What ever happened with that float, anyway?

You can’t escape your destiny, summer job edition.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

After two years working toward his computer science degree, pilot fish decides to take a summer job that has nothing to do with computers. He ends up working for the regional tourism bureau as a photographer and coordinator for a float that the bureau is building for a local city’s centennial celebration.

When it rains, the float stays in storage and fish just helps out around the office. Where he notices an old Commodore 64 in the corner. Which he decides he could just take a look at. And that’s it; he’s sucked back into the world of computers the instant he sees what is up with that ur-PC. (Where all good pilot fish belong, anyway.)

The Commodore is used to print mailing labels for the bureau’s newsletters and other mass mailings. But the program to print the labels has all the addresses hard-coded. Any additions, deletions or other changes require you to edit the program, and then search for the address or add extra lines to put in a new address.

This thing is like a bad accident; fish doesn’t want to see it, but he can’t look away. As the rain continues, he writes a new program to properly store the addresses in a separate data file, and he adds proper tools for editing the list. He even adds a sorting option that saves the bureau money because the post office gives a discount for large mailings that are pre-sorted by postal code.

The result of that rainy-day downtime? The manager of the office is so impressed that he keeps fish on part time through the winter to help the bureau buy and configure a real computer system. Fish ends up writing a number of applications for the bureau to improve its tourism-stats tracking and budgeting, and he ends up with a full-time job every summer and part time through the winter until graduation. Rain or shine.

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