Where do old Programmers go to die?

Published Mar 28, 2018
Where do old Programmers go to die?

How many of you recognize a screen that looks like this? How many of you have actually taken the time to read through a core dump to find your programming error? How many of you have even compiled a program at the command line or interracted with a database using a command line? Those who have, I believe, may be in the minority and considered no longer viable as "developers" in todays world.

There was a time in my career when I would have several HP-UX windows open at one time. One was running a script to find a bug, a few others were tailing log files to see if anyone was trying to break into my system or if my database login table was log-jammed. I could watch them all at once and fix a problem should it occur and still work on my programming task at hand and answer any tech support calls that may come in.

At Hewlett-Packard they called me a Software Engineer. I was one of 3 experts on the Product Data Management Database we used. Other people knew how to get in there and tinker with it but since it was old technology they shyed away from admitting it. I was responsible for it's health and uptime. I was responsible for all the programs, scripts and applications, large and small that either flowed into this database or pulled data out of it. The global HP Engineering community used my web-based program that I inherited and then improved immensely to do their work on a contant basis. I could not afford any downtime because somewhere in the world there was an engineer who needed the data and they needed it now. I wrote redundant monitoring scripts to check for anything that I knew of that could cause the data to be inaccessible. The morning back-up success/failure email that was generated by our systems administrators was pre filtered for me via a script I wrote so that I would only see if my machines were backed up or not. Sounds like a pretty cool job, yes?

Before landing this position, I was a PC Board assembler, inspector and tester. I later learned to inspect the PC board designs before they ever went to the board manufacturer. I don't have a degree in Electronics. I later went and got an AS degree in Computer Programming, however life got in the way of achieving the BS.

Fast forward to today and I cannot even land a tech support job. There are so many languages out there that I think people have just started making up names. The emphasis is on the Front End. Make it pretty. Make it fun. Add some click-bait. Make it into an app for mobiles. No one uses computers anymore, do they? There are plenty of companies who do use computers still. Not all of them have the time, money, luxury or guts to take a working system and convert it to some new language that has only been in existance for 3 years. Finance, Retail, Labs, Offices... all over the country still need people like me. People who know what is happening behind that pretty interface. Even the cool apps have to connect to a legacy system since that legacy system still exists.

So tell me all the newer developers here who are landing all the cool jobs, where does an older programmer who is not yet willing to admit that I am a FAILURE go to find the jobs that fit my skillsets. Who manages your backends? Are you all just doing the Black Box Javascript libraries and Wordpress widgets for development? God help us all if you are. I am just not ready to be put out to pasture yet I have no idea what the language du'jour is today, or tomorrow.

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