To Amaze the Whole Room

In my favorite novel, “Pride and Prejudice”, Elizabeth Bennet says archly to Darcy, “I have always seen a great similarity in the turn of our minds. We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”

Perhaps a reason similar to this is why I have not been as faithful to this blog as I ought to be. I feel like I need to say something IMPORTANT. And INTERESTING. Sometimes, no topic seems important enough to grip my interest until I get home and go through all the other stuff a head of the house does after work, eat dinner and rest in front of the TV for a short time. (Hmm.. I’m beginning to sense a pattern here.) A little topic may come to mind at work, but by the time I get home, it’s gone. Even if I write it down, I then forget to look at the piece of paper.

The day-to-day life of a programmer is not really that interesting, unless he is absorbed in a project or problem.

The life of a maintenance programmer can be tedious when his mind is not fully occupied. I have a number of projects in process, but nearly all of them are at a stopping point. Not done, but at a point where my next step waits on the actions of another, usually a user.

There are no issues of cosmic importance to be resolved. I am writing new code in freeform RPG. I am not messing with the structure of old programs just to improve them. I convert them to RPGIV when I make modifications to them, but usually I do not attempt to get them all the way to freeform; with all the indicators dancing around in them, freeform usually ends up being an even worse mess than what I start with.

There are old fashioned date routines in many of the programs. I do not touch them unless the modifications have to do directly with date calculation. The basic calculations can be easily replaced with my date functions based on IBM APIs; but they don’t always plug in neatly, which means intensive testing that I don’t want to do when I only want to change a heading or tweak one or two lines of code.

There are two RPG programmers in our shop. We both code in freeform, so there are no areas of conflict there that would make life in our shop exciting.

Somehow, the areas of contention with other programmers (inhouse or online) like control break processing seem rather dull. I do what I want and no one is around to argue with me. (My wife gets after me because it sometimes seems like I like to argue..)

Of course, as I press on into my mid-60‘s, I suppose that decreased conflict is probably not a bad thing. Anything can happen, of course, but I see little likelihood of my job situation changing before I retire in another 10 or 15 years. :-)

But maybe if I picked up on the little ideas that pop up during the day and run with them at night, I could be more productive. Maybe if I had a better way of holding onto them. Maybe if I could get a little spiral notebook.. or a netbook… or a tablet…

2 Responses to “To Amaze the Whole Room”

  1. Mihael Says:


    I am not in my mid 60s , more in my mid 30s but I can relate to having good or even great ideas or things that you really should do and till the end of the drive home or to work they are just gone. Like they are stuck in the car and could not get out with me. For some time I used a digital voice recorder but that didn’t go along too well with driving on a highway at 140km/h. So I dropped that.

    Nice blog entry.


  2. Jeff Says:

    Found your blog quite by accident, but I can understand your life completely, I’m in my 50’s and have been a programmer as well since 1980’s. I grew up with the IBM midrange market and it put bread on my table and helped me raise my 4 children. I do maintenance programming now with a company that encourages me to learn new skills and I am taking advantage of it as much as I can. I enjoy C# and SQL Server. Last year I was coding ColdFusion and thought I’d never see another AS/400 or code RPG, but here I am again! I really wonder how many more IBM gigs I’ll be doing yet. This job seems to me to be very nostalgic and fun, the good old days. When I was young and ambitious. I ask you to please write some more. I and probably many others enjoy what you have to say, no matter what you think. :-)

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