* Posts by aussie-alan

13 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Mar 2015

Uncle Sam wants to know how big airlines use passenger data


Even domestic flights...

Every single PNR on a US domestic flight is also sent to the Department of Homeland Security, as the airline cannot print a boarding pass for you until DHS approves it. Prior to 9/11, various agencies would send watch lists to the airlines who then had to put it into their systems, but now it is all centralized.

Frequent Flyer data is jealously guarded by the major carriers, they often won't even share it with other departments at their own airline. They make way too much money flogging credit cards and selling miles, and won't share their database.

My background - I worked in travel IT, primarily airlines, for the last 35+ years.


Identity thieves can hunt us for 'rest of our lives,' claims suit after university data leak


Very often you can avoid disclosing your SSN

I went to graduate school in the US and have an assigned SSN (wasn't born in the US but worked there many years). I refused to give them my SSN and they gave me a random student ID. Similarly, many forms in other businesses ask for it but you can almost always refuse to give it. For example, every doctor's office and hospital form I've seen asks for it - but I have never shared mine. You only legally have to give it when they are reporting your income to the IRS (banks, investments, etc). Of course, the businesses won't tell you this.

What they really need is a law that makes it illegal to store a Social Security Number for anything but tax reporting and retirement - but all the data harvesting companies (Experian, Transunion, etc) will buy enough politicians that it will never pass...

Delta Airlines takes flight with Amazon Web Services


And their mainframe systems?

I wonder what they're going to do with their core "Deltamatic" system? I suspect it's still running on mainframe (IBM z/TPF), and handles schedules / reservations / tickets / departure control. Similarly, for America, they're using the cloud but the heart of their system is Sabre (again, running on z/TPF)


American Airlines decides to cruise into Azure's cloud


This doesn't cover their real core system...

What's not mentioned here is that all of American's bookings and tickets flow through Sabre. The core is a mainframe z/TPF system, mostly written in assembler. It's not in Azure and never will be...

I haven't kept up with how it's managed these days, in the late 90s American spun it all out into Sabre with an IPO that gave $600m or so of their debt back to shareholders. Sabre then sold their datacenter to EDS in about 2000, which passed to HP and then a few others. AA set about writing their own reservations system to replace Sabre and failed miserably (aka JetStream, around 2010).

Sabre is busily rewriting their core systems and move them to Google's cloud. It will be interesting to see how this interacts with AA, as the relationship between the two companies has been strained for the last 20 years or so...


Re: Wait a minute

The messaging between the Passenger Services System (PSS) and the airports still relies on 60s and 70s technology. Terse little teletype messages, such as a BSM (Baggage Sortation Message), that traverse specialized and expensive 3rd-party networks (i.e. SITA). Really good back in the days when we had 4800 baud links to remote airports...

AWS makes its own Arm CPUs the default for ElastiCache in-memory data store service


Changing to ARM should be easy

The last couple of startups I wrote code for did all their work in Python, NodeJS or Java - it should make no difference going to ARM in x86. If they move services such as RDS / Aurora / whatever, I shouldn't really care about the platform, only the price / performance. Now, if you write C/C++ code and depend on endianness, size of integers, etc, than a) it's most likely poor code, and b) it's your problem. There are exceptions, but experienced coders will define their assumptions and differences in a couple of header files and libraries, then write platform-independent code.

BTW, I code on a Mac, deploy on Linux (several different clouds), as well as deploy Python into Windows for one of my customers. That's a more significant difference than worrying about the CPU architecture.


Black & Blue: IBM hires Bain to cut costs, up productivity


Not so great advice

A few years back, at a former employer, the Bain consultants they brought in were telling our senior management that we "need to be more like Enron". Even after the Enron crash, they kept bringing in Bain consultants. If IBM needs an external consultancy to tell them how to reorg, then all their executives should be sacked for incompetence.

Sure, HoloLens is cute, but Ford was making VR work before it was cool


Caterpillar was using VR earlier than this

Caterpillar was designing heavy equipment in the VR CAVE environment in 1995, at NCSA (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). They used an SGI system with multiple graphic pipelines and projectors, with a head mounted helmet. Ford became an NCSA member some time after that, I think it was '97 or '98 (I was in the meeting when they joined, but don't remember the date). Using VR for vehicle design is certainly not 100% original research at Ford, or unique to them.

My former employer had sponsored a graduate student to do some visualization work int he CAVE environment too. I was managing our relationship with NCSA, lot's of interesting stuff there.

America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'


They fired the wrong guy

We should have kept the FBI Director in place and fired the DHS and/or TSA directors - they spend billions every year on security theater, but a couple of terrorists in a shed somewhere can build a bomb our technology can't detect.

Next Superdome CPU chips amble into HPE


Opteron killed Itanium

I was an architect for moving Sabre's pricing and shopping applications from an 8-way mainframe cluster to open systems and we started with HP-UX and Itanium (in 2003). Two interesting things happened. First, when the new Itanium chips came out, Linux was ready and HP-UX was not, so we went to Linux. Not much later, a couple of people were arguing for x86 and a colleague and I proposed trying the new Opteron servers from HP. They loaned us a couple of beta-test machines and we put them into the production cluster and tried them with live traffic - we saw twice the perfomance at half the price.

Intel had to match AMD and extend x86 to 64-bit, which ate the market for Itanium. So, indirectly, AMD's Opteron helped kill Itanium


SQL Server on Linux? HELL YES! Linux on Windows 10? Meh


POSIX subsystem

When NT was first announced, one of the most interesting features was the OS/2 subsystem. If Microsoft had built a good POSIX subsystem back then, then Linux may never have gained a foothold.

BTW, I'm an OS X user, and do development and deployment into Linux using Docker. It's a very comfortable environment, as there's no mental context-switching for me between the two. Windows should be able to do this very easily too.


IBM bags $700m services and infrastructure contract with Etihad Airways


The core reservations system...

What's not mentioned here is that Etihad's core reservations system (aka PSS) is outsourced to Sabre, and the operations of that system are - in turn - outsourced to HP (formerly EDS). It all runs in a hole in the ground in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Etihad was on Amadeus, but switched about 3-4 years ago. IBM doesn't play in the reservations space and it will be interesting to see what services can be built on top of the core PSS.

Want a full-blown IDE for Node.js? You'll need a Windows machine...



I you want a full-blown IDE for Node.js, use IntelliJ, it runs on multiple platforms. I do consulting for various companies and IntelliJ has plug-ins for pretty much everything I use, and runs well on my Mac.