Wait till you get to New Zealand!!
85 posts • joined 16 Feb 2009
I had a somewhat similar learning experience with COBOL in the late 1960's on a 360/30 with 32K memory. My mentor, who was also an experienced assembler programmer, walked me through the compiler generated assembler listings explaining how and why various COBOL coding techniques affected the final size and speed of the program.
Had the same problem with glorified accounting machines that used tape cassettes as storage medium. A cassette written by machine A was not always readable by machine B even if both machines were in the same office. The read/write heads were not always calibrated identically on different machines.
Many many years ago I was backpacking in Afghanistan and when the intercity bus stopped at a rest stop for lunch I asked where the toilets were. The Afghan waiter looked at me quizzically then waved lazily at the desert. I walked in the indicated direction and looking down found out he was right.
I remember reading a story about a Westerner, a long time ago (60's?) in Moscow, being hauled in by the KGB who showed him pictures of himself cavorting with a young Russian lady. The guy sorted the pictures into two piles, pointed to one of them and asked the KGB men if he could get extra prints to show to his mates back home. The KGB then concluded he couldn't be blackmailed into working for them.
There is no civilian police force in rural France. The Gendarmerie fill that role (but not all gendarmes have police powers). Actually it's a bit more complicated than that but I'll let you do your own research.
Concerning "We don't have a quasi-military organization enforcing civilian law in the UK. " Doesn't some of what the SAS does, or has done, come pretty close to that?.
Back in the 1990's. a former colleague told me that he went to an interview for a well paid IT gig in some unnamed place in the Middle East or darkest Africa (can't remember which). After all the technical and pecuniary questions had been answered, he was casually asked if he knew how to handle an AK-47 and if so, would he be amenable to being a squad leader for co-workers with similar skills, 'just in case'.
He declined the job.
Pulled a similar trick on the kids of a friend of mine who were visiting. I was living in Paris at the time in a flat with a great view over the city, including of course the Eiffel Tower. At midnight I pointed to the illuminated Eiffel Tower, said 'Out!' in a loud voice and snapped my fingers. The lights on the Eiffel Tower obediently went out. Cue two very impressed young'uns.
The service bureau I worked for was a MVS and VM shop. All new releases of both VM and MVS were tested under VM.
My VM sysprog friends joked that running MVS under VM was the only proper way to run MVS. Which is now how I run MVS (rel 3.8J), as a guest system on VM/370R6 , using the Hercules emulator on my PCs.
(for those so inclined, there is even APL on MVT available for the Hercules emulator).
Throw in THE (The Hessling Editor) and/or SPFLite and you're back in the heydays of IBM mainframe computing.
Regarding the penultimate paragraph I remember a mainframe operations supervisor for an insurance company telling one of his underlings that his job, as supervisor, was making sure the said underling was doing his job properly.
In my last job for a major IT services company, I also saw the flap that resulted when the wrong exchange rate was used for the nightly batch run on a stock exchange application that serviced stockbrokers spread all over the country.
A long time ago a mate of mine worked in a very high end audio/video store. An amateur group he knew asked him to duplicate the single demo cassette (I did say it was a long time ago) they had made, using the fancy equipment he had access to, before they negotiated their first contract with a record label.
The battle scarred veterans reading this can easily imagine how well that ended...
Back in the early 1970's, wandered one slow evening into the main computer room to chew the cud with the operators on duty. I looked for a place to put down the 3 cm thick fanfold printout I was carrying and plopped it onto the top of the IBM mainframe, which had the unfortunate result of making a shaky circuit breaker inside the CPU trip and the mainframe then shut down.
No real harm done. Open a panel, flip the CB upright, close panel, power on, re-IPL the system and restart the running jobs.
A couple of similar war stories: Early 1970's the company decides they need a picture of the mainframe computer room for a company publication. Bring in professional photographer, run an all-tape sort job so as turn on all those pretty lights on the tape drives. Photographer takes his picture ... and the flash triggers a sensor somewhere causing an emergency shutdown of the whole mainframe.
A bank where I was a contractor in the 1970's started suffering an outage every, say Tuesday, morning, at 9:00 on a segment of their network. It took six months to find the root cause which was part of the cabling for that segment was buried next to a railway line. Every Tuesday morning an exceptionally heavy goods train would come rumbling down the line at 9:00 causing vibrations that knocked out that segment.
NASA certainly disagrees with you concerning Arctic ice:
Since 1978, satellites have monitored sea ice growth and retreat, and they have detected an overall decline in Arctic sea ice. The rate of decline has steepened in the 21st century. In September 2002, the summer minimum ice extent was the lowest it had been since 1979. Although the September 2002 low was only slightly below previous lows, it was the beginning of a series of record or near-record lows in the Arctic.
You can read the whole thing here:
An aggravating factor for the German Starfighters was a change from pure high-speed, high-altitude fighter/interceptor to low-level fighter-bomber with increased equipment (weight) and mental task load.
Low level flying in crappy weather over hilly terrain didn't help either. OTOH the Spanish Air Force didn't lose a single one.
IIRC the German nickname for the F-104 was the 'The Widowmaker'
Heard of a similar story concerning a mainframe (this was back in the 60-70's) that would crash fairly regularly during summer in the afternoon.
At first it was thought the cause was a defective aircon installation but checks and sensors said everything was okay.
Turned out that when the sun did its daily stroll across the sky, the computer room had this one particular window which would, in the afternoon, let the sun shine directly on the glass lid of the disk unit housing the system pack.
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