* Posts by cschneid

94 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Oct 2009


If you use AI to teach you how to code, remember you still need to think for yourself


'twas ever thus


I once worked on a project in which a software product originally written for UNIX was being redesigned and implemented on Windows NT. Most of the programming team consisted of programmers who had great facility with Windows, Microsoft Visual C++ and the Foundation Classes. In no time at all, it seemed, they had generated many screenfuls of windows and toolbars and dialogs, all with connections to networks and data sources, thousands and thousands of lines of code. But when the inevitable difficulties of debugging came, they seemed at sea. In the face of the usual weird and unexplainable outcomes, they stood a bit agog. It was left to the UNIX-trained programmers to fix things. The UNIX team members were accustomed to having to know. Their view of programming as language-as-text gave them the patience to look slowly through the code. In the end, the overall "productivity" of the system, the fact that it came into being at all, was the handiwork not of tools that sought to make programming seem easy, but the work of engineers who had no fear of "hard."


- Ellen Ullman



Share your 2024 tech forecasts (wrong answers only) to win a terrible sweater


the mainframe returns

The mainframe makes a comeback as people realize that JCL is easier than an unsteady stack of cloud configuration tools. A PCM (Plug Compatible Mainframe) industry re-emerges, with Microsoft and Apple vying for dominance. IBM Z versions of the commonly used office suites are produced by their respective vendors as IBM reveals AI powered transliteration tools to convert C, C++, C#, and most other semicolons-and-curly-braces languages to COBOL. Amazon reveals their cloud was really several geographically dispersed Sysplexes of mainframes all along.

Governments resent their dependence on Big Tech


Excel Hell II: If the sickness can't be fixed, it must be contained


one day early

one day early

Local governments aren't businesses – so why are they force-fed business software?


Your experience with government and commercial enterprises is the polar opposite of mine.

IBM sues Micro Focus, claims it copied Big Blue mainframe software



According to a blog entry by Mark J. Barrenechea, OpenText's CEO & CTO, regarding IBM's complaint the "Southern District of New York has just issued an Order, dismissing the breach of contract claim altogether."

I cannot find any reference to the order or indeed the case itself on the court's website but that may just be my lack of navigational skills or familiarity with legal terminology.

There remains Count I, the copyright infringment.

Oh dear, AWS. Cloud growth slowing as customers get a dose of cost reality


Re: Quelle Surprise

> We are still paying for a non-functioning solution because?

Institutional inertia. In physics, it's called "the irresistible force."

Apple's M2 MacBook Pros, Mac Mini boast more cores, higher clocks and bigger GPUs


Decide for yourself. https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro-14-and-16/specs/

Study finds AI assistants help developers produce code that's more likely to be buggy


Re: "but the work of engineers who had no fear of “hard.”"

I don't think so either, and I don't think the quoted text says that, but you do you.


Congratulations, you've reinvented wizards

Productivity has always been the justification for the prepackaging of programming knowledge. But it is worth asking about the sort of productivity gains that come from the simplifications of click-and-drag. I once worked on a project in which a software product originally written for Unix was being redesigned and implemented on Windows NT. Most of the programming team consisted of programmers who had great facility with Windows, Microsoft Visual C++ and the Foundation Classes. In no time at all, it seemed, they had generated many screenfuls of windows and toolbars and dialogs, all with connections to networks and data sources, thousands and thousands of lines of code. But when the inevitable difficulties of debugging came, they seemed at sea. In the face of the usual weird and unexplainable outcomes, they stood a bit agog. It was left to the Unix-trained programmers to fix things. The Unix team members were accustomed to having to know. Their view of programming as language-as-text gave them the patience to look slowly through the code. In the end, the overall “productivity” of the system, the fact that it came into being at all, was the handiwork not of tools that sought to make programming seem easy, but the work of engineers who had no fear of “hard.”

- Ellen Ullman “The Dumbing Down of Programming”, Salon, 1998

Google wants to copy-paste your mainframe applications into its cloud


Move on from proprietary mainframes and innovate with Google's Proprietary Cloud

Maybe you're fine with tightly binding yourself to Google (or Amazon) instead of IBM. But do it with your eyes open. Vendor lock-in, from the vendor's point of view, is a feature.

The parallel test scenario seems like a good idea.

Excel's comedy of errors needs a new script, not new scripting


Re: Who is to blame?

"If you want to do everything with process-heavy waterfall, then fine. Just be aware that it almost never works."

Neither does shadow IT, that's kind of the point.

Open source databases: What are they and why do they matter?


stack overflow survey participants as a representative sample

Perhaps taking the results of the Stack Overflow developer survey as representative of whatever point you would like to make isn't as persuasive as you might imagine.

Just as an example, you won't see much DB2 or IMS or VSAM because mainframe developers mostly don't ask their questions on SO. They usually have a support structure built into their organization.

Jeffrey Snover claims Microsoft demoted him for inventing PowerShell


Re: At the risk of being downvoted to hell

JES3 is now supported and enhanced by Phoenix Software.

Departing Space Force chief architect likens Pentagon's tech acquisition to a BSoD


the humor of repeated assertions

I do find it amusing that any government activity is met with cries of "privatize it all, fire all the bureaucrats" and any government privatization effort is met with cries of "outsourcing firms are all crooks" accompanied by stories of their incompetence, contract overruns, nepotism, etc.

Exasol pledges to help customers avoid cloud bill shock with new DBaaS


chasing chargeback algorithms

If you're going to reduce costs by chasing the chargeback algorithm, you must commit to chasing the chargeback algorithm. Whatever dance you do around the edges of the rules, you must be prepared to alter your steps as the rules are altered. And you are in control of neither the nature nor the rate of change.

There's more here but it's primarily mainframe-focused, which tells you how long this issue has been extant.

DORA explorers see pandemic boost in numbers of 'elite' DevOps performers


Lake Wobegon DevOps

That's the news from DevOps, where all the code is strong, all the systems are good-looking, and all the practitioners are above average.

Google plays catch-up with JSON support for distributed RDBMS Spanner


greatly simplified data modeling

One table, two columns: a UUID column and a JSON column. This will save quite a lot of time in the development phase.

Everyone cites that 'bugs are 100x more expensive to fix in production' research, but the study might not even exist


Re: Equally unattributed, but different...

> [...] how many shops are really that organised?

Aren't all IT shops CMMI Level 5 self-certified these days?

Security warning deluge from 'npm audit' is driving developers to distraction


configuration options

By all means, add flexible configuration options to ignore categories of warnings, sub-categories, individual warnings, or any of the preceding in various contexts. Then add the only option anyone in serious need of these warnings will use - ignore all warnings. Kind of like those unit tests that just return true.

'Set it and forget it' attitude to open-source software has become a major security problem, says Veracode



When something bad happens software-wise, the first question asked is often "What changed?" This has been going on long enough for "Changes break things" to become an aphorism (it doesn't follow logically, but that's folklore for you). Which led to, "If we make no changes, nothing bad will happen."

Except of course, "What changed?" is only one of the questions to ask; another is, "What didn't change that should have?" The latter has not yet entered the zeitgeist.

And here we are.

The sad truth is, changes too often result in something bad happening. Not making changes also too often results in something bad happening. Things are broken, and no one with the power to fix them has any interest in doing so as they make a tidy living off the current state.

The classic hits keep coming from IBM: z/OS set for big update in September


Re: Interesting

JES3 is now supported by Phoenix Software, see here.

Linux Mint users in hot water for being slow with security updates, running old versions


Grump grump grump grump

The problem is that changing things breaks things, not changing things breaks things, what we have is broken to start with, and you kids won't get off my lawn.

There doesn't appear to be a solution. Everyone shrugs, says "the perfect is the enemy of the good," and makes do with systems conforming to an ever lower bar designating "good enough."

You can drive a car with your feet, you can operate a sewing machine with your feet. Same goes for computers obviously


Flash install recommended

Amusingly, the linked ComputerLand history site exhorts me to install the latest Flash player.

Buggy code, fragile legacy systems, ill-conceived projects cost US businesses $2 trillion in 2020


I fail to see the problem

While the article qualifies the usual assertion of a developer shortage by noting a shortage of good developers, I simply cannot see the difficulty.

We all know the definition of a good developer, it's someone who delivers on time and on budget. Accomplishing this goal merely requires a calendar and a calculator, both of which are included with Microsoft Windows and all the other (admittedly minor) players in the desktop and server space.

The CASE tool renaissance of the late 1980s taught us that the act of writing code is so trivial a task that it can be automated. The Y2K crisis taught us that anyone can engage in the act of writing code having augmented their keyboarding skills with a "Learn language in n [hours|days|weeks]" book.

Disabusing decision makers of the above load of equine excrement is going to be difficult. In the middle of the last decade of the previous century I recited to my boss that old saw about "cheap, fast, or efficient - pick any two." He replied that he'd heard that one, and he wanted all three. I took another offer soon after. And no lesson was learned.

The mindset that software developers are resources to not just be used, but used up is pervasive. That software development and project management are othogonal remains unknown to those who design org charts and compensation plans.

This is not a problem that gets fixed by adding more developers, no matter how good they are.

Amazon spies on staff, fires them by text for not hitting secretive targets, workers 'feel forced to work through pain, injuries' – report


Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

Possibility three, the world does not work on the "that which is not mandatory is forbidden" rule and therefore companies have the freedom to treat their employees decently even if the law doesn't require it.

Which is the essence of my first reply, do try to keep up.


Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

Jack Welsh recanted.


Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

Ceteris paribus, yes - but not necessarily so. It's more work than it's worth to me to redesign the entire socioeconomic system when the number of thumbs up on the original indicates the masses have already absolved Amazon of all responsibility for their actions in the presence of a government to blame.


Re: Before shouting at Amazon...

I find "It isn't illegal" a feeble excuse to treat the employees badly. It also isn't illegal to treat them decently.

Shared memory vulnerability in IBM's Db2 database could let nefarious insiders wreak havoc – so get patching


DB2 LUW, that is

There are two flavors of DB2, the one that runs on IBM Z and the one that runs on Linux, Unix, and Windows (LUW). Last I knew, they did not share a code base, or shared very little. This affects the LUW version. In future I would suggest making that clear in the article. Perhaps even the headline.

Yes, yes, I know IBM is a failure as a company because it's losing money (except for Z) and no one uses Z (except those who trumpet about their third 5-year plan to migrate to whatever is trendy these days) and so on and so forth ad infinitum ad nauseam etc. etc. etc.

Deep-root database: Kew Garden's 8 million specimen collection to find new life through data management


going to tender?

The problem with this approach seems to be the presumption that there exists something in the world that does what you need. This often seems to lead to evaluating various promises from an assortment of contracted custom development solution providers with an eye towards selecting the least bad amongst them.

A lesson from long ago: if you find something that does most of what you need and a feature is that you can customize to make it do the rest, you will regret your acquisition as the customizations will create no end of difficulty when you eventually reach a point where you have no choice but to upgrade. See, that "most of what you need," that was the easy part. The difficult part, the part that you can't live without, that's the part that is unique to your organization. You can't buy that part.

University of Cambridge to decommission its homegrown email service Hermes in favour of Microsoft Exchange Online


It grieves me that the tools with which the world was built are being discarded due to fashion.

Days after President Trump suggests pausing election over security, US House passes $500m for states to shore up election security


Re: The way it will pan out

Well that went dark pretty fast.

Rust code in Linux kernel looks more likely as language team lead promises support


I think this started here.

Erudite, insightful, self-aware and almost human: Give your local database admin a hug – it's DBA Appreciation Day


Women are better DBAs than men...

...they're not afraid to COMMIT.

Scala contributor: Open source and diversity key to tackling dev skills shortage


Have we learned nothing in the last 40 years?

Application development seems to have devolved into the artifice of mercilessly stitching together tools and libraries into frankenmodules to be tortured into a lurching semblance of functionality.

This isn't computer science, and it isn't really application development either. It shares lineage with overloaded, multi-sheet, macro-laden Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets occasionally shelling out to DOS to execute the odd GW-BASIC program or some utility downloaded from PC Magazine. Brittle superstructure resting on shaky ground.

GitHub to replace master with main across its services


renaming a git branch

Here I thought I'd find a discussion of the technical issues surrounding changing the name of "master" to "main". For others in the same situation, see here.

The longest card game in the world: Microsoft Solitaire is 30


Re: Speaking of OS/2...

And if you cheated repeatedly it would pop up a dialog asking if this was really necessary.

Nine in ten biz applications harbor out-of-date, unsupported, insecure open-source code, study shows


Agreed, regarding out of date; old != bad, in fact sometimes old is preferable to new when licensing changes in a manner unfavorable to the customer or the latest version insists on phoning home to a server for reasons unknown.

Unsupported is something for risk management to consider.

Insecure still needs to be addressed.

India says its brains saved the world from the last colosso-crisis – cough, Y2K – proving it can become self-reliant


Re: Are you insinuating something?

The best case scenario for preventative maintenance is that it will seem a waste of time. This is true of computer systems, automobiles, and pretty much everything else.

Guess who's back, back again. SE's back, tell a friend: 2020 reboot looks like an iPhone 8 and even shares components


but how is it selling?

While I appreciate the snark at El Reg as much as the next commentard, sacrificing news and fact for snark is a waste of talent. This reads like someone shouted, "Quick, three or four hundred words on that new Apple thing!"

More interesting would be how it's selling. There's been a trend towards mobiles getting larger and larger as people use them for content consumption instead of communication, how does the market react to a comparably tiny mobile?

If you can't say something interesting, or at least funny, say nothing at all. Points off for quoting this last back to me.

IBM age discrimination lawsuit suddenly ends, suggests Big Blue was willing to pay to avoid discovery process


age discrimination is one reason software sucks

Some thoughts on the matter.

Lost in translation and adrift in cloud storage


Re: The problem is not beheerder

> It's that second of inattention that always gets you, and it got him.

We used to call that the "OhNoSecond."

From Gmail to Gfail: Google's G-Suite topples over for unlucky netizens, rights itself


Re: Clouds sometime rain

I still think of cloud as a faith-based computing initiative.

Your Agile-built IT platform was 'terrible', Co-Op Insurance chief complained to High Court


Re: We see only green here sir...

> Isn't that what anyone would expect from an IBM led outsourced delivery project. An artful construction of status reporting that ensure there is no issues at all except with the customer...

FTFY - it's not just IBM. I do think you are otherwise spot on.

NASA to launch 247 petabytes of data into AWS – but forgot about eye-watering cloudy egress costs before lift-off


Absolutely. They should just outsource the whole mess to the lowest bidder and inject adverts into the data streams.

Google reveals the wheels almost literally fell off one of its cloudy server racks


Santayana, again

Twenty-mumble years ago, I came into support of a roll-your-own DB/DC system built in the 1970s. It was kind of creaking, but we were in year twelve of the ten year migration out of the system and management wanted no maintenance done. My senior and I ignored that, quietly declaring that any production problem would be met with our intent of making that problem never happen again.

At the time, the system was executing ~2,000,000 transactions every business day during prime shift. We used to say, if it's a one-in-a-million chance, it'll happen today, twice.

It's nice that Google has learned these particular lessons that mainframe people knew decades ago. I wonder if they'll learn the rest?

You can't hold black horse down: Brit bank Lloyds goes full multi-cloud, signs up with Google as well as Microsoft


single vendor vs. multiple vendor

The modern version of "build vs. buy."

The multiple vendor problem is well known: when the inevitable problems arise the vendors point at each other assigning blame until they ultimately assign blame back on the client.

The single vendor problem is the solution to the multiple vendor problem: have a single vendor so that, when the inevitable problems arise, you have but one vendor to tell you to it's all your (the client's) fault, saving time.

These two positions have been ping-pong-ing off each other for decades, contributing to the fortunes of consultants and vendors, to the detriment of clients worldwide.

There's already outsourcing and cloud here, just add DevOps and you'll have the trifecta.

Honeywell, I blew up the qubits: Thermostat maker to offer cloud access to 'world's most powerful quantum computer' within months