Monday, December 31, 2007

A Weighty Year End Review

My diet pace has slowed slightly, which is fine because I was actually losing more the recommended 2-3 pounds for a week or so. Since I started, I am down 13 pounds.

Year to year, I am down 8 pounds.

Here's looking down at a healthier 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Closing the Books

The dual Pentium III server I retired early in the year has had a spare disk drive sent to a family member, its advanced SCSI cards pulled for accessing an external drive I kept, and the rest of the system with its CRT monitor given away to a co-worker today.

We do have a Mac Mini running in the living room for shared files and entertainment interface, but it's not the same as the big boys I had running first in my office, later in the kitchen, and finally in the basement for 17 years.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Remembering BITNET

I don't recall BITNET being IBM sponsored, it was just many schools had IBM Mainframes. The root nodes (think tree with two main trunks) were PSUVM and CUNYVM. Lose the PSU <--> CUNY link, and things backed up fast with BITNET basically split in two.

The original topology was odd due to telcom leased line costs at the time; for example, it was cheaper for Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY) to go to UCONN (in CT of course) than a third the distance to Syracuse University (also in NY).

Once sites started getting NSFNet (Internet) connections and a RSCS line driver was written to run encapsulated on TCP/IP, the topology of the network was strengthened with sites connecting to whomever they wanted.

Using UREP (Unix RSCS emulation program) from PSU or a VMS based third party package, UNIX and VMS systems could also join the BITNET.

Likewise IBM MVS systems could join, although VM RSCS was more better suited to the task. For example, to allow TSO users to send remote messages, it required a system hack to have users effectively issue a JES2 remote $DM command. MVS systems were also prone to drop things on the floor if they didn't know how to route a source node even if it knew the receiver location; VM was more gracious, with better error messages and later default routes.

The BITNET core application protocols were standard IBM NJE messages and files. Those protocols supported simple user at node addresses, where both were simple eight character tokens. Transmission was NJE oriented store and forward; if you had notify enabled for a file, you would see a message for every hop a file took from your host to the remote receiver.

(Messages were dispatched over the links at a higher priority than files. This drove system programmers nuts, because file transmission notifications, one-on-one chatting and the original RELAY could cause resource starvation for files. I think CUNY hacked their RSCS to eat file notify messages because of the bandwidth, and more than one node disallowed access to RELAY.)

Mail on Bitnet itself was either NOTE (based on SENDFILE) or simple TEXT format, both with simple user at node syntax.

With any BITNET to off network addressing, the user software (such as UCLA's mail client, I think) would send do a sendfile to a batch SMTP (BSMTP) gateway, such as SMTP at WISCVM.

Mail from remote networks such as ARPANET to BITNET generally used (depending on the sender and gateways) The gateway of course received it and forwarded it to user at node. Some Internet sites hacked their mailer so a user could specify simply user@site.BITNET, but it still went through a gateway.

Of course, as campuses got the internet locally, they would install a local SMTP gateway and generally talk to the Internet that way. TCP/IP connectivity killed most WAN applications of both NJE and UUCP, although they each took time to fade.

Note: Written this morning in response to a comment about BITNET on a retro software forum.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's back ...

Yet another diet. I was at a new all time peak just after Thanksgiving (by a few pounds), but am now down a solid 8.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Uneasy Rider

My new job comes with a new manager; that happens a lot with new jobs. What doesn't happen a lot is that I didn't meet him during the interview process, nor did I interview in the same city (or even state) as where my permanent assignment is.

This combined with a change to my training schedule resulted in his first direct communication me being that I'm not going to Galactic HQ in the San Francisco Bay area for two months before reporting to my permanent home, but rather only two weeks.

This actually a good thing, but means the MINI is now in the wrong state. We're working to correct this, in a way which means we'll be able to use it for house hunting in Washington. That will also be cool.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Plugga, plugga

I'm down 17.5 pounds since January first. My first goal, 25 pounds off, is projected to be reached anywhere from April 4 (30 day tracking projection) to April 26 (year to date projection).

None of this takes moving into account, but I have lost 1.3 pounds a week since interviewing for the new job (and accepting it).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Moment of Silence ...

As part of getting ready to leave town for a new job, I cleaned the basement yesterday.

This was not the usual sweep and toss old lumber. Rather, I went through my old computer gear and cleaned out the collection. Two full systems and a variety of items from hard drives to KVM switches went to the Home for Geriatric Computers, run by my friend Ed. The age of his hardware starts where mine ends ... in part because he already has most of my ancient hardware.

More stuff, like serial cables for connecting to two computers together without a network, went in the trash; I probably haven't used those cables in ten years. Now, even with a virgin machine with no network, I would get a USB network adapter or some such.

However, we will have a moment of silence for the departed hardware. I used to have four systems in the network pantry end of the kitchen for both production and test work. Now production (including this web server) is hosted remotely at a commercial data center. We have only one under used server in the basement, which we may power off after we move.

All things must pass.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On The Road Again

Yesterday the MINI left our little kitten farm for the longest road trip of its life, and to assist in a fairly big adventure for me. It is a little annoyed, however, because rather than leaving under its own power, it was taken away on a flat bed tow truck.

The MINI is being transported via carrier to California, where I'll take delivery of it on or about the second day of a new job for me. I'll use in it California for a couple months during training, and then drive it up the cost to a new home in Washington state.

Exactly what town in Washington state, I have no idea yet.

As a side note ... before we bought the MINI, we rented one from Zip Car, to a get feel for them. We then proceeded to accidentally put washer fluid into the radiator fill. This freaked out the duty desk at Zip Car, so that car left on a on a flat bed tow truck as well.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Now THAT is Random

Heard in sequence on the local "random radio" station:

  • "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
  • "Get Down" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
  • "Hocus Pocus" by Focus

True grudge through the edge of bubblegum music to one of the hardest rock guitar solos one could hear in 1974, all in under ten minutes.

Yea, that was random all right.