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”.

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*

“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.

Office update: Sorting, sorting, 1 2 3…

I’ve moved almost everything into my new office.  That means pictures are going to be delayed, because there are about a dozen boxes of stuff to go through before the floor is empty.  I promised myself that I *WILL* have order.  And I certainly don’t want to take pictures of the clutter!

I’ve been pitching lots of stuff.  Since a lot of my business deals with “old” stuff, it’s hard to figure out what to keep.  However, some things are probably not worth keeping — like a CD-ROM 1x speed drive, when new drives are 64x and faster, and not only read but burn as well.  Expect some things to show up on Craigslist.

I did keep the 9-track open-reel tape drives, since I actually use them to read customer data.  Not really often, but desperate people contact me from time to time, and are willing to pay $200 per tape!

I was saddened to discover that one of my VAXstations doesn’t boot.  At least it’s in the equipment rack, and so it’s not in the way.  I’ll fix it once the clutter is cleared (because the new workbench is 6″ deep in stuff, too).

Office update: Walls are decorated

I now have my Professional Engineer license and related documents up on the walls.  Took a bit of work to get them all arranged “just so” under supervision of my wife, Dianne.

In addition to all the business-related stuff, I have drawings of “Q” and “Gowron” from Star Trek:The Next Generation.  I had attended a Star Trek convention about 10 years ago, and had the pictures autographed.  She thought that they needed more exposure than on some dusty shelf, and had them framed for Christmas.  Thanks, honey!

Office update: Moving furniture

The office is shaping up!  The carpet was installed on Monday.

All the servers have been installed in the equipment rack, and the network ports were wired up.  Out of 48 ports, we’re shy just ONE.  I’ll install a 10/100 switch for the VAX computers.  They’re only 10 Mbit/sec anyway.

We’ve moved the furniture into the office space.  Rather than keep the old desk (about 20 years old), we ran out yesterday and bought a new one.  It should be arriving this morning.

Based on the desk location, we can then install the shelf units and filing cabinets.  We should then be DONE.