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Perl Programming The Military

An Army Medal For Coding In Perl 192

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 qw(name) ( 718245 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:01PM (#47333481) Journal
    Anything that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of our forces deserves recognition. If writing code and automating or stream-lining a process is successful, write the person who did it up for a citation or medal. I did it in the navy 20 years ago and received a NAM (Navy Achievement Award) for my efforts. Not all medals given in the military are for combat duties.
  • Where's my medal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:04PM (#47333521)

    I wrote a nice database system to track inventory cards and print out cards that were pretty much identical to the forms our S-4 used back in the late 80s in the Marine Corps. It was much better than the system they had used - which relied on removing old cards, and filling out, by hand, all new cards every time a piece of equipment was checked out or checked in. It helped alot with leakage... and worse, with equipment that was supposedly checked out, but had actually been checked in (and the Marine would then have to incur replacement cost).

    There were other things I worked on, but this one had a significant impact on our effectiveness as a logistics unit.

  • by stu72 ( 96650 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:11PM (#47333581)

    It's hard to understand because..

    a) most people probably have little understanding of military awards outside of hollywood and might be forgiven for thinking they are all given for combat

    b) most managers, whether in the military or not, seem woefully clueless about the impact of cumbersome poorly designed systems and the payback on well designed ones (or well designed hacks running on top of the poor system) So that someone even noticed he was more productive, didn't freak out because he did something different, didn't freak out because the different thing involved "programming" *AND* gave him a medal... seems pretty remarkable.

  • by rjune ( 123157 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:54PM (#47334085)

    If you have been in the service it's not hard to understand at all. I received an Aerial Achievement Medal during Desert Storm. Some of the things that I did was to write a DOS Batch file that backed up our flight plans (routing etc. was coordinated with other units to prevent midair collisions), fixed a glitch in the Mission Planning software (ANGPLAN forever!), and prepared more mission packages than I can count. This helped our unit earn a Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (we did not miss a single refueling) Everybody has to do their job for a unit to perform at peak level.

  • Re:This is dumb (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @01:35PM (#47334425)

    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.

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