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What is this site?

Haggis Hell is a personal site that belongs to Robert Kiraly, also known as OldCoder, a professional software de­vel­op­er since 1978.

Note: Some readers are aware that OldCoder grad­u­a­ted U.C. Berkeley in 1981. The 1978 date is con­sis­tent because he start­ed for­mal soft­ware work 2.5 years be­fore gradu­ation.

This is one of a group of sever­al OldCoder sites that includes,,,, and others.

Most of the orig­in­al content on the sites is dis­trib­u­ted under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 or other open licenses. The sites will event­u­al­ly be available in the form of multi-GB tarballs.

Ideally, the content will outlive the primary author-editor and will prove to be use­ful to others.

220701 Friday — July update

220701. July update.

I've start­ed to move old posts to subpages.

220204 Friday — Superheroes

220204. Superheroes.

The fol­low­ing is a let­ter that I re­ceived today from Marco, an edutech startuper in Perugia, Italy.

The context is a new video that mentions me in the credits. There is a screen­shot further down and an older video in the Christ­mas newsletter. The new video will be linked here in due course.

Hi Robert,

I will fall asleep in some minute. I was watching the TV with my daughter (Captain America — The Winter Soldier, 2014).

You know, movies are movies, some­thing that lasts 90 minutes, 2 hours... when you finish one, you have the fol­low­ing movie already available... kids can't barely image what's to wait a week or a month to read the next story of your heroes... (and I said READ... you know... a comic book can be divored in half an hour... so you will have 6 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes to wait...).

We live dif­fer­ent times, we own dif­fer­ent tools, but inside we are the same old flesh and blood machine, with needs that Meta, a smartphone, Netflix can't feed.

I see that parents and teachers say that this kids are not normal, that they listen disgusting music, that they read (when they read something) bad manga, that they see horrible movies... It's the same thought that my parents and my teachers had about my tastes about what to read, see, ear, think... And I am sure that it was the same for my granpas and granmas about my mother and my father tastes...

I think that we can only build bet­ter people, by encouraging them to think (not obligatorily "think different" - that it's good... but it's great too "simply to think"), giving them confidence in their thoughts, attitudes, dreams... Choosing to say a good word instead than a bad one.

OK, I don't know where I wanted to go with this email. Only say thanks again. We did a great job. I mean: you and me. That's why I am stalking you a little :-) It's just to re­mem­ber to you that in a small town in the center of a small region in the center of Italy there is a group of 60 peo­ple (or more, considering parents) that has a debt with you. And that considers you as an hero.

Maybe is this the rea­son of my let­ter. I saw a movie of superheroes. And I have mine in my real life. It's you.

So thanks again to be you.


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Building the Future
Building the Future

200410 Friday — Easter 2020

200410. Easter 2020.

Sherrill was a neighbor of Grace Kiraly's 50 years ago. Laurie, one of her daughters, is now a woman in her 40s who I re­mem­ber as a toddler. I'm old.

This post shares a 57-page story that went to Laurie in Spring 2020:

Laurie told me, “I'm no Erin Brockovich” but she found the legal details intriguing regard­less.

140313 Thursday — What Happens to Older Developers?

This post is old but will remain on the front page for the time being.

140313. Jeff Jenkins posted these ques­tions and others recently at Ask Hacker News:

What happens to older developers? Is there a plateau in pay? Is there a drop in pay switching jobs after a certain num­ber of years? Is becoming a specialist rather than a general­ist the answer?

To read the orig­in­al post, click here. Note: The link was valid as of March 2014. However, it may have broken since then.

This is my response:

Developers who go on long enough are expect­ed to obtain high-level titles by their 50s or to retire at about that time.

I'd like to dis­cuss an issue that you might not have thought about: What's going to happen if you lose your job?

Employment in the 50s can be problematic. If some­body is skilled and employed, and has a high-level title or is a specialist or has use­ful connections, they should be able to obtain a new pos­i­tion.

Otherwise, they might go from well-off to homeless. It happens. I'm 55, my resume is pretty good, and I was worth $1M a decade ago. I'm a tran­sient now. I've got some medical issues, no medical care, and no dentists. Potential jobs are largely unskilled physi­cal labor, which I'm not able to do.

I'm taking a shot at tutoring. However, I don't expect that to pro­vide more than gas money. The head of an admin assistant firm said that I can't be a secretary unless I already am one.

Two peo­ple considered sending me to care for elderly relatives, but we didn't proceed. My title at one of those positions was going to be “poop scooper”.

Don't let this happen to you. For what it's worth, here's my advice:

1. Don't fall off of the employment ladder.

2. Become a specialist. Try to remain broad enough, though, that you don't become obsolete.

3. Build a network of peo­ple. Make it a large one.

4. Diversify your investments.

5. While you're employed, don't let medical issues, even minor ones, go untreated for long. If you lose your job and your assets, you'll lose medical care too and the issues may become serious.

6. Be kind to peo­ple. But don't be a fool. Most peo­ple that you help are not going to return the favor.

Regarding specialists, I did recruiting for a while in 2011 and I can confirm that the filters are weighted against generalists.

I've spent about 35 years myself as a general­ist. My jobs called for it. The place where I spent most of my career took any project that came along, code of any type. At a dot-com that followed, after the money ran out, I handled all of the tech­ni­cal roles; IT, web­sites, dev­el­op­ment, sup­port, documentation, etc. I was able to do a bit of every­thing.

Later on, none of this made a dif­fer­ence. There are few job listings that say “a bit of everything”.

After the dot-com shut down, 2003, I made $1M in the stock market. Lost most of it afterwards and reentered the job market. Learned that middle-age generalists were not in high demand.

In my case, there were other factors that won't apply to you. It's a story for another time. But if you're a general­ist who falls off of the ladder in middle age, you can expect things like this:

“With a resume like that, why isn't he a CTO? Why doesn't he even have a job?”

You'll be asked ques­tions about algorithms that you haven't thought about for 30 years. Or you'll go through coding tests under adverse conditions that don't allow you to show what you can do.

Plan ahead. Understand that the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.

My own resume is located at:

this link

These are my links. Yes, the tech­ni­cal site needs Twitter Bootstrap :P

  1. Technical site (
  2. My GitHub
  3. My LinkedIn
  4. My Twitter
  5. OldCoder Nerdcore Song

Regards, Robert (the Old Coder)

It Happens to Everybody
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Old Age
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