Eventually my then boss decided that the two of us should attend a course on computing and get one over the ladies by learning how to program the infernal things. After a week we had a basic knowledge of BASIC and shortly afterwards I was bold enough to answer the optional computing question in a statistics exam. I wrote a program that purported to calculate the standard deviation - not a skill that I've ever needed since I must say. My program had about a dozen lines of code.
And so it was with great interest that I read in the December issue of Aircraft Illustrated magazine an article about the latest upgrade to the RAF's Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft. This plane is a souped-up version of the Comet that made its first flight way back in 1949. I don't suppose that the first Comet carried much in the way of computing power but the new Nimrod more than makes up for that: its on-board Tactical Command System utilises 5,400,000,000 lines of coding. What the hell it all does is a mystery to me but I suspect that it's not good news if you're on a hostile Russian/Iranian/North Korean/
French (Oops!) submarine somewhere off the west coast of Lewis.
It's reassuring to know that some of our taxes are spent on protecting us against foreign foes although previous versions of the Nimrod have been known to go ever so slightly over budget. As for myself, twelve lines of code were enough - I'm quite comfortable with the occasional use of Excel and lots of lined paper.