* Posts by Mark Cathcart

82 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Nov 2007


IBM email fiasco complicates sales deals, is worse than biz is letting on – sources

Mark Cathcart

Re: Bring back PROFS/OfficeVision

I worked on UKFSC in VM tech support for many years. We used to have a PC DOS program that would run in a DOS box on either Windows or OS/2.

You could download profs / officevision mail files as binary and it would allow you to read and reply to mail on the PC. You used to be able to re-upload a mail database but there was no synchronization or coordinated update the uploaded one just replaced the one online.

I don't remember all the details, but I know I still have a copy of the program and some mail files on an old ThinkPad running windows 3.1 that I keep to run lotus smartsuite for old presentations and documents. .


IBM: ALL travel must be approved now, and shut up about the copter

Mark Cathcart

It's not the size that counts, when it comes down to it, it's discretionary spending. In a year when you are doing "workforce rebalancing", you have to try to find short term savings from somewhere to cover the cost until they are off the payroll in the following year.

Mark Cathcart

Re: Again

As a former UKTCG member and member of the IBM Academy of Technology, I remember fondly the time in about 2008 when they moved the Annual IBM Academy of Technology annual meeting to 2nd Life, least productive week of my life. Happy not to attend the following year. I left shortly afterwards.

Stupid law of the week: South Carolina wants anti-porno chips in PCs that cost $20 to disable

Mark Cathcart

Re: More Magic Technology

Shame you only read the headline, not the actual article...

Finally, that tech fad's over: Smartwatch sales tank more than 50%

Mark Cathcart

Re: I can do the wrist flick in my 1st gen Moto 360

I had both Pebbles(Kickstarter), the Pebble 2 disappointed, and my Garmin 310XT that I use for triathlon and training failed after 6-years, and I went with the Garmin Fenix 3. On average, using the GPS for 2-3 activities per week, two swim training sessions and an indoor bike session, the battery still lasts 6-days.

It turns out its a great smart watch. There are great apps, I get all my alerts, I can control music via BT MP3 player or phone etc. I've worn it 24/7 for a year now.

Trump vs. Clinton III - TPP looks dead, RussiaLeaks confirmed

Mark Cathcart

"right it" it was falling over?

It's a pretty poor misunderstanding of how these things get written if you think Clinton actually helped write TPP. She may have given general direction;she may well have help overall objectives, but the idea that Clinton edited text using, no doubt, one of her many blackberry phones, is laughable.

Nul points: PM May's post-Brexit EU immigration options

Mark Cathcart

"And what is this evidence you are talking about since the UK economy is improving faster than most EU countries."

and what evidence do you have for that claim?

Manufacturing is up, primarily because its cheap now in real terms to get stuff made in the UK. Which would be great for the UK, if most of the stuff it used was made in the UK, it isn't and won't be after BREXIT.

Meanwhile, interest rates are at an all time low; credit card spending is way up, and the exchange rate for the cable(aka GBP/USD) is still scraping the bottom of the shitter and any UK company that isn't already owned by a US multinational, will be soon or its really not worth much.

Growth from negative to positive can look really great, kinda like Linux install numbers in 2001, or Windows in 1991...

These big-name laptops are infested with security bugs – study

Mark Cathcart

Which won't help at all if the vulnerability is in the management "firmware".

Lyft, Uber throw Texas-sized tantrum over Austin driver law

Mark Cathcart

Re: Driver Friendly?

How do you feel about having to wait for 3-5 weeks to get approved before you could start driving?

Mark Cathcart

Re: Driver Friendly?

They also bought the Microsoft brings maps division here in Louisville.

Mark Cathcart

From a local... I lived a mile from city hall for 10 years, the yellow cab app was spotty as best and feature free... It only really worked well for pre-booked rides to the airport which cost $7-$10 more than Uber


IBM's tops sales staff face long haul...to Hawaii

Mark Cathcart

Re: I "won" - but I sure as hell am not going

To be fair, unless your are using Tor or a machine completely seperate machine/network, they already have the ability to identify you, if they wanted.

I had the same, I once had a short meeting with Linda Sanford at IBM Hursley after making contributions here, admittedly in my case it was the email relay logs that tripped me up, but as I said at the the time, of I'd not wanted to be caught, I wouldn't have been.

Times have changed, in the old days you never got an invite to a sales convention if you were predisposed to not attending. As a former ibm Distinguished Engineer and member of the Academy of Technology, I never got invited loads of times :)

Whatever happened to ... Nest?

Mark Cathcart

Re: Software will eat everything... sometimes

To be fare, you are confusing the company Nest with the product Nest. I agree though, I have a new built home here in Colorado, it's a single level, the builder installed a Nest thermostat by default.

Even with a modern heating/cooling system a NEST thermostat is pretty clumsy to use unless you think you can survive on a single min/max temperature for 16-hours awake, 8-hours asleep. In my house the away feature is pretty useless unless I'm actually out of the house... and then my phone reports I'm away to the NEST Web which tells the Nest..

Which of course is useless if my partner is sat in the office at home working... IoF - Internet of fskups.

Government Gateway online hack claims 'nonsense', say multiple folk in the know

Mark Cathcart

Re: "it is true that the gateway, which was developed in 2001, badly needs replacing."

Like El reg website itself... Reflowing text... Responsive ui, not so much

Speaking in Tech: Laugh it up, Dell/EMC cloud guys... while you can

Mark Cathcart

Well, change is coming. The day after you posted this https://twitter.com/GeorgeReese/status/654672899664576513 plus a bunch more.

Also, while your observations about the Mac are sorta true... there are already a bunch working inside Dell, the issue isn't Michael, its attaching them to the Dell IT network. https://cathcam.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/dell-and-emc-together/

It's OK – this was an entirely NEW type of cockup, says RBS

Mark Cathcart

Re: Ageing Technology

You need to understand the way the updates are processed, the parallel update requirements etc. before you cam make a statement like "modifiying the app to use a distributed database".

I never worked with RBS, but certainly while we were working with NatWest they were willing to rewrite, the question was into what? While there have been many advances since RBS bought NatWest, 2002?, what would you write it in today?

Mark Cathcart

Re: Oh yes it is

Well said Alan, there are obvious issues, the rate and volume of transactions being transferred and processed, but those that say it can't be done must have skipped scalability 101 in Comp.Sci

Windows 10 won't help. The PC biz is doomed, DOOMED, I TELL YOU

Mark Cathcart

Re: Correct

On a tablet or touchscreen laptop? Personally I can't wait to move off my "old" Windows 7 corporate image on a fantastic Dell M3800 touchscreen. Windows 7 is unusable on the touch screen except for flicks up right and left.... down for some reason doesn't work so well. Closing an app with your finget at full resolution is impossible, but there is always ATL-F4...

Window 10 FTW on touchscreen...

Hey, you just picked up a Solidfire flash box? Dude, you bought a Dell

Mark Cathcart

Re: Trolling...

"ever" and "after they've gone private" are really nonsensical. Do you know a single company that could go from zero to a selling hardware product in the time Dell has been private... So it's really not clear what you actually mean... Something developed as a public and sold when private?

Thank for your interest, a Dell executive.

2015 and IBM: But it wasn't supposed to be like this...

Mark Cathcart

Re: Never mind the quality ...

We/They did, it was called Grid computing and the commercial implementation was called On Demand. It was both off and on-prem'. The problem was they were not prepared to sacrifice any lambs and in the interim "debating" period, Google and Amazon happened...

Big Blue's biggest mainframe yet is the size of a fridge

Mark Cathcart

Re: Mainframes are dead are they?

Sigh... what was more important, keeping beer cold, or keep food warm? When working night shift at P&O Computer Services, circa 1976, we could get takeaway and put in in the back of the IBM 370/145 and it would keep it warm while we played Adventure on VM/370 R3.

As I said earlier, some of the Redhat are doing now, vaguely reminds me of the CMS compatibility from back then... I can still run the 1976 version of Adventure in VM/ESA today. Where as loads of, but not all my Windows 3.1 programs no longer run on Windows 7...

Mark Cathcart

Re: Not a true IBM system!

They never had red stripes until the naughties...

The original systems were always beige side panels or IBM Blue and the front panel a contrasting colour of black(assuming you accept black is actually a color).... its only since the x-box generation did they switch to black. Amdahl systems were of course red...

See this picture http://blogs-images.forbes.com/davidewalt/files/2012/03/ibm-system-370.png

Mark Cathcart

Re: So is it running z/OS or Linux or both? @boltar

FYI my 2006 paper on virtualization and hypervisors written for the analyst briefing where we told them we were going to do Power virtualization is here: https://cathcam.files.wordpress.com/2006/11/virtualization-technology-outlook-and-ibm-directions.pdf

I think currently the Docker style containers is the more interesting at the moment. Many ways somewhat similar to CMS. I still think that a CMS style container, where you standardize the I/O is the optimum app approach, but as we learned with Java, that will never be enough and developers will always be looking for that added/extra way of trying to optimize.

Mastercard and Visa to ERADICATE password authentication

Mark Cathcart

Re: No way am I ever going to carry a financial instrument that uses part of my body as a key.

Really, why not? I transfer money to my kids, it shows up within 15-mins...

Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts

Mark Cathcart

and even if they did, Apples track record would be to find a way to stop it being used for "safety" reasons

It's War: Internet of things firms butt heads over talking-fridge tech standards

Mark Cathcart

Re: Love the picture on the first page

agreed, totally first world problems. The concept of course being that your fridge will know when you are out of stuff, or its gone off, it will place orders with Amazon, who'll deliver by drone; when the drone arrives, the IoT connected door will unlock, the fridge will open and the drone will push the stuff in the fridge and leave.

What could possibly go wrong...

The END of the FONDLESLAB KINGS? Apple and Samsung have reason to FEAR

Mark Cathcart

Re: its a great time for gadget lovers

Actually, I'm looking forward to October when I get my Dash headphones which really in combination with a phone, eliminate much of the need for a watch. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hellobragi/the-dash-wireless-smart-in-ear-headphones

Bevy of tech behemoths aim to plug the next Heartbleed with DOLLARS

Mark Cathcart

Did you read the press release? There are going to be paid positions at the Linux Foundation to work on the core infrastructure initiatives, the first being OpenSSL. So not volunteers.

At least at this point, I can't answer the question beyond that, but as the person from Dell who pushed through the funding, the point was to establish at least a small set of paid Fellow positions at the Linux Foundation to oversee, drive these technologies.

Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

Mark Cathcart

Re: Ahh S/360 I knew thee well

"David Beck" - Yes of course there are people still alive, and some of us are still at work and less than 60 that worked on Galileo.

Mark Cathcart

Re: Come and look at this!

I'm sure that's what you think, but the 360 was very simple to debug and problem solve, it also had a simple button to reboot and clear the total RAM memory. So it's not clear what you could have done that would have persisted across a reboot.

Sure, you could have written on the 29Mb hard drive, or the stand alone loader on the front of the tape if your were booting from tape... or got the cards out of sequence if booting from the card reader... but that was hardly the mainframes fault...


IBM Mainframe guy and Knight of VM, 1974-2004.

Home Office terminates order for 16,000 PCs from Dell

Mark Cathcart

Re: Do Dell still hate the environment?

Dell has made great efforts to reduce packaging impact, we've for the most part switched to using packing and filler from sustainable, re-recyclable sources where possible. http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/dell-environment-packaging-and-shipping

However, what you experienced is often an effect that is unavoidable. Modern PC tendering often focuses purely on (low) price. Low price requires us to both buy in bulk and handle as efficiently as possible. That means even where assembly of parts and orders is done, it is often done by robots, or at high speed by workers. adding 20-30 seconds to unpack and repack is simply not affordable.

As i'm sure you are aware, they is a very slim profit margin in a modern PC, either you have to be willing to pay more, or we have to be able to make them even less expensively... Since everyone wants a quality product in the end, something has to give, that is often in the double bagging/packaging.

I am not an official Dell Spokesperson and am no authorized to speak on their behalf, I am though an Executive in the Software Group at Dell.

Bruce Schneier sneers at IBM's NSA denials

Mark Cathcart

Re: Follow the money...

IBM did not deny having anything to do with the NSA, they just denied being complicit or cooperating with them. I'm guessing Watson doing real time voice would make a fine machine for the NSA to buy That doesn't mean IBM cowtailed or complied to NSA requests for backdoors in systems they sell, or in their general business systems.

I don't see why IBM or for that matter any vendor shouldn't sell to the NSA. I'm mostly amused over the fuss about Huawei and their potential risk in supplying to the US Government. After all the US Goverment knew what was possible, and practical.

Mark Cathcart

Re: Why (not) IBM

Really? "IBM doesn't actually have clients among the general public any more". I guess the IBM I've been watching in the cloud marketplace must be a different IBM. The IBM that is a massive outsourcing/servicesorganization must be another different IBM, after all you can't be publically commenting on an IBM that existed 10+ years ago are extrapolating from that. surely some mistake?

However, to assert a conspiracy theory and assume it is true in any big organization is a stretch. If IBM had complied with the NSA, we'd find out and even IBM couldn't keep it quiet, so I'm inclined to take them on their word.

Never fight the truth for a downvote...

First Dell, now IBM: 15,000 jobs face the axe at Big Blue, says union

Mark Cathcart

It's a massive challenge for the technology companies, just asserting its for this or that reason, looking for easy finger pointing to associate blame for missed opportunity is just naive.

We have to understand that all the former hardware behemoths are suffering from the innovators dilemma. As much as HP, IBM, Dell, Oracle et al. have been broadening their products and services, changing their business models, with differing degrees of success these types of actions are inevitable. After all, are you willing to wait for your next big project, while they train up consultants, architects, designers, support for 6-months as they are using existing employees?

Unless y'all are prepared to pay the price for traditional hardware and software, and stop migrating to the "cloud", these things are inevitable and you are part of the problem. Thats not blame, it's fact, after all your business is also focused on EPS or expense/revenue ratio too.

IBM made a significant shift to being a software and services company almost 20-years ago, none of this should be unexpected. Shifting workloads, skills, people is hard enough much less in an economy where there are massive geographic shifts as whole continents stabilize, and others shift in terms of how they consume and use technology, as well as their skills and employment practices.

Even simple things like the continued shift to home working has potential huge impact on employment trends, locations and skills.

If IBM, HP, Dell, Oracle where cities, governments etc. you might be right to hold them to a different standard. But I don't see anyone voting Governments out because they are paying too little tax?

It's not simply about focusing on earnings per share. While there is an argument that for the whole western industrial economy that the CEO, Executive pay has got out of proportion, it's important to remember that at least IBM, HP, Oracle are still public companies. Unless you've been paying very close intention, their EPS and share price have more than likely a direct impact on you, even if you work for a competitor. They are both direct and indirect investment funds for pension funds, Government/Health/Insurance investments etc. If they all take a dive, you can be hurt anyway, even if you don't work at those companies.

So lets stop pretending you are surprised this is happening. Understand that everyone in the "industry" from customers to design, R&D and the Execs are responsible for finding a ways to find new opportunities and help and support good employees both those where we are working, and also for those that have been, and are being let go. It's also going to come over time to facebook, google et al eventually they won't be able to buy and innovate their way into markets forever in just the same way the more traditional companies can now.

And yes, I'm an Executive at Dell.

Dell disputes 15k layoff figure: Only a few staffers accepted 'voluntary separations'

Mark Cathcart

Re: expect it to be significant and ongoing

I'm an Executive in the Software Business at Dell. None of our people was eligible for the Voluntary separation, I'm not aware of a further separation programs.

Your comment on stack ranking is well understood, especially in R&D, but even in general is terrible in large organizations where inter-dependencies are legion. Jack Welch has a lot to answer for continuing to support and endorse this. I've long argued against it, we have now withdrawn it and not before time.


It was inevitable: Lenovo stumps up $2.3bn for IBM System x server biz

Mark Cathcart

can you define beat-off as it relates to Dell?

Acquiring an x86 server business has it benefits. Trying to to merge a completely different x86 business with your existing x86 servicer business and make it profitable is another entirely. If Dell were interested in this they'd have to come up with some form of integrated management offering as there would be no financial benefit of running two incompatible systems management platforms, two different management platforms for blades etc.

I note you did not mention systems management, how to configure bios, managed access to shared components, monitor and recover from temporary errors, failover on permanent errors etc. Did Lenonvo get source code for IBM System Director? While the Intel x86 is common pretty much everything else isn't.

So, define beat-off Dell?

In full disclosure, I am an Executive at Dell... only these days I work in Software Group :)

IBM makes cheeky SNATCH at AWS's cloud crown

Mark Cathcart

Ahh yes. Reminds me of the virtual machine environment at ICI at Runcorn back in the late 1980's or early 1990's. a team of people including a number of IBM virtualization specialists worked on tuning the system to get 23,000 virtual machines running on a single server.

Our biggest problem was moving the shared read only storage "above the line" which at the time was set to 16Mb Yep, thats right each virtual machine could only have 16Mb of r/w memory and that included an OS instance, as we were limited by hardware addressability.

Marketing claims, who needs them.

Amazon throws Kindle sale party after FAA aeroplane gadget fondle ruling

Mark Cathcart

Re: Cheap publicity stunt

I did on my original kindle...

Dell goes private: Stock ceases trading, now Big Mike's baby once again

Mark Cathcart

That depends how you look at it... he with partners essentially did by borrowing money against the assets and the future earnings. The money was then given to the shareholders.

As an bona fide Dell Executive and (former) shareholder, I'd have never been able to make such comments in the past, in case they were misconstrued as financial insight and might get me jailed and fired. Now I just have to worry that Michael will fire me.

I think it's a great move, you can be cynical but there are a lot of good things that will hopefully play out. ++Mark.

Wannabe Dell owner Icahn's buyout blueprint blasted by board bods

Mark Cathcart

The meeting is July 18th.

Dell JUNKS public cloud in favor of partner tech

Mark Cathcart

Re: Pretty obvious corporate double-talk...

Levente, what specifically in the press release is BS (otherwise isn't that what ALL press releases are?) and is there something I can explain?

Note, I am a Dell Employee, but don't work in the cloud strategy team...

Dell finally takes Dell private - with $24bn and help from Microsoft

Mark Cathcart

Dell has partnered with Microsoft from the very beginning, co-investing in products, research, marketing and more. Move along, this isn't the news you were looking for.

For what its worth, bundling software on servers, Linux or otherwise is pretty much a waste of time, most customers wipe it when they get it. As a percentage of servers sold I'd guess we(Yes thats right I work for Dell the man) ship way more servers without software than with. ELA's are where it's at.

Whats more interesting is the macro level actions, as TPM says, what will be different from what the company will do differently than it would have as a public company. I know internally that the talk of the PC collapse true or not, was a distraction to what we've been doing to re-invent Dell in the last 3-years.

Coincidentally, I registered to attend the upcoming Linux Collaboration summit yesterday. ++Mark.

Biz users, hard-up punters: Nobody loves Windows 8

Mark Cathcart

Win8 for business

OK, yes I work for Dell.

That said, personally I think people that don't understand the application of touch and tablets in a business environment are missing a big part of the picture on future work habits and processes. Yes, I'm bashing away on a keyboard, attached to a Latitude laptop that doesn't have a touch screen and is running Windows 7 to write this.

When I got to meetings if I want to take notes I have to open my laptop and put it between me and either the other person or the whole room. If I'm walking from one meeting to another, using my laptop is virtually impossible.

Add to that, using Windows 3.1 style UI, which after all is what Windows 7 is, doesn't really fit the size, capacity and speed that my computer can run at today. My personal interaction with the UI is about the same speed as it was in 1984 when I was writing UI Windows-2 apps, it's just the controls respond a bit quicker these days.

I'd really like to use something that doesn't require a mouse, can be used more discretely, that responds to a flick of my hand, a gesture, that works intuitively etc. that isn't so invasive when I use it in meetings. I know lots of folks don't like Windows, thats fine. The answer can't just be an iPad though and the iPad interface isn't so far removed from Windows 3.1, which you may or may not think is a good thing.

Personally, I think in a few years, touch, tablet style apps with always-on capability, 5-10 hour battery life, will indeed have changed how we think and deliver business apps. But hey, go ahead just be negative, misery loves company.

Intel prepping Atom bombs to drop on ARM microservers

Mark Cathcart

Re: MicroServers will change the game

Nate, doesn't that depend on the end point being prepared to pay for the virtualization "tax" and the ever increasing layers of management software that comes with it?

I'm not disagreeing with your assertion, it's just we've seen the same story play out before when mainframe virtualization ruled the roost. Ultimately is was the software cost/stack that precipitated the move, not the hardware cost, capacity or virtualization.

Big Blue Fellow lured aboard by Dell

Mark Cathcart
Thumb Up

Guys, I know I'm trying to make the blind see, but really there are some cool things going on over here at Dell now, yes we really are innovating. Not everyone is motivated purely by money, for some of us its really about the opportunity to build technology that solves real problems.

For the record, in addition to Jai in the Server Group, Don Ferguson former IBM Fellow is CTO in Software Group, myself and Graeme Dixon are working with Don, we are both former IBM Distinguished Engineers and Academy of Technology members. Add to that some outstanding technical talent from recent acquisitions such as Kitenga, Force10, SonicWall and we think we can do great things.

ARM creators Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber

Mark Cathcart

History of VM..

There are a couple of really good history documents on the creation and evolution of IBM's Virtualization Technology and the development of the IBM Mainframe 360 and follow-on 370 architecture. The former was written by Melinda Varian formally of Princeton University, the latter written by Jeff Gribbin formally of Rolls Royce in the UK. Varians contains some great pictures and generally less understood and aspects on the evolution of virtualization.


HP parks Airbus supers in containers

Mark Cathcart

and IBM and Dell DCS...

Why Android houses should give Google the 'fork you'

Mark Cathcart

I don't understand this fan-boy like dependency on a maybe/soon to be future amazon tablet. I paid $199 for a Barnes and Noble Colour Nook, in less than 2-hours had found, downloaded and routed it to android 2.2 and now have a perfectly working, android 7-inch tablet with Wifi. Amazon is going to save us how?

IBM heaves new System z minis at mainframe shops

Mark Cathcart

Actually it does mean MIPS

It's just it's unreliable to actually compare to anything else. First because ALL mainframes run a form of hypervisor, some OS's actually run under two hypervisors. Second, almost all I/O is not done by the main processors; in fact there are a great number of processors in the system that handle I/O once it's made its way through the GPU. Third, IBM System Z uses a form of macrocode or VLIW in its firmware which allows direct calls from an app or OS to bypass what would normally be result in a series of instructions that might cause interrupts in the GPU(s) and calls back to the OS in other environments. So apples and oranges.

So, MIPS are indeed measure of millions of instructions per second, they are just not comparable, hence they are meaningless. However, if you want to compare a specific app running a real world workload using say 4x cores, 128Gb of memory, in a VM doing say 250 IOPS per second, with a failover server and networking, you can come up with some pretty compelling price alternatives to mainframes. Are they valid, are they comparable? It depends on the business need?

Beauty as they say, is in the eye of the beholder, price and value are the same. I work at Dell (now)

Binary dinosaur drive found alive and breathing fire

Mark Cathcart
Thumb Up

Well all know the problem is the hardware for old media

Yes, theres a problem and el reg was right its the hardware... while well know file formats and open source software make it much easier to recreate programs that read old media, old software not required, the real problem is that as hardware gets smaller, it becomes much harder to recreate or fix it when it breaks. I still have a working IBM PC Junior, which only has diskette drives, I kept it from the days when I wrote a callable UI library for a home banking system to use. It still makes me laugh to see how small the library is, even though it gets packaged with the Turbo Pascal app runtime executable. The OS and the app run from a single diskette...

Here is a picture of my cube in I think 1983, with the same PC and expansion chasis...