* Posts by QuiteEvilGraham

92 posts • joined 29 Apr 2008


Keep calm and learn Rust: We'll be seeing a lot more of the language in Linux very soon


Re: The way in which this turd is being pushed “top down” makes me want to puke

Wow! R3 as a program base register? I suppose that back in the day, it was the first one that didn't get changed by any machine instructions. Too lazy to hunt through zArch POPS to find out if that's changed since.

Anyway, you can easily get a clean "compile" by telling the assembler which base register(s) you are using without actually setting it properly; done that more than once.

IT god exposed as false idol by quirks of Java – until he laid his hands on the server


There is always weird shit...

Not Java, but 'C++'. Had a single customer who had things blowing up with a divide by zero error in a single function. No idea how they managed to provoke this, and never will, 'cos fixed it with a simple test for the guilty parameter being zero, and a quick return to caller with a suitable return code.

No-one else ever reported anything of the kind, and to this day, I have no idea which combination of circumstances might cause this. Anyway, the problem went away and we, and the customer, are happy. Sometimes you just have to take the easy win when you can.

50 years have gone by since the UK's one – and only – homegrown foray into orbit


Re: Previously on The Register:

Upvote for reference to Ignition! Being an ex-Chemist myself, reminds me why I prefer programming computers. Many, many nasty things, and the pay ain't so great.

Dang vaccines dented our bottom line in the connected home sector, says Netgear


You say that, yet I've had Linksys and Netgear "consumer" products for 20-odd years now that have been running 24/7/365 without missing a beat. 18 years of that working more or less exclusively from home. Both upgraded this year 'cos gigabit internet, so we'll see.

Realizing this is getting out of hand, Coq mulls new name for programming language


Showing my age here

Many years ago, if I recall correctly, there was a spooler for DOS called GRASP (Boyd Munro, SDI)

A TP monitor called THIRST (Geoff Brown)

An editor (sort of) for THIRST called SHAFT (Allegedly Geoff Brown's brother)

Terrible names are nothing new.

IBM creates a COBOL compiler – for Linux on x86


Re: [Aside] Storage media

Ha - my first job included looking after the payroll code (and weekly backups) on such a dinosaur.

It had a line editor, so we used to make any program changes in CMS (which had, and still has, a very decent editor) and write the code to 8" floppies on our 4381 (which IIRC were for microcode updates, amongst other things, but conveniently accessible), walk downstairs and shove them into the system-34 for compilation. Allegedly it was an "office machine" but it could fairly heat up a non air conditioned room.

Forget GameStop: Keyboard warriors and electronic trading have never mixed well


Virtual Machines on an IBM Mainframe?

It's been a while, but wouldn't you IPL a guest operating system in a virtual machine, not bootstrap, and hit the enter key, not the return key?

Happy Hacking Professional Hybrid mechanical keyboard: Weird, powerful, comfortable ... and did we mention weird?


Re: I've tried to like these over the years ...

Upvote for the Model M preference.

I have the Unicomp version, the compact one. Love it.

IBM profits cratered 46% last quarter. But its share price is up ~5% because Wall Street expected that to be worse

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So long as System Z continues to be sold...

I will be content with IBM.

I seriously doubt any of our customers will get off that platform before I retire.

Cloudflare goes retro with COBOL delivery service. Older coders: Who's laughing now? Turns out we're still vital


Re: Enter Assembler

Sure is, although in old age much prefer the HLASM descendant & not having to keep one finger on the shift key as I type (so long as you remember that operands passed to macros *are* case-sensitive).

Guess who's working on a health data-slurping digital tool? Bzzt! Nope, it's the UK Department for Work and Pensions


Re: Full time job lying to get pip he is si

For fucks's sake! This is Twitter level bollocks. There is no way a cunt such as you present could possibly use a computer. Get to fuck you trolling bastard.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep


Re: That's been done before...

Setting up a second level VM system (in its entirety) is a non-trivial task.

However, it used to be the case that you could create "cloned" VMs by the simple expedient of diving into the VMBLOK/whatever replaced them and changing the name then logging back in to the original again.

Could be handy if you didn't have access to MAINT/DIRMAINT and wanted to muck around. And great fun if you wanted to give auditing a body swerve.

Although if they gave "kids" class A VMs, they deserved all they got.


Re: CP == Hypervisor

It's been many years, but IIRC, the only *safe* way to shut down a second or third level, etc. VM system was to log in as OPERATOR and type SHUTDOWN there.

And you're right, anything not recognised by CMS got passed to CP by default. Once upon a time, I worked for a well-known software company where it seemed to be a point of honour for any software we wrote could detect that it was running in a VM and issue commands to the base operating system via DIAG X'08'. This was a bit of a faff, 'cause you had to grab a chunk of page-aligned storage, get the real address (via LRA) then stick the command in there and fire it off.

Having had a few incidents where the dreaded "Warm Checkpoint area saved" message appeared, we made a point of

a) Never using SHUTDOWN as a command to stop a product running.

b) Intercepted SHUTDOWN as a precaution.

These days you can customise the command classes quite well so it's hard to get killed inadvertently, but having class ABCDEFG in yer VM directory entry is usually a warning that there is a gun pointed at your foot.

That said, once managed to knock over a VM system at IBM Portsmouth three times in one afternoon from a class G machine writing an APPC thing, and some years earlier, at a major chemist's wholesaler twatting about with DIAG X'7C' (apparently they were a bit behind with applying service).

Haven't worked with it for over 20 years, but VM remains my first love as an operating system.

You wanna be an alpha... tester of The Register's redesign? Step this way


How about...

If there are comments on the article, and you click on the comments icon, it takes you directly to the comments, not the article itself?

IBM loses mainframe docs down the back of the web, customers cry 'sabotage'


IBM's "Knowledge Center" is shite, however the HTML pages from back in the day still seem to be available. They follow the bookmanager idiom and are much preferable to the java based crap they seem to think does a better job.

IPv6 growth is slowing and no one knows why. Let's see if El Reg can address what's going on


Not an issue if you already have an ipv4 address

I guess that the basic issue is that for most people, IPV4 just works, and all their devices are behind NAT.

I stuck IPV6 support into the products I support some years ago, and from the occasional customer logs I see, it seems to be a thing, but that's all. Also, you can't really use it without a DNS; the addresses are impossible.

So who is going to volunteer for that?

Amazon, LG Electronics turned my vape into an exploding bomb, says burned bloke in lawsuit


Re: Batteries in the pocket, eh?

Hard to tell with a phrase like "jumped out of the car and attempted to remove the batteries from his pocket and extinguish the flames, resulting in burns to his hands.", No?

Sounds like he is one of these arses who pays no attention whatsoever to basic battery safety. It's not as if there isn't TONS of information out there about this.

Me, vaping on a device with coils I built myself (but not before paying lots of attention to the safety considerations).

When I was young, about November, there used to be public information films about the dangers of putting bangers in your pockets. We seem to have embraced Darwinism a bit since then. Oh, that and an unapologetically sensationalist media.

Honey, I shrunk the mainframe: Fujitsu freshens up GS21 kit


Re: Eclipsed?

It might also be pointed out that running your mainframes at 100% (or as near to) capacity 24/7 is exactly what customers want to do, otherwise your are just taking up space and generating heat that you have to pay to remove again.

And no, if you had 10,000 mainframes, you would not also see dozens of failures every day. They are not built like your bloody laptop. Now go away and stop talking shite.

Jocks in shock as Irn-Bru set to slash sugar and girder content


Re: National scandal

Have had the flu this last week, and was horrified to discover that someone my son had smuggled into the house whilst I was incapacitated had left an empty bottle thereof in the house. He is now banished to his mum's in Glasgow.


Re: Lateral Thinking

Except that Lucozade is not the only soft drink that out-sells Coca Cola in its market.

Expect AG Barr to back-pedal on this one sharpish!

PS, agree with the neo-puritan.

Your top five dreadful people the Google manifesto has pulled out of the woodwork


Re: I almost feel like crying

"making colleagues feel uncomfortable"? Fuck that shit. Is he capable of mind control?

Regardless of the other arguements pro and cons in this issue, I really, really hate the idea that somehow reading something you don't agree with somehow denies you the agency to decide to either ignore it or dispute it and move on. Are words really violence now, or are there just a bunch of narcissistic fuckwits who expect tummy rubs from everything they encounter?

Is Google really full of children who go running to daddy expecting him to fix the problem if they have hurt feelz?

Christ on a bike, grow the fuck up and behave like adults for once.

Presto crypto: IBM releases gruntier, faster Z14 mainframe


Plenty of kiddie comments here today. Meanwhile, the adult world (ie. the stuff that keeps money in circulation plus some others) runs on mainframes. And probably will for quite some time to come.

Fun Fact: back in the 80's IBM were considering a new mainframe line (Summit, IIRC), until someone pointed out that their existing customers then probably had some cumulative 3 Trillion dollars worth of investment in their current, run the buisiness on, software and it was really asking a lot of them to rewrite all that just so they might invest in something new and different. Thus the new z14 will happily run stuff written back in the 60's if that's what you want. And you would be surprised just how much of that stuff is still running and doing the job it was originally written for. You idiots probably think that you would sensibly replace a bulk ore carrier with a fleet of wee boats, because they are cheaper or something.

Meanwhile tonight, the money in your bank account will continue to be reconciled, mainly, by a big box with zSystems embossed on the side. Flame away if you want; you are not going to persuade a good proportion of the fortune 500 to move their core systems to x86 and #NET or similar real soon now (let alone abandon their 5 9's reliablilty).

Last Concorde completes last journey, at maybe Mach 0.02


Ah, memories

Living in Woking, back in the 80's, used to hear Concorde roar overhead every Sunday at about 2:00 pm.

Always worth running outside to watch it pass over; surely the most beautiful 'plane ever made; like a big paper dart.

The wee girl I lived with back then was about to fly back from JFK with BA and was offered, since they had overbooked the 747, to stay over-night in a hotel and get the early Concorde flight instead. She must have been exceedingly frazzled, because she turned the offer down, despite the fact that she would have been back in the UK about one and a half hours later than the flight she caught.

Elaine, it's been a long time, but I bet you still kick yourself about that one.

Revealed: 'Suicide bomber Barbie' and other TSA quack science that cost $1.5 billion


"TSA's behavior detection approach is designed to identify and engage individuals who may be high-risk (eg, possess malicious intent) on the basis of an objective process using behavioral indicators and thresholds, and then route them to additional security screening,"

That word "objective". I do not think it means what you think it means.

IBM slices heavy axe through staff in the US


Just so long as they don't fuck up z/Series, z/OS and DB2. IBM are just as bad a services company as anyone else. Peerless as a technology company though. It's getting damned hard to figure out what they are up to these days.

When customers try to be programmers: 'I want this CHANGED TO A ZERO ASAP'


Re: Any chance of a solution?

Given that it uses an ancient COBOL idiom, it really is kinda like Shakespeare (COBOL originally only had do something until ... loops, where the test is made at the bottom before looping back). Applying that idiom in 'C' or similar is a fine cause of malarkey when you use it with do something while ... loops, where the test is at the top of the loop. Full marks for 1TB though.

Keep at it though - simple things usually only appear that way because you've kept your wits about you.

Compuware promises mainframe DevOps as old programmers croak


Well, I've written code (in assembler) which built dynamic hooks (modelled in assembler), then dropped them into VSAM record management (also written in assembler), so I guess I have "program program"'ed in assembler; possibly even a program program program. Amazing the things we do for money. Those fellows who wrote z/VM, z/VSE and z/OS also seem to get some traction out the assembler on the mainframe, although they mostly cheat when it comes to writing a program program and use macros.

That aside, what's your point exactly?

Big Blue's big iron daddy Gene Amdahl dies aged 92


L R1,=A(C'RIP ')

So just what is the third Great Invention of all time?


Re: Surely it's the general-purpose computer itself

Gets my vote. I'll buy the argument that the stored-program computer has changed the world more than anything else over the last 50 years (and kept me gainfully employed for 30 of 'em) and will continue to do so.

British killer robot takes out two Britons in Syria strike


Re: You take the high ground and I'll take the low

Because, at the risk of getting immediately downvoted, that's precisely the fuck what stops us being like them. Does this really have to be spelled out for you keyboard warriors?

Fire, fire! Just move your data centre onto my lawn ... Oh rats!


Heh! Many years ago an ex-colleague of mine (Hi Stuart) was summoned by the fire brigade to come in and unlock/inspect the machine room in our office due to the fire alarm going off at the weekend.

On arrival, there were no signs of conflagration; however, careful inspection revealed that under the suspended floor there was a pool of water which had shorted out the alarm relays, and was lapping gently at the 3 phase supply to the machines. Turned out that the cleaners were in the habit of stuffing a spare bog roll into the syphon traps in the cistern overflows in the toilets, and that one of same had actually overflowed over the weekend, causing the bog roll to expand massively, block the outlet and start a steady trickle of water running to the lowest point in the building. If anyone can beat "swollen bog roll" as a reason for a callout, I'd like to hear it.

Thank heavens for the silicon chip: A BRIEF history of data


Oh, for heavens sake...

So the scheduler queue isn't data?

The gender imbalance in IT is real, ongoing and ridiculous


Re: In my 50 years' experience...

I think you might have a point there - I started in the biz in the early '80s and the mix was pretty equal to begin with; possibly for the reasons you mention - companies would take bright people on and train them, regardless of qualifications. We had women managing, programming and working shifts as operations staff. Chromosomal arrangements did not appear to stop anyone progressing within that ecosystem according to their interests and talents. Plenty of casual workplace "sexism", but misogyny? No SJWs back then, but I (and everyone else I knew) would have considered anyone who indulged in that a complete bastard. If anything, since then, we have become even less tolerant of such things, so I'm not entirely sure that argument stands up, except in the minds of those who thing that everthing is "becoz, the Patriarchy".

What I have noticed, is that when I took the techier path and got into the world of operating systems and low-level languages, the proportion of women fell off a cliff; they seemed to prefer the Systems Analyst, Business Analyst route instead. Nothing wrong with that, it's all important, but there does seem to be a point at which women, in general, lose interest in computers. So it may just be that your observation that Computing degrees as an entry point for the industry puts women off by making the first hurdle somewhat boring and abstract, rather then practical. Of course, this is all anecdotal,

So, I think that the article's thesis that the problem is "teh menz" rather than a choice made by women is horseshit; how to make IT attractive when these choices are made is the real problem.

The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile


Re: Bah!

Aw 'cmon - you could spend days debugging a COBOL program if the punch girl missed a slightly faint full-stop. And, despite my disinclination to type long variable names (and let the compiler find the typo's), to this day I habitually put a horizontal bar through 7's and Z's when I write them down.

I would say that COBOL has achieved its longevity (we are talking about mainframes here) largely through:

a) IBM making the s/360, S/370, etc. architectures backward-compatible (genius IMHO)

b) Programming in assembly language being just too hard/too easy to create nightmares out of.

Pace that COBOL ur-program mentioned above - I'll bet it was a sequential batch update ported from the original assembler by someone who happened to be extremely proud of their penmanship!


COBOL - Yuck!

Never been fond of it, even though I've done a fair bit over the years. It got slightly more tolerable when Cobol 2 came along and you didn't have to type with your little finger constantly on the shift key though. As Dominic points out, insanely verbose though, especially when people insisted that variable (or "field") names should be suitably meaningful. Not fun on 3270's without cut'n'paste. These days, of course, IBM do perfectly good 'C' and C++ compilers which work nicely with any s/360-derived data formats if you avoid that string malarky, and there is a perfectly good JVM if you really enjoy typing (pun intended).

I guess it was popular simply because it was intended for accountants and business managers; just unfortunate that, whilst a language syntax may be relatively easy to pick up, writing decent software, for any purpose, remains rather hard.

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

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Re: S/360 I knew you well

ESA is the bit that you are missing - the whole extended address thing, data spaces,hyperspaces and cross-memory extensions.

Fantastic machines though - I learned everything I know about computing from Principals of Operations and the source code for VM/SP - they used to ship you all that, and send you the listings for everything else on microfiche. I almost feel sorry for the younger generations that they will never see a proper machine room with the ECL water-cooled monsters and attendant farms of DASD and tape drives. After the 9750's came along they sort of look like very groovy American fridge-freezers.

Mind you, I can get better mippage on my Thinkpad with Hercules than the 3090 I worked with back in the 80's, but I couldn't run a UK-wide distribution system, with thousands of concurrent users, on it.

Nice article, BTW, and an upvote for the post mentioning The Mythical Man Month; utterly and reliably true.

Happy birthday IBM Mainframe, and thanks for keeping me in gainful employment and beer for 30 years!

Oh no, RBS has gone titsup again... but is it JUST BAD LUCK?


Yes, it was arse. Very hard to see how someone could think that using IMS was more advanced than using DB2 in the modern world. Disclaimer - both IMS and DB2 are rock-solid, industrial strength database management systems, very well supported by IBM. Most likely RBS simply went with what they knew best. BTW, if you think it is hard to get experienced CICS/DB2 people these days, try getting good IMS people. It is extremely beloved by American insurance companies though.

Their problems mainly stem from getting rid of people who knew and understood their core systems IMHO.

Especially the one written in Assembler which has comments dating back to the late 60's. Good luck getting someone who can hack that for what RBS expect to be the going rate.

What's wrong with Britain's computer scientists?


Re: There's your problem right there.

Sigh! I guess the "code monkey" paradigm is still alive and well then. If the central craft and art (I believe Mr Knuth referred to it as such in his series of textbooks) of the software business is held in such low esteem, then I guess that we've answered the question. Programming, how quaint. You wonder how anyone ever managed make a living and/or get a sense of satisfaction out of the simple expedient of sitting on one's arse and figuring out a way of making a computer do something other than just consume electricity and then actually making it happen. Perhaps if we'd all spent the last 30-odd years or so doing things properly before we let the vulgar code monkeys loose, we might be on course to create a multi trillion dollar industry. Oh, wait...


Re: Do you need a degree to...

You are managing the Universal Credit program for the DWP and I claim my £10


There's your problem right there.

"not happy with the idea of being stuck coding in some basement"?

IMHO, the only skill which matters a damn is the ability to write code that does something useful, and does it well - whatever that might be. If an article asking "What is wrong with Britain's bricklayers?" was so distainful of the building of walls, then perhaps the question might be easier to answer.

Unemployed? Ugly? Ugh, no thanks, says fitties-only job website


Satire dead again?


Nationwide to perform IT equivalent of 'replacing jet engine mid-flight'


According to this...


Nationwide are a Unisys shop, not IBM. So more like replacing your old Ford Cortina with a new Nissan, rather than your new Mercedes with a new Nissan. In one sense, anyway. Still, huge opportunity for bog-up though.

Tibetan STATUE found by 1930s NAZI expedition is of ALIEN ORIGIN


Re: Alien origin...

If anything, El Reg's headline on this is understated compared to the BBC, who have it on their website today as "Nazi Buddha originally from space" on the "Most Popular" sidebar. Nearly as good as my all time fave (from the Jo'burg Star, back in 1998), "Ex-President Banana, guilty of Sodomy, slips into Botswana"

Half the team at the heart of the RBS disaster WERE in India

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Re: Mainframe Forum: Where Indians Cavort

Had a look at that: I particularly like the assembler and PL/1 forum where people are posting their homework from some college course in the hope that they will get stuff explained, then getting flamed when they start arguing the toss.

'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown


Re: RBS don't seem to understand basic book-keeping

Well, their batch run is intended to be overnight. This implies that file allocations in all the various jobs which comprise the batch are designed for the typical volumes they expect (IIRC they have an double-sized run one night, since there is one atypical run in the schedule, might be Saturday or Sunday, can't remember now).

So they will have to stage the now greater than normal volumes of data somewhere in the meantime. Again this will be atypical, and one can only speculate exactly how it is done. They won't have done it often, although it may well have been tested out.

It may well be this process which is putting in the generic descriptions described by the poster.

Of course, if these transactions are masking descriptive data which other parties rely on for their own processing (which is what it sounds like), then the knock-on effects will be, to say the least, unpredictable.


Well boys & girls

The Today program on R4 this morning (Wed 27th) Let's have a listen.


Re: Breaking news...

Hah! - nice one.


Re: Breaking news...

I can assure you that the Guardian did do its own research. And anything which gets this to a wider audience is OK by me.


Re: no backup of the schedule?

From the CA-7 sysprog manual.

Because CA-7 is controlling a production environment, backup and recovery of its database

becomes extremely important. Backups of the CA-7 database should be scheduled

on a regular basis, at least once each day. If possible, CA-7 should be down or at least

reasonably inactive during the backup, with no permanent updates being made to the

database. All data sets in the database must be backed up at the same time.

Additionally, the backup procedure should be as fast as possible especially if scheduling

is to stop. Two other concerns for backups are to produce a single source for recovery

and, where practical, to provide error checking of index and pointer elements.

With the above items in mind, you may find that no single utility satisfies all your concerns.

On the one hand, the SASSBK00 program provided with CA-7 creates a single

source file for recovery and performs error checking of index and pointer elements;

however, it is slow for a large database. (It is slow because it creates a logical as well as

a physical backup for conversion purposes and therefore produces many more records

than a utility such as IDCAMS or CA-ASM2.) On the other hand, utilities such as

CA-ASM2, IDCAMS, and DFDSS are fast and can produce a single source for recovery,

but they have no error checking of elements.

Seems pretty simple to me.

Natwest, RBS: When will bank glitch be fixed? Probably not today



4 thumbs down? Since this is an entirely accurate description of how RBS Group do their processing, one must assume that there are shills out there. Damage limitation?



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