Via Monkey Bites, Gary Anthes reports the results of a Computerworld survey of IT managers at 352 companies. The short answer: COBOL is still with us:
62% of the respondents reported that they actively use Cobol. Of those, three quarters said they use it “a lot” and 58% said they’re using it to develop new applications.
What brought me up short in this story (which seemed to feature a disproportionate number of state agencies) was the finding that the average age of a COBOL programmer is about 50. HR managers are concerned about COBOL new hires: those that have the skills are nearing retirement age. I touched my last COBOL compiler in 1997 and wrote my last app in the language in 1990. Heck, I didn’t realize that Computerworld was still around.
Via Scott Rosenberg’s Wordyard, David R. Tribble annotates Edsger Dijkstra’s “Go To Statement Considered Harmful.”
Dijkstra seems to imply that iterative looping (inductive) statements are intellectually harder to grasp than recursion, which is the kind of thing only a mathematician would say.
Via BIRDCHAT, Andy Mabbett has put forward a strawman proposal, in the form of a wiki, for microformat markup of scientific binomials and other taxon names.
Tales from the computing trenches, back in the time when we wore those funny flat helmets: Jim Horning’s The Way It Was. Among other things, Horning celebrates the recent fiftieth anniversary of the first commercial hard disk-based system, and provides hardware and software details of the magnetic drum memory of the Bendix G-15.
Just the other day I was explaining the “X considered harmful” meme to Leta, and now I see (via Scott Rosenberg) that Edsger Dijkstra’s 1968 paper “Go To Statement Considered Harmful” is available online.
Via kottke.org, Rob Bryanton suggests a way to visualize ten dimensions with a Flash animation/audio presentation.
Via robot wisdom, composer Dmitri Tymoczko has written visualization software that makes sense of the harmonic movement of a piece of music.
“Tools like these have helped people understand music with both their ears and their eyes for generations,” Tymoczko said. “But music has expanded a great deal in the past hundred years. We are interested in a much broader range of harmonies and melodies than previous composers were. With all these new musical developments, I thought it would be useful to search for a framework that could help us understand music regardless of style.”
The homepage for ChordGeometries 1.1 includes a link to the published paper and three some short animations to accompany a fragment of a Chopin piano prelude. I’d love to see what a Billy Strayhorn piece like “Lush Life” looks like.