Yes, COBOL Coding is Social

 

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The picture of a COBOL programmer hunched over their desk, day in and day out, in isolation, pumping out thousands of lines of code is unrealistic, especially with the Agile mentality of today’s IT world. Currently, to be a successful programmer, in any language, you need to interact continuously with your client and your team in an effective way both orally and in writing.

Client Service

In fact, coding is essentially a client service. Someone has requested a piece of work from you, and you provide that client with a finished product, in accordance with their requirements. The client is then able to see the work as it progresses and provide feedback. In another version of client service, the coder may not communicate directly with the client. They may provide service to an intermediary, such as a business analyst who in turn passes along status updates and other information to the client. In any case, the COBOL coder is constantly involved in providing client service.

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Teamwork

The COBOL coder typically works closely with a team. The team may be comprised of a team leader, business clients, analysts, testers, coders, designers and whatever other specialized roles may be required. As previously mentioned, it is unusual for a COBOL coder to work in isolation. At a minimum, the program(s) being developed are attached to business requirements, often integrate with programs written by other coders and need to be tested.

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Effective interactive communication

In addition to writing program syntax in a logical way, the COBOL coder must also be able to communicate verbally as well as in writing. Programmers may need to attend several meetings a week to provide updates and answer questions as required, so they need to be able to communicate effectively vocally. In today’s context, they may even be expected to present, or demo, their work. Excellent written communication is also a must-have for a programmer. Their job may depend on being able to receive requirements and specification updates by email and being ready to respond to any questions/concerns that might come up.

Contemporary Programming

Programmers have moved on, but the out-dated misconception of them as loners, who rarely move out of their cubicle to interact with the outside world, has not. Programming can be a very exciting, interactive career, not the lonely one that is often portrayed.

If you are a programmer, do you agree? Disagree?

If you are not a programmer, take a minute and think of what your picture of a computer programmer is. What’s the first descriptive word that comes to mind? Is it a positive or a negative word?

The First Computer Bug Ever — Literally

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In the modern information age, most of us take the terms “computer bug” and “debugging” for granted. Most computer literate people probably can’t remember a time when an alternate meaning for “bug” wasn’t an “error in a software program or hardware system”. There is, in fact, an interesting story behind the adoption of the bug reference.

The tale begins with Rear Admiral Grace Brewster Murray Hopper. Born in 1906, Admiral Hopper was a gifted mathematician. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard, Mark I computer. One of her other claims to fame is that she was responsible for the development of the COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) computer programming language. COBOL is still widely used today in software programs that power banks, insurance companies, and governments. In 1952, she also invented a compiler that converted instructions written in the English language into computer code.

For many years the term bug was used by engineers to refer to anomalies. According to history, the world’s first computer bug was found on September 9th, 1947 by Grace Hopper in the Harvard, Mark II computer. The story goes that a computer at Harvard wasn’t functioning properly. When it was opened, a dead moth was found in the relays. The crew taped the bug to their logbook entry and wrote “First actual case of bug being found”. The log update is widely thought to have been done by Grace Hopper. The bug and the page it’s attached to are on exhibit in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

This YouTube video from Biography is a summary of Grace Hopper’s accomplishments as a computer scientist and military leader.

With Artificial Intelligence becoming increasingly popular, it’s hard to predict how software bugs will evolve in the future. Maybe in a few years, a common “bug” will be the fact that our electronic assistant doesn’t remember our favorite restaurant or theatre.

What’s the worst computer “bug” (software or hardware glitch) you’ve ever had?