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#1 Martyn.Rae   User is offline

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Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 31 October 2018 - 11:35 AM

... that I am surplus to requirements! Let me explain.

I started programming when I was 19 (1974) and rapidly became an exceptional programmer. I am not being big-headed ... this came from the manufacturers of the computer systems I worked on (ICL, Sperry Univac and even Microsoft). Classed as a highly skilled technical programmer, I could patch operating systems to do things that the manufacturers could not! I was head-hunted onto the continent to specifically overcome issues with communications between a mainframe and a minicomputer. Designed and wrote some of the most innovative and for the time, advanced systems that had ever been seen. I am fundamentally an assembly programmer. I could look at disassembles, and quickly find bugs, improve performance etc, etc.

Where am I now? Lost!!! I have suddenly realised that the skill set I have held so dear to me have little or no importance any more. It does not appeal to potential employers. It's like I blinked and found myself in an alien world.

I have no degree and my only saving grace as far as I can see lies in the fact that I could sell myself as a designer. I have had plenty of experience in drawing requirements and specifications from end users. Sounds like I need to rewrite my c.v.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I would however be grateful for comments and thoughts.

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Replies To: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

#2 jon.kiparsky   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 31 October 2018 - 01:31 PM

Sounds like there's a lot of transferable skills there. You just need to figure out what direction your skill set needs to expand in.
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#3 no2pencil   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 31 October 2018 - 01:47 PM

I was going to say something similar to jon.kiparsky, although less elegantly as I always do. To extend on what he said, it's like a keyword missing from a Google search. You could search a thousand times, but once you find the missing keyword, realize that while you were way off, you were not off by much. & then hindsight becomes 2020.
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#4 baavgai   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 01 November 2018 - 03:49 AM

*
POPULAR

You've been around long enough to know that so much that is new is really just old with newer, shinier, labeling. As much as realization of nouveau jargon can be unnerving, digging deeper will often reveal more reinvention than innovation.

Indeed, marveling at the new is done by folks who didn't notice the prior ten iterations that led up to something. If you are well grounded in foundations, you should be able to pull the thread of anything current and find that it unravels to something familiar.

e.g. "specifications from end users." Depending on the "process model" that could be a "user story." There, you're now up to date with most of the permutations of Agile floating about.

I recall when Java first came out and people were fawning over JVMs. I was like: Wait, it's just p-code. Interpreted language, how is that new? You get the idea.
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#5 Martyr2   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 01 November 2018 - 06:48 AM

To echo what baavgai has said, the old is really still new with changed labeling. It is so obvious too if you really look into the new tech half the time I am like "Oh I have seen this before, this is technology ______! I thought that was gone, I guess it came back." You know how many times I have seen MVC architecture rear its head in different iterations? I have lost count.

But let me be clear on one thing, programmers should always learn into a language, not learn the specific language. Meaning learn how the language is put together and how it implements topics in programming (structures, algorithms, paradigms) and you can't go wrong when a new language comes out. Yeah it may write a function a different way, but the underlying meaning is always the same. Do you think a sort algorithm has really changed since the 70's? No, just new ways of writing it has changed.
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#6 BetaWar   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 01 November 2018 - 07:23 AM

Old is the new New... or something like that.

Just look up terms like "SOLID" or the "Strangulation Patter"; none of that is new, but people have come up with shiny names for it so it is the "greatest thing". Most of the time I don't even worry about learning the name of the design pattern(s) I am using because of that fact. In 10 years someone will have coined a new phrase for it anyway.

As everyone has already said - it isn't that your skillset is out of date, it is that people are looking for new keywords now. If you look at programming languages for jobs these days it comes down to JS (with node), Java, Objective-C, and Go (at least in my area); that isn't to say that all the logic and knowledge that we have of other languages is useless now; just that people are looking at new shiny things.
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#7 andrewsw   User is online

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 01 November 2018 - 07:52 AM

Quote

Sounds like I need to rewrite my c.v.

This is a good idea, to ensure that the CV is effective and clearly highlights and emphasises your skills and experience.

It may also be worth getting it professionally reviewed (as long as it doesn't cost too much, is by someone reputable... and they don't hound you afterwards). I haven't done this myself but suspect that it could, possibly, be worth a small outlay (or free).



Mind you, I would still take their recommendations with a little salt, particularly given that the process and requirements for a Developer are different to other industries.
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#8 h4nnib4l   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 01 November 2018 - 10:00 AM

My company has fairly humorous juxtaposition of similar-looking old and new technologies. We have some seriously legacy applications that still use ISAM flat file databases that operate alongside more modern applications using relational databases. We pull data from all of those systems into our Azure Data Lake Store (which is based on HDFS), and store it in pipe-delimited flat files for analytics purposes. HDFS is obviously miles ahead of ISAM, but it does raise eyebrows when we tell people that we're recommending migrating our old apps onto newer platforms with relational databases so that (among many other reasons) it's easier to pull it into flat files...

EDIT: grammar

This post has been edited by h4nnib4l: 01 November 2018 - 10:01 AM

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#9 Martyn.Rae   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 02 November 2018 - 02:18 PM

Thanks for your comments guys!!!

I have given it some more thought and decided that I need to focus on my skills as an assembly programmer. Whilst modern day compilers do a fantastic job in terms of optimisation, they are still not a touch on what you can achieve in assembly. Whereas most software developers embrace the patterns, functions and code offered by a given language, writing software in assembly has to (unless very badly written), faster and offer a much smaller footprint.

I personally feel that the direction of programming languages in terms of moving further and further away from reality (i.e. machine code instructions) is only going to 'end in tears'. We cannot keep on producing software that consumes larger and larger amounts of memory all because programmers today find it difficult to relate to implementing code without resorting to using some helper routines (never understood how people have become so reliant on standard template libraries!).

I may have mentioned in the past that I started as a trainee programmer writing software on a fully transistorised ICL 1902T single task mainframe with 16k of 24-bit magnetic core memory and two 2 MB disk drives. The CPU operated with an execution speed of 750,000 instructions a second. Those facts are actually not that relevant, but with 13824 words of user space (the remainder was the O/S), this machine was only run 8 hours a day and ran a local council's payroll, rating, debitor/creditor system for a town of about 65000 homes. Putting that into today's terms a single PC should be capable of handling all the homes in the UK.

So the question is what has gone wrong?
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#10 baavgai   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 02 November 2018 - 04:04 PM

Heh, spoken like a true assembly programmer. :P

Modern operating systems are an exercise in abstraction. Long past are the days of direct screen writes and TSRs. Even if you're writing assembly in Windows, you're really just diddling with instructions that will never touch metal.

Moore's Law hit a wall and out came reduced instruction sets and GPUs turning into parallel CPUs. The challenges now are not optimized sequential code, but rather code that runs in multiple scopes without stomping itself.

You sound like you're thinking of Java and levels abstraction where programmers can't even appreciate the overhead of the code they're writing. Yes, I agree, this is a problem. However, there is also a reason languages that leverage immutable state are experiencing a renaissance and that's unlikely to change.

Many moons ago I took a COBOL program that ran for about 30 hours on a DEC the size of a bathroom and ported it to a 486 where it ran in a single minute. The fact is that a modern computer program chews up cycles like a pitbull puppy on meth. But that program is doing more than any mere mortal could figure out at a given moment. Given a few years, you could probably dissect that program, optimize it, make it run an order of magnitude faster, but by that time, the program will probably be irrelevant.
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#11 hexagod   User is offline

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Re: Coming to the sudden realisation ...

Posted 05 November 2018 - 02:05 PM

If you know assembly then how hard could it be to learn C++, Java or C#? Seems like it'd be a cakewalk for you
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