back to article Programming in the Middle Ages: Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

These days we hear a lot about luring the young away from happy, fulfilling careers and into the world of programming. The kids have been freed from the tedious yoke of the boring and 'Microsoft-heavy' ITC syllabuses courtesy of popular hero Michael Gove. Now every child receives more Raspberry Pi than rice pudding; double …

  1. Unep Eurobats
    Paris Hilton

    Came here to post a really witty comment

    Forgotten it though.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Came here to post a really witty comment

      We're going out for a walk later.


    2. macjules
      Thumb Up

      Re: Came here to post a really witty comment

      Came here with the same intention. Forgot it as the post was so damn well written and I (almost) spilled my Horlicks .. well .. glass of Margaux.

      Thank you very much Verity for a damn good laugh.

  2. Alister

    Not just functional programming. We used to do lots of procedural programming too. We used Pascal, so we could do both, because Pascal has functions and procedures.

    I genuinely laughed out loud at that one. I must remember it to quote to other greybeard Pascal programmers I know.

    Now what was it again?

  3. Alister

    Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

    I though Docker was them boots with air-cushion soles that skinheads and punks used to wear...

    1. John 110

      Re: Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

      Yeah, I've got a pair of them boots that I inherited from a grandson that they didn't fit. They're dead comfy.

      What were we talking about? Oh yes, Verity you're describing my yeah.

      1. frank ly

        Re: Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

        You're thinking of Doc Martens, which are actually very functional so your error is relevant.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

      "them boots with air-cushion soles that skinheads and punks used to wear."

      As we used to say in the forensic lab: very popular with the criminal classes.

  4. Henry Minute

    Who are you? Do you have my slippers?

  5. Alan Sharkey

    I loved the implied lists - I use those all the time.

    More !!!!!

  6. Hans 1

    You mean the one that forces you to open up a multi-port hole the size of the Thames estuary through the firewall?

    Made me think of WMI ... might as well turn off the Firewall if you want to use WMI remotely ... saves valuable system resources ... what use is a firewall if 'alf the bloody ports are open ?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suggest that while disks sizes may have changed, the amount of information stored is constant.

    A classic example of this was a BBC Horizon programme transcript (they used to post these on the BBC website prior to iPlayer) that converted a 45 minute video into about a page and a half of A4 text. Take out the repetitions and it would have fitted comfortably on a postcard. There was a lot of speculative CGI eye-candy, and very little information.

    Thus the silver haired are using the correct unit as a 128 GB iPhone contains 128 MB of information, just padded out in HD video.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - I suggest that some of us are old enough - more than old enough - to remember proper billions (ten to the twelfth) and trillions (ten to the eighteenth) and that's why the values we say sometimes sound wrong to youngsters raised on governmentally-downsized billions and trillions.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    The silver coder version of message-passing

    differs from other implementations in that, instead of transmitting information from the sender to the receiver, it instead transmits a packet of anti-information.

    This protocol seems to be implemented on the Daily Mail, both forums and CMS.

    1. macjules

      Re: The silver coder version of message-passing

      Ah, the Daily Mail. The only CMS with an 'Added Hatred To All People' plugin.

  9. iron Silver badge

    A most amusing read as always.

    As a former Delphi programmer I used to use functions, procedures and objects! Wow! Docker I can understand, my poor grey-haired brain still can't work out wtf .Net Core and Standard are though.

  10. Mage

    I'd suspected this for years.

    The image is Verity's granddaughter/grandniece.

    Now if she worked on development of Qubal, she's older than me.

    Lovely piece, good to see her back on form. Reminds me a little of JP's Chaos Manor column at its heyday, though it was a HW abuser's perspective.

    1. Mephistro
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'd suspected this for years.

      Thanks, Mage!

      A little bit of Googling using "Chaos Manor" provided me with a very interesting history I didn't know!

      How Jerry Pournelle Got Kicked Off the ARPANET

      From what I gleamed from the page linked, I'm afraid that the "HW abuser" in your comment doesn't mean "Hardware Abuser".

      I suddenly feel less sympathy for the late Mr. Pournelle. :-(

      1. Mephistro

        Re: I'd suspected this for years.


        I forgot the second link!

        Dear Twelve Rabid Weasels of SFWA, please shut the fuck up

      2. Trilkhai

        Re: I'd suspected this for years.

        > From what I gleamed from the page linked, I'm afraid that the "HW abuser"

        > in your comment doesn't mean "Hardware Abuser".

        I couldn't sort out what you were figuring "HW abuser" stood for based on that page or the one it linked to, but based on the Wikipedia description of the Chaos Manor column, "HW abuser" sounds like it was in fact about a standard user/non-expert "abusing" hardware:

        "Pournelle wrote the "Chaos Manor" column in Byte. In it Pournelle described his experiences with computer hardware and software, some purchased and some sent by vendors for review, at his home office."

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I'd suspected this for years.


      Sounds vaguely familiar. Please remind me.

      1. Mage

        Re: QUBAL

        Precursor to pascal (so I'm told). Queens University Belfast Algorithmic Language (maybe).

        Tony Hoare supposedly worked on it, then Pascal. Wirth went on to Modula-2 and Oberon, Hoare was involved with Occam and I never heard what Jensen did after Pascal, or what the QUB and ETH connection was.

        All too long ago. I write novels now instead of programs. It was sad seeing UL using Modula-2 as Pascal and not explaining Modules, Procedure types, anonymous vs explicit types, virtual functions, dynamic arrays and co-routines and all the other stuff that Modula-2 has that Pascal hasn't. Pascal, like BASIC (Beginners cut down Fortran, clue in acronym) was only intended for teaching. Then they switched to C and Java. Meh, might be useful in the market place, but is it computer science?

        I can write ForTran or Modula-2 programs in nearly any language.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: QUBAL

          "Precursor to pascal (so I'm told). Queens University Belfast Algorithmic Language (maybe)."

          That's what I thought. Did they run it on the home-grown multi-access system with the teletypes? I managed to bring down the whole 1907 from one of those.

          1. Mage

            Re: QUBAL : teletypes?

            Even later doing Fortran we used hand printing on coding forms. Trusted students doing Fortran could punch their own cards using a machine with not very many keys, or a slower but quicker to master giant dymo style punch with an alphanumeric punch. But that was later and not QUB.

            The only QUB teletype I ever used was at an Expo thing in the Botanic Gardens (or near it) and running a poker dice program. I never got near a teletype till my first job, and didn't use it there either. My first real time computer access was on a Z80 development board and also an Apple II with a Z80 card (Why did it get written as Apple ][ ?). I should have bought an S100 machine.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: QUBAL : teletypes?

              "The only QUB teletype I ever used was at an Expo thing in the Botanic Gardens (or near it) and running a poker dice program."

              I remember that. I think it was to mark 50 years of Stormont or something similar. IIRC it was in the new Stranmillis sports centre.

              I used to use the old computer centre in University Square Mews. There was a punch room upstairs. Although during the day most of the machines were used by data entry staff keying in from coding sheets which was the most practical way of getting your first draft onto cards a lot of changes ended up being done in the evenings.

              Even on the Teletype system FORTRAN had to be compiled from cards and the executable stored online - you just ran it from the Teletypes.

              Kids today 0 they'd never believe it.

              "Why did it get written as Apple ][ ?"

              Marketing/Steve Jobs?

              "I should have bought an S100 machine."

              Another memory.

  11. ukgnome

    When they start saying Bless after talking to you then you are old.

    Until then you are <insert appropriate youth talk>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ...or a Perl programmer, grown old waiting for Perl 6?

  12. itzman

    Re: inserting a clause that encourages users to remember to put the seat down afterwards

    Anyone who has done a basic course in logic or optimised game theory realises this as the obvious fallacy it is.

    In a properly multigender loo, simply leaving the seat where you last put it is by far and away the optimal way to minimise seat activity.


    It's a stream of females. Leaving it where it is is the same as remembering to put it down

    It's a stream of males, and so putting it down is two seat movements per urination. a complete waste of effort.

    Its a a random stream of either. So on balance there is a 50:50 chance of the seat being in the right place already. So that's one seat movement for every other gender that arrives. 50% seat movement per urination.

    It's completely clear that putting the seat down is an obvious case of female laziness and sexism, since its net result is that females do no work, and it's all done my men, and it costs more than any other solution.

    Beforr feminism: chopping wood and fetching water and getting nagged.

    After feminism: chopping wood and fetching water AND putting the seat down afterwards and getting nagged more.

    Ergo, the true purpose of feminism is to give women even more scope for nagging.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Mephistro

        Re: inserting a clause that encourages users to remember to put the seat down afterwards

        "Therefore I propose a Location Oriented Observational System Extended to All Takers - LOOSEAT."

        Sorry to tell you, but this has been done already. Often. Mostly in Russia.

    2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: inserting a clause that encourages users to remember to put the seat down afterwards

      Why not just enter the toilet area FORWARDS and use your EYES to see where the seat currently is and adjust it for the use you need it for? The only possible explanation for the "leave the seat down!!!" mania is people wishing to do a sit-down-toilet enter the toilet backwards with their eyes closed.

      Personally, I leave toilets with the LID down.

      And the door CLOSED. I mean, what is it about American sitcoms where every possible shot of the living area includes a clear open shot of the toilet? Seinfeld, I'm looking at you - and unavoidabley, your loo as well.

  13. Teiwaz

    I didn't recognise some of the names on the lists

    ...And... I'm pretty sure it's not advancing years (despite now needing varifocals).

    Must be some reference to popular culture that was too popular for me...mind you, I'd have recognised Al Mc Cogan, despite not exactly knowing who (she) was, thanks to a Monty Python sketch (the professional logician ).

  14. handleoclast

    After following some links

    I now know that to deal with OPC remotely you have to open all the larboards in the firewall.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "..a clause that encourages users to remember to put the seat down afterwards"

    get over your bloody seat phobia. there's a sodding hinge on the damn thing. its been there for decades!

  16. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    "and you end up making the Guest account an administrator, and it still doesn't work"

    But of course not! The reason it doesn't work is that it requires authentication in both directions. Typically this isn't possible, so you end up getting stripped of identity when calling back. Consequently, you need to make the anonymous logon an administrator. Then it will work ... maybe.

    OPC: A data distribution protocol designed by someone to whom actual networks came as a nasty surprise.

    1. Mage

      Re: OPC

      Named Pipes

      The example didn't work because it assumed a nul security descriptor was a nil pointer. It's not, it's a pointer to a security token that says "this thing isn't bothering with user accounts".

      NT Security is much misunderstood.

      EVENTUALLY, I figured how to use a named pipe from a DOS program (DOS with MS TCP/IP!) to an NT Server creating Named Pipes.

      Also you can create Named pipes on any version of NT Workstation*, but not on Win32s on Win3.x, or Win9x, or ME (they can only be clients like DOS) proving that they are rubbish.

      [*Win2K, XP, Vista, Win7, Win8.x Win10]

      Unix/Linux has a mechanism similar to Named Pipes, also for local or network use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OPC

      You're wrong. The server authenticates the client, but if you use callbacks in DCOM, the roles become inverted (it's the "server" calling the "client", so the server acts as a client and needs to be authenticated).

      In this case you need to lift the "anonymous logon" remote access and launch and activation permission *limits* only when you don't set a specific user for the DCOM server, and use the "launching user" identity. You never need to make anonymous logon part of the administrators group (it will give the rights explained before, sure, and everything else).

      If the DCOM server is run using a specific user, permission needs to be given to that user. Of course, everything is slightly easier if the client and server are in the same domain (or at least domains with proper trust relationships). If they are not, there are a few more settings needed (i.e. if Simple File Sharing is enabled, it forces guest access...)

      DCOMCNFG: the tool that tells you who really know Windows, and those who pretend to know it.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: OPC

        Er, whoosh?

        (In fairness, had I been serious then you would have made excellent points. It is a pity that the numpty who wrote OpcEnum.exe didn't know all this. Last I looked, it was still calling CoInitializeSecurity in a way that is appropriate for DOS-based Windows and which, on NT, actually makes it *harder* to get stuff to work without using DCOMCNFG to drop everyone's trousers.)

    3. AndyD 8-)&#8377;

      Re: OPC

      Google tells me:

      The OPC is a church with a more "mainline" heritage. It was formed by faithful ministers, elders, and members forced out of the chief Presbyterian denomination in the northern states (the PCUSA) in 1936. It has been characterized over its short lifetime by a strong emphasis on rigorous ministerial examination, a representative (federal) General Assembly, a high view of office, and usually a dedication to presuppositional apologetics. It is not an exclusive Psalmody church.

      Sounds a bit like APL?

  17. Barry Rueger

    Black is Black

    Just because vintage techies hold their mobile phones at arm's length in order to be able to read the ridiculously titchy text

    Dear God yes. When did it become de rigeur to use tiny, pale grey text on the Web, readable only by 21 year olds with 20/20 vision?

    Then again, does the use of more or less unreadable typefaces explain the development of emojis?

    "Why do you need a thesaurus when you have a smiley faced poop icon?"

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Black is Black

      And red text on a blue background. Are these people crazy?

      1. Oblivion62

        Re: Black is Black

        Crazy? No. Security conscious.

        Of course you remember they used to print copyrighted manuals on blue paper so you couldn't photocopy them and pass them round? Same thing.

    2. Mephistro

      Re: Black is Black

      "When did it become de rigeur to use tiny, pale grey text on..."

      Nowadays we call them Millennials, but thanks to the use and abuse of mobes and tablets, in a decade they'll be known as "The Mr.Magoo Generation"!

  18. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Beloved Community Licence

    A perfect example of Poe's Law.

    Strangely it doesn't mention tree/bunny hugging, so I think we need a fork.

  19. frank 3

    Two silver coders preparing to go out for lunch...

    Is it windy?

    No love, It's Thursday

    Aww, I just had a cup, why didn't you say?

  20. Blofeld's Cat

    Middle Ages ...

    Was that not the period when your data centre could be ruined by Vikings raiding the monastery and burning down the scriptorium?

    A time when an execution failure usually meant an incompetent axeman, and secure storage solutions often involved a portcullis.

    It's the doublet and hose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Middle Ages ...

      And intrusion prevention tools meant a chastity belt? <G>

  21. JulieM Silver badge

    Memory sizes

    Now we all have higher-resolution displays, you need more RAM for your frame buffer. (You don't have to wait for the vertical flyback to do your business logic anymore! Luxury!) Which in turn takes longer to shunt all this data around, so you need faster clock speeds. And it all grows out of control, each improvement ending up cancelling out the last-but-one like some kind of upgrade treadmill. Bigger monitor, better graphics card, more RAM, new motherboard, SSD, bigger monitor .....

    I totally get the associative memory thing, though. I've been known to compose entire sentences in which every noun was either a metasyntactic variable such as "thingy" or a circumlocutory phrase such as "her from accounts who had the nervous breakdown, her cousin's best mate". And guess who once spent 15 minutes trying to open the combination lock on the server room door with her PIN -- not even the current one, but one from two bank cards ago? Name a pop star and I can tell you exactly where I was on the day they died and what I had for breakfast that morning; but I wouldn't know what colour knickers I put on this morning without pulling my jeans down. (Which I'm probably going to have to do soon enough anyway, mind. That Earl Grey just goes right through me .....)

    But these youngsters ..... I'll dare bet what you like none of them have ever had to sneak a variable into display memory and hope the user doesn't stomp on it with too long an input string. They don't know they're born!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Things have been going downhill since Autocoder (which was not an automatic coder, children). Now get off my lawn and let me take a nap.

  23. scrubber


    Nothing wrong with forgetting...

  24. scrubber


    All variables in the program should be declared, GLOBALLY, before any code is written, otherwise it looks like you're making it up as you go along.

    You gotta love [hate] COBOL.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Variables

      Perl -- my weapon of choice -- is now considered about as old-fashioned as COBOL.

      I use strict and warnings not because I want to win any coding style awards, but so I don't forget what my variables are supposed to be called.

      And my old habit of still putting my opening posh bracket at the end of the control statement a.o.t. on a new line by itself is actually coming in useful now, with these modern trendy widescreen monitors giving hundreds of columns by about 16 rows .....

  25. Captain Boing
  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "These days we hear a lot about luring the young away from happy, fulfilling careers and into the world of programming."

    Wasn't expecting you to start out so strong, ended up choking on my first sip of tea... Well done sir!

  27. DrD'eath

    Comma, please

    "Siri, Alexa, and Cortana." Not "Siri, Alexa and Cortana." Alexa and Cortana are rivals, not a couple.

    1. Trixr

      Re: Comma, please

      Please read up on serial commas and the fact they are NOT required where you have a conjunction, depending on what writing STYLE you happen to have adopted.

      If you have a preferred style, fine. The serial comma is common in the US (and Oxford, natch). There's nothing about an "and" that implies the entities are "a couple".

  28. thosrtanner

    Article written Sep 19th. Article appeared under Verity Stob page Oct 2nd.

    Clearly someone forgot


    What was I saying?

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