Read this story from NPR on the recent IRS computer crash. ‘Puter will wait right here while you do.
‘Puter heard the story driving home from work yesterday on All Liberals Embittered or whatever NPR calls its taxpayer-funded afternoon low-toned liberal hootenanny.* Say what you will about NPR’s politics, but those liberals sure do tell a good story.
‘Puter enjoyed the story, particularly the part about the IRS’s master file being housed on a computer mainframe somewhere in the hills of West Virginia.** The story provides a worthwhile view of the IRS siphoning off oodles of cash for God knows what while allowing its customer interface and collections software to crater from neglect.
But that’s not what really interested ‘Puter. This quote is.
But Mihm says being an early adopter ironically led to today’s problems at the IRS. The agency still uses a computer language from that era called Assembly that few know anymore. “It’s quite antiquated,” he says. But Mihm says, with so much of the IRS’ data encoded with Assembly, “it’s very had to sort of start entirely from scratch and build an entirely new system.
So the IRS has a database coded in Assembly, “a computer language … that few know any more.” ‘Puter laughed out loud as he drove across the still-frozen Upstate tundra as the snow continued to fall. ‘Puter was pretty sure he knew one of the few who are fluent in Assembly. When ‘Puter got home, he called this person to confirm his suspicion.
“Hi, Mom. It’s ‘Puter. Yeah. I love you too. Say, I was just listening to NPR and … Yeah, Mom. I know, but listen a minute. They had this story on the IRS’s mainframe and a database coded entirely in an old language they said no one knew anymore. No, not COBOL. No, not FORTRAN. Yep, Assembly. You used to program for [an unnamed government agency] is Assembly, didn’t you? I knew it!”
So, yeah. ‘Puter’s Mom’s not only among the first female coders, but her retained knowledge could eventually be put to use in rebuilding the IRS’s database. That is, if the IRS gives a crap about modernizing its database and wants to pay her going rate. And ‘Puter’ll be the one negotiating her going rate.
Small world, isn’t it?
* When the All Things Considered hosts introduce themselves saying, “I’m Mary Louise Kelly,” or whatever, ‘Puter likes to say back to the radio, “I’m Ghettoputer Gormogon. Nice to meet you, Ms. Kelly.” This drives Mrs. ‘Puter nuts.
** Or the swamps of Jersey. Whatever. #Rosalita4Evah