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June 15, 2020

Memoir 10 - Months of the year

When I turned to emigration, I tried some random things at first, like applying to companies like Sun and SCO (it was long before Darl McBride's time). I even received a couple of confirmation postcards. That wasn't going anywhere, so I contacted one Mike Sheiner, who ran a team at Pads (now a division of Mentor) and placed an acquaintance from Butenko's halo. He replied to the tune of, "I am sure that you are a competent programmer, but to work at my company you must be an outstanding programmer".

At one point, I came upon a gentleman, who was assembling a team of contract engineers to live in a dorm in NYC. I knew it was shady, but I was sufficiently desperate to interview. His technology was called MUMPS, which could be described as an illegitimate child of COBOL and ADABAS. The interview question was to produce a formula to determine if a given month had 30 or 31 day (with the exception of February).

It was immediately obvious what he wanted to see. Imagine that you make a graph of day of the year for the ending of each month. These days pretty much all fall on a line, with 30-day months being a little under the average, and 31-day months a little over. All I needed was to identify the correct coefficients for the linear graph, then find how to construct an expression in MUMPS that produces 1 for negative numbers and 0 for positive ones, using some modulo and rounding trickery.

I think I passed that hurdle, but fortunately nothing came out of the project.

Next: Memoir 11.

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