* Posts by Richard Steiner

20 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jul 2007

Free x86 mainframes for all! Virtual x86 mainframes, that is

Richard Steiner

Define useful?

I would rather use my own version of UEDIT for editing files than any UNIX editor I've found, and since I have the source and 20 years of knowledge with its internals, I could continue to improve it.

Not sure how easy it would be to get text files in and out of the emulation, however.

Other than that, it depends. Like any platform, the usefulness is largely determined by the software you can write or find. You're largely talking about text mode software, tho. I wonder which terminal emulations are available? I would want at least UTS20. UTS60 does colors natively.

FWIW, OS2200 and MCP are each pretty different from KRONOS or NOS (the only two CDC operating systems I've used). I don't remember much about them, either, aside from using local software like MULTI on MECC systems to play CCOMBAT. :-)

Richard Steiner

Some airlines still use OS2200 Clearpath mainframes for various things. We use them at my own place of work.

I'm sure the MCP side of Unisys' Clearpath customer base still exists, also. That's the Burroughs A-series boxes. WFL, CANDE, and friends.

Richard Steiner


I can see doing freeware development for OS2200 here. I have the source for a number of things which I used to play with at work, and I still have an interest in playing in that environment.

I wonder if UEDIT would run? :-) Or VSH? Or CSHELL? CALL is actually not a bad language.

I also see it as just being interesting from a curiosity standpoint. How many 36-bit word addressable platforms are around today? I'm not sure what tools and compilers this would come with, but as long as you can get a copy of @CAT/@ELT, you can get software from here:


Microsoft tightens the scroos in search battle

Richard Steiner


You say, "...insisting the ad giant's search results as driven entirely by profit."

Aside from marveling at the grammar used in the above sentence fragment, I'm inclined to wonder what else would motivate a corporate entity's actions? Is Bing generating results for purely altruistic reasons?

SOPA is dead. Are you happy now?

Richard Steiner

The old tech world was acutely aware of anti-trust.

Matt Asay said:

"Part of the problem, as Lilly captures in a follow-up post, is that the tech world is largely reactionary. It really wasn't until Microsoft came before the US Justice Department for antitrust abuses that the tech world woke up to the fact that it was subject to anything other than the free market."

Nonsense. That's true only for those who haven't been paying attention.

Remember that the anti-trust scrutiny of IBM was the main reason why Microosft got its toes in the IBM PC door in the first place. Were it not for IBM being so cautious based on past hw/sw tie-in accusations, you would probably have seen a lot more cp/m or some other OS and a lot less QDOS (sorry, "MS-DOS") from Redmond.

Word and Excel creator: How Gates, Jobs and HAL shaped Office

Richard Steiner

People seem to forget that we can thank IBM for many of the consistent UI features found in Microsoft Windows.

The IBM CUA (Common User Access) standard was used by Windows, OS/2, the Motif window manager, and a number of other graphical interfaces. Control-C and Control-V weren't MS creations ... they simply followed the standard of the time.

Traffic-light plague sweeps UK: Safety culture strangles Blighty

Richard Steiner

Sidewalk = walking pavement on side of road.

The term "sidewalk" makes perfect sense on this side of the pond, especially considering that "pavement" is a generic term for both roads and pedestrian areas over here.

Amazon poaches Microsoft games chief

Richard Steiner

Microsoft's fabulously successful Xbox ... ?

Successful? The Xbox part of the company didn't turn a profit in its history until this year, and if Microsoft wouldn't have been able to leverage its existing monopolies in the software marketplace to keep the Xbox folks on life support for seven years, it never would have.

Not only that ... while the Xbox 360 is arguably a nice piece of hardware, it's locked down to the point where most users don't care even comtemplate adding third-party hardware without risking having their XBox Live accounts blacklisted.

Ballmer's 'lost generation' note finds resonance

Richard Steiner

I had both at a former workplace...

It was wonderful. Initially it was a Mac IIci with MacOS 7.01 and a 20" screen, then I was given a PC running Windows NT 4. The IT department supported Windows only, so I used terminal emulators (Rumba, UTS Express) on the PC, but my internal customers had their own little spin-off IT department and were running Macs on the desktop with Solaris servers so I got to use Mac versions of everything as well as their little hypercard apps and such. Very slick.

Best of both worlds at the time. :-) The IIci was eventually upgraded to a G3 minitower running MacOS 8.5. And then I left. Not by choice ... 9/11 hit airlines hard...

'Completely useless' Windows 3.1 hits Google's Android

Richard Steiner

It could be useful depending on how compatible it is.

Windows 3.1 will run Visio 4 Pro, Quicken 4 Windows, ABC Snapgrafx, older Paintshop Pro, and a fair number of other interesting programs. Just sayin...

Unisys lands $187m Pentagon mainframe deal

Richard Steiner

Very ancient?

In my book, it's often better to upgrade a proven and reliable system than it is to attempt a rewrite, partiuclarly if so-called "modern" UNIX or Linux platforms don't really have much software available in a customized application area.

We still use Clearpath Dorado boxes in the airline industry for a reason, and it ain't just inertia.

US faces critical lack of (mad) computer scientists

Richard Steiner

With all due respect... November 2007??

That would be on the other side of the current economic downturn ... I'm not sure that job trend numbers before the Wall Street debacles and real estate crash (and resulting recession) have much relevance in 2010.

Agile development - can’t scale, won’t scale?

Richard Steiner

Agile Development is an excellent way to maintain complex internal systems.

I worked on internal software development at a major airline for over 10 years, and we were able to handle fairly complex projects such as complete application subsystem rewrites with only a few people ... and did so with a low defect rate and very fast project turnaround times.

The airline's software development group (at least in Flight Ops) was organized into small teams of subject matter experts, most of them with very deep knowledge of the rather specialized airline applications that were being used internally.

I think that is the key -- the more bodies you include in the process, the more overhead you tend to introduce.

By doing software development using a few expert programmers, especially of those programmers are doing applications support as well as development, you end up with people who are intimately familiar with the software. Up-front analysis is faster, estimates are more accurate, and the integration of new code is easier because the people doing the work are often the same people who wrote the code which already existed.

Quality might also be enhanced because those writing the code already know the area and also have a vested interest in having it work correctly -- if the code breaks, *they* are the ones getting a phone call at three in the morning!

Also, because one expert programmer can often work very quickly in their areas of expertise, it rarely becomes necessary to have more than two or three people involved in small- or medium-scale projects.

Most projects tend to have a single business analyst driving the requirements from the end user side, and a single programmer handling the technical side of things, with both parties coordinating testing and end-user acceptance.

I've also worked in software development writing software for external customer use, and the process there was far more like a traditional waterfall with JAD sessions, a formal SQA period before release, etc., but that product had a release cycle between 6 and 18 months so they could afford to take the time.

When doing development in-house, often a fix is needed in days, or hours. You don't have the TIME to follow a large complicated process. Especially in the airline industry, which is where I've spent all of my 20 years as a designer and programmer/analyst. If a plane is taking flight delays because of a hitherto unknown bug in your software, you apply a fix now and ask permission to do so after the fact. :-)

Microsoft running on at least 220,000 servers

Richard Steiner


Those 220,000 servers are probably able to do the work of at least a dozen Sun boxes. :-)

Hasbro kills Colonel Mustard in the corporate office with the marketing ploy

Richard Steiner


Guess I won't be buying that game. Unless it's an old copy on eBay. :-)

Oracle ignores BEA out of existence

Richard Steiner

Microsoft really isn't like most other software companies.

First of all, Microsoft is in a position where it effectively dominates a couple of huge sectors in the software marketplace: desktop operating systems, and desktop office applications. This gives it more influence over the software most home users and businesses use than any other company, and they've been in that position since the early 1990's. This makes them an important part of people's technical decisions. The impact of actions or statements made by such a prominent and visible company would be magnified in the press and in other places simply because of its leading position in the marketplace.

However, there's more to it than that.

Second: Microsoft is almost alone amongst major software companies in having an active public strategy *against* Linux and the open source and free software movements. Not only have Microsoft executives like Steve Ballmer said things like "the GPL is a virus" on several occasions, but many of their major marketing campaigns (like the infamous "Get The Facts" campaign) were and are specifically targetted at open source and free software solutions. Is it any wonder that such directly hostile actions generate a certain amount of hostility from those two camps?

Third, Microsoft is seen by many technogy enthusiasts and pros as being a company which has historically abused its position many times, much like IBM in the past, but unlike IBM in the past Microsoft has seemingly been allowed to continue to behave in an abusive manner effectively without penalty, at least in the US. Not only has this made many people skeptical about their motives and ultimate goals, but some of their decisions regarding things like MSOOXML and Vista seem driven more by a desire tio maintain market share than a desire to provide better software and service to their customer base. This is driving some people to question the company who might not have done so in the past.

If you're the biggest person on the block, act like a bully with inpugnity, and start acting selfishly, you're bound to attract attention, much of it negative. Why is this a surprise to you?

BOFH: On the brink

Richard Steiner
Thumb Up

Too funny! :-)

Funny! :-) Of course, I'm still running FireFox 1.5.12 on Warp 4 here, which only makes it that much funnier. :-) :-)

IBM IntelliStations rock!

New taskforce to discuss why more people aren't turning to digital

Richard Steiner

Radio? Who cares...

I'm so busy listening to my own local music sources to care about broadcast sources, be they music, news, or other programming.

Besides, I already own three zillion analog radios I don't use. :-)

England flops shafted by enormous todger

Richard Steiner

Flops? Todger? Wot? Speak English, please. :-)

The American kind, of course. Since we outnumber you limey laddies, we ought to be able to define things from our side of the pond, right? :-)

Computer virus turns 25

Richard Steiner

Not only that...

...but John Walker's AMINAL variant was infecting UNIVAC machines in 1975.