brown paper bag

Omatic Brown Bag Lunch Series – Programming for Dummies

Omatic hosts a monthly brown bag lunch series which serve as a forum for internal employees to present on topics pertaining to their expertise and help educate other employees. The latest brown bag lunch entitled “Programming for Dummies” was presented by our Product Development Manager, Tim Burris. Although I did not want to be considered an actual “dummy”, I attended with my fellow co-workers in an attempt to learn something new. Shockingly, I did learn quite a bit and have a newly found appreciation for the Matrix movies!

Tim has worked in programming for nearly 14 years, and he is very knowledgeable about the topic. Early in his career, Tim worked at Blackbaud as one of the initial developers on The Financial Edge nonprofit accounting product and went on to work for Scientific Research Corporation where he led a team to develop complex software solutions for the Department of Defense (He has yet to discuss any of those “top secret” initiatives with me, but I’ll keep working on him).

Tim started by explaining the purpose of all of those 1’s and 0’s in programming. He discussed the basics of modern day operating systems and their importance in programming methods and languages used today. There are thousands of operating systems and languages, but we just covered a few.

We began by discussing the Microsoft .NET Framework, since Omatic’s products are built upon this. We covered the history, advancements, and flexibility of this platform. Here is a sneak peek into some of what we learned:  The .NET Framework is a platform that allows for various languages to operate on it. Think of it like this: Functionality without limitation. Whether the developer is more comfortable programming in  J#, C#,VB.NET, Ruby.NET, or COBOL.NET for example,  it will run on the .NET platform. Each developer has their own language that they are comfortable programming in and the .NET platform allows for different languages to be used simultaneously. In simple terms, this means that each language or syntax accomplishes the same thing but is just said in a different manner. By utilizing the .NET framework, it also means that developers do not have to reinvent the wheel each time a new operating system comes along. Rather, by utilizing the .NET framework on top of the Microsoft operating system, developers can continue to work within the same context as previously.

Tim also reviewed many common IT terms that we hear routinely at Omatic. One of the terms he discussed is “cloud” as in cloud computing. Tim wanted to make sure that we appropriately use this term and explained that the “cloud” is not anything new, but rather, just an external hosting server. All of the companies that are using the word cloud in their marketing terminology are really just talking about either internal intranet or external extra net hosting. Apparently there are websites devoted to mocking the overuse of the word “cloud”. We will now know not to make this mistake.

Another term that Tim reviewed was “GUID” which is short for Globally Unique Identifier. A GUID is a unique 128-bit number but displayed as a 32 hexadecimal digit separated by hyphens. It identifies a particular component, application, file, database entry, and/or user. GUIDs are commonly used in Windows registries or database entry. A GUID is said to be a unique number that will virtually never be duplicated (The probability of the same number being generated randomly twice is negligible. You have a better chance being hit by lightening than by generating the same GUID twice). Database developers use the GUIDs as primary keys for database tables to ensure uniqueness between databases.

While developers often get abad rep, companies wouldn’t be the same without their creativity and engineering. As much as we give our development team a hard time, we are incredibly thankful for their hard work and constant development of new solutions for our clients. For the non-developers at Omatic, it was a good overall presentation that addressed many of the terms we hear each day, and will maybe save the developers one less prank in the future.

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