• It’s not my mistake but I can fix it

    I once closed a Severity 1 APAR (bug) as “User error” – then re-released every module in the online system to correct it.

    The system was HVP (High Volume Products – an internal ordering system)
    I was responsible for the rewrite of the online system. Each online program had an edit on a list of country numbers. I asked the user’s if this list would ever change.
    They said no. So I coded it as a static array.

    6 months into production they decided another country number was needed. Had I closed the problem as a “SUG”=suggestion then they would have needed to raise a change request. But this was urgent so I closed it as “USE”=User Error, made the change, and re-released every module in the online system.

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    September 28, 2009
  • If at first you don’t succeed, don’t try again

    I once brought down both the Development and Production mainframes by running the same SQL query on both of them.


    When we first started using DB2 the performance was not good enough for online production systems but was OK for decision support.

    We had a system where the developers had access to both the development environment and production systems.Since it was a read only system, we could not do much harm; except if we wrote a long running SQL query.

    Well one day I ran a very simple query that didn’t produce the output instantly, as previously experienced. After a big delay I commented “That’s not supposed to happen” and then proceeded to demonstrate to the ‘stupid question asker’ what was supposed to happen.
    “See, it works on production!” I said, rather too soon.

    The queries running on both machines were using a shared swapping drive
    and trying to write an awful lot of temporary data to the drives.
    The only way to fix it was to reboot both machines.

    Fortunately for me we were able to blame the DBA for not running runstats after a reorg.

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    September 28, 2009
  • The Silver Bullet list

    There are now over 1400 entries in the Silver Bullet (SB) list (example Saxon Base)

    When I was working for Chris Winter on the Silver Bullet project we started a collection of word pairs where the first word started with an S and the second started with a B

    The list now contains over 1400 unique pairs.
    They were categorised as follows Example


    – – OK Silver Bullet
    ? – don’t know about this. Need to check. Singing bobby
    b – brand name Sensor blade
    c – cheat Sauteed bunny – alternative to Jugged hare
    d – disastrous failure Banana Splits
    f – foreign Sacre bleu
    n – name Sergeant Bilko
    p – place Sunset Boulevard
    q – questionable Stripy B – the middle letter of the IBM logo
    s – sick or stupid Safe bonk
    x – x-rated Silly Bunt

    [Read more…]



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    September 28, 2009
  • Three times older than when I started

    I celebrated being exactly 3 times the age that I was when I first started working for IBM, on 30th April 2009.

    Here’s the REXX exec to demonstrate it


    /* Routine to calculate when you will be exactly 3 times older than when you first started working. */
    dob = date( “B”, “30 Jul 1958” ) /* 714989 */
    startwork = date( “B”, “30 Jun 1975” ) /* 721168 */
    age = startwork – dob /* 6179 */
    enddate = startwork + ( age * 2 )
    say “Herb will be 3 times older than his age when he first started working on” date( “W”, enddate, “B”) date( “N”, enddate, “B” )

    As always the comments to explain the code were a lot harder to write than the code.
    And it’s a pretty useless program unless you’re me.
    You could ask Angus Tuckey-Smith, Mat Caney or Mike Cowlishaw for an improved version that will work for anyone…
    But if you think about it, most people will have left work by the time they reach the required age, so won’t have a REXX interpreter to run the code anyway.

    PS. Ajay R Krishnan has a similar program written in Python.

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    September 28, 2009
  • I was once locked into two tapes drives

    After my first year at University I worked on shift as a computer operator, in Building E machine room.

    My job involved
    – typing “k e,1” to clear a line from the Master terminal of a System 370 running MFT.
    – sitting behind a line printer fanning the greenline paper into the box
    when the page ejects were happening faster than the paper feed could handle it
    – or performing tape labelling – wiping tapes so they could be re-used.

    The tape drives were those big things you see in 70’s films
    with electrically powered sliding glass windows
    that closed automtically so that the tapes could be pulled into loops by a vacuum
    – ensuring that they didn’t tension the tape too quickly and snap it.

    Late one night I was led to a tape drive and demonstrated the
    safety aspects of the sliding glass window.

    There was a sensor that would detect an object preventing the window from closing.
    When the circuit was broken the motor would automatically reverse and the window
    would go down. There was a replaceable fuse in the door that, if removed would
    cause the window to lock in place.

    Well, I was to learn that someone had discovered that if you pushed an arm through the glass
    past the elbow and removed the fuse at just the right time, you could effectively trap a person by their arm.I was not the discoverer; I was the person with the arm.

    They locked me in and went out to the kermits for a coffee break.

    I started getting worried…
    – who’s going to type “k e,1”
    – who’s going to fan the paper in that printer
    – what if there’s a fire and the sprinklers come on and I get electrocuted

    I was determined to escape.
    I opened another tape drive door, took the fuse from that and replaced the missing
    fuse from my door. Freedom!

    Trouble is, I can’t lie very well.
    So I told my captors how I’d escaped.

    Next day both arms were trapped.

    [Read more…]



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    September 28, 2009

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Tide times from tidetimes.co.uk

Tide Times & Heights for Langstone Harbour on
Monday, 29 November 2021
High Tide:06:29 ( 4.20m )
Low Tide:12:19 ( 1.80m )
High Tide:18:54 ( 4.10m )

Tide times from tidetimes.org.uk

Tide Times & Heights for Northney on
29th November 2021
06:48 High Tide ( 4m )
12:15 Low Tide ( 1.67m )
19:11 High Tide ( 3.92m )