• ParkinT (cs)

    Don't you just hate those "know-it-all" bosses? Since I already know everything, people who profess to be experts really annoy me!

    I never liked the MUMPS [either kind]

  • jtl (unregistered)

    This is the dawning of the age of Arcadius!

    Age of Arcadius!

    Arcadius!

    Ar-Ca-Di-Us!

    Arcadius!

  • my name is missing (unregistered)

    staffing agencies are also known as spamming agencies

  • m (unregistered)

    w00t

  • PhillS (cs)
    <cliche> <p>Staffing agencies are The Real WTF.</p> </cliche>
  • Benanov (cs)

    According to the FAQ I found linked to from the Wikipedia article on M(UMPS), M was designed to be interpreted, but most implementations store some intermediate bytecode format for speed.

    There is apparently one compiler out there that's close to equivalent C output.

    --BK

  • Ray (unregistered)

    Oh, man. I just accepted a job at a hospital that uses MUMPS :) It's not that bad though. Just one of the core back-end systems uses it and a whole bunch of other projects integrate with it and one other core system.

  • jcoehoorn (cs)

    I'm guessing the name of the company you interviewed with starts with 'E' and ended with 'pic'. You should have given it another chance- it's really a very nice place to work (I don't work there, but a friend of mine did for a year and a half). They do have a lot of MUMPS work, but if you're good you can move to teams that do other stuff, as well.

    And this can't have been that long ago- they haven't even finished building the Epic 'campus' yet.

  • akatherder (cs)

    I'm pretty sure my buddy works for that company. He took a job around Madison and they trained him full-time (3 months with pay) to learn MUMPS. He's told me that MUMPS is primitive but data storage and access work well.

    It's his first job out college (MIS not CS) and MUMPS seems to work fine for him.

  • Alan (unregistered)

    2 similiar experiences to this. First was an interview in which they kept going on about how great the "XAL" programming language was. So asked the same question - compiled vs interpreted, and the thing they kept on saying was " no, it's a fourth generation language".

    Second was when I was holding interviews, and a polish guy showed up in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe it is a cultural thing?

  • absurddoctor (unregistered)

    It is not that uncommon for someone to be able to write in a second language very well, but not be able to speak it well, and vice versa.

  • vman (unregistered) in reply to Alan

    oooh, I know what company that is. Yeah, they used to be in Madison, WI and now they're in Verona, WI.

    Supposedly they are a good place to work for.

  • J (unregistered)

    We recently had a low-level position open up - XHTML/CSS/MOSS with maybe a little Javascript. The staffing agency sent three people who were all terrible in their own way. One was clearly on his first job interview ever and couldn't name a single website that he liked (aside from ours). Another started discussing religion during the interview. The third appeared to be high, dropped the f-bomb a few times, and answered every specific technology question with "yeah sure, I can do that."

    My manager ended up going around the agency and hiring someone off a job board. She's working out great so far.

  • Arcadius (unregistered)

    spierdalaj

  • Bob (unregistered) in reply to J
    J:
    We recently had a low-level position open up - XHTML/CSS/MOSS with maybe a little Javascript.

    This is the real WTF. Low-level == assembly.

  • Massive Block (unregistered) in reply to absurddoctor
    absurddoctor:
    It is not that uncommon for someone to be able to write in a second language very well, but not be able to speak it well, and vice versa.

    I've worked with a company that hires foreign workers and they have an accent, but a masterful control of the native language. It's one thing to be able to write it, but what are you going to do, pass notes back and forth all day? Not being able to speak the native language for a company pretty much guarantees you aren't getting the job for a good reason.

  • dpm (cs)

    "Ummmm," the team lead stumbled, looking quite confused.

    To be fair, MUMPS would leave most people confused. I've had to deal with it and was quite irritated by how unnecessarily obfuscated it seemed to be. Perhaps if it was my life's work, I would have a more optimistic point of view about it, but DAMN it is a nasty thing to open up and poke around in.

  • shadowman (cs) in reply to Bob
    Bob:
    J:
    We recently had a low-level position open up - XHTML/CSS/MOSS with maybe a little Javascript.

    This is the real WTF. Low-level == assembly.

    I think he meant low as in entry-level/peon/low man on the totem-pole

  • shadowman (cs)

    I'm digging Wikipedia's entry on MUMPS, which includes an example of "traditional" M coding style, from the Fileman system written for the US Government Veterans' Administration:

    %DTC
    %DTC ; SF/XAK - DATE/TIME OPERATIONS ;1/16/92  11:36 AM
         ;;19.0;VA FileMan;;Jul 14, 1992
         D    I 'X1!'X2 S X="" Q
         S X=X1 D H S X1=%H,X=X2,X2=%Y+1 D H S X=X1-%H,%Y=%Y+1&X2
         K %H,X1,X2 Q
         ;
    C    S X=X1 Q:'X  D H S %H=%H+X2 D YMD S:$P(X1,".",2) X=X_"."_$P(X1,".",2) K X1,X2 Q
    S    S %=%#60/100+(%#3600\60)/100+(%\3600)/100 Q
         ;
    H    I X<1410000 s="" %h="0,%Y=-1" q="" s="" %y="$E(X,1,3),%M=$E(X,4,5),%D=$E(X,6,7)" s="" %t="$E(X_0,9,10)*60+$E(X_"000",11,12)*60+$E(X_"00000",13,14)" toh="" s="" %h="%M">2&'(%Y#4)+$P("^31^59^90^120^151^181^212^243^273^304^334","^",%M)+%D
         S %='%M!'%D,%Y=%Y-141,%H=%H+(%Y*365)+(%Y\4)-(%Y>59)+%,%Y=$S(%:-1,1:%H+4#7)
         K %M,%D,% Q
         ;
    DOW  D H S Y=%Y K %H,%Y Q
    DW   D H S Y=%Y,X=$P("SUN^MON^TUES^WEDNES^THURS^FRI^SATUR","^",Y+1)_"DAY"
         S:Y<0 x="" q="" 7="" s="" %="%H">21608+%H-.1,%Y=%\365.25+141,%=%#365.25\1
         S %D=%+306#(%Y#4=0+365)#153#61#31+1,%M=%-%D\29+1
         S X=%Y_"00"+%M_"00"+%D Q
         ;
    </0></1410000>

    And it goes on like that. Must be fun for maintenance.

  • Matt (unregistered)

    I would like to object to the mumps story. I worked, as a software developer, at that mystery company for 2 years. They had some of the finest people I have seen. I have trouble believing any of thier team leaders would say that. Even though I left, I can say they are a fine company.

  • dpm (cs) in reply to Matt
    Matt:
    I would like to object to the mumps story. I worked, as a software developer, at that mystery company for 2 years. They had some of the finest people I have seen. I have trouble believing any of thier team leaders would say that. Even though I left, I can say they are a fine company.
    Well, *I* have trouble believing that any company is good enough to make it worth having to work in MUMPS full-time. The above sample is not an exaggeration, it makes APL look readable.
  • Schnapple (unregistered) in reply to vman
    vman:
    oooh, I know what company that is...

    Supposedly they are a good place to work for.

    Well the way I interpreted the story is that he didn't turn down the place because of MUMPS, but rather because the interviewer stumbled and made it sound like he wasn't really being hired for a development position and that's what the interviewer wanted. It's like when you're interviewing for a job in Technology X and they tell you in the interview that it's really a job in Technology (X-1) but don't worry, they're upgrading to Technology X "soon". Thanks but no thanks, all things being equal you go with the job that's doing what you want right now.

    So bottom line is yes, it sounds like he passed on an excellent company but given the information he had to work with (having to work with MUMPS and a team lead that said they don't really do that much development) I don't fault him for it.

  • Zor (cs) in reply to jcoehoorn
    jcoehoorn:
    And this can't have been that long ago- they haven't even finished building the Epic 'campus' yet.
    I interviewed with them in 2003, and they said they were working on the campus then. They went out of their way to describe it to me: private offices for all developers, a meeting room under a waterfall... They even had a big model to show me. Sounded like they were blowing smoke then, but I needed a job so I didnt care.

    I was pissed when they didnt hire me. Sent my resume in May, got a call a few weeks later, did the written test a month or two after that, had the on-site interview in November. 6 months of being strung along only to be brushed off with a postcard that said "Sorry, but no". I landed a better job closer to home in 2004, so I got over it.

    After seeing them on here a few times, I'm glad I didnt get hired. I would be miserable writing VB6 and MUMPS code all day

  • Wiggam (unregistered) in reply to Schnapple

    When you interview there you will interview with numerous people. When they hire you, you are not typically hired to do X. You go through 3+ months of training and then you are given a project (or a choice from a few -- depending on need) to work on. So if he was interviewing as a developer, they would hire him as a developer, but the language being used would be defined by the project he works on. Knowing a few developers who work there, the common thread is that it is a good place to work, pay is good, and benefits are good -- even if the work isn't the most challenging.

  • Staszek (unregistered)

    After all... did Arcadius make it to avoid MUMPS?

  • Jiima (unregistered)

    Cool, but what importance have the fact that Arcadius was Polish? I can imagine such a "great PHP" idiot in any other nationality. For example, we have some Israelian "Arcadiuses" in our project as subcontractors, problem is that a guy who dodn't know what a wait / notify is (and thus synchronized threads with spin-lock) has job title "Senior Java Engineer", curiously, the same as me...

  • Epic Fail (unregistered)

    I did the whole 4 hour test and whatnot; didn't get hired; something for which I'm extremely grateful. If they're such a good company, why do they need a constant supply of new grads?

  • Mate (unregistered)

    Come over the sea, from Sicily and from Arcady!

  • RayMarron (cs) in reply to shadowman
    shadowman:
    Bob:
    J:
    We recently had a low-level position open up - XHTML/CSS/MOSS with maybe a little Javascript.

    This is the real WTF. Low-level == assembly.

    I think he meant low as in entry-level/peon/low man on the totem-pole

    Whoosh!

  • Tei (unregistered)

    I can't speak english, but I can have not problem reading it. I may write something that look like english, but my english writing skills are awnfull.

    I can use a spellchecker, to produce perfect spellchecked engrish.

  • Galelasa (cs)

    On the other side of the interview process, interviewers can be crack pots, too. A few years ago I was interviewing for a internship to complete my diploma and the school sent me to some company in downtown Montreal.

    I met with the CTO/owner and they liked my (very) limited portfolio and set me up at a workstation to test out my newly acquired Java skills. So far, so good.

    He opens a browser to show me something or other, the homepage defaults to MSN.com and the lead story is about Bush and the 911 attacks.

    The conversation then went something along these lines:

    Him: "Don't you think its interesting that not one Jew was killed in 911?" Me: "Uh....What? You don't think any jewish people died on 911?" Him: "Not a one! It was all a US/Isreali plot to make Muslims look bad." Me: "Um...really?" (as I start looking for an exit) Him: "Of course! Don't you know the US does whatever the Jews tell them to!?

    At this point, I managed to excuse myself and fled forever.

    On a side note, I took a job with a BI firm and haven't touched Java since... ;-)

  • Outlaw Programmer (cs) in reply to Galelasa
    Galelasa:
    ...I met with the CTO/owner and...

    Now THAT'S the real WTF. If I ever interview at another company where the CTO is also the owner/founder, I know to run for the hills immediately. The last guy had heated arguments with the DBA about changing the database so it's just 1 column filled with XML...and because he was the owner, the DBA pretty much had to do what he said. Good thing he had a bad memory and a short attention span.

  • Paul W. Homer (unregistered)

    Is MUMPS really any different from any other not-too-popular or esoteric technology? I remember one interview, where the they were trying to sell me on the concept of maintaining a 'hobby' system in C. They weren't talking about a system that tracks hobbies, or anything like that. It was one that was so badly written, you'd go nuts if you had to fix it all of the time, so it's only a 'part' of your job. Just a little hobby to go along with the rest of the work. Imagine how great that would look on my resume :-)

    Paul. http://theprogrammersparadox.blogspot.com

  • vt_mruhlin (cs) in reply to J
    J:
    Another started discussing religion during the interview.

    Ha, I think I used to work with that guy. This Indian dude who had lived in America for like 12 years, but still had barely any knowledge of our culture. He used to ask me all sorts of questions about religion in attempts to learn about American culture. The first thing I said was, "if you want to learn about American culture, stop caring about religion. Just watch TV and stupid YouTube videos all day." That was a mistake because the next day he was telling me all about how the Illuminati and the Jews were working together to dominate the media and the moon landing was fake.

  • phrawzty (unregistered) in reply to Galelasa
    He opens a browser to show me something or other, the homepage defaults to MSN.com and the lead story is about Bush and the 911 attacks.

    Hah, i know exactly who you're referring to - i worked as a consultant for a company that had him as a client. Every time we'd get a workorder come in for his office, the on-call crew would play rock-paper-scissors to see who had to go. That dude was a crackpot.

  • alexgieg (unregistered) in reply to absurddoctor
    absurddoctor:
    It is not that uncommon for someone to be able to write in a second language very well, but not be able to speak it well, and vice versa.
    My case exactly. I read and write English fluently, but I have a hard time with speaking and listening to it. Not because I cannot "construct" or "decode" the sentences in my head in real time, in fact I don't think in my native language (Portuguese) anymore when either writing or reading English anymore. But simply because spoken English is an ENTIRELY different language.

    No, seriously. You English speakers have an absolutely horrible, completely unintuitive spelling system. 60% of the time I'm absolutely sure a certain word is pronounced in such a way, but alas, no, the actual pronounce has no resemblance whatsoever to the way it's written. It's maddening.

    So what happens when I have to speak English is this: first I construct the sentence the way it's written, then I "translate" it to the spoken version (what's usually mediated by a long "uh..."), and only then actually let it out. The same goes in the reverse: listening is a process of hearing a sentence, asking the speaker to slow down, trying to figure out which words were actually spoken, and only then understanding.

    Now, sure, this all evidently means I should take some speaking classes. But, my, things would be so incredible easier if there was a single version of the language, rather than two with similar grammars but different vocabularies...

  • Xsaero00 (unregistered)

    They should have hired that Polish guy. He would have learned to speak English better and they would have a star developer.

  • Hans (unregistered) in reply to jcoehoorn
    jcoehoorn:
    I'm guessing the name of the company you interviewed with starts with 'E' and ended with 'pic'. You should have given it another chance- it's really a very nice place to work (I don't work there, but a friend of mine did for a year and a half). They do have a lot of MUMPS work, but if you're good you can move to teams that do other stuff, as well.

    And this can't have been that long ago- they haven't even finished building the Epic 'campus' yet.

    Yes, but this is how it works, isn't it? You come in, make one incorrect statement or have your shoes tied crossways instead of the corporate standard (straight), and it's over for you.

    Similarly, if the company manages to give the impression that you will be surrounded and managed by imbeciles, people don't want to work there.

    I wouldn't want to work for a company where my team leader is utterly clueless. Not knowing if the language you work in is interpreted or compiled, is more than enough to mark you as such. Why would I willingly subject myself to such pain and horror? There is no shortage of jobs...

  • miles (unregistered)

    I would like to know who that team lead was because I would agree with some of the other commenters that the quality of people at the company in question is amazing, they are some of the best developers I have ever worked with. I worked for that company for almost 4 years and then have worked with MSSQL and MySQL for 3 years since then and from a performance standpoint, the DBMS that they have created using Cache (the name of the language now that it is an ANSI standard language) kills SQL on performance and is a lot more flexible than the traditional relational model of databases.

  • kavyboy (unregistered) in reply to shadowman
    shadowman:
    I'm digging Wikipedia's entry on MUMPS, which includes an example of "traditional" M coding style, from the Fileman system written for the US Government Veterans' Administration: ... And it goes on like that. Must be fun for maintenance.

    I maintain a little MUMPS code, and work with FileMan daily. That sample is actually pretty tame. It can get much worse. I do like the variable called '%' and the routine named '7', though. And naming a routine 'S', which is one of the most common commands, is a nice touch, too. Oh, and all the variables are global scope - sweet!

    I personally find MUMPS to be unmaintainable. I've written some horrendous perl, but MUMPS is always, unavoidable worse. It's the only language where I can look at code I wrote 10 minutes ago and think "WTF does that do?'

  • m (unregistered) in reply to alexgieg

    If it's any consolation, you're a lot more coherent than most of the native English speakers I know.

  • brazzy (cs) in reply to alexgieg
    alexgieg:
    absurddoctor:
    It is not that uncommon for someone to be able to write in a second language very well, but not be able to speak it well, and vice versa.
    My case exactly. I read and write English fluently, but I have a hard time with speaking and listening to it.
    People who can write a language well but not speak it either have problems with pronounciation (like you) or they're too afraid of making mistakes to even try (often because their language lessons did not train/encourage free speaking). This Arcadius guy doesn't seem to have those problems; he seems to lack basic grammar skills and vocabulary.
    Not because I cannot "construct" or "decode" the sentences in my head in real time, in fact I don't think in my native language (Portuguese) anymore when either writing or reading English anymore. But simply because spoken English is an ENTIRELY different language.

    No, seriously. You English speakers have an absolutely horrible, completely unintuitive spelling system. 60% of the time I'm absolutely sure a certain word is pronounced in such a way, but alas, no, the actual pronounce has no resemblance whatsoever to the way it's written. It's maddening.

    I suspect that there's some deep-seated hunger for language complexity in the human brain. Of the 4 languages I know, each features major WTFs in at least one field, set off by simplicity in the others:

    • Grammar - French and German
    • Script - Japanese
    • Spelling - English
  • wheee (unregistered) in reply to dpm

    Anyone that writes code like the MUMPS example on the wiki should be shot. I work in MUMPS on a daily basis and I can assure you that no one in their right mind codes like that anymore. Sure, you'll find legacy code from 25 years ago that looks like that, and it's fun to debug... but you can say that about a good number of other venerable programming languages.

    Well written MUMPS is straightforward and easy to work with - like any other non-OO language. Poorly written MUMPS is a horrible nightmare - like any other non-OO language.

    (For the record, the often-mentioned company is a wonderful place to work. But maybe we should switch to Ruby-on-Rails-on-Speed-on-Lightning Bolt-on-Robot Dinosaurs or whatever the hell they're calling the latest and greatest programming framework-of-the-minute these days, so we can attract some of these whiz-bang all-star CS grads! I guess if there's one flaw with my job, it's that it's not EXXXXTREME enough.)

  • Kevin (unregistered)

    I spake de guwd englosh for de wtf, I hab job wit you tomorow yes? Gud!!!

  • M L (unregistered) in reply to Bob

    I think he meant Low-level == junior/entry-level.

  • operagost (cs) in reply to Jiima
    Jiima:
    Cool, but what importance have the fact that Arcadius was Polish?
    It's not relevant. However, his poor command of spoken English and (to a lesser extent) attire suggested that he would be ineffective in a corporate environment.
  • Kevin (unregistered)

    I'd hire the Irish girl!

  • Not Team Lead... (unregistered)

    Why would anyone get upset about a team leader (read: management) not knowing about how their language works? Team leaders don't code; it isn't their job. If a developer didn't know, I could understand the problem. If the team leader didn't know what employee X's job was, I could understand the problem. But that seems like an odd thing to get upset about...

  • shadowman (cs) in reply to Not Team Lead...
    Not Team Lead...:
    Why would anyone get upset about a team leader (read: management) not knowing about how their language works? Team leaders don't code; it isn't their job. If a developer didn't know, I could understand the problem. If the team leader didn't know what employee X's job was, I could understand the problem. But that seems like an odd thing to get upset about...
    He was most likely more put off by, "...we just don't do as much development here as you think we do."
  • TheDev (unregistered) in reply to M L
    M L:
    I think he meant Low-level == junior/entry-level.

    Whoosh! again :)

    RayMarron:
    shadowman:
    Bob:
    J:
    We recently had a low-level position open up - XHTML/CSS/MOSS with maybe a little Javascript.

    This is the real WTF. Low-level == assembly.

    I think he meant low as in entry-level/peon/low man on the totem-pole

    Whoosh!

Leave a comment on “Avoiding MUMPS & Arcadius”

Log In or post as a guest

Replying to comment #:

« Return to Article