, and it was an "all inclusive" product- software, proprietary hardware, networking, terminals, everything. And it was written in Forth.

Now, this is what we might call a "classic Forth" system, and in such a system, Forth ran on bare metal. No OS, no filesystem, and a simple scheduler. This was also the system they developed on: the source just lived in raw 1KB blocks on the hard disk, and they edited blocks directly. That's not a WTF, that's just how things were done in that environment.


Version Chaos

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Tangled power lines in Puerto Rico

Today's submitter, Erica, writes: Every time I tell this story to other developers they don't believe it, because this is quite possibly the dumbest way version control has ever been done.


It's a Gift

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Tyra was standing around the coffee maker with her co-workers when their phones all dinged with an email from management.

Edgar is no longer employed at Initech. If you see him on the property, for any reason, please alert security.


Going Backwards

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Nearly 15 years ago, fresh out of college, Giuseppe was hired on at a mobile networking company. The company wasn't a software company, but since they were heavy in networking and could handle all sorts of weird technical problems there, software must basically be the same thing, so they also started producing applications to manage those networks.

It didn't take them long to discover that "building networks" and "writing software" are different skillsets, and so they did what every company with some room in the budget does: they hire a pack of Highly Paid Consultants to get their project on track.


The Contract Position

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Mandi didn't plan to take a staff job at a university. To the contrary, she'd heard some bad things: loads of office politics, budgets so thin you need quantum mechanics to describe their position, and bureaucracy thick enough to drown any project.

But one day, she met her old colleague Scot for lunch, and they got to chatting about his university job. "Oh, yeah, that's common enough," he said, "which is why my team isn't structured that way. We're doing in-house development of educational solutions, which is a fancy way of saying 'nobody understands what we do, so they leave us alone'."