Oh, so being a programmer is *still* like that?


It would appear that things haven’t changed much from the days of programming in Fortran, PL/1, COBOL, and JCL  in the IBM environment.

I share with you a poem by Dan Nessett. I have no idea who this brilliant man is, but he has written some classic DP humor. This one was collected in 1980; old-school programmers will probably relate more than today’s OOP whizkids, but there may be echoes that even the newer generation can relate to.

“I Was Wondering About This Error Message,” I said

Beneath my stare began to blur
10,000 lines of print.
Buried alive by 0C5[1]
Which gave not clue nor hint.

Up from my chair, I neared the lair
Branded “Consultants’ Room.
With puzzled gaze I paraphrased
My mind’s perplexing gloom.

“That bilious sty of wire,” said I,
“Has dumped its DUMP on me.
I cannot guess where in that mess
I’ll find the missing key.”

“The clues are everywhere,” he said.
And I began to think
Of : “Water, water everywhere
But not a drop to drink.”

“Aha!” said he, “Your DCB
Has lost BUFL.
MSHI is far to high
And BLKSIZE looks not well.”

“BLDL in this case will
Cause 0C5 or 4.
To BSP hex ‘503’
Will backspace low cost store.”

“You FREEMAIN twice and GETMAIN once’
This cannot be advised.
And all of this, I’m positive
Has caused your 0C5.”

My jaw had slackened to my knees;
A fly flew in my mouth.
I gathered up my SYSUDUMP
And crawled off in a slouch.

Back to my desk; I placed to rest
My chin upon my hand.
My weary eyes seemed quite surprised
To gaze on print again.

Beneath my stare began to blur
10,000 lines of print.
Buried alive by 0C5
Which gave not clue nor hint.

-Dan Nessett

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] 0c5 and 0c4 are basically the IBM compilation error codes that mean “You screwed up big-time somewhere, and I have no idea what’s wrong.”

2.1.3 ABEND CODE 0C4
1. ERROR ID: none
2. DESCRIPTION: This is a storage protection violation generally caused by your program trying to STORE data in memory that is not allocated for your use.
3. CORRECTIVE PROCEDURE: Make sure any subscripts used do not exceed the boundary specified. Correct all bad addresses in a store-type statement.

2.1.4 ABEND CODE 0C5
1. ERROR ID: none
2. DESCRIPTION: The computer tried to ADDRESS an area in a non-existent part of memory (beyond the bounds of our installation memory).
3. CORRECTIVE PROCEDURE: Check for improper subscripts and for inconsistent lists for subprograms.

This reminds me of my very first FORTRAN programming class in 1969, working on a Univac 1108. The instructor told us about various compilation errors we could get, and what they meant. He went on to say that there was one high-level error we were unlikely to see, because in essence it meant that we were smarter than the computer: “unresolvable ambiguity in source code” or some such thing. Guess what the machine gave me when I submitted my very first deck?

One response to “Oh, so being a programmer is *still* like that?

  1. Pingback: R U teh g33XX0r? (A compendium of computer humor) | Playing in the World Game

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