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Perl Programming The Military

An Army Medal For Coding In Perl 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the bringing-efficiency-to-the-military-beast dept.
shocking writes: Arizona National Guard member Vivin Paliath was surprised to be commended for writing Perl scripts and Excel macros while his unit was deployed in Iraq. His work automated a number of previously manual processes that were part of the logistics processes of his unit. He wrote, '[A]s a programmer, I'm constantly looking for ways to make my job easy. I didn't want to sit and add qualifications, and print licenses one by one. I was too lazy for that, and worse, the whole thing was horribly inefficient. So I decided to figure out how to automate the process. ... I started writing Perl scripts to query the data. By the time we had reached Iraq, I had a working script that generated licenses as text files for all the soldiers. The script only took a second or two to run, and the longest part of the process was simply printing out the licenses. But I wasn't done yet. I was still annoyed that I would have to add driver qualifications manually. So I wrote another script that would go and add qualifications to drivers en masse. The script even had a configuration file where you could specify what qualifications you wanted to add and to whom."
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An Army Medal For Coding In Perl

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  • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday June 27, 2014 @11:24AM (#47333739)

    We used to call guys like that pogues, and we didn't give them medals. On the other hand, if you could introduce efficiency in military bureaucracy, or any bureaucracy really, good on you!

    Careful where you draw the line between "fighting men" and "office workers". I knew someone who was a Yeoman, does the ship's paperwork, on a destroyer during WW2. He only did paperwork between the fighting. When the ship went to general quarters he put down the pencil and became part of the crew of a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun. For those unfamiliar, this was not a gun where the crew had some protection inside a turret. Bofors' crew were on deck and exposed to enemy fire, debris/fuel from aircraft destroyed and friendly fire.

  • Re:This is dumb (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dj245 (732906) on Friday June 27, 2014 @02:19PM (#47335351) Homepage

    Getting a medal for it? That's new.

    No it isn't. Although some medals are hard to earn, others are handed out like halloween candy. The National Defense Service Medal [wikipedia.org] is automatically handed out to everyone that enlists. I got a Sea Service Ribbon [wikipedia.org] just for SHOWING UP when my unit deployed (the alternative was to go to the brig). Achievement Medals [wikipedia.org] are routinely awarded to people that go a little beyond the ordinary in solving problems or innovating. I was awarded two Navy Achievement Medals during my six years of service in the Marines. What is described in TFA is routine. It happens all the time.

    You seem to deride the practice, but handing out halloween candy has a purpose- its a gift to make people want to keep doing what they just did (ie. show up). Small incentives and gifts can be very valuable tools for building relationships. I used to be a field engineer working at power stations. The big thing there was stickers. Millwrights and pipefitters have a tradition (going back probably until the invention of stickers) of collecting stickers and placing them on their hard hats. Stickers are "earned" by attending mandatory safety presentations ("Power Plant XYZ Safety Training 2014"), by belonging to various industry clubs, or just handed out by people (engineers/sales reps) looking to get a favor in the future. A hard hat full of stickers shows that you're an experienced guy who has been around a while. It is a mark of respect and experience. If you work in those professions and don't have a hard hat full of stickers, you're a greenhorn or otherwise somebody who doesn't know what they're doing.

    I've shown up to a power station many times with a roll of stickers, and these guys instantly became my best friend and helped me out greatly in achieving the thing I was there to do. Don't underestimate the value of token gifts.

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