Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Vanishing code

It was quite sad to see my old office at SUN in linlithgow will shut down its manufacturing operations. I went through two or three rounds of redundancies while I was there 2001-2004 working in the storage system manufacturing group.

I am sad for the guys at SUN - there is not a lot of work in the area; Motorola closed down completely a few years back. But then the company I worked for before SUN was bought over while I was there and has changed beyond recognition, and the one after doesn't seem to be doing much on their website anymore either and is part of a whole group of software that is being phased out. It seems to be the way of the branch of engineering I am in. I think I like the idea the all the code I have ever written has, or will be shortly, thrown away.

It's probably quite sad in a way that there is not a lot to show for my hours of work. But then the alternative - tweaking the same piece of COBOL written 30 years ago sounds miserable to me and I wouldn't want to wish it on anybody.

It doesn't stop me trying my best to write maintainable code of course, but I always thought the benefit of doing so would be that the next person would feel comfortable throwing bits of it away, rather than writing a "Here be dragons!" comment at the top and going no further.

Sharing your transaction information for your protection

A month or so back I caved in to the pressure from my beloved and bought a USB TV receiver from She had a deprived childhood it seems, and has never seen certain things, like 'Escape to victory' that others have spent time watching on several, several occasions.

(Un)fortunately, the reception where we live is very bad without doing a Rod Hull (poor man) and clambering on to the roof of our 4 storey building. The device was placed in a drawer and forgotten about... until a letter arrived at my work address (the delivery address) - a licence demand from the evil TV Licencing people asking why they had no record of the office address on their system.

I do my best to rise above the threatening format of the TVL letters but was surprised that amazon shared my transaction information with a third party. Looking through their privacy documents, I found this bit of blurb

We release account and other personal information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law; enforce or apply our Conditions of Use and other agreements; or protect the rights, property or safety of, our users or others. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organisations for fraud protection and credit risk reduction.

I suppose notifying the TVL of my purchase might go under 'protecting the rights of others'. However, it doesn't exactly instill in me that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing my information is safe in amazon's hands.

Still, it might be worth it, if only to have that once in a lifetime chance to observe the mystical TV detector van in the wild