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See you on the dark side... of the server room

Even if IT managers aren't pulling all-nighters to work on their systems, their dream journals show that they can't get away, mentally, from the computer. Here they recount their dreams of electric sleep.

Letters to the Editor


  Dreaming in the language of flags and Autocoder

When in Scouting, I studied Morse code and found myself dreaming in dots and dashes. Later when studying the international code flags (maritime) I found myself having dreams in the language of flags.

As I have migrated across platforms and operating systems I have had periods of dreams in Autocoder, TPL (a Texas Instruments language), Basic, RPG and structured flow diagram symbols. Usually the coding language is the communications medium of the dream, however in some cases it has been directly related to a conundrum encountered in waking hours and in those cases was memorable enough in the morning to start me thinking of a workable solution. I don't recall ever dreaming in COBOL; perhaps it is just too wordy.

— R.P.M.

  Caught in a COBOL loop

— R.W.S.

  The telltale pager

Bill's wife's dream

— TS.

  What is it with COBOL, anyway?


Then I dreamed I was the COBOL program, watching the data go thru the various loops and things that comprised what was a very large batch processing job at a bank doing transaction posting to flat files on tape (now THERE's a lost art for the most part) -- reading things in, writing things out -- it was really scary.

Oddly enough in yet another example of synchronicity we were just talking about dreams the other day and I got to tell people this story for the first time in years.

By the way, just so you know how intense this training course was: they took our scissors away so we couldn't use them to commit suicide and it wasn't uncommon to work 12-14-16 hr days, just on the training course. It was wild...

I did learn a lot and to this day (well, maybe to this day) I can override a DD statement in IBM MVS JCL without looking at the manual. Of course I haven't actually had to DO that for the last 15 years, but anyway.

— C.W.B.

  The light at the end of the tunnel

— D.A.

IT people may not be perceived as wildly creative types, but that's because no one can see their dreams. While dreaming of electric sleep, IT managers' subconscious minds create interesting twists on the daily IT grind. In a recent , we asked readers to tell us about their technology-related dreams. Following are excerpts of reader letters that prove how difficult it is to get away, mentally, from the computer. Over the years I have had dreams in various languages. Once when I was in a discussion with a wise elderly man who had come to the U.S. from Switzerland as a teenager, he said he knew he belonged in the US when he started to dream in English rather than German and French. Back when I was doing COBOL programming for a living, I had a dream where I was traversing through COBOL code. As I became aware of the dream, I found I was caught in a loop! It was quite some time before I escaped from this dream. Funny that you mentioned about the pager and their wedding. I actually was wearing my pager when I got married. I forgot to take it off. We had a very informal ceremony with only about 5 guests and we wore t-shirts and shorts. I was so accustomed to putting my pager on my belt that I did it when I got dressed that morning and forgot it was there. Luckily, it never went off, although it is clearly visible in our wedding pictures. Whoops. Long ago and far away when I was in a intense three-month training course for my very first programming job (and one of the few where I actually worked for the company that paid me) I dreamed I was a COBOL compiler, taking the COBOL code we'd been writing and translating it into machine language. Whilst I've had a few dreams that have been "IT nightmares" I've also had many where I've suddenly come up with a solution to an IT problem that's been driving me crazy. It's amazing -- and sometimes exhausting -- just how hard the subconscious will work at solving problems for you… even if you'd prefer a deep REM sleep!

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