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Careers



[1] There is a wide range of jobs available in the field of data processing, 1

the most common of which are keypunch operator, computer operator, programmer, systems analyst,and data processing manager.

[2] The keypunch operator must be both accurate and fast while punching

programs and data onto cards. Moreover, he or she must be able to 5

work under pressure when the workload in the data processing department is heavy. Recently, the introduction of terminals and screens has partly replaced the use of punched cards and, consequently, reduced the tasks performed by the keypunch operator.

[3] The computer operator should be a reliable person because the job 10

involves responsibility for very expensive machines. His work is rather routine, like changing tapes and disks, but the operator should be mentally alert to cope with a multiprogramming environment which requires mixing many jobs, and be able to cope with emergency situations, if and when they arise. As soon as there is a malfunction in 15 the system, the operator has to recognize it and report it to the manager, who would then advise the manufacturer. The operator's knowledge is mainly concerned with the hardware and not with the software, but he or she should have interest in programming and should know enough about it to be able to interpret the programmer's instructions. In very 20 large and modern installations, the operator sits in front of a screen that shows an up-to-date summary of the computer jobs as they are being processed. The operator's duties have become so complex that certain programs called operating system (OS) which supervise the work of the computer are written to simplify the job. Often programmers start their 25 careers as computer operators, and then slowly work their way up the ladder.

[4] The main tasks of a computer programmer are first, to write programs to solve problems; second, to write them on time as they are needed; and third, to write them clearly by fully documenting them so that other 30 programmers can understand them. The kinds of problems that are tackled depend on whether the programmer is working for a computer manufacturer or user. The former needs such programs as compilers, assemblers, executives,operating systems, and utility routines.These programs are intermediaries between the machine and the commercial 35


programs which are written in one of the high-level languages. They are
about the system, and therefore programmers who write them are called
systems programmers.Manufacturers usually sell this kind of software
along with their systems. If the programmer is working for a computer
user, however, his or her programs may deal with either scientific or 40

commercial problems.

[5] The career of a programmer can start as a traineein a data processingdepartment after a course in computer programming. At this stage, he or she is guided and supervised by another programmer. With increasing experience in writing more efficient programs, the trainee is 45 given more responsibility and advances first to the position of a junior programmer and then to that of a senior programmer.

[6] Specificationsfor the data processing problems are given to the
programmer by the systems analyst. The key to this person's job is
communication, because he or she should be able to interact with the 50

people in the department both verbally and in writing. Since one of the
analyst's tasks is to analyse problems, outline solutions to them, and
then delegate them to programmers to code, he or she must be able to
express ideas regarding these problems clearly, thoroughly, and in
writing. In addition, the analyst must have conversational ability since 55
the job involves working with other people more often than working
alone. The other aspect of this job deals with setting the objectives of a
project and then finding the best method of achieving them. This
involves constant examination of the system, modification of weaknesses
in it, or sometimes even changing it to a completely new system. 60

[7] The key person in a data processing department is its manager. It is on
his or her capacity as a leader as well as on his or her technical
knowledge that the success of the department depends. The manager is
responsible for communicating with his or her superiors regarding
policy-making decisions of the organization, and regarding the services 65
provided by the department. The manager should have the ability to
comprehend technical writings related to the field in order to advise his
or her superiors of the most recent developments in data processing
which have a direct bearing on their problems. He or she should have
enough practical data processing experience to ensure that everybody in 70
the department, be it the analysts, the programmers, or the rest of the
computer operations staff, are all working towards the same end. The
manager should have an active mind, imagination, tact, and the ability
to control others. The most important quality, though, is to remain
calm and think clearly at times of crises. ?s


Exercises




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