Technology WTF

rocking chair-A while ago I was looking at configuration stuff for Citrix because somehow the ICA client in the browser stopped passing through my login credentials to the Citrix server. (I didn’t find them by the way.)

During the search did I stumble upon this funny bit which I thought was worth sharing.

I’ve got a production app that runs under Citrix.

Due to various problems, a two-hour batch job that the app runs
has tb initiated manually in the wee hours of the morning instead
of being run by a simple .CMD file that starts the Access app in
a “Overnight Batch” mode.

Problem is that the Citrix admins enforce a 40-or-so-minute
timeout on inactive sessions – and the session performing the
batch job in question looks inactive to Citrix.

So if I VPN/RemoteDesktop in, open up the Citrix-deployed app,
kick off the process and then just go back to sleep; the Citrix
timeout kicks in, the whole session gets flushed, and the batch
job never finishes what it has to do.

Consequently I have to wake up and hit “Enter” every 30 minutes
or so.

I was thinking that maybe I could write a little MS Access app tb
run on the same PC than I’m VPN/RemoteDesktopping into that would
just keep looping and send a MouseOver or a KeyDown or something
to the Citrix window in time to avoid the inactivity timeout and
I could go back to getting a decent night’s sleep.

I know from SendKeys(), but don’t have a clue on how to find that
Citrix sesh’s window and push the keystroke or whatever into it.

Can anybody offer up a clue?

A kind person offered a wonderful, technologically approved solution:

There was a hilarious DailyTWF.com posting on this topic.   The manager brought in a
electrically operated baby’s rocking chair and put the optical mouse in it.  And they
let it run 24×7.

😀

Synology

Yes, I went for the real thing. I bought a Synology NAS (model DS 214).

Synology NAS

It’s a brilliant thing, with a very powerful yet simple management interface called Disk Station Manager (DSM). The unit is very easy to assemble (adding the 2 disks didn’t even require a screwdriver), runs flawlessly and is very quiet.

Access goes through a UTP cable to the router and after setting up the volume/shares and privileges it’s immediately recognised by everything on the network.

A very nice feature is the CloudStation which turns the NAS into your personal cloud. It works really well. At first I wasn’t set on using it constantly. Why? Enabling that feature cranked the NAS’s CPU up to 100% and also there was constant disk activity, even when no one was accessing the ‘cloud’. I sent a question to Synology’s tech support about that, wondering if this was something abnormal. After about a day it all calmed down, no more disk activity, drives went to sleep after 20 minutes, and everything’s fine in private cloud land. If you consider a NAS, I can recommend Synology.

 

Last Operating ICT 1301 Mainframe Computer Set To Run Again

Zothecula writes “What weighs 5.5 tons and has less computing power than your watch? A pioneering piece of computing history call ‘Flossie,’ the last operating ICT 1301 mainframe. The National Museum of Computing recently took delivery of the dismantled computer, which needed three moving vans to bring it to the museum’s storage facility in Milton Keynes, UK. Rod Brown, custodian of Flossie for the past decade, said: ‘Flossie has had an extraordinary life — or more precisely four lives. After it was decommissioned at the University of London in about 1972, it was purchased at scrap metal prices by a group of students who ran an accounting bureau for about five years. They then advertised it in Amateur Computer Club Magazine and it was bought — again at scrap metal value. After languishing for a period in a barn in Kent, it was restored with the help of the Computer Conservation Society. Visitors could then come and see, smell, and feel the vibrations of a remarkable 1960’s computer. Last year, Flossie was again at risk of being scrapped, but thanks to The National Museum of Computing the machine is safe again. The team and I are delighted with this news — especially because TNMOC has such an outstanding track record of restoring computers and maintaining them in full working order. We look forward to the day that it can go back on display.'”

Original article at Slashdot.

Thinking war machines.

On Slashdot I found this article:

Fear of Thinking War Machines May Push U.S. To Exascale

Thinking War Machines. As if war with humans who don’t think isn’t bad enough.

“Unlike China and Europe, the U.S. has yet to adopt and fund an exascale development program, and concerns about what that means to U.S. security are growing darker and more dire. If the U.S. falls behind in HPC, the consequences will be ‘in a word, devastating,’ Selmer Bringsford, chair of the Department. of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said at a U.S. House forum this week.

I’m not quoting more of this crap, if you want the entire article just follow the above link.

‘Devastating.’ Really. Without it you’re already dead, huh? Oh, wait, you’re still alive? That’s so wrong…

Why is there a part of humanity so dead set on self-extinction? Sounds like a good step up after we eliminated all animal species?

Instead of eradicating hunger and poverty (which will cost only a fraction of what’s spent on your average war), there is the “need” for meaner and fiercer war iron. Even if that’s not used at all, which then gets replaced by something even worse.

Honestly, people. I don’t grok this.

Fancy a new terminator yet?

Cost of war versus healthcare. (USA)
War versus hunger. (National Catholic Reporter)
War and Poverty. (Academia.edu)

IT Administrator song

#stopcispa
IT Administrator Song, or A Few Of My Fav’rite Net Things.  This is a pretty old video (this version was uploaded in 2008) but check out this prescient verse: When my page stalls, Or they pass laws to invade free net speech I simply remember that it could be worse.  At least there’re still sites i reach!

The full lyrics:

Route aggregation and increasing payload
Multiway peering and net-friendly C code
Boxes that filter on source-routed pings
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Multicast native and option-free packets
VLANs that don’t break and short A.S. path lengths
End-to-end measures with meaning to bring
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When my link’s toast
When the spam grows
When my throughput hits ground
i simply remember my fav’rite net things
and then i don’t feeeel sooo down

Far reaching coverage and routing that’s stable
Aggregate flow stats and mice that are able
to back off when shown that the Net’s being zinged
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Routers that do red and balanced net loading
Video apps with hierarchical coding
Raw packet traces to dissect and see
all of my absolute fav’rite net things

when DNS freaks
when my routes leak
when i lose a peer
I try to remember my favorite net things
and then go buy more net gear

Visualizations of virtual networks
Discovering “features” in new IOS quirks
Vendor built stacks that respect TCP
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

SNMP tools like MRTG
Knowing how to unconfig your P.V.C.’s
Measurement boxes that sniff OC3
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When my page stalls
Or they pass laws
to invade free net speech
i simply remember that it could be worse
at least there’re still sites i reach

Cool network geeks and their company perks
Analysis tools in which true insight lurks
Stable peer sessions and route symmetry
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Multi-mode fiber with an optical splitter
BGP sessions config’d not to litter
Reverting from ATM back to IP
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

When popups leap
when copyrights creep
into my browser’s cache
i simply remember that SDMI
will most likely buuurn & crash

Stock trading web sites that haven’t yet crashed
MP3 players with plenty of flash
having my cell phone talk to my PC
These are a few of my fav’rite net things

Linux and Open- and FreeBSD
Persistence in TCP’s HTTP
Finally remembering my PGP key
All of my abosolute fav’rite net things

When Backhoes sting
or TIME_WAITs bring
servers to the ground
i simply remember my fav’rite net things
and then i don’t feeeel sooo down

(None of this is my work, I just copied it from Google+ for posterity and entertainment.)

COBOL will outlive us all

This may sound odd but it probably is truth. I found this headline on “itworld.com“. Being a COBOL programmer myself I wanted to know more of course:

In the early 1980s, I was told that COBOL was going away and that I should quickly move toward other programming languages. Well, thirty years later, COBOL is alive and well and living in large companies everywhere.

IDE-Cobol_3

Yes, most of the smaller COBOL programs written in the 1970s, 1980s, and even 1990s have been replaced with newer systems and newer technologies. However, the big mission critical systems written long ago in COBOL and modified and enhanced for the past thirty to forty years are still driving very large, very prestigious companies around the country and around the world. These companies include banks, insurance companies, manufacturing companies, retail chains, health care organizations, and every other type of company you can imagine.

As you may expect, over the years, many of these companies tried to replace these old COBOL systems. Many of these initiatives failed because the systems were (and still are) too big, too complex, too integrated into critical business processes, and working too well to replace.

There is an old joke “What’s the difference between computer hardware and computer software?” The answer is “If you use hardware long enough it breaks. If you use software long enough it works.”

So, this being a column about IT careers, why am I talking about COBOL, after all, it’s virtually never taught in college level Computer Science programs, it’s not a new hot technology that everyone wants to learn, it’s not even a sexy new technology that helps you deploy software applications onto mobile devices.

The reason that I’m telling you about COBOL is that I predict that over the next few years, new COBOL programmers are going to be in high demand and very possibly paid a premium for their efforts. Generally speaking, the COBOL programming skill set resides in baby boomers that have been programming in COBOL their entire career. The issue is that these baby boomers have begun retiring in enormous numbers. Additionally, new college recruits have neither the skill set nor the interest in replacing them. The problem for companies employing these COBOL programmers is that if the software stops, so does the company.

Please read more, if this interests you, at “itworld.com“.

Free Software Foundation and “Secure Boot”

“We, the undersigned, urge all computer makers implementing UEFI’s so-called “Secure Boot” to do it in a way that allows free software operating systems to be installed. To respect user freedom and truly protect user security, manufacturers must either allow computer owners to disable the boot restrictions, or provide a sure-fire way for them to install and run a free software operating system of their choice. We commit that we will neither purchase nor recommend computers that strip users of this critical freedom, and we will actively urge people in our communities to avoid such jailed systems.”

[FSF Associate Member]
http://www.fsf.org/

World’s oldest computer revived

As found on tnmoc.org:

The world’s oldest original working digital computer

The world’s oldest original digital computer springs back into action at TNMOC

The 61 year old computer that refuses to retire

After a three-year restoration project at The National Museum of Computing, the Harwell Dekatron (aka WITCH) computer will rebooted on 20 November 2012 to become the world’s oldest original working digital computer.

Now in its seventh decade and in its fifth home, the computer with its flashing lights and clattering printers and readers provides an awe-inspiring display for visiting school groups and the general public keen to learn about our rich computer heritage.

The 2.5 tonne, 1951 computer from Harwell with its 828 flashing Dekatron valves, 480 relays and a bank of paper tape readers will clatter back into action in the presence of two of the original designers, one of its first users and many others who have admired it at different times during its remarkable history.

See BBC video of the machine

Kevin Murrell, trustee of TNMOC who initiated the restoration project, said: “In 1951 the Harwell Dekatron was one of perhaps a dozen computers in the world, and since then it has led a charmed life surviving intact while its contemporaries were recycled or destroyed. As the world’s oldest original working digital computer, it provides a wonderful contrast to our Rebuild of the wartime Colossus, the world’s first semi-programmable electronic computer.”

The Harwell Dekatron computer first ran at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment in 1951 where it automated the tedious calculations performed by talented young people using mechanical hand calculators. Designed for reliability rather than speed, it could carry on relentlessly for days at a time delivering its error-free results. It wasn’t even binary, but worked in decimal — a feature that is beautifully displayed by its flashing Dekatron valves.

By 1957, the computer had become redundant at Harwell, but an imaginative scientist at the atomic establishment arranged a competition to offer it to the educational establishment putting up the best case for its continued use. Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College won, renamed it the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell) and used it in computer education until 1973.

After a period on display in the former Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry, it was dismantled and put into storage, but “rediscovered” by a team of volunteers from The National Museum of Computing in 2008. With the blessing of the Birmingham museum and in conjunction with the Computer Conservation Society, the team developed a plan to restore the machine and to put it once again to educational use at TNMOC.

Kevin Murrell recalls its rediscovery: “I first encountered the Harwell Dekatron as a teenager in the 1970s when it was on display in the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry — and I was captivated by it. When that Museum closed, it disappeared from public view, but four years ago quite by chance I caught a glimpse of its control panel in a photograph of stored equipment. That sparked our ideas to rescue it and we hunted it down.

“The TNMOC restoration team has done a superb job to get it working again and it is already proving to be a fascination to young and old alike. To see it in action is to watch the inner workings of a computer — something that is impossible on the machines of today. The restoration has been in full public view and even before it was working again the interest from the public was enormous.”

Delwyn Holroyd, a TNMOC volunteer who led the restoration team, said: “The restoration was quite a challenge requiring work with components like valves, relays and paper tape readers that are rarely seen these days and are certainly not found in modern computers. Older members of the team had to brush up on old skills while younger members had to learn from scratch!”

The Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer can be seen by the general public whenever The National Museum of Computing is open. Seewww.tnmoc.org/visit for opening times.