Ticketmaster and its “old” system

In Wired magazine, issue 18.11, there are a few mentions of Ticketmaster’s “old” system.  Some looks at job sites like monster.com over the years shows that Ticketmaster is always looking for people with VAX and VMS talent.  Could that be the “old” system that Wired refers to?

Funny, that “old” system withstands the assault of millions of people trying to buy tickets all at the same time.  No other system has emerged that can handle that load — many have tried, all have failed.

As I’ve said before, “legacy” means “stuff that just works”.  That’s VMS!

Happy Birthday, VMS!

33 years ago today, the OpenVMS (formerly, VAX/VMS) operating system was announced.  And it’s still going strong, with version 8.4 just released for the Intel Itanium processor used in the HP Integrity server line, and the Alpha processor, used in the HP AlphaServer product line.

Think about it the next time you send a text message — chances are, it was handled by VMS!

VMS — when “legacy” means “stuff that just works”.

Letter to Jennifer Millier, VP at Hewlett-Packard

After decades of free patch updates for OpenVMS, Tru64, HP-UX and other HP operating systems, the HP support organization has decided to allow access only to customers with paid support contracts, effective September 18th. HP VP Jennifer Millier was grilled extensively at the OpenVMS Bootcamp yesterday. She invited us to send her email about how we are impacted. Here is my email:

Dear Ms. Millier:

Thank you for coming to the OpenVMS Bootcamp. Those of us at the front lines of VMS support appreciate your participation.

My company is very small. I provide support for a number of customers who do not have HP software support. Instead, I have been providing them with patch services and system administration services on an “as needed”, time-and-materials, basis.

I also provide patches for my CHARON-VAX and CHARON-AXP emulation clients, who are typically running ancient versions of VMS, in some cases all the way back to VMS 5.0. Support for VAX version 5.5-2 is available under Prior Version Support, and has had a few critical patches released over the last couple of years.

Now that ITRC is going to a “paying customers only” model, I will not be able to provide these services. My enterprise-level customers (General Electric, Northrop Grumman, etc.) typically have software support contracts, but most of my customers do not. In fact, many of those customers feel abandoned by DEC or Compaq, not realizing that HP now owns the VMS operating system.

This situation leads me to several questions:
* Do I have to buy HP software support for each customer?
* Can I buy a single “small” support contract for my company, and then provide patches for all my customers?
* What are the costs? I see no benefit to my company, just an increase in the cost of doing business.
* Can I get access to patches from AllianceOne (formerly known as DSPP)?
* Can we continue to get FTP access to the patches? The web interface is fairly painful to use, all but requiring Internet Explorer (which is not available on VMS, Linux, or even HP-UX).
* What about hobbyist systems? These are the only entry-level way to get exposed to VMS.

I know that you are not in a position to solve the problem, but I trust that you can take these concerns to the support-side of HP and come up with a solution. Their uni-lateral action has caused damage to dozens, if not hundreds, of small entities. And these entities are HP Partners!

Stan Quayle
Quayle Consulting Inc.

Hello from New Hampshire — Birthplace of VMS

Hello from Nashua NH. This week is the OpenVMS Advanced Technical Bootcamp. We started at 7:45 AM this morning, and went until 9:15 this evening.

The Bootcamp is held in Nashua because that was where VMS was originally developed. Unfortunately, Hewlett Packard canned the entire VMS development team a couple of years ago and moved development to India. *sigh*

I directed a session titled “Risk vs. Benefits of VAX/Alpha Emulation”. I’ll be doing it again Thursday afternoon. Here’s a link in case you can’t drop by and see it in person…

CHARON-VAX and CHARON-AXP supported on VMware

The CHARON product line is now supported in VMware on top of a Windows instance. Versions supported are:

  • CHARON-VAX version 3.4 build 110 and later
  • CHARON-AXP/4100/DS/ES/GS version 2.3 Build 108 and later
  • CHARON-AXP/SMA and CHARON-AXP/SMA Plus version 2.1.26 and later

There are some requirements:

  • The CHARON virtual machine should have exclusive access to the CHARON USB license dongle. It could be achieved with a third party product, for example: http://www.digi.com/products/usb/anywhereusb.jsp#overview.
  • The CHARON virtual machine should meet standard CHARON hardware requirements in terms of Windows OS version and patch level, CPU, RAM, storage, etc.
  • On any physical server hosting a CHARON virtual machine, the total number of VMware vCPUs allocated to all active Virtual Machines should not exceed the number of host physical CPU cores. The same requirement is applicable to RAM: total vRAM allocated to active VMs must not exceed total host RAM.

Some product features are not supported:

  • The Pass Through mode in CHARON-AXP/SMA and CHARON-AXP/SMA Plus
  • Direct device access

Please note that the supported CHARON-VAX version requires a HASP dongle. The older Hardlock dongle can be swapped at no charge for customers under support.

Does “Consultant” mean “Between Jobs”?

There are lots of people that are “consultants”. It’s easy to become a consultant — you just add the word “Consulting” to the end of your name, and “George Nobody Consulting” is born. You might incorporate for the tax and liability benefits, thereby adding a “Inc.” or “LLC”.

A lot of people become consultants as a way to make some money and develop contacts after being laid off. Another job comes along, and they’re not consultants anymore. It’s sad to see them let the contact list rot in a drawer until they’re laid off again.

It’s hard to stay a consultant. In order to get work, you have to be willing to sell your services. And that means taking risks like talking to strangers. If you can’t do that, you won’t survive as a “real” consultant.

I was trained as an engineer. Nothing in engineering school teaches you how to sell. But you are selling, even if it’s just convincing your client to do the right thing. If you want to be more effective in your job, some sales training might be a good thing.

Me? I’ve been a consultant for 17 years. I’m not “between jobs” — I’m a real consultant.

P.S. My parents still think I need to get a “real job”. *sigh*

Another successful CHARON-VAX migration

I can’t show you the name, but here’s an email I received on March 22nd from a customer. For information on CHARON-VAX, check out http://www.stanq.com/charon-vax.html.

Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 11:04:46 -0400

BEANIE$ sho mem
System Memory Resources on 22-MAR-2010 11:01:59.03

Physical Memory Usage (pages): Total Free In Use Modified
Main Memory (128.00Mb) 262144 26089 216652 19403

Virtual I/O Cache Usage (pages): Total Free In Use Maximum
Cache Memory 15997 871 15126 167677

Slot Usage (slots): Total Free Resident Swapped
Process Entry Slots 284 178 96 10
Balance Set Slots 280 184 94 2

Dynamic Memory Usage (bytes): Total Free In Use Largest
Nonpaged Dynamic Memory 16000000 10547584 5452416 10421888
Paged Dynamic Memory 8000000 6670048 1329952 6666368

Paging File Usage (pages): Free Reservable Total
PSWAP:[BEANIE]SWAPFILE.SYS;1 994472 994472 999992
PSWAP:[BEANIE]PAGEFILE.SYS;1 907387 610340 999992

Of the physical pages in use, 62343 pages are permanently allocated to OpenVMS.

and a total success…. Here it is with most people logged in and only a bit of swapping and all is well. Remember, the original system had 384MB but this system is fitting fine in 128 using the VMS OS to do what it knows what to do best, handling virtual address space.

But, since I know you would want to know, I did have a problem yesterday that I think I resolved. It was that sometimes you couldn’t log in while it got hung up in a RWMBXW but then cleared itself.
Here is my buddy, Steve Hoffman’s take on this:

However, I resolved it by doing something else that I think was causing the MBX waits… setting PFRATL page trimmer back to ZERO, where I think I will leave it.
3rd paragraph under AWSA, I realized I should NOT have this trimming as the processes on this box never grow to be very large anyway, as we now can see how little is swapped.
It was trimming and then things grew and it a kind of thrashing situation on a bored system (not-loaded at all). Now that PFRATL=0 all is well, I get no RWMBX delays anymore.

I had to leave the system as a VAX-CLUSTER even though it is now only one member as thet CLUSTER alias is used in PROXY (no password) access to PDP-11s. Don’t even ask. I could use Charon-PDPs!!!

Just thought you might want to know that it is virtually complete. 🙂

OH by the way, remember, I had to place the VAX NIC on windows to 10/half and left it there. I now get no COLLISION DETECT CHECK FAILURES in LANCP, which I got alot of when I had it set to 100full.
BEANIE$ mcr lancp show dev eza/count
0 Collision detect check failure
0 Unrecognized frame destination
0 System buffer unavailable
0 User buffer unavailable

“Big Bang Theory” show is right — visiting CERN is a big deal!

My wife and I watch the “Big Bang Theory” show on CBS. I get all the physics jokes, and Di can feel that a nerd like me could be even worse (like Sheldon).

In the particular episode, Leonard earns an opportunity to visit CERN’s LHC (Large Hadron Collider) here in Geneva. He decides to take his girlfriend, Penny, but Sheldon invokes a clause in their “roommate agreement” that requires Leonard to take Sheldon. The end result is that both Penny and Sheldon come down with the flu, so Leonard takes Rajesh. But Leonard forgets to cancel the “romantic” suite.

My opportunity to visit CERN was a little less dramatic. I’m here on a business trip, and today was a free day. I set up a visit when I learned that I’d be available while here.

I didn’t get to see the LHC in person — they are getting ready to run again, which takes several months of preparation, so only essential personnel are allowed down in the tunnel. My Physics degree doesn’t carry any clout, it seems.

But I did have a good time. Some of the tour group were totally lost, but a few had some good questions. The tour guide was fine, although he was stumped by some of our questions. We saw one of the control rooms, conveniently glassed-off so we visitors can’t disturb the researchers. I wonder what it’s like to work in a glass bowl with new groups coming by every hour or two?

It was interesting to hear the discussion about the Higgs Boson — which is a recurring theme on Numb3rs, which we also watch…

Hello from Switzerland!

I’m in Geneva, Switzerland this week on a business trip. At the moment, I’m sitting in a cafe on the banks of the Rhone river. Night has fallen and it’s beautiful out with the buildings all lit up. I had the guts to order all by myself (okay, I cheated because French for cheeseburger is cheeseburger). The family couldn’t come, but I’m bringing back about 30 pounds of chocolate compensate.