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An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the bringing-efficiency-to-the-military-beast dept.

Perl 192

shocking writes: Arizona National Guard member Vivin Paliath was surprised to be commended for writing Perl scripts and Excel macros while his unit was deployed in Iraq. His work automated a number of previously manual processes that were part of the logistics processes of his unit. He wrote, '[A]s a programmer, I'm constantly looking for ways to make my job easy. I didn't want to sit and add qualifications, and print licenses one by one. I was too lazy for that, and worse, the whole thing was horribly inefficient. So I decided to figure out how to automate the process. ... I started writing Perl scripts to query the data. By the time we had reached Iraq, I had a working script that generated licenses as text files for all the soldiers. The script only took a second or two to run, and the longest part of the process was simply printing out the licenses. But I wasn't done yet. I was still annoyed that I would have to add driver qualifications manually. So I wrote another script that would go and add qualifications to drivers en masse. The script even had a configuration file where you could specify what qualifications you wanted to add and to whom."

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CPAN (2)

Megane (129182) | about 5 months ago | (#47333245)

I'm sure there's a CPAN module for that.

Re:CPAN (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 5 months ago | (#47333341)

Pfft - I'm certain there's at least four Python eggs out there for it.

Re:CPAN (2)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 months ago | (#47333837)

I'm sure there's a CPAN module for that.

Emacs has had these functions for *years* ... :-)

It's the Camel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333269)

Camel, Desert... Perfect combo!

Shoulda got a purple heart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333281)

...for coding in Perl.

Re:Shoulda got a purple heart (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334105)

They don't give you a Purple Heart for shooting yourself in the foot.

Re:Shoulda got a purple heart (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334137)

You should ask John Kerry about that...

This is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333307)

Are we now going to post an article every time someone uses a programming language for its intended purpose? Where is the fucking story here?

Re: This is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333353)

I think the story is that the US Army has some serious technogical shortcomings.

Re: This is dumb (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333499)

Well, at least the Army has 'L' keys that work properly.

Re:This is dumb (1)

sjames (1099) | about 5 months ago | (#47333983)

Getting a medal for it? That's new.

Re:This is dumb (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47334425)

Getting a medal for it? That's new.

No it isn't. Although some medals are hard to earn, others are handed out like halloween candy. The National Defense Service Medal [wikipedia.org] is automatically handed out to everyone that enlists. I got a Sea Service Ribbon [wikipedia.org] just for SHOWING UP when my unit deployed (the alternative was to go to the brig). Achievement Medals [wikipedia.org] are routinely awarded to people that go a little beyond the ordinary in solving problems or innovating. I was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals during my six years of service in the Marines. What is described in TFA is routine. It happens all the time.

Re:This is dumb (4, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#47334011)

Quoting: [pentagon.mil]

President Kennedy, in a memorandum to the Secretary of Defense, dated 1 June 1962, authorized the award of the Army Commendation Medal to members of the Armed Forces of friendly foreign nations who, after 1 June 1962, distinguished themselves by an act of heroic, extraordinary achievement, or meritorious service.

He used VBA and Perl in order to successfully speed up military bureaucracy - don't you think that qualifies as both heroic and extraordinary achievement, respectively?

Re:This is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334241)

No. The only bearable sort of overreaching government is an inefficient one.

Re:This is dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334409)

>or meritorious service
you conveniently left that out.

I'm amazed he wasn't thrown in the brig. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333317)

That sounds like hacking to me.

Re:I'm amazed he wasn't thrown in the brig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334403)

You mean the stockade. This isn't the navy.

If you can get a purple heart for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333323)

breaking an ankle jumping off a duece and a half you can get a commendation for what that guy did. Army has lots of medals to give, but not many deserving of same. What is the Army to do? Pass them out. Voila! Scopts = medal. P.S. Many medals are not what you think they are.

Re:If you can get a purple heart for (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 5 months ago | (#47333663)

I find it doubly ironic that the tough guys out there decry our culture of "every child gets an award" but gets choked up every time they see a soldier get a bullshit medal pinned to their chest.

Pogues (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333361)

We used to call guys like that pogues, and we didn't give them medals.

On the other hand, if you could introduce efficiency in military bureaucracy, or any bureaucracy really, good on you!

"Office Worker" can go into harms way ... (5, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47333739)

We used to call guys like that pogues, and we didn't give them medals. On the other hand, if you could introduce efficiency in military bureaucracy, or any bureaucracy really, good on you!

Careful where you draw the line between "fighting men" and "office workers". I knew someone who was a Yeoman, does the ship's paperwork, on a destroyer during WW2. He only did paperwork between the fighting. When the ship went to general quarters he put down the pencil and became part of the crew of a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun. For those unfamiliar, this was not a gun where the crew had some protection inside a turret. Bofors' crew were on deck and exposed to enemy fire, debris/fuel from aircraft destroyed and friendly fire.

Re: Pogues (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334617)

Person Other than Grunt is a POG not Pogue. What is that, French? And you're obviously a POG, Biyaaatch!

Illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333389)

Sounds a lot like the government is developing its own software. This effort should have been bid out to a private company.

Re:Illegal? (4, Insightful)

Blrfl (46596) | about 5 months ago | (#47334073)

The government develops tons of its own software.

What law says that everything has to be contracted out?

A purple heart? (3, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 months ago | (#47333399)

There's a metal for those wounded in combat, and Perl cuts psyches deeply indeed.

A purple heart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333667)

In this case it would be a ruby heart.

Re:A purple heart? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333715)

They give you the metal of honor if you make it readable.

Re:A purple heart? (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#47333735)

I think you meant the Perlple Heart...

Re:A purple heart? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47333805)

For outstanding gallantry and meritorious debugging in the face of hostile scripts, at the risk of sanity, above and beyond the call of regular expressions.

Re:A purple heart? (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 5 months ago | (#47333943)

Problem is purple hearts are not awarded for self-inflicted injuries.

Re:A purple heart? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 months ago | (#47334349)

I think you might classify this alongside "jumping on a grenade".

Metal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333407)

It must be the purple heart.

If you make the perl code readable you get the metal of honor.

Re:Metal (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 5 months ago | (#47334243)

This is an actual line of perl code from a script I use often:

s/\b(\w)/uc($1)/ge;

Go on. Just try to work out what it does.

Re: Metal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334407)

That would be better written as s/\b(\w)/\u$1/g

Re: Metal (1)

GNious (953874) | about 5 months ago | (#47334471)

That would be better written in Visual Basic.net Sharp v#.8 2011

Fixed that for you...

Good For Him (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333467)

Good for him. I did the same, don't see me bragging about it. In my experience, an ARCOM for deploying is a "Congrats, you did your job, AND didn't fuck up too much!"

Re:Good For Him (1)

just_a_monkey (1004343) | about 5 months ago | (#47333697)

Uhu, but did your program have a configuration file, you lamer?

I take it Google and NASA are preparing offers for this guy as we speak. (Or Facebook. He obviously knows how to work the networks social.)

Re:Good For Him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334307)

Yup, even had user preferences. I'm not trying to take away from this guy because ULLS is a shitty program to have to work with, so good on him for automating it. It's just not an "OMG! Teh Army lovez nerds!" type thing I see a bunch of people thinking it is.

Re:Good For Him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334581)

stop being a whiny cunt.

What's so Hard to Understand? (4, Informative)

qw(name) (718245) | about 5 months ago | (#47333481)

Anything that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of our forces deserves recognition. If writing code and automating or stream-lining a process is successful, write the person who did it up for a citation or medal. I did it in the navy 20 years ago and received a NAM (Navy Achievement Award) for my efforts. Not all medals given in the military are for combat duties.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (3, Informative)

stu72 (96650) | about 5 months ago | (#47333581)

It's hard to understand because..

a) most people probably have little understanding of military awards outside of hollywood and might be forgiven for thinking they are all given for combat

b) most managers, whether in the military or not, seem woefully clueless about the impact of cumbersome poorly designed systems and the payback on well designed ones (or well designed hacks running on top of the poor system) So that someone even noticed he was more productive, didn't freak out because he did something different, didn't freak out because the different thing involved "programming" *AND* gave him a medal... seems pretty remarkable.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (1)

NotInHere (3654617) | about 5 months ago | (#47333709)

So that someone even noticed he was more productive, didn't freak out because he did something different, didn't freak out because the different thing involved "programming" *AND* gave him a medal... seems pretty remarkable.

Companies like ORACLE or SAP live of this increased productivity of their customer companies. Increasing productivity is one of the major reasons for use of computers in business.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | about 5 months ago | (#47333687)

Now if we could just get our common staff accountant to that level of efficiency we'd be getting somewhere.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334077)

People tend to be punished for this in the services... The real story here is the CoC they have didn't squash him. Not that he should have been. Only if you screw it up. But people who do not understand how things work do CYA and everyone has to suck the same amount. What really keeps things going is the same pretty much everywhere. A few people do 90%. Then those people make everyone look bad when they improve things more.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (4, Informative)

rjune (123157) | about 5 months ago | (#47334085)

If you have been in the service it's not hard to understand at all. I received an Aerial Achievement Medal during Desert Storm. Some of the things that I did was to write a DOS Batch file that backed up our flight plans (routing etc. was coordinated with other units to prevent midair collisions), fixed a glitch in the Mission Planning software (ANGPLAN forever!), and prepared more mission packages than I can count. This helped our unit earn a Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (we did not miss a single refueling) Everybody has to do their job for a unit to perform at peak level.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (0)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 months ago | (#47334167)

It was writen in Perl. If it were easy to understand would had deserved the Nobel prize too.

Re:What's so Hard to Understand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334175)

Indeed.

My grandfather got a commendation for essentially building an indicator lamp with a long wire and alligator clips at the end while working as an instrument tech for the Canadian air force. They had some calibration procedure where they'd need someone in the cockpit and someone outside blowing air at a sensor. The guy in the cockpit was essentially paying attention to an indicator light, so he built this thing so he could run the indicator out to where he was working, thus turning a two man job into a one man job.

Sure, it's not jumping on a grenade.. but over time it saves money and manpower.

Reminds me of the old perl journal article (1)

miracles (93948) | about 5 months ago | (#47333485)

where perl almost set off those missiles!

http://www.foo.be/docs/tpj/issues/vol2_1/tpj0201-0004.html

I got a Vietnam Era gedunk medal ... (2)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 5 months ago | (#47333495)

All I did was float around the Big Pond (East coast) in Uncle Sam's Yacht Club DURING the Vietnam era. I also got a medal for behaving 4 years in a row. This guy actually did something. I enjoyed the article.

Terrorist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333507)

He should be court-martialed and dishonorably discharged for aiding the enemy for coding in Perl.

ARCOM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333513)

This isn't unusual. I received an Army Commendation Medal (downgraded from a Meritorious Service Medal by the post commander, because "Lieutenants don't get MSMs!"), for writing the first chemical warfare module ever to interface with a combined arms simulation in Fortran on a Univac 1108.

I added graphical pre-and-post processors on the old Tektronix 4054 Graphical Computing Systems. This was at the dawn of the personal computer age. A year earlier, I had built an Altair while I was an enlisted man.

Where's my medal? (3, Informative)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 5 months ago | (#47333521)

I wrote a nice database system to track inventory cards and print out cards that were pretty much identical to the forms our S-4 used back in the late 80s in the Marine Corps. It was much better than the system they had used - which relied on removing old cards, and filling out, by hand, all new cards every time a piece of equipment was checked out or checked in. It helped alot with leakage... and worse, with equipment that was supposedly checked out, but had actually been checked in (and the Marine would then have to incur replacement cost).

There were other things I worked on, but this one had a significant impact on our effectiveness as a logistics unit.

Re:Where's my medal? (2)

Hey_bob (6104) | about 5 months ago | (#47333631)

Your OIC/SNOIC might have recommended you for a NAM, Meritorious Mast, or a Certificate of Commendation.. But as they were lacking a streamlined computer system to for the processing of those things in the 80's, it was lost in a stack of paperwork, when some Lance Corporal in S1 became a short timer. The big green weenie strikes again!

Re: Where's my medal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334389)

Yep, I got a NAM for pretty much this. Processes were such a mess, you could improve them with a bad word macro.

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333525)

I'm truly sure this soldier deserved the medal and I am very thankful for his service to our country.

However, I am curious if perhaps these processes sometimes deserve a tedious human interaction. The reporting may be one thing, but I'm curious how much was "assumed" correct because the script(s) was outputting the data. Did he verify by hand afterwards that it was correctly listing qualifications and creating said licenses? How we would he know if there was a failure or an issue, and did he maintain all of the security checks that were in place for the manual process?

I think far to often people put procedures in place for prevention of an "oh-shit" moment that has happened and as time goes on people have forgotten about the "oh-shit" moment eventually leading to a slack in those procedures which just leads to another occurrence of the same "oh-shit" moment.

Army Commendation Medal (4, Insightful)

cirby (2599) | about 5 months ago | (#47333529)

One of the criteria is "meritorious service."

Writing - on his own - a set of scripts that save that much time for his unit? Should certainly qualify.

A virtuous Perl programmer (5, Insightful)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 5 months ago | (#47333533)

Sounds like someone who embodies the Three Virtues [threevirtues.com] of a programmer: Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris. Well done!

I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47333625)

'Murica

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#47333729)

Anywhere.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 5 months ago | (#47333901)

Everywhere. And that's where 'Murica is, damn it.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (2)

Durrik (80651) | about 5 months ago | (#47334273)

<quote>
</p><p>I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!</p></quote>

I'm always surprised at this as well. I had two things I was known for at my previous company. One that I was proud of, a software library that was used across the entire company, across multiple teams (20 project teams), built up a community around, supported and upgraded for 6 years. This was mainly on my own time, but I kept getting requests from other teams to help with integration (which I needed my time authorized for). I kept getting complaints about the library, people wanting to change the flows, wanting to add features in, wanting it to be more light weight, wanting it to be more heavy weight and do more, etc. The library was actually designed with maintenance and long term support in mind.

The other project, was something that automated a process I thought was stupid. Basically something that took multiple true type fonts, merged them together, and then based on all the localization strings it stripped out all the unused fonts to save on RAM. I threw that together when I was home sick from work with a 103 degree fever during flu season. It was only suppose to live till the end of the current project I was on (2 months). You can imagine how crappy the code was, it barely worked, it barely did what it had to do.

Guess which one I got more praise and recognition for? Not the properly designed project that affected our customers and revenue flow, but the code vomit (almost literally) project that made people's life in the company easier. Because of the second project I became known as one of the company's expert on true type fonts, and even had the company lawyers call me to talk about licensing of the fonts we used (as if I knew that). And I still had to support that tool 5 years after I wrote it, because it somehow leaked out of the original project which had been shipped and closed down. Just for the record I consider my knowledge on fonts to be slightly above average, but when you consider the average is 'a font is what you select in Word' its not much, no way is that considered an expert in any other area.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (2)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 5 months ago | (#47334411)

"I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. "
Mostly this is because you have a narrow view of your work and don't consider the needs of the people for whom you are actually producing that work.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (5, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 5 months ago | (#47334679)

Years ago I was the IT guy for a local government budget office.

After I stopped the servers from crashing any spending an hour rebuilding every day, and fixed the backup system so it actually backed up data, I had plenty of free time.

Instead of hiding in my office looking busy while playing MUDS/Nethack I took the time to sit with individual users, and quietly //observe their workflow.//

They spent most of the day comparing two columns of numbers (one from mainframe, one from SQL) for equality.

After a quick VBA prototype, they ended up with simple daily reports of where the numbers didn't match, saving about 40 hours a day between the 20 analysts.

The key thing many IT guys miss, is taking the time to fully understand what the users actually need/want; but instead jump to conclusions that everyone wants what a programmer wants.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#47334485)

Sounds like someone who embodies the Three Virtues [threevirtues.com] of a programmer: Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris. Well done!

I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!

It wasn't what he did but the results he achieved that earned him a medal. He saw a problem, applied a fix an made life easier for himself and his unit. Just because it was a relatively simple coding effort is immaterial.

In addition, what is simple to one person isn't to another; it all depends on one's experience.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about 5 months ago | (#47334529)

I'm always amazed at what non-programmers are impressed by. Code up some major application, and... Why doesn't it have this feature? Why does it have that workflow? What kind of colorblind dyslexic idiot designed this UI? But whip up a simple script to automate some repetitive, routine task and you're a genius!

It suggests that one of these things solved a real problem that the users actually had, while the other solved problems that the developers thought the users ought to have.

A simple solution that does something useful, now, is worth 100 elegant applications that will totally revolutionise your work once they're finished... provided you completely re-arrange your practices to match the software.

Re:A virtuous Perl programmer (2)

ChilyWily (162187) | about 5 months ago | (#47334631)

I completely agree with this comment. I'm currently on a project where the Architect is super impressed that there is an excel style chart I coded up in Java solely because he understands the excel-style table and chart and can speak to it in front of his boss. But a ton of work I did writing some machine learning to detect and display faults in a heat map flew him into a rage of criticism and anger... because to him heat maps are only used for financial data and "not applicable here". He even argued about the color red and green! In my experience, people only appreciate what they understand. And so I have resorted to finding communities where my work is appreciated. No use trying to impress the wrong (uninformed) person. What boggles my mind is how this guy became a Senior Architect in the organization when his appreciation for creativity and considering an alternate point of view is so low.

Mixed feelings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333537)

On one hand, vigilante programming can be a huge benefit for an archaic process fought with bureaucracy but encouraging this behavior without proper software engineering discipline and oversight is obviously disastrous. While I don't feel like this man should be rewarded, I don't feel he should be condemned.

Ah, lazy .... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47333545)

I was too lazy for that

More useful things have been invented out of an express desire to be lazy than I can even count.

The realization of "WTF am I doing this by hand when I can write a script" sparks so many cool things.

If he streamlined his job and got better results I don't see why he shouldn't get recognition.

I'm sure the military hasn't introduced the Perl Star or anything, so I'm sure they've worked within existing stuff to say "damn, son, that's some fine work".

Re:Ah, lazy .... (3, Insightful)

c (8461) | about 5 months ago | (#47333755)

More useful things have been invented out of an express desire to be lazy than I can even count.

Not so much a "desire to be lazy", but more about pre-empting laziness.

Laziness is like entropy; it's gonna happen.

Tedious manual processes are inherently error-prone. If everyone is conscientious and on-the-ball, things generally work, albeit less efficiently than we'd like. But that's not sustainable in the long term... eventually, people get into a groove and start getting sloppy.

Designing, writing, testing, and rolling out (usually against the inertia of an existing process) a program isn't lazy. It maybe allows the programmer to be lazy later, but in the short term actually a lot more up-front work. It's just a shedload more interesting that the actual work it's replacing, which is usually the main motivation for doing it at all.

Re:Ah, lazy .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 5 months ago | (#47334165)

I'm not saying the man was 'lazy'. Not at all.

But every time I've found I need to write a script like this, I've attributed it to being too lazy to want to repeat the process.

A few years ago we automated something -- because we'd just spent a few hours doing it on one server, and would have to repeat the process for a bunch of other servers, and that wasn't something any of us wanted to do again since it was a huge sequence of manual steps.

It's more of an investment in long-term laziness to make the problem go away.

If I do a small amount of work now, I can make a large amount of work go away later. Lazy. But in a proactive get something off my plate kind of way.

Like Scrooge McDuck says ... work smarter, not harder.

I assure you, I mean lazy in a very complimentary way here. ;-)

Re:Ah, lazy .... (1)

c (8461) | about 5 months ago | (#47334629)

I assure you, I mean lazy in a very complimentary way here. ;-)

Oh, I understand what you mean. But calling it "lazy" is... well, lazy.

Programmers are generally not lazy people. They're willing to work pretty hard at stuff that matters or that they care about. They just don't like to waste their time, nor do they like to do poor work.

Tedious manual error-prone processes that could be done more efficiently and correctly by making a machine to do it are exactly the sorts of jobs programmers don't like to do.

Granted, not wanting to do a job the way someone expects you to do it or the way it's always been done might *look* lazy...

Idiot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333555)

He should have kept his mouth shut and let everyone assume he was doing everything manually. That way, he could have just played video games all day while his scripts did most of the work. That would have been way better getting a medal.

Re: Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334291)

Good idea! Hope the military did not see this post.

Avoid! (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#47333583)

I avoided the military and so got no medals.
I didn't get shot either, so on balance I consider that a win.

Re:Avoid! (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 5 months ago | (#47333633)

I avoided the military and so got no medals. I didn't get shot either, so on balance I consider that a win.

There should be a new medal for this, clearly. The Army Avoidance Cross we can call it. I'm writing my Congressman...

Re:Avoid! (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 5 months ago | (#47334683)

I think having one of those would be a republican presidential candidate requirement.

Not everybody carries a weapon in the military. (1)

Kevin by the Beach (3600539) | about 5 months ago | (#47333609)

Years ago, I was an Air Force enlisted programmer AFSC 511/491. Sure, I was in the military but I didn't have a combat rating. I haven't looked at the citation that accompanied my medals, but I wouldn't be surprised to see obscure programming references like Ada, PL/1, and CP/M. The one sad change is that it was an awesome career path for people to go high school to military and get their computer training on the job. I've never completed my college education, but hold a job as an Enterprise Data Architect. Unfortunately the beltway bandits now do the same job I was payed less than $1500 a month to perform. And they only gouge the tax payers low-mid six figures to perform the same task (SAIC,GE,SAP,Oracle,etc..). The day's of the low paid high performing enlisted programmer are part of history. Congress and the DOD will never willing cut off a funding source and perpetual wealth through the revolving contractor door.

Put him where he's needed (4, Insightful)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 5 months ago | (#47333679)

Get this man to the VA stat!

Me too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333691)

I did exactly the same when I had an industrial placement year as part of my CS degree. Part of my role as a systems analyst was to sanitise log files and system messages manually and to alert the correct person if certain combinations happened at once (as it suggested all sorts of problems). They didn't want a developer, they just wanted me to tell them what was going on.

I automated my job, got congratulated and got moved onto an ITIL project. I should've told no one and just reaped the benefits.

Wow, they didn't outsource? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47333703)

To me the shocker is that a soldier wrote code and it wasn't outsourced to a "cyber" consultant in the Washington DC metroplex area. I'm surprised he was even allowed to do something like this and not punished. What's next, peeling their own potatoes?

Who uses Perl anymore? (2)

techstar25 (556988) | about 5 months ago | (#47333711)

The next time someone asks "What good is Perl anymore?" or "Who actually uses Perl?" or "Why use Perl?" you can point them to this article. Perl is perfect for this type of quick development. Sometimes the older languages still have a lot of value.

Re:Who uses Perl anymore? (1)

halivar (535827) | about 5 months ago | (#47334163)

It's the duct tape of languages. It's for kludgey hacks, and if you see someone using it, you look down on them; but when YOU need it, it's a goddamn miracle

Re:Who uses Perl anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334253)

Same thing can be said about a lot of languages that step in when the omnipotent ones take too long just to create a fucking "hello world" statement.

This is why we should be teaching programming (1)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 5 months ago | (#47333823)

This right here is why we should be teaching basic programming or scripting in middle school. Show young students how to automate simple tasks and they'll apply it to nearly every field that exists. I remember talking to an IT consultant about the recently released Exchange 2007 (when Exchange went all gung-ho about PowerShell) and he said how he hated the de-emphasis on the GUI and the huge emphasis on PowerShell. "On my first deployment I didn't use PowerShell at all. But by my third one, it was all done by PowerShell scripts."

Re:This is why we should be teaching programming (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 5 months ago | (#47334511)

This right here is why we should be teaching basic programming or scripting in middle school. Show young students how to automate simple tasks and they'll apply it to nearly every field that exists."

And far too many of them will think they know what they are doing and screw things up.

Should be a medal and a discharge (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 5 months ago | (#47333845)

Meritorius medal for streamlining things w/ perl, and a dishonorable discharge for doing *anything* with Excel.

And before the accusations fly, my statement stands no matter what spreadsheet program you replace "Excel" with. They aren't database tools and shouldn't be used as such.

Re:Should be a medal and a discharge (1)

rjune (123157) | about 5 months ago | (#47334155)

Hussain invaded Kuwait on Sunday, my unit called Monday night and we deployed Tuesday. You go with what you have and make it work. I did backups to floppy disks because that is all we had, the backups were critical, and it worked.

Re:Should be a medal and a discharge (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 5 months ago | (#47334237)

May I respectfully disagree, on behalf of all the dead GIs who "went with what they had," in their case being non-armored HUMMVs and worthless body armor.

Read "Paths of Glory" for an earlier instance of the same Charlie Foxtrot.

With rare exception, it's far better to postpone action until properly prepared than to follow blind orders. I suspect Sun Tzu would agree.

Re:Should be a medal and a discharge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334305)

Sun Tzu would have had the leader and cronies publicly executed.

Re:Should be a medal and a discharge (0)

operagost (62405) | about 5 months ago | (#47334457)

May I respectfully disagree with your off-topic rant and incorrect recall of history?

Hint: which conflict in Iraq involved an invasion of Kuwait?

Also, stop using sneaky ad hominems like "blind".

Re:Should be a medal and a discharge (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about 5 months ago | (#47334637)

I was not commenting on your particular conflict; merely on a glaring example of poor planning and support by superior officers (including Rumsfeld).

If you reread my rant, you'll see I accused the people issuing orders of being blind.

PTSD (1)

tool462 (677306) | about 5 months ago | (#47333883)

Perl Traumatic Stress Disorder
My thanks to this young man for his sacrifice, from a fellow perl hacker who's spent 15 years in the trenches...

I love how he admitted he was lazy. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 5 months ago | (#47333911)

Let me tell you a secret. Every good programmer/hacker (in the truest sense of the word), got that way by being lazy.

The hard working guy? He is quite willing to keep on doing his work the hard way,spending his own time and effort instead of the computer's time.

It's us lazy guys that say "this is stupid, the computer can do this part". Then we write the code and let the software do the hard work, instead of us.

In Other News Perl Gets 21 Gun Salute (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 5 months ago | (#47333935)

... during Military Funeral Honors as Perl is Dead -- dying in the line of duty.

NAM for mail alias and anti-virus (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 months ago | (#47333977)

This is nothing, I once got a Navy Achievement Medal (one step down from a Commendation medal) for setting up a mail alias on my own domain for my reserve unit to use for group communications, and for installing and updating anti-virus software on the unit's laptops. It all literally took me half an hour to complete.

Got a Commendation Medal in the Air Force (1)

STRICQ (634164) | about 5 months ago | (#47334019)

For writing some translation code in C that did in seconds what took us hours to do manually. That was pretty cool.

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334261)

I was a software developer in the Marine Corps and received two NAMs for software that I wrote as a Lance Corporal and Corporal. One handled meal card/chow hall processing and auditing for Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (and which I understand is used Marine Corps-wide now) the other automated personnel lookup and legal processing and auditing.

My guess is that there are a good number of programmers in the military writing useful software and getting medals for it because they impressed their commander.

One thing to keep in mind... (2)

Hussman32 (751772) | about 5 months ago | (#47334503)

“Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.” -- General George S. Patton, USA

Remember before criticizing the US Army, it's considered the best in the world, largely because of quartermaster capabilities.

I did the same at my job... (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 5 months ago | (#47334521)

...but instead of some sort of recognition or reward for increased efficiency, they removed one of our team members. I guess I can at least put it on my resume and apply for a better employer...

Hardly a surprise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47334561)

The army is all about making things miserable for other people. It's no surprise they award a medal for someone coding a piece of software in perl.

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