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Guide To Programmers

Computerwelt

BASIC
BASIC programmers are paranoid because any 16 year old could do their job, if asked. To try to secure their positions, they deliberately write code using the double-spaghetti method; never using a FOR...NEXT loop where four or five IF...THEN...ELSE constructs might do. Since they taught themselves programming on a ZX81 rigged up to the family telly, they have huge gaps in their computing knowledge. BASIC programmers ring up technical support centres to ask questions like 'What are those funny numbers with letters in them?'

Pascal
Despite an early reputation for gambling (as in Pascal's bet), these days Pascal programmers are all deadly enthusiastic. They are proud of the ability of their language to define a type representing, for example, different flavours of crisp. This enables them to write useful code where tomato=succ(salt_n_vinegar), and ord(roast_beef)/2>ord(prawn_cocktail). Pascal people all know exactly how programming should be done and enjoy casting their pearls of wisdom among the swine who write in lesser dialects.

FORTRAN
FORTRAN programmers learned their craft at college in 1935. They are convinced that theirs is the language of the future, pointing out that in 1966 it was selected as the ANSI standard for writing Snoopy calendar programs. FORTRAN programmers are not altogether at ease with modern peripherals such as VDUs (which they refer to as 'glass teletypes'). They are the only people in the programming community to use flowcharts, which they draw with loving care using their special WH Smith stencils. These diagrams are then filed away with the source code, ignored for the life of the program and then finally thrown away unread because even FORTRAN is easier to read than a flowchart.

Assembly Language
Assembly language programmers are closer to the machine than anybody else, emotionally as well as in programming terms. This symbiosis can be taken too far; programmers who faint when the reset button is pressed should perhaps consider switching to C, or even chartered accountancy. Assembly programmers often pretend to be able to patch their code in hex as they go ('I think you'll find that C4 F2 D1 at offset 24A2 will fix the problem, Nigel'). They manage this by introducing deliberate errors into their programs, pre-assembling the 'patched' result secretly and concealing the results in tiny writing on their shirt cuffs.

C
Traditionally the C programmer was a bearded bore who would corner you at parties and breathe garlic and Unix all over you. All this has now changed. These days C programmers are clean shaven bores who corner you at parties and breathe lager and OS/2 all over you. They can still be trusted to have a witty quote or two from the Good Book to liven up a dull conversation, such as 'a primary expression follwed by an expression in square brackets is a primary expression'.

Xbase
Xbase people go red when lesser mortals refer to their language as a 'database' language. They strongly believe that Xbase can do anything a specialist language can do, it might produce a program three times as large and twenty times slower but it can do it. When confronted with a non-believer who has unwittingly entered the world of Xbase they mercililessly perform a frightening ritual known as 'The Boyce Codd Relation Rules'. This has the effect of making the new user re-write his code to conform to these rules and thereby make a perfectly good program constantly crash with 'Target already engaged in relation'. Notwithstanding these faults, it should be noted that some Xbase programmers are incredibly together people, who turn over an honest penny working for Microsoft.