You THINK you're anonymous, but those awfully nice chaps in NSA know who you are, unless you are hiding behind a VPN that doesn't itself channel all of your traffic via another outpost.
38 posts • joined 11 Jul 2012
I think in Hursley we had four 3800s running and that was a full-time job for one CE just to keep them running. There were some great problems .. like when the fuser wasn't quite hot enough, and all of the letters would form individually, but didn't stay stuck to the paper. There'd be a pile of tiny letters by the Burst-Trim-Stacker feature on the end.
I was going to suggest naming them after the pilots of the Angels in Captain Scarlet:
Rhapsody, Harmony, Melody, Symphony and Destiny.
Yes, I know that Destiny doesn't really fit with the others, but I guess Gerry and Sylvia also had problems trying to get a group of five names to fit into some contrived rules-based namespace.
Most investment bubbles are created to fill the pockets of the 1% of the 1%, feeding on the greed of the 99% who think they are on to a good thing, but don't realise they are there to shore up the pyramid scheme. Otherwise we'd all have cranked up our CPUs and GPUs and made out like bandits when Bitcoin was a baby.
Where I worked there used to be a "Decimation Spreadsheet" which identified the 10% of employees that should be strongly encouraged to leave - of their own accord, of course; no funding of firings there. They would be put into an uncomfortable, lonely existence until they "self-selected out" of the company.
Apart from the correct use of the word Decimation, a truly unadmirable, and probably illegal practice.
I did have an early hiccup in a job interview after leaving IBM, when the interviewer asked me what the next big trend was going to be. I think I said "Grid" at the time, since in IBM I was trying to bring more CPU horse to a single DB2 instance than existed in one box at the time. He said "No, you're wrong. Virtualisation!" I nearly choked on my coffee. Only been doing that for 25 years.
I was 42 when I was first told by my IBM manager that I was effectively past it. I was told at the age of 46 by another manager that my career was effectively over, and I should step aside to give valuable opportunities for career advancement to the younger ones. I left IBM at the age of 49. Haven't looked back with anything but regret I didn't leave sooner.
Ah, those 'Its Better Manually' people at it again.
Had a classic one with my current employer. No USB, bluetooth, Dropbox, Google Drive permitted. They provide a web-based mail client that you can access off-site. Of course they check all attachments to mails so you can't send yourself a big file, or an executable, or a zip file or anything useful. What they failed to notice was that you could attach one of those files to a draft email at work, save it as draft (of course no checking until you actually send it), go home, open web mail client, open draft and download the attachment.
Not long after our company introducing a new PC based workstation to the market in the early 80s, I was "invited" to get on a plane one afternoon to go to the boardroom of Allianz Leben in Stuttgart, to fix an unfixable computer. This machine was in the boardroom for their very important meetings once a month, where an unlucky junior got to show all of the latest graphs and charts from the mainframe. It wouldn't boot (from floppy). It had had EVERYTHING replaced in its life, as the head Customer Engineer for Germany showed me in a detailed log of everything. New diskette drive, new diskette controller, new motherboard, new power supply and so on. They'd tried to run the diagnostics and even that wouldn't boot.
So in this huge boardroom, a team of angry, smug looking very well paid engineers and managers watched as I approached the machine. Before booting up, I glanced at the diagnostic diskette they were using, and I could see this huge scratch on the surface. Thing is, I had brought my own diagnostic diskettes, and the machine booted up with no problems. They were staggered. So, at some time in the past the diskette drive that they had replaced was faulty, but it had damaged their boot diskette, and their diagnostic diskette before being swapped out. I estimate the customer received support worth ten times the value of that single machine, just to fix one faulty part.
I remember the day I left IBM, after 27 years. There were so many people, including three lines of management above me leaving on the same day that the security guard at the front desk in North Harbour was just surrounded by Thinkpads in bags, a desk full of company car keys and a small mountain of security badges. I couldn't find anyone to accept any of my stuff, so I just dropped my Thinkpad and badge along with everyone else's, headed for the door and didn't feel a thing; the company I was leaving was not the same one I joined in 1977. No shakes of the hand, no goodbyes, just a letter signed by the IBM Legal department saying I couldn't ever work for them again, nor could I ever discuss with anyone the terms of my separation.
I call bullshit on that. The older ones were the ones who couldn't afford to stay - given the scale of the golden handshakes - 6 weeks for every year of service when one programme was launched in the UK in mid 90s. Plus, a big boost to their C plan pension; my manager, who had 30+ years of service, had worked on the 370/135 and a bunch of other programmes in Hursley and so on was in my office near to tears saying he couldn't afford to stay, and was really worried about what would happen to people like me.
I left in 2005 when there was a separation package slightly more generous than the statutory minimum. I thought I would be denied again, but as it happened, my manager, his manager and HIS manager were all taking the package, so they were quite willing to let me go since it wouldn't impact them personally. I was on my honeymoon in Cornwall, driving around in a rented E-type Jaguar when I got the news that I would be accepted. It was a very Good Thing; bumpy times occasionally in the meantime - contracts renewed on the Friday afternoon to start again the following Monday on a monthly basis (you learn to live with it), a long period of self-unemployment, a permanent job with the NHS for six years, and now back contracting, with some decent flexibility about when and where I work. I've also learned my lesson from the past, and now I have three - sometimes four - separate contracts with different organisations for some of my time, rather than being 100% committed to one customer. I probably don't bring in as much as I used to, but it keeps me busy enough, and the variety is good.
One disappointment I had about contracting when I was new to it, was never seeing any particular project from womb to tomb. Always invited in once a project had got into difficulties, and let go once it was back on track again. However the new, contracty/consultingy arrangements I have mean I am involved much longer on projects.
As another ex-IBMer, I recall when IBM was the Institute of Broken Marriages, since employees were more faithful to the job than their own husbands or wives. In its heyday it was the most inspiring, rewarding and of course frustrating place to work. I'd agree with others that the Gerstner period was the last time we saw greatness - when Palmisano came on board, though we had seen many resource actions before, things got nasty. The day I left, there were so many people leaving I couldn't find anyone to hand in my badge and Thinkpad to. My manager, his manager and HIS manager were all taking the package that day. So I went down to reception, and a security guard was there, surrounded by laptop bags, with a pile of badges and car keys (from all of the company cars). I walked out of that door knowing I was leaving a once great company whose downward spiral was under way. The only thing that really astonishes me is that 12 years later it is still alive enough to make the odd headline. My three words? Consigned to History.
I had a call from a chap from Microsoft; insisted I had a problem with my laptop and was trying to get me to download and install a remote control piece of software to help diagnose the problem. I said his procedure for donwloading it didn't work - was it a problem that I was using a Mac? "Ah, hold one minute" he said .. click, brrrrrrrr.
AND you are exactly right about the 286/386 wars. I was in Boca when the AIX guys from Austin came to see the CPDOS developers (as OS/2 was known in Dev), and showed them true multi-tasking on 386. They were baffled why IBM was writing another OS when we already had a virtualising, 32-bit ready pre-emptive multi-tasker that ran on multiple hardware platforms. It's only issue was it couldn't run on 286. And for that reason alone, IBM spent enough money on OS/2 development that they could have paid for the Hubble telescope AND had it repaired.
I also saw the numerous prototype machines in Boca (one called 'Nova' in dev as I recall) which had a 16MHz 386, lots of memory on board and an AT expansion bus. (Also had the 1.44MB diskette drive) Nice machine, could have sold really well. Only the Model 30 was allowed to be shipped, in case the AT bus continued to outshine MCA.
MCA was an architecture that worked fine in workstations, just not PCs. I met Fred Strietelmeyer - the architect of MCA (fairly sure that's his name) in Austin, TX in the 80s who told me that MCA was a fine architecture, but not all implementations were. RS/6000 had multi bus-mastering working with MCA, mostly because the address on the channel was a logical address, which went through the memory manager, so AIX could easily control and protect the physical memory space. PS/2 used physical addresses, which meant that either bus mastering was turned off, or the bus mastering cards needed to have a copy of the memory manager on board as well. If you were running AIX, MCA was not a problem or even a question deserving of five minutes of thought.
The PC industry hated MCA, the connector, the architecture and its licencing. They came out with EISA - a backward-compatible connector to extend the AT bus. I always found it a huge irony that PCI used the same physical connector as MCA years later.
I'd like to say thank you for the memories as well. I retired from IBM in 2005, but I am still working (divorces do that to you), and I was in the thick of things in Boca in the 80s. El Reg is one of my morning go-to sites along with Slashdot and Hackaday, so as far as I am concerned, if it's here I will read it!
During the Falklands conflict, I seem to recall helicopters being flown with passive (but efficient) radar reflectors a little way off the stern of a valuable resource (aircraft carrier for instance) so missiles would either pass between the two, or be misdirected to try to explode a hundred pounds of metal ..
For my tenth annivo at IBM I received a carriage clock. The brass case tarnished, and the mechanism stopped after a couple of years. There was a more expensive movement in my kitchen clock.
For the 25th, I took the option of John Lewis vouchers. Thanks for the dishwasher!
I received a tie, and a certificate signed personally by Louis V Gerstner. My manager tossed the envelope at me in a meeting with the words "I seem to be handing these out a lot". There was meant to be a dinner for self and invited guests, but my manager couldn't be arsed to arrange it.
It's a wonderful place to be from. At least I got to work there in its hey day - when it was 8 times bigger than its nearest rival - which was Digital Equipment Corporation.
I devoured the article and the comments in response. I could tell you some stories about IBM and some other companies.
In the end, you have choices. I gave up working for IBM after 27 years. I was afraid that I was not going to be able to find work again, and indeed there were so many companies who turned me down because they didn't think I would fit. But, eventually a job opening came up, I became a contractor and started building my portfolio. I am now about to turn 60, and looking to complete the sorting out of my financial situation in the next three years so I can retire properly. I've never had one moment of regret about leaving the corporate world - but I can also tell you that the inability to provide prioritisation is pandemic.
.. of course, bound by the legal red tape I can't possibly discuss the terms of my separation, but I think I came off better. And it was a separation agreement, not a redundancy, so I wasn't eligible to claim on redundancy insurance.
Earlier in my career, I was told my hardware design job had moved to Scotland, and I had to remind them at that time that I was owed either a replacement job within walking distance of my current workplace, or they should offer me redundancy.
I was sent to an interview with a slightly grumpy software manager, who told me that his understanding was that he had no choice but to offer me a job, and I had no choice but to accept it. Was that my understanding?
Lovely place to be from. Looks good on the CV - except when interviewing with one of the other major IT services companies, who may turn you down, as they did me for not being 'culturally compatible' with their company.
I started work at IBM when they were nearly ten times bigger than their nearest rivals, who were DEC. I left them more than ten years ago, and even at that time, I had dodged the axe a few times to last that long. I have been happier, have been better paid since and I have found the freedom to focus on what I am interested in. Please can those people who are fearful of their jobs going have the confidence to take the money and run, go work for somewhere else where your skills and experience will put you in good stead. IBM is a great place to be from.
My phone - and wifey's phone - stores all data in the Cloud, including messages, mails, contacts and the huge collection of photos of grandchildren, bits of whiteboard from work and all that. Applications are easily downloaded from the appropriate store again. Recently, when there was a firmware upgrade, I decided to test the remote wipe and reset to factory settings just for grins. It took less than an hour for the phone to be restored to its former glory. How much is an hour of my time worth?
One reason Excel succeeded was that Windows was coded as a UI for it. Those who ever dug their way through the Windows 3.1 SDK and the DDK would have found this in the early days. 1-2-3 could never recreate the performance of Excel because it was limited by the public interface, rather than using the private interface.
Some classic games on that console. Guttang Gottong was one of the best .. a railway game that had tiles that slid around. It was so addictive.
There was an advanced basic cartridge that you could use for writing some quite decent stuff.
I wrote a version of Othello for it; I used some pseudo-code from David Levy's book on computer games programming .. wrote the first part of the heuristic for it - the first pass algorithm before going on to do a full minimax and I couldn't beat it. I never wrote any more of the code.
And Pong .. I used the sprites for the ball, bats and for the scores on the screen. One of my first major programming errors with it was to reverse the ball direction when it collided with a sprite, which meant it bounced off the scores ...
I've found myself wondering why the cursor isn't moving, and then noticed I had hold of my phone and not the mouse. I am an informed computer user, who really should be able to tell the difference, but clearly Logitech have copied my phone, by making it black, a few ounces in weight and hand-sized.
Prepare for the law suit.
btw:- it's not an iPhone - it would have been, but for the fact I run Linux on the desktop and on the laptop - and I am not about to dual boot into windows to run iTunes.
Unless we are making incredibly huge chips, the wafer size won't have much impact on the density of the resultant IC. This is yield .. and one suspects it would be difficult in the early years to get 450mm wafers not to have so many defects it was counter-productive to yield.
the real interesting figure for speed, power consumption and transistor density is the 14nm mentioned. IF that is a problem, then we will enjoy a gradual slowing of the exponential ramp we have been on. Bigger wafers will eventually mean more yield, which may result in cheaper product but overall the effect of decreasing line widths was much more dramatic on density and costs. Without that we have some paradigms to shift.
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