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Programmers hold funerals for old code

Rather than simply delete programs that are retired or replaced, programmers at LexisNexis print them out and bury them.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Among the tiny graves on Blocker Hill, the wind echoes with the tortured cries of computer programmers.  Beneath the eight grave markers, and perhaps in a rumored unmarked grave nearby, lie reams of paper printouts of code for software that has left this mortal operating system.

The cemetery is a quirky tradition among the programmers at LexisNexis, which provides online legal and business information.  Rather than simply delete programs that are retired or replaced, they print them out for a proper send-off — not always with fond regards.

"The code wakes us up in the middle of the night," said Doug Perseghetti, who recalls the many times his fellow systems engineers and technical support workers are called in the wee hours of the morning to fix system problems.

The name Blocker Hill was picked because the outdated equipment and code represented roadblocks to the company's future.

"Some things die gracefully and other things we've had to kill," Perseghetti said. He said workers had to "drive a stake" through the heart of a poorly performing program named CCI, which received an ignominious burial beneath an emblem of a pig.

In 1992, up to 50 mourners followed pallbearers carrying a wooden coffin with a printout of the former Database Update Control System as a trumpeter played "Taps," project consultant Alice Kaltenmark said.  Eulogies were said and chocolate cake served.