The iSeries Blog

March 22, 2007  10:37 AM

COMMON Town Hall meeting — what’s up your sleeve?

Matt Stansberry Matt Stansberry Profile: Matt Stansberry

COMMON is coming up and I’d like to know what you folks are going to ask the IBM execs. Are you going to put their feet to the fire or are you going to bemoan the name change for another year? I travel to a lot of conferences in my job, and that meeting is the only event that I’ve ever attended where IBM puts its execs on stage and lets you throw tomatoes at them. So please, knock them for a loop this year and give us something meaty to write about.

Unfortunately, my travel schedule worked out so that I won’t be in Anaheim in time for the Sunday night meeting. I’m looking for someone to write a column about the townhall session. Please comment if you’re interested in writing something up on the event.

March 22, 2007  6:48 AM

qwiki = wiki web app

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Using Java-based wiki software, I’ve helped create some qwiki apps ( Java Web apps ) that are buillt for less than 20% the cost of traditional Web apps in Java or ASP.  The key is finding wiki software that supports a normal set of security options and leverages Java’s stronger multi-platform support with very high integration. In a Java wiki you can easily call and execute RPG code using IBM’s free Java toolkit or DB2/400 stored procedures for example. I can run my Java Web apps in WebSphere or Tomcat on System i or other servers as needed.

There are many more benefits to using a Java wiki as the foundation of a Web app.. Has anyone else taken this new approach? It’s not something IBM and Microsoft look at because they don’t have the technology or the tools and it competes with their existing licensed tool sets. On the other hand, Sun ships integrated wiki tools in their portal server because of the productivity.

March 21, 2007  9:47 AM

System i/iSeries users share interesting blunders

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

 If you’re like me and enjoy hearing about other people’s goofs or funny screw-ups, check out our Blunders page. As much as we all enjoy hearing about our peer’s mishaps, we have to admit, we’ve all made mistakes at one time or another and had to answer for our actions. Why not share your blunder, it’s a great way to prevent others from making the same mistake.

March 21, 2007  7:55 AM

WDSc version 7.0 lacking

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

 IBM recently announced the latest version of WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSc), version 7.0. Unfortunately, IBM is leaving out Screen Designer and Application Diagram in the Standard Edition, and that has a lot of programmers hopping mad – not that I can blame them.   Why should users have to pay for the Advanced Edition?  It took a long time and a lot of patience for programmers to get the feel of WDSc and just when they’re starting to reap the benefits, IBM pulls the rug out from under them. Should they suck it up and shoot for the Advanced Edition, or should they call it quits and go back to their faithful green screens?

March 20, 2007  11:03 AM

Have you “YouTubed” the iSeries yet?

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

In an effort to promote the iSeries to a newer, hip audience IBM has recently started posting videos on is extremely popular with the younger generation of IT geeks, corny kids and folks that simply want their 10 minutes of fame. Want a chuckle? Check out the IT Revenge series.

March 20, 2007  10:09 AM

iSociety “fireside chat”

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

The iSociety, a sort-of MySpace for iFolk (my word), is hosting another fireside chat this Thursday. This time up: the people who run System i Developer, a group of experts on the platform. Past events like these at iSociety, which started last year and is run by the COMMON user group, have included Mark Shearer, IBM’s System i general manager; and Elaine Lennox, IBM’s VP of System i marketing.

This time around, Susan Gantner, Skip Marchesani, Paul Tuohy and Jon Paris will be doing the honors from their RPG and DB2 summit happening in Las Vegas. The chat is at 3:30 p.m. ET at the iSociety Web site. Make sure you have a login name and password if you want to watch.

March 20, 2007  10:08 AM

Back to the future

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

I remember very distinctly, the day I was told about a new technology that would someday be commonplace. It was a perfect weather day in northern Alabama, 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

This “new technology” was a common database and the most efficient language on every platform that every system automatically understood and could execute. I was standing outside of a building in Madison catching a cigarette, and to say the least, I was skeptical.

Our PC tech was a big burly guy who “sort of” knew what he was doing. I never said anything, but whenever he got over his head, the big boss would meet me outside in the smoking area and get the solution to the problem from me, so as not to embarrass him. His father was an old timer with the company and could probably have had some political pull if we had embarrassed him, so we did what we could to keep the peace.

Back when I smoked, I made the trek outside a few times a day. This particular day, Mr. Old Timer was outside sitting on the steps in the shade reading a trade magazine. It had an article that was all about the future of the Internet. Mr. Old Timer took great pride in attempting to one-up me any chance he got. He was preaching to me about how the path to the future would lead to every single operating system in the world running a single programming language.

He boasted about the author who knew everything there was to know about IT and how we “kids” knew nothing. The author stated very clearly that this new language would be the most efficient language on every machine in the world.

I spent my 10 minutes listening to him spout about how every machine and operating system in the world was so much better than anything IBM had, and how much of a dog OS/400 was. I laughed, smiled and flicked my cigarette butt about 30 feet and right into the ashtray as I pulled open the door to go inside without saying a word.

Now, I said all that to say this: Back when I started programming, almost all programs were interpreted. Internal program data was clear-formatted text with tags to identify what the data was and how to use it. We entered a basic program as text file and saved it to tape. Then we ran it using the interpreter and the tape drive. We built these wonderful tags that we used to identify program data read from an external file so that we didn’t have to store the data in the program because we didn’t have much memory. We had a limitation of 8K for any runtime module including loading of the source.

Some of us were lucky enough to have a 32K expansion interface where we could store most of the data file information.

Later, when we had disk drives and much more memory, we could write real programs and actually compile them into an executable. We stored data in packed formats to save disk space and compiled our programs so they ran fast. What a world it became. Machines kept getting bigger and faster and those of us who knew how to save space and write compact code with small databases were kings. Then came the hardware revolutions. Memory got cheaper and disk space was almost thrown away. Why pack your data and compress out blanks? Disk space is cheap…

Now look where we are. Not much is compiled and compiling really doesn’t do much for efficiency. It’s not unusual to have programs that are larger than my first fixed disk drive, all 2 megabytes, partitioned into multiple drives, of course.

Now, when we want to store data and transmit it across platforms, it goes into an XML document, which is… our original text file with tags identifying the data and its use. The language is usually some form of Java, JavaScript, VB Script, Perl or something that has to be compiled because it is actually platform specific (efficient).

I guess the guy knew what he was talking about because certainly there is only one operating system, Windoze, and only one computer language today, Java. Go figure. I guess when they say “what goes around, comes around” they aren’t kidding.

Of course, I wouldn’t know. I’m just a flunky programmer.

March 16, 2007  1:37 PM

WDSC 7.0 is out….but there’s a catch

Brein Matturro Profile: Brein Matturro

Almost in time for the Ides of March, IBM is releasing the long-awaited ‘lite’ version of WDSC, version 7.0.  This new version is supposed to be able to run in a much smaller memory footprint.  That is good.  The bad news is that IBM appears to be trying to squueze a little more revenue from its customer base with regards to the (also) long-awaited replacements for CODE DESIGNER and CODE NAVIGATOR 

For a number of years now, a lot of WDSC fans, including myself, would ask George Farr or Phil Coulthard when these vital tools would finally be integrated into the WDSCi code base.  The answer was usually some variation of soon.  Turns out that soon may actually have been IBM-speak for never. The integrated WDSC replacements for these two tools are only included in the Advanced Edition of WDSC, at a cost of nearly $3,500 / developer.  If every reader who thinks their boss is going to cough up that much case per seat will send me a quarter, I just might get enough case to buy a small (tall) cup of Starbucks coffee!

Who else out there thinks IBM has blown it, considering they keep telling us to stop using PDM/SEU/SDA and get into the WDSC world?

March 15, 2007  1:14 PM

Applied Logic enhances iSeries encryption

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Applied Logic Corp. yesterday announced enhancements to its Pro/Encrypt software for the System i, iSeries and AS/400. In today’s world of HIPAAand SOX compliance, along with fears of employees getting their work laptops stolen, data encryption has become even more important.

Pro/Encrypt’s improvements include being able to encrypt and decrypt smaller pieces of data such as individual physical files and specific libraries. It also allows sysadmins to run encryption or decryption actions as they please or through a batch process. Licensing starts at about $900.

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