Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'm back on August 13, 2007

Well, I'm going on holiday tomorrow.
So I won't be writing anything for the next three weeks.

It's really pure coincidence, but this is actually my 100th post of this blog.
I hope those who found my blog along the way enjoyed reading my comments and found it worthwile to come back once in a while.

And as I've already repeated an IBM video in my previous post, I might as well repeat this little reminder for those catching a plane during their holidays :

Allthough ... considering everything that's been happening around mainframe emulation, one might no longer see as many mainframes on laptop computers as before ;-).


Mainframe Journal

I'm starting to round up for my holidays, so I guess this is the right time for some reminiscing. In my former posts on the 'Introduction to the New Mainframe' series, I pointed out how difficult it was in the late 80ies (when I set my first steps in the mainframe world) to find decent ànd comprehensible information. I see that the Mainframe Weekly blog is also writing a similar post on that item this week.

One source I forgot to mention and one I'm still very grateful to was the Mainframe Journal - which later on become Enterprise Systems Journal (ESJ). So when I received a mail of Bob Thomas, commenting on my blog (I hope you don't mind me mentioning this, Bob), I actually went to my attic to dig up my old issues. I still have a clear picture in my mind of some of the (really) artistic covers, like e.g. the Dali like cover with the melting watch of the August 1990 issue.

Paging through some issues I also stumbled across the June 1994 issue with the tempting cover : 'Nine Predictions'. Well we're 13 years later, what happened to those predictions written by Howard Fosdick, who wanted to predict the situation at the end of the (previous) decade ? I'll just let you judge for yourselves. One of them was :
Visual Programming on the Desktop.
The current trend toward visual program development of PC applications will continue. the percentage of programs that do not reside on PCs or are developed outside of visual programming will decline. Few companies will convert existing applications or junk their mainframes. The ongoing desktop development of new applications will gradually move I/S into the world of the PC interface over the next several years.
Quite true, no ?
Another one ?
A Time To Squander Hardware
It may be a trivial prediction (but I want to get one right!) - as companies evolve towards C/S networks, the point analysts have predicted for years will finally be reached - I/S will squander hardware to cover deficiencies in performance analysis and optimization. Rather than nderstanding how to write effecient programs and build high-performance systems, many companies will just add servers. Networks of underutilized and poorly optimized servers will exist in large companies as overworked I/S staff hustle just to keep them alive. After all, they come cheap and interoperable (the servers, that is).
A paradoxical but simultaneous trend will be the maturation of software for the administration, performance monitoring and maintenance of C/S networks. But the expertise to comprehensively optimize systems with these tools will be missing at many companies. Most will prefer to pay less for expertise, hiring low-end employees, and pay more for hardware.
Visionary, no ?

It makes me want to repeat the video I posted some time ago and that popped up at the IBM-Main list a couple of days ago :

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Introduction to the New Mainframe : z/VM

What started off as a beginner's (student) guide for z/OS, is becoming a full grown series of interesting introductions to the mainframe. Last time I mentioned the 'Introduction to the New Mainframe' series, I was particularly pleased to see a VSE introduction coming out.

The only main operating system still missing was the VM introduction. Well, here it is too. It's still a draft version, allthough I have the impression it's pretty complete.

The abstract : "This textbook provides students with the background knowledge and skills necessary to begin using the basic functions and features of z/VM, including z/VM version 5, release 3". But also z/OS people should be interested : "Others who will benefit from this textbook include z/OS professionals who would like to expand their knowledge of other aspects of the mainframe computing environment. This course can be used as a prerequisite to understanding Linux on System z".

The topics covered are : Basic z/VM concepts, Conversational Monitor System (CMS), Control Program (CP), Advanced Structures and Commands: CMS, Advanced Structures and Commands: CP, The REXX Programming Language (tentative), CMS Pipelines, Performance, Storage Management Software, Networking, Security, System Integrity and High Availability.

Enjoy the reading !

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Xedit or ISPF : Xedit !?

I still had to come up with the second part of my little comparison between the ISPF editor and Xedit. Last time I focused on the strong points of ISPF, making Xedit looking a bit of a poor editor. I must immediately say, this is certainly not the case. There’s lots of things I really like about Xedit.

First and foremost there’s ‘profile xedit’. This is a macro which is executed each time you open a file in xedit. You might compare it to an initial macro in ISPF though that is on PDF level, whereas ‘profile xedit’ can treat files with a certain filetype but it can just as easily treat one single file. What’s the purpose : you can put up some settings and vary them according to the file you’re editing. (By the way, there’s e.g. also the lesser known ‘profrlst xedit’ that can influence the way you open a file in your reader, but I divert). I’ve seen ‘profile xedit’ files with a couple of lines, but I’ve also seen them with hundreds of line. And this doesn’t seem to have much influence on the speed of opening the file. It allows you e.g. to put your settings in upper case when you’re editing a JCL or a COBOL file and to set your case mixed, when you’re opening a text file.

First thing I do when ‘tuning’ this macro is – I must admit – put some settings (scale, command line) so that I have more or less the same look and feel as in ISPF. But there’s more than this. Here’s some of the settings I use – and you don’t find them in ISPF :
- ‘span’ : this allows you to look for a string across line boundaries
- ‘wrap’ : the file wraps around when you do a find or e.g. use PF8. Open a file, tap twice on the PF7 and you’re at the bottom of the file.
- varchar’ : no matter how many blanks are between two words, when you try to find e.g. ‘second life’, you’ll find ‘second life’ but also ‘second life’, and in combination with ‘span on’ even if they’re on two different lines.

Another nice command is ‘ALL’. It gives you all the lines containing a certain string and exludes all other lines. In ISPF you’ll need a macro. You can choose whether you still see an indication of the excluded lines or not. Deleting all the displayed lines, does not affect the excluded lines. I just love this – and ISPF reacts otherwise . . . In ISPF you’ll need a little macro for this command.

Split-Join (SPLTJOIN) assigned to a PF-key lets you split a line from the cursor position onwards if there are characters following. It joins lines when nothing follows : easy as pie. In ISPF you’ll need TS ànd TF.

There’s also an alternative use of the split screen I like. You can split your screen (horizontally or vertically) and open the same file at two different places in order to e.g. compare certain parts.

Another strong point, just to finish it off, is that you can combine search arguments with operators like AND, OR and NOT. So you can look for all lines with ‘second’ AND ‘life’.
Only one of the arguments can cross the line border. Otherwise, this wouldn’t have much sense when e.g. combined with the span setting.

So what’s my favourite editor : I must say I just don’t know. I think over the years you start writing little macros in the one that compensate for functions only found in the other, so you cover all functions you use in both editors. If I was forced to make a choice I think I’d go for Xedit, because I personally find it somewhat more flexible, but hey, that's just a personal choice !?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sampling Techdocs : June

I presented some Techdocs publications about a month ago, so here we go again with another load of interesting documents from last month.
  • Flash : 'System z: CFLEVEL 15 Causes Coupling Facility CF Structure Size Growth'.
    A new level of CFCC (CFLEVEL 15) was made available in May, 2007. "This new CFCC level introduces new functionality which will require existing CF users to increase the size of their structures. This Flash provides the needed planning information". Take a look at this 2-page document warning for significant growth in the size of certain CF structures. You are strongly advised to use the CFSizer before installation.

  • I already mentioned the TS3500 Slot Calculator last year. With the announcement of LTO4 support, there's a new version available.

  • White Paper : 'Tivoli Workload Scheduler on z/OS: Using Negative Run Cycles'.
    This white Paper documents the use of Negative Run Cycles or in common English : you can prevent a scheduled job from running under specific conditions. E.g. you have a weekly 'end-of-the-week' job, but at the end of the month, you can schedule it not to run. There's a very good explanation of the feature and an example with lots of illustrations ;-)

  • White Paper : 'SuSE® Linux® on System z® Getting Started Tutorial'
    You've installed Suse Linux on your System z, you're new to Linux and you want to give it a try. Then you can follow this tutorial with some exercises making you familiar with some common commands, accessing a graphical interface using the VNC server. . .

  • Presentation : 'WSC Experiences with IPSec on the zIIP Processor'.
    If you're interested in this topic, then this is a very nice presentation explaining what IPSEC is, what workload is eligible for the zIIP, how it's done, how you can measure it, how to size, the RMF reports . . .

  • Presentation : 'IBM System Storage & System z Synergy'.
    Nice presentation on the interaction between z/OS and several storage components treating topics like methods to reduce the number of UCBs, eliminating backup windows, business continuity (TS7700 multi-site solutions) and lots more.

This is just a selection of some documents that drew my attention. If you have other interests, there's a lot more at Techdocs.

Monday, July 2, 2007

IBM Europe Announcement letters

Just beneath the title of this blog I stated the intention of making "at least two updates a week". Well, last week it just didn't happen. As you'll see in my profile I'm working for an IBM Business Partner here in Belgium and last week was the closing of the quarter. . . So I hope to get back on track this week.
This post is welcoming the comeback of the Announcement Letter overview. Every Wednesday, I used to get a summary of the announcements that interested me. Suddenly, I think it was somewhere last year, this kind of abruptly stopped. So, now you had to check out the announcement site every week, if you didn't want to miss anything. Well, I'm happy to see it's back now. You can subscribe over here (it's also valid for other regions) and point out your areas of interest.
Well, I'm just glad to see this service is up and running again.
Oh, and while you're there, don't forget to have a look at the other newsletters.