* Posts by Richard Plinston

2650 posts • joined 27 Apr 2009

An open-source COBOL contender emerges

Richard Plinston

Re: Scary

> business process, ... that might date back decades

The thing about business processes is that they change frequently. Businesses are about competing with others and trying to increase their revenue and profit. They will change the way they set prices, discounts, they will change the product they sell, the way that they sell them. If they don't do that then their competitors will and will take business from them. The computer systems are required to be amended to implement these changes.

> rewriting the code in a modern language

Back in the 80s there was a Datamation survey that reported that 80% 9or so) of COBOL programming was reported as being 'maintenance' whereas 90% of C programming was new applications. Some seemed to conclude that if COBOL programs were converted to C then the 'maintenance overhead' would disappear and the programmers would create new applications.

The whole survey was seriously flawed. The COBOL and C sites were doing completely different types of applications. The COBOL 'maintenance' was, in fact, updating the business applications to handle changes in the business processes as the businesses re-invented themselves to compete better.

What's the top programming language? It's not JavaScript but Python, says IEEE survey

Richard Plinston

> Is Python a ...

Yes, all of those, and an embedded language too, if you want that.

Richard Plinston

Re: What about people just using the language, and not talking about it?

> none doing the auto-complete and code navigation

Try PyCharm. There is a community edition.

Richard Plinston

> it has a too-rapidly-changing standard.

2 in 30 years?

Actually it is quite easy to write code that runs perfectly with both Python 2 and Python 3 using the futures module.

Richard Plinston

Re: Misunderstood purpose

> niche languages, all promising to eliminate logic and construct errors by design

I initially read this as:

niche languages, all promising to (eliminate logic) and (construct errors) by design

But I suspect that this should be read as:

niche languages, all promising to eliminate (logic and construct errors) by design

Richard Plinston

Survey basis

> Or which have most job opportunities?

That would seem to favour languages for which there are the most empty desks. The reason they are not filled may be that few want to use that language.

> how much code is written in each language?

That would favour verbose languages (COBOL, Java) where everything has to be re-invented for every project. Or, possibly, where developer productivity is measured by number of lines of code written per day.

> Google Search and/or tutorials

That would relate popularity of a language to the number of people who don't know it.

It seems to me that Javascript is high on every list because it it hard to avoid when doing web development even when any other language would be preferred.

Get ready to make processes fit the software when shifting to SAP's cloud, users told

Richard Plinston

> the way you've operated a certain business process five years ago is not the way you want to operate it today,

I spent 50 years developing and changing bespoke software for several clients. Businesses are deliberately different in order to be competitive against other businesses in the same market. Not only do they want to be different from others in the market, they want to be different than what they were last year.

The business environment changes: eg banks no longer take cheques, the processes need to adjust, the software needs to follow the processes, or indeed, enforce the changes that have been determined by the management.

On the other hand the business will often operate in spite of the laid down procedures.

Microsoft suspends free trials for Windows 365 after a day due to 'significant demand'

Richard Plinston

Re: How much?

> An eight core system for $158 a month?

You have forgotten to add in the client machine cost and the cost of upgrading your bandwidth.

Microsoft wasn't joking about the Dev Channel not enforcing hardware checks: Windows 11 pops up on Pi, mobile phone

Richard Plinston

Re: Windows Mobile holdouts, still mourning the death of their beloved operating system

> it's the only MS OS that MS killed off.

Windows RT?

Developing for Windows 11: Like developing for Windows 10, but with rounded corners?

Richard Plinston

Re: Linux is a desktop OS

> But then, under that (mistaken) belief, so is Unix.

Of course it is. Mac is BSD (Unix) based and it is a great desktop system.

> Taking a server OS and topping it with a window server makes it 'desktop"

Windows NT was developed as a server OS, the original design included it being multi-user*. Windows NT 3.1 had a GUI, basically from Windows 3.1, added on top. The NT design still underlies all the subsequent versions of Window.

> Linux kernel is multiuser server. If [we] press it into single-user desktop use

Unix, Linux and Windows (post 3.11) are all pre-emptive multi-tasking kernels. The only difference in being multi-user is that the user id is attached to the process and this is checked against the various security settings and attributes. As Windows does this too then it is actually a multi-user kernel, it is just not simultaneously multi-user (except TSE and/or Citrix). It can swap users and may even be able to leave the original user with some idle processes until they swap back.

* the multi-user bit was removed because Bill wanted to sell a copy to every user rather than one copy for a bunch of users. This was added back for TSE.

Richard Plinston

Re: New here

> Desktop OS's have a fundamentally different paradigm than a server OS,

So, you are saying that Windows Server is crap!

> Windows, is criticized for just about *everything* ... [rant on] ...

Yeah, people want choice. One size does _not_ 'fit all'. Get over it.

What you need to know about Microsoft Windows 11: It will run Android apps

Richard Plinston

Re: Linux Subsystem - Android?

> Android apps are effectively Java apps.

While many Android apps have been written using the Java language, they are actually Dalvik apps that run using the Dalvik VM or ART. They do not run on any Java VM.

Stop. Look... Install Linux? The Reg solves Microsoft's latest Windows teaser

Richard Plinston

Re: A slight to Tim Berners-Lee

> To say the web was born and grew up on Windows is an outright falsehood

Not only that but Windows 95 initially attempted to replace the internet with Microsoft's own network, the original MSN. To access the internet one needed to buy the Plus pack or use 3rd party software. Later releases did include internet access because MSN failed.

The quest for faster Python: Pyston returns to open source, Facebook releases Cinder, or should devs just use PyPy?

Richard Plinston

Re: C and then some

> If you absolutely, positively need performance above all else, then there aren't really many useful alternatives to C

Several years ago I wrote a program in C that merged data into a postscript template, eventually to produce PDFs for such things as invoices and statements. Later, I rewrote it in Python and it ran several times _faster_ than the original.

The reason that the C code was slow was that it used the std library string functions. All the data merging was done using strfind and strcat and these keep scanning along the string to find the null terminator. Python keeps the string length in its object and thus has much faster string handling.

Microsoft loves Linux – as in, it loves Linux users running Linux desktop apps on Windows PCs

Richard Plinston

> fragmentation of desktops and distributions

Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Mobile 6, Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, Windows IOT 8, Windows 10, Windows Mobile 10, Windows 10S, Windows IOT 10, Windows 10 ARM, ...

Richard Plinston

Re: @Boris the Cockroach - They

> Linux dead or alive no longer matters for Microsoft.

It obviously _does_ matter to Microsoft, if it didn't they would ignore it. In fact it matters because many cloud customers run Linux workloads.

> Pay for a Windows license, sign in with your Microsoft account and you're free to run Linux.

Or: don't pay for for a Windows license, don't have a Microsoft account and you've always been free to use Linux.

I am not sure why you think that Linux users will replace their systems with Windows running Linux apps. How many Windows users replaced their Windows systems with OS/2 systems because OS/2 could run Windows apps?

In fact quite the opposite happened. Instead of there being OS/2 versions of apps, developers just made Windows versions that would run on Windows and OS/2. Now developers can just make Linux apps that will run on Linux or Windows.

Richard Plinston

Re: Yes, of course

> KDE has been available for Windows for years

So has GTK, the graphical basis of GNOME. Back in the 90s I developed GUI applicationa using Glade* and Python that ran on Linux and Windows with zero code changes, not even a recompile. It even ran on Nokia 800 with a few minor features missing.

* Glade is a graphical interface designer for GTK projects.

Richard Plinston

Re: Yes, of course

Around 1990 I was asked to develop a graphics system to augment an existing text based system. It was for loading container ships and would have graphics representation of the ship and each bay and the containers and of the various tanks. It would have bending and shear graphs, stability, hazardous separations, and much more. It wasn't just GUI dialogs, it was full graphical, it eventually even had a 'helm view' as if looking forward from the helm (or indeed any chosen point) to ensure that the loading and trim met visual sighting requirements.

At the time I was running multiuser systems with Windows 3.1 hosted and an OS/2 system. I had compilers that would produce code for Windows 3.1 and for OS/2 and so I could make a choice whether to do the graphics in Windows or Presentation Manager.

When OS/2 was released with a Windows 3.1 sub-system the choice was obvious.

Penguin takeover: We tried running some GUI Linux apps on Windows the official way – and nothing exploded

Richard Plinston

Re: Why?

> Why? would a GNU/Linux developer want to develop any GNU/Linux code on MS Windows anyway?

They don't, but MS wants to force corporates to make these developers use Windows. Clouid users run Linux VMs and developers write Linux programs to run in those VMs. MS wants those developers to use Windows to ensure 100% Windows usage in corporate sites.

Perhaps there will be some tweaks in Azure so that the Linux VMs will only run programs developed with WSL.

Richard Plinston

Re: Comparisons please? Benefits please?

> Why would you develop Linux code (NOT apps, PROGRAMS) on Windows to be deployed on Linux?

Because cloud customers use Linux VMs. "about 50 percent of all Azure compute cores are Linux."

MS wants those developers to use Windows.

IBM creates a COBOL compiler – for Linux on x86

Richard Plinston

Re: [Aside] Storage media

> But I was using an ICL mini computer, not IBM, and I'm sure the floppy discs were 9".

No, they weren't.

ICL ME29 had 8 inch discs.

ICL DRS20 Models 40 and 50 had 8 inch.

I still have some 8 inch discs that were used in those systems.

Chill out, lockdown ain't over yet – perhaps FUZIX on the Pi Pico could feature in your weekend shed projects

Richard Plinston

Re: Young people these days...

> 32kb of RAM

Anything with only 32Kb of RAM would be only an 8bit CPU (8080, Z80, 6502) and Linux never ran on those.

Richard Plinston

Re: Young people these days...

> Toshiba notebook which has 32kb of RAM

Most likely it had 32Kb of _Video_ RAM. This number would be displayed when booting. To run any minimal version of Linux would require at least a megabyte, probably 2 or 4 of actual RAM.

Maybe you ran Minix but this required 640Kb.

Happy birthday, Python, you're 30 years old this week: Easy to learn, and the right tool at the right time

Richard Plinston

> it's now Python3 only

To install Python 2 version on Ubuntu 20.04 open a terminal and enter one of the following commands:

$ sudo apt install python2


$ sudo apt install python-minimal

Richard Plinston

Re: Why do some people not like python's indentation=code block container

> Some text editors and IDE's are set by default to ignore a programmers's clear and explicit key presses and interpret the [tab] key as what it thinks is the right number of spaces. Some people think that kind of blatant disobedience is tolerable.

'Tab' is short for Tabulate or 'make into a tabular form (a table)'. Program source code is not generally in the form of a table (OK some are, like Assembly or RPG). On typewriters the Tab key causes the platen to move along several _spaces_ until the next 'tab stop'. Having the Tab key move several spaces to the next 'stop' is the correct thing to do.

If you like to have tab characters in your source code and space characters, then don't use Python. Nobody wants to force you to use it.

Richard Plinston

Re: not so easy to learn


I do have a 'PLAN Reference Manual, Student Edition' in 2 volumes here if anyone would like to learn it.

Also 'a date with JEAN'.

Richard Plinston

Re: Dumb design decisions

> but I will not use it until

That's OK. No one will care if you don't use it. It is not a cult.

Your opinion about what white space is for does not change my language choice.

Richard Plinston

Re: Dumb design decisions

> As the information is only encoded by one mechanism

And there is the problem - it isn't. There are two mechanisms available: spaces and tabs.

If one of these is eliminated entirely then there is no problem but, unfortunately, some programmers have editors which carelessly allow these to be mixed in arbitrary ways. Having a suitable editor configured appropriately*, and there are many available, that deals with this issue makes the language far more usable.

It seems that all these complaints are from programmers with unsuitable editors or configurations and then complain about the language.

* eliminate tab characters entirely, tab key generates spaces, tab characters made visible, block indent and outdent feature, ...

Raspberry Pi Foundation moves into microcontrollers with the $4 Pi Pico using homegrown silicon

Richard Plinston

Re: Annoyingly low on RAM

> display memory for code

Shades of 'Williams tubes'.

Richard Plinston

Re: No WiFi?

> At which point the power sipping stops.

Yeah, but if they did 'Power Over Wifi' ...

Python swallows Java to become second-most popular programming language... according to this index

Richard Plinston

Re: Sin tax

> non-backward-compatible changes from 2.x to 3.x

I've not had any trouble at all writing code that runs identically in Python 2 and 3.

Richard Plinston

Re: I've never understood what people have against braces (or semicolons)

> the result often ends up being machine readable at the expense of being human readable

You have that entirely the wrong way around. Python, as long as the source code use space characters and not tab characters, is read the same by the machine and the human reader. Braces and braced indent can be misused to confuse the human reader.

Richard Plinston

Re: BASIC for the 21st Century

> Microsoft's fault for Porting Dartmouth BASIC,

BASIC is not one language but is a collection of many diverse languages with vague similarities. Some of these were quite usable and maintainable, for example BBC BASIC.

Actually, Microsoft ported a DEC BASIC for the Altos, and later for several other machines. This was an open source interpreter on DEC. As 8080 development was done using cross compilers on DEC machines this was relatively easy to port the major part of it but a completely new maths module was required.

Richard Plinston

Re: Popular?

> I can't think of a single large project that's written in Python.

Your inability to think is not a constraint on the use of Python.

Richard Plinston

Re: Sin tax

> WTF will Python not let me use this?

Maybe your computer just hates you because Python lets me do that.

filename = 'this-is-a-file-of-mine.txt'

fd = open(filename)


Richard Plinston

Re: Python is not turned for speed

> I find illogical and stupid

I find your argument to be illogical and stupid. Your argument is simply: "This language isn't C++".

Richard Plinston

Re: Sin tax

> an editor that doesn't preserve whitespace properly

Get better tools, or configure the ones that you have to suit.

Richard Plinston

Re: Sin tax

> *I* will decide,

That's fine. No one cares if you don't use Python.

Richard Plinston

Re: Sin tax

> Fucking. White. Space.

Get better tools, or learn to configure your tools.

'white space' is only a problem when your tools deal with this inconsistently.

Apple now Arm'd to the teeth: MacBook Air and Pro, Mac mini to be powered by custom M1 chips rather than Intel

Richard Plinston

Re: Confusing much?

> Is that eleven or the roman numeral two?

Roman numbers do not use the digit '1', they use the letter capital 'I' to represent one.

How is Trump's anti-Chinese rhetoric playing out? 70% of smartphones sold in the US are – surprise – made in China

Richard Plinston

Re: Then let him do something about it

> Yet, you want him to pump public money into financially nonviable industries?

Corporate Socialism is a Republican thing. They are pumping subsidies into coal, oil and fracking. The Federal Reserve has pumped 7 Trillion into corporate bonds by just printing money in the last year or two to support the stock market.

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

Richard Plinston

Re: .. never used .. ?

> a batch system called George

GEORGE (GEneral ORGanization Environment) was an ICL 1900 batch operating system with various versions from 1S to 4. I doubt that it had anything to do with Elliott machines.

(I actually joined I.C.T., one of the companies that formed ICL).

Richard Plinston

> So do you remember the significance of 7036875 ?

No, but 8,388,608 still haunts me!

Hint: PIC S1(23) SYNC RIGHT.

First it became Middle Earth, now New Zealand will transform into Azure region number 60

Richard Plinston

> Another related problem is time difference.

That can be an advantage rather than a problem. A few years ago I was developing a fairly large system for a UK based company while residing in NZ. I would develop and code during the day and early evening and then send the new code to the UK agent (using 56k modems) and they would test and I would have the results and comments by breakfast. We got a lot done in a very short time.

If you're writing code in Python, JavaScript, Java and PHP, relax. The hot trendy languages are still miles behind, this survey says

Richard Plinston

Re: Python and the minus in a filename

> this-is-a-file-name.txt ... Yet I've never been able to get Python to allow me to do this. Is it really forbidden?

You are talking nonsense. A filename in Python must be in a string, such as in quotes or apostrophes, and thus almost any character is allowed, including hyphens.

fd = open("this-is-a-file-name.txt", mode)

is perfectly valid.

Richard Plinston

Re: Java tied for #2

> #2 for so long is generally followed eventually by being #3 and then #4, etc

The ranking is based on the number of people asking questions. To bring a language back to number one just put out a new release with lots of new features that programmers will want to try to use.

Richard Plinston


> lots of dinguses asking stupid questions...

Yes. These types of rankings may actually list the number of programmers who don't know the languages (ie counting questions asked) or by counting the number of empty desks where currently no one is programming (ie job ads).

Richard Plinston


> You don't implement the Quicksort algorithm in COBOL.

I have done that, in CIS COBOL on 64Kb CP/M. While COBOL does have a SORT verb, at the time it only worked on files and the program needed an array sorted. Since the mid 80s SORT has worked on arrays.

> but that's not its problem space so just don't.

Sorting is very much part of COBOL's problem space.

Flat Earther and wannabe astronaut killed in homemade rocket

Richard Plinston

> [most likely an oral account penned to papyrus by Moses or one of his scribes]

it is unlikely that _anything_ in the bible was written down before 'fist temple' around 10C BCE. The main reason for this is that before then there was no written form of Hebrew. This is several centuries after the alleged time of Moses. Most of the stories in Genesis are retellings of older stories taken from other tribal groups, and are just stories (and not 'accounts').

Around 3C BCE the various different collections of stories and other writings were combined with some being discarded to arrive at what later became the OT.

Richard Plinston

> let the flat-earth crowd say what they want,

Unfortunately some of these people get into government or on school boards and then try to make their ideas compulsory.


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