Tag Archives: Software

Pentagon uses 50 year old COBOL code to figure out who to pay

A recent story by Reuters details how the Pentagon’s payment system is heavily reliant on COBOL computer code, much of which is about 50 years old – seven million lines of Cobol code basically decides who gets paid.

And the code hasn’t been updated in the last 10 years or more….

While this is, of course, worrying for a lot of service personnel, many of whom have been on the receiving end of the mistakes made by the system, it’s probably good news for people worried about whether or not the system can be hacked.

As the Defense Joint Military Pay System, the office responsible for overseeing the system told Reuters:

“As time passes, the pool of Cobol expertise dwindles.”


UK online benifits wants you to welcome (back) Windows XP and IE6

Photo by: luc legay

Anyone in the UK wishing to claim benefits through the Government’s online services had better not have bought a new computer any time during the last, say, decade or so.

A pointed out in a rather sweet piece in The Inquirer, people wanting to claim either Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Overseas State Pension can do so online by visiting the website Gov.UK. From here they’ll be directed to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) where they’ll be asked to fill out an online form.

“This service doesn’t work with some modern browsers and operating systems,” the website warns.

What DWP is actually saying is that the site struggles can’t really interact with anything that’s either a) not a PC using Microsoft products and/or b) any Microsoft newer than
Microsoft Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.

Just to clarify, Windows XP was released in 2001 and Microsoft has recently announced that it’s no longer going to release updates for it. Internet Explorer 6, on the other hand, is…no, Internet Explorer 6 is also from 2001…

But don’t worry, DWP say they are working on something.

“We are considering how best to provide this service in future. You may want to claim in another way,” they say of their website.

I’m sure they’d be very happy if you send your forms in by mail-coach….

Top game maker on move towards Linux: ‘ I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe’

Gabe Newell might not be well known outside the gaming industry, but ask anyone in the know, and the answer is likely to come back that Gabe is a bit of a guru.

Having created Valve, one of the very biggest distribution platforms in gaming, his voice is one to listen to, when he makes his rare public appearances. Like he recently did at Casual Connect.

Speaking on various subjects, including the future of gaming, open vs. closed platforms and the evolution of the touch screens, Gabe Newell also weighed in on his old company, Microsoft and their latest incarnation of Windows – Windows 8 – and what lay behind Valve’s recent move towards Linux.

“The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior,” he said.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.”

Ouch, Microsoft.

Recording industry flails about with another stoneage move in a loosing battle

The recording industry are still sulking about the fact that Steve Jobs figured out how you could make money off on-line music and now they have found another thing on the internet to sulk about.

The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the four largest record companies in the world, have asked Download.com to remove software from its site that would let users rip music from video files, such as those found on YouTube, and convert it to MP3’s.

“More than a year ago we asked Download.com to remove applications that are used to steal our members’ content,” the RIAA said in a statement.

The request follows quick on the heels of the story that YouTube-MP3.org was blocked from accessing YouTube. As the name indicates, YouTube-MP3.org is a site dedicated to ripping audio from YouTube videos.

Never being someone who was interested in the lessons of ancient Greece, RIAA seem intent on trying to push a stone uphill. In this case, the stone they’re behind is the copyright of songs.

The record companies have realised that you have to go where the kids are to get them to listen to your music. And the kids are on YouTube. A recent Nielsen study showed that more than two-thirds of American kids and teens used YouTube to listen to music. That’s more than any other technology, including radio and TV.

And trying to get in the way of kids ripping the audio from YouTube and sticking it on their iPods and phones, by going after a website and a hub for software distribution is about as effective as trying to empty the ocean with a bucket.