IT Cowboys, Data Hacks and the Self-Driving Race

What happens when a near 60-year old programming language bumps heads with a language from the 21st Century?

No – this isn’t a very long winded joke that only developer’s will laugh at.

This is a real problem that major banks all around the world are struggling with today.

Although it feels like an age since the old days of giant computers and rooms full of whirring tape, you might be surprised to hear how many major institutions still rely on the these machines, as well as the code that was used to program them. The now-vintage language, COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) is used in portions of the US Federal Government and financial institutions around the world, but workers fluent in the archaic language are now a dying breed.

With the constant drive to modernise and update technology systems, corporations are now approaching serious issues when trying to get their new apps to talk to programs over 50 years their senior. As programmers fluent in COBOL have started passing away, the industry is now crying out for anyone who help them with their unique problem.

Luckily for them, there are a handful of these men and women still left working in the States, now commanding an hourly wage of $100/h.

Some of these veterans have returned to work at the age of 75 and up, coaxed back out of retirement by the promise of larger nest egg. For others, it’s simply a chance to gain vindication over an industry that had turned them away, in favour of younger, cheaper employees.

In more bizarre news…

A recent computer hack (as yet unclaimed) has caused 156 emergency sirens to sound off for over 90 minutes. At 11:42 PM CDT, alarms were triggered from an unknown location, causing major disruption to late night revellers and those trying to get a good night sleep.

According to industry experts, Vaz, this was one of the largest hacks to have affected emergency sirens. The alarms had to be shut off manually by engineers, leaving the city stuck with the wailing of sirens until 1:17 AM.

Although the hack is currently being investigated by the police they have found to no leads so far – let’s hope it didn’t disturb too many people!

Finally, speaking of data hacks…

Uber has come under fire from rival Waymo, as they inch ever closer to producing a self-driving car that could have benefited from 14,000 files downloaded from Waymo’s servers.

It has been suggested that a former executive of Waymo had downloaded the files shortly before leaving the company to start a company, recently bought by ride-sharing giant Uber. Anthony Levandowski, who now leads Uber’s self-driving program, has successfully sought his right against self-incrimination and will not testify, for fears that he may be charged with criminal actions.

Mr. Levandowski has claimed that he has not handed over the files, Uber has claimed to have not received them and the Judge presiding over the case has suggested that the lawyer representing Uber has not ‘searched well enough’ for the files in question.

This probably won’t be the last we’ll hear from these tech giants.

As the race to produce the first self-driving car heats up, we’ll no doubt see a lot more allegations of technological espionage.