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).
83 posts • joined 29 Apr 2008
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
"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.
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).
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.
"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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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...
"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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
It is pretty much disastrous. In RBS world, there are many interconnected systems, some of which can maintain a view of an account for some time, but eventually all transactions need to be reconciled via the main overnight mainframe batch. If this is not done, the account info maintained by these satellite systems (ATM, card purchases, etc) will become stale, and increasingly risky from the bank's point of view. So the CA-7 failure seems entirely plausible. It leaving them in the shit for 4 days, however, is not a situation one would expect a competent mainframe site to find itself in. If this is a consequence of "off-shoring" support, then someone has made a very bad judgement on an essential component of the bank's ability to stay in business and heads need to roll over this.
You're missing something. Your transfer may show up in whatever webby system which shows incoming transactions. Your real account balance is updated overnight in batch on a mainframe.
In other words, RBS/NatWest do not actually know what balance any of their customers actually have in their account, have not done so since this failure occurred, and will not know again until the problem is fixed. So good luck getting your money back out, since they do not know how much you actually have.
A Maximum Fail icon is required for this.
Well, if as the previous poster says, it takes about 12 hours of conference calls to get anything done, then I guess that they held over until the subsequent night's run to try to re-run everything. Of course, unless things are staged very carefully, they then have to process twice the transaction volume, and there may just be some hard limits on the feeder system dataset sizes which are now too small, or the batch runs now take too long, so the on-line daytime stuff cannot start. And undoing the problems which cascade from there is where you really, really want your experienced system people.
Which it seems as if they no longer have.
If it was a software update to CA-7 and they corrupted (or otherwise lost) the various VSAM datasets which hold the schedule database, then I think that backing out and restoring should have been a fairly simple exercise, and the complete failure of an entire overnight batch run is something they would have noticed pretty quickly. Assuming that they are even slightly competent.
Ah - if I recall RBS correctly, then the sequence of processing will be something like this (admittedly speculative, things may have changed).
RBS have a system called Accounting Interface. It applies various accounting "rules" which reconcile the path of monetary transactions from, say, a cash withdrawal from an ATM (say, a Barclays one) back to the original customer account from which the money is debited. These transactions are then fed into the main batch account update program, and everything should reconcile at the end of exercise.
So a mobile payment would result in (possibly):
passage through some gateway to be added to a list of mobile transactions, which would then end up in a transaction file fed into their batch systems (plenty of scope for bog-up here).
In batch, these transactions are typically expanded by other generated transactions such as:
a) a debit from a holding account for the new mobile app
b) a credit back to that holding account from the customer account
c) a debit from the customer account
d) a credit to another holding account for transactions to the target of the payment
e) a debit from that holding account when the payment is transferred to the bank of the payee
and so on...
If the accounting rules governing each of these transactions are bogged-up in some way, the main batch account system (which updates EVERY account) will not reconcile properly, and panic will ensue. To fix this, the transactions via mobile would have to be corrected and everything re-run from that point. And then re-tested quite a few times to make sure they are correct this time.
Anyway, fun to speculate exactly what went wrong (I don't bank with RBS BTW).
Lewis Page does tend to attract lots of flak in the comments on his articles, which after all, are only opinion pieces, much like any other journalism. As to where this opinion comes from, well you can read his book; http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lions-Donkeys-And-Dinosaurs-Blundering/dp/0099484420/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338302704&sr=8-1.
Having read it, I have a lot of sympathy with his viewpoint; not dissimilar to Paxman's "Why is this bastard lying to me?" interview default with politicians.
"Follow the money" is usually a good thing to bear in mind when trying to understand differing sides to a story and the incentives to favour a particular narrative. There are undoubtedly lots of people with their noses firmly in the trough of public funds, and they most certainly do not wish this to attract too much attention. Resorting to an ad hominem is usually a fair indicator that something is getting too close for comfort.
"Sources alleged to The Telegraph that ex-NI chief and one-time News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and her racehorse trainer husband Charlie Brooks are being questioned by police. This is yet to be confirmed."
And those sources might be who?
For sure, the NI gang and others in the same biz have poisoned public and political life for too long, but I don't pay their wages and expect them to work in the public interest. Those that I do, I expect to cop twice the shit, but I suspect that I should not hold my breath for that.
Or am I being too cynical?
OK, real trains. I commute fortnightly to the office. The rest of the time I'm working at home where I don't emit (or not too much) carbon more than I would elsewhere. It is cheaper to fly there than it is to take the train, and it's 1 hour 10 mins opposed to 7-ish hours, for a start and you don't have to sit amongst the mentally ill for that time (don't know why this should be the case, but it is inevitably is).
But that is only the case for one person. Add one more and the economics are completely in favour of the car, and you get to go exactly where you want, when you want. I could drive door-to-door for £140, whereas the train is £125, but not quite door-to-door (extra £18 for taxis), so it is already pretty close, and the timings are roughly similar. The main problem with driving there is staying awake (which in former times would be solved with over-the-counter amphetamines). A car which could do, say, 50-ish to the gallon and drive itself mostly would probably win the entire argument for me, if it were sensibly priced. Which of course it won't be. If you can avoid the panel problems, a W210 E class Mercedes of a reasonable vintage costs stupid money (about £1,400) and will do 450 miles on a tankfull. In terms of "a much better coefficient of drag because it's a single long tube", in real cash, in the real world, I have some advice for the people running the railways as to where they can best put those virtues to use. And it ain't on rails. Of course, their profits come from the captive commuter market, and it shows. I'd love to use the train, but since it is expensive and sucks mightily, I don't. Buses are even less useful. Where I live, I can get to the nearest big city (17 miles) for £5 return. Station to office, £4, and I have to walk for 20 minutes, and they only run every 20 minutes. How anyone is taken in by the idea that we have a decent public transport system in this country anymore for the general traveller astounds me. It seems to be priced for the rich (who never use it), or people who have so much time to hang about waiting for connections that they cannot possibly be working for a living.
No, as is usual now, it's a device to make money for the favoured, whilst having the appearance of being for the benefit of the public.
Best I stop now before I get onto the racket which is Car Insurance.
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