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* Re: [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
@ 2019-10-21 15:10 Pat Barron
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 7+ messages in thread
From: Pat Barron @ 2019-10-21 15:10 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs

On the copy of this story that appears here:

http://crash.com/fun/texts/vaxen-dont.html

it is atrributed as such:

'The author of this piece is Jack Harvey, harvey(at)eisner.decus.org, and 
it was originally published under the title "The Immortal Murderer" on 
January 18th, 1989 on DECUServe, the DECUS member bulletin board.'

--Pat.

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
  2019-10-19 20:29   ` Richard Salz
@ 2019-10-21  5:03     ` Dave Horsfall
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 7+ messages in thread
From: Dave Horsfall @ 2019-10-21  5:03 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

On Sat, 19 Oct 2019, Richard Salz wrote:

> In other words, not true.

I never claimed that it was true, given that I saw it in a humo[u]r 
newsgroup many years ago.  Perhaps net.humor.funny?

The line at the end, "It was Monday, 19-Oct-1987" ought to provide a 
chrome-plated hint; I snagged it around then and saved it, reposting it at 
various times on its anniversary.

-- Dave

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
  2019-10-19 19:26 ` Clem Cole
@ 2019-10-19 20:29   ` Richard Salz
  2019-10-21  5:03     ` Dave Horsfall
  0 siblings, 1 reply; 7+ messages in thread
From: Richard Salz @ 2019-10-19 20:29 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Clem cole; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

[-- Attachment #1: Type: text/plain, Size: 12826 bytes --]

In other words, not true.

On Sat, Oct 19, 2019, 3:29 PM Clem Cole <clemc@ccc.com> wrote:

> An old Usenet Apocrypha message.    IIRC this show up after the great
> automated crash in 1987 and was being used an example of why the IBM
> monoculture led to the melt down of the markets.
>
> On Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:16 PM Dave Horsfall <dave@horsfall.org> wrote:
>
>> A little off-topic, but quite amusing...
>>
>> -- Dave
>>
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>
>> Time to post this classic; I don't recall who wrote it.  Note that the
>> references are pretty obscure now...
>>
>> -----
>>
>> VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places.  In my business, I am
>> frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So
>> when a
>> friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called
>> me one
>> day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a really
>> major VAX
>> user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and plenty of sharp
>> VAXherds to
>> take care of them.
>>
>> So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It
>> seems they
>> had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, PC
>> style,
>> into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the rest of the
>> disk
>> drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had three street
>> addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to quote my
>> friend, they
>> were having "a little trouble adjusting to the VAX", were a bit hostile
>> towards
>> it and probably needed some help with system management.  Hmmm,
>> hostility...
>> Sigh.
>>
>> Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX
>> muscle
>> elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said
>> so
>> bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it was
>> an
>> "extremely sensitive and confidential application."  It seems that the
>> 750 had
>> originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and in the
>> care of
>> one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when the Chief User
>> went
>> to visit his computer and its VAXherd.
>>
>> He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI's
>> Director of Data Processing that, "There are some very strange people in
>> there
>> with the computers."  Now since this user person was the Comptroller of
>> this
>> Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled
>> over
>> to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, "was a more suitable
>> place."
>> The people there wore shirts and ties and didn't wear head bands or
>> cowboy
>> hats.
>>
>> So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five
>> feet
>> tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome
>> who was
>> about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for about an hour
>> before
>> they decided my modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing
>> their
>> system and I got the assignment.
>>
>> There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would
>> immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome
>> seemed
>> to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the apprentice's
>> son
>> had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that "backup" meant making a copy
>> of a
>> program borrowed from a friend and why was I doing that?  Sigh.
>>
>> I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who
>> greeted me
>> with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really weren't
>> hostile
>> - it just seemed that way.  It's like the driver of a Mack 18 wheeler,
>> with a
>> condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing its
>> best
>> to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, "I really warn't mad at mopeds
>> but to
>> keep from runnin' over that'n, I'da had to slow down or change lanes!"
>>
>> Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was
>> reboot it.
>> This was their universal cure for any and all problems. After all it
>> works on a
>> PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? Sigh.
>>
>> But I smiled and said, "No sweat, I'll train you.  The first command you
>> learn
>> is HELP" and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So the
>> data
>> center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators watched
>> the
>> LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished they turned
>> to me
>> with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, "This is your
>> most
>> important command!"
>>
>> The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a
>> minute.
>> He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and asked,
>> "What do
>> you use it for?"  Sigh.
>>
>> Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by
>> the
>> 750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc set.
>> I
>> designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into
>> simple
>> foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to the
>> top of
>> the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone number.
>>
>> The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual
>> maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the
>> data
>> center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch on
>> the CPU
>> cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza drippings, etc.
>>
>> But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually
>> got
>> things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the
>> system,
>> the operators didn't have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a lot.
>>
>> Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon
>> gas
>> fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center
>> manager
>> apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and so could
>> not
>> be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected but
>> I
>> made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. At least it
>> would
>> get going again quickly when power came back.
>>
>> Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would
>> have one
>> of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to myself,
>> "Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators eating
>> Chinese
>> takeout on the CPU."  I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the
>> cheat
>> sheets.
>>
>> One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going
>> to
>> give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what
>> the
>> 750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan
>> administration
>> had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for bid.  My
>> Extreme
>> Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was, as ELFIs are
>> wont
>> to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.
>>
>> On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of
>> directors
>> how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.
>> The
>> apprentice whispered, "Would you please look in on our computer?  I'm
>> sure
>> everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better if you are
>> present.  I'm
>> sure you understand?"  I did.
>>
>> Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to
>> check
>> things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift
>> supervisor
>> and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller's office.  Suddenly there was
>> a
>> power failure.
>>
>> The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over
>> the load
>> of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still
>> on
>> city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big deal
>> because it
>> was 7 AM and gnomes don't work before 10 AM.  I began worrying about
>> whether I
>> could beg some immortal power from the data center manager in case this
>> was a
>> long outage.
>>
>> Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first
>> five
>> minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the
>> gas
>> turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us automatically
>> start up
>> getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. We all beam at each
>> other.
>>
>> At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas
>> turbine
>> generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just
>> fine.
>> Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.
>>
>> At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is
>> taking
>> the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source commits
>> suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it took
>> both
>> 3090s with it.
>>
>> So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system
>> had its
>> own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage batteries
>> of the
>> immortal power system had been discharging at a furious rate keeping all
>> those
>> big blue boxes running and there was a significant amount of sulfuric
>> acid
>> vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke detectors were
>> convinced it
>> had.
>>
>> The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon
>> gas
>> release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager
>> shouted
>> over the din, "Don't worry, the halon system failed its acceptance test
>> last
>> week.  It's disabled and nothing will happen."
>>
>> He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge.
>> But the
>> secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and instantly
>> did
>> its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had twice the
>> capacity and
>> six times the discharge rate.
>>
>> Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive
>> and
>> fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. It
>> came
>> up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover panels
>> off,
>> decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer room, we
>> could see
>> the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.
>>
>> We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was
>> escaping
>> I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual
>> flickering of
>> the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was happily
>> rebooting.
>>
>> Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone
>> calls
>> to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and backup
>> 3090s
>> were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs arrived with
>> dozens
>> of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew what to expect
>> when an
>> immortal power source commits murder.
>>
>> In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and
>> logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was
>> just fine
>> with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center
>> manager's
>> office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, "He isn't
>> expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?" I left a
>> slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other computers, the
>> VAX was
>> intact and functioning normally.
>>
>> Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a
>> demonstration of
>> how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just
>> coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from
>> Switzerland
>> but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and
>> the
>> directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up on the data
>> center.
>>
>> Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of
>> the
>> 3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was
>> working on
>> the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a fireman was
>> standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was returning to
>> normal,
>> but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.
>>
>> Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape
>> racks
>> where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU.
>> He saw
>> me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, "Oh my God,
>> we
>> forgot about the VAX!"  Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted
>> it.  It
>> was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just don't belong some
>> places.
>>
>> -- Dave
>>
>

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<div dir="auto">In other words, not true.</div><br><div class="gmail_quote"><div dir="ltr" class="gmail_attr">On Sat, Oct 19, 2019, 3:29 PM Clem Cole &lt;<a href="mailto:clemc@ccc.com">clemc@ccc.com</a>&gt; wrote:<br></div><blockquote class="gmail_quote" style="margin:0 0 0 .8ex;border-left:1px #ccc solid;padding-left:1ex"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div class="gmail_default" style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif"><span style="font-family:-webkit-standard;color:rgb(0,0,0);text-align:-webkit-center">An old Usenet Apocrypha message.    IIRC this show up after the great automated crash in 1987 and was being used an example of why the IBM monoculture led to the melt down of the markets.</span></div></div></div><br><div class="gmail_quote"><div dir="ltr" class="gmail_attr">On Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:16 PM Dave Horsfall &lt;<a href="mailto:dave@horsfall.org" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">dave@horsfall.org</a>&gt; wrote:<br></div><blockquote class="gmail_quote" style="margin:0px 0px 0px 0.8ex;border-left-width:1px;border-left-style:solid;border-left-color:rgb(204,204,204);padding-left:1ex">A little off-topic, but quite amusing...<br>
<br>
-- Dave<br>
<br>
---------- Forwarded message ----------<br>
<br>
Time to post this classic; I don&#39;t recall who wrote it.  Note that the <br>
references are pretty obscure now...<br>
<br>
-----<br>
<br>
VAXen, my children, just don&#39;t belong some places.  In my business, I am <br>
frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So when a <br>
friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called me one <br>
day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a really major VAX <br>
user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and plenty of sharp VAXherds to <br>
take care of them.<br>
<br>
So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It seems they <br>
had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, PC style, <br>
into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the rest of the disk <br>
drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had three street <br>
addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to quote my friend, they <br>
were having &quot;a little trouble adjusting to the VAX&quot;, were a bit hostile towards <br>
it and probably needed some help with system management.  Hmmm, hostility... <br>
Sigh.<br>
<br>
Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX muscle <br>
elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said so <br>
bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it was an <br>
&quot;extremely sensitive and confidential application.&quot;  It seems that the 750 had <br>
originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and in the care of <br>
one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when the Chief User went <br>
to visit his computer and its VAXherd.<br>
<br>
He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI&#39;s <br>
Director of Data Processing that, &quot;There are some very strange people in there <br>
with the computers.&quot;  Now since this user person was the Comptroller of this <br>
Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled over <br>
to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, &quot;was a more suitable place.&quot; <br>
The people there wore shirts and ties and didn&#39;t wear head bands or cowboy <br>
hats.<br>
<br>
So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five feet <br>
tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome who was <br>
about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for about an hour before <br>
they decided my modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing their <br>
system and I got the assignment.<br>
<br>
There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would <br>
immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome seemed <br>
to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the apprentice&#39;s son <br>
had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that &quot;backup&quot; meant making a copy of a <br>
program borrowed from a friend and why was I doing that?  Sigh.<br>
<br>
I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who greeted me <br>
with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really weren&#39;t hostile <br>
- it just seemed that way.  It&#39;s like the driver of a Mack 18 wheeler, with a <br>
condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing its best <br>
to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, &quot;I really warn&#39;t mad at mopeds but to <br>
keep from runnin&#39; over that&#39;n, I&#39;da had to slow down or change lanes!&quot;<br>
<br>
Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was reboot it. <br>
This was their universal cure for any and all problems. After all it works on a <br>
PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? Sigh.<br>
<br>
But I smiled and said, &quot;No sweat, I&#39;ll train you.  The first command you learn <br>
is HELP&quot; and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So the data <br>
center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators watched the <br>
LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished they turned to me <br>
with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, &quot;This is your most <br>
important command!&quot;<br>
<br>
The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a minute. <br>
He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and asked, &quot;What do <br>
you use it for?&quot;  Sigh.<br>
<br>
Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by the <br>
750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc set.  I <br>
designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into simple <br>
foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to the top of <br>
the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone number.<br>
<br>
The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual <br>
maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the data <br>
center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch on the CPU <br>
cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza drippings, etc.<br>
<br>
But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually got <br>
things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the system, <br>
the operators didn&#39;t have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a lot.<br>
<br>
Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon gas <br>
fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center manager <br>
apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and so could not <br>
be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected but I <br>
made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. At least it would <br>
get going again quickly when power came back.<br>
<br>
Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would have one <br>
of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to myself, <br>
&quot;Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators eating Chinese <br>
takeout on the CPU.&quot;  I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the cheat <br>
sheets.<br>
<br>
One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going to <br>
give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what the <br>
750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan administration <br>
had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for bid.  My Extreme <br>
Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was, as ELFIs are wont <br>
to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.<br>
<br>
On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of directors <br>
how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.  The <br>
apprentice whispered, &quot;Would you please look in on our computer?  I&#39;m sure <br>
everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better if you are present.  I&#39;m <br>
sure you understand?&quot;  I did.<br>
<br>
Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to check <br>
things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift supervisor <br>
and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller&#39;s office.  Suddenly there was a <br>
power failure.<br>
<br>
The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over the load <br>
of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still on <br>
city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big deal because it <br>
was 7 AM and gnomes don&#39;t work before 10 AM.  I began worrying about whether I <br>
could beg some immortal power from the data center manager in case this was a <br>
long outage.<br>
<br>
Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first five <br>
minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the gas <br>
turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us automatically start up <br>
getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. We all beam at each other.<br>
<br>
At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas turbine <br>
generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just fine. <br>
Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.<br>
<br>
At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is taking <br>
the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source commits <br>
suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it took both <br>
3090s with it.<br>
<br>
So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system had its <br>
own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage batteries of the <br>
immortal power system had been discharging at a furious rate keeping all those <br>
big blue boxes running and there was a significant amount of sulfuric acid <br>
vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke detectors were convinced it <br>
had.<br>
<br>
The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon gas <br>
release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager shouted <br>
over the din, &quot;Don&#39;t worry, the halon system failed its acceptance test last <br>
week.  It&#39;s disabled and nothing will happen.&quot;<br>
<br>
He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge. But the <br>
secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and instantly did <br>
its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had twice the capacity and <br>
six times the discharge rate.<br>
<br>
Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive and <br>
fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. It came <br>
up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover panels off, <br>
decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer room, we could see <br>
the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.<br>
<br>
We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was escaping <br>
I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual flickering of <br>
the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was happily rebooting.<br>
<br>
Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone calls <br>
to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and backup 3090s <br>
were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs arrived with dozens <br>
of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew what to expect when an <br>
immortal power source commits murder.<br>
<br>
In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and <br>
logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was just fine <br>
with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center manager&#39;s <br>
office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, &quot;He isn&#39;t <br>
expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?&quot; I left a <br>
slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other computers, the VAX was <br>
intact and functioning normally.<br>
<br>
Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a demonstration of <br>
how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just <br>
coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from Switzerland <br>
but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and the <br>
directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up on the data center.<br>
<br>
Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of the <br>
3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was working on <br>
the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a fireman was <br>
standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was returning to normal, <br>
but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.<br>
<br>
Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape racks <br>
where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU.  He saw <br>
me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, &quot;Oh my God, we <br>
forgot about the VAX!&quot;  Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted it.  It <br>
was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just don&#39;t belong some places.<br>
<br>
-- Dave<br>
</blockquote></div>
</blockquote></div>

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
  2019-10-19  1:15 Dave Horsfall
  2019-10-19 14:47 ` Arthur Krewat
@ 2019-10-19 19:26 ` Clem Cole
  2019-10-19 20:29   ` Richard Salz
  1 sibling, 1 reply; 7+ messages in thread
From: Clem Cole @ 2019-10-19 19:26 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: Dave Horsfall; +Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

[-- Attachment #1: Type: text/plain, Size: 12371 bytes --]

An old Usenet Apocrypha message.    IIRC this show up after the great
automated crash in 1987 and was being used an example of why the IBM
monoculture led to the melt down of the markets.

On Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:16 PM Dave Horsfall <dave@horsfall.org> wrote:

> A little off-topic, but quite amusing...
>
> -- Dave
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>
> Time to post this classic; I don't recall who wrote it.  Note that the
> references are pretty obscure now...
>
> -----
>
> VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places.  In my business, I am
> frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So
> when a
> friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called
> me one
> day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a really major
> VAX
> user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and plenty of sharp
> VAXherds to
> take care of them.
>
> So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It seems
> they
> had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, PC
> style,
> into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the rest of the
> disk
> drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had three street
> addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to quote my friend,
> they
> were having "a little trouble adjusting to the VAX", were a bit hostile
> towards
> it and probably needed some help with system management.  Hmmm,
> hostility...
> Sigh.
>
> Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX
> muscle
> elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said
> so
> bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it was an
> "extremely sensitive and confidential application."  It seems that the 750
> had
> originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and in the care
> of
> one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when the Chief User
> went
> to visit his computer and its VAXherd.
>
> He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI's
> Director of Data Processing that, "There are some very strange people in
> there
> with the computers."  Now since this user person was the Comptroller of
> this
> Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled
> over
> to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, "was a more suitable
> place."
> The people there wore shirts and ties and didn't wear head bands or cowboy
> hats.
>
> So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five
> feet
> tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome
> who was
> about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for about an hour
> before
> they decided my modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing their
> system and I got the assignment.
>
> There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would
> immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome
> seemed
> to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the apprentice's
> son
> had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that "backup" meant making a copy
> of a
> program borrowed from a friend and why was I doing that?  Sigh.
>
> I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who
> greeted me
> with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really weren't
> hostile
> - it just seemed that way.  It's like the driver of a Mack 18 wheeler,
> with a
> condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing its
> best
> to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, "I really warn't mad at mopeds but
> to
> keep from runnin' over that'n, I'da had to slow down or change lanes!"
>
> Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was
> reboot it.
> This was their universal cure for any and all problems. After all it works
> on a
> PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? Sigh.
>
> But I smiled and said, "No sweat, I'll train you.  The first command you
> learn
> is HELP" and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So the data
> center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators watched
> the
> LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished they turned
> to me
> with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, "This is your most
> important command!"
>
> The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a
> minute.
> He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and asked, "What
> do
> you use it for?"  Sigh.
>
> Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by
> the
> 750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc set.  I
> designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into simple
> foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to the
> top of
> the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone number.
>
> The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual
> maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the
> data
> center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch on
> the CPU
> cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza drippings, etc.
>
> But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually
> got
> things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the
> system,
> the operators didn't have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a lot.
>
> Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon
> gas
> fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center
> manager
> apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and so could
> not
> be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected but
> I
> made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. At least it
> would
> get going again quickly when power came back.
>
> Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would have
> one
> of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to myself,
> "Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators eating
> Chinese
> takeout on the CPU."  I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the
> cheat
> sheets.
>
> One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going
> to
> give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what
> the
> 750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan
> administration
> had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for bid.  My
> Extreme
> Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was, as ELFIs are
> wont
> to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.
>
> On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of
> directors
> how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.  The
> apprentice whispered, "Would you please look in on our computer?  I'm sure
> everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better if you are present.
> I'm
> sure you understand?"  I did.
>
> Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to
> check
> things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift
> supervisor
> and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller's office.  Suddenly there was
> a
> power failure.
>
> The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over the
> load
> of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still
> on
> city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big deal
> because it
> was 7 AM and gnomes don't work before 10 AM.  I began worrying about
> whether I
> could beg some immortal power from the data center manager in case this
> was a
> long outage.
>
> Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first
> five
> minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the
> gas
> turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us automatically start
> up
> getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. We all beam at each
> other.
>
> At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas turbine
> generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just
> fine.
> Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.
>
> At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is
> taking
> the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source commits
> suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it took both
> 3090s with it.
>
> So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system had
> its
> own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage batteries
> of the
> immortal power system had been discharging at a furious rate keeping all
> those
> big blue boxes running and there was a significant amount of sulfuric acid
> vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke detectors were
> convinced it
> had.
>
> The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon gas
> release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager
> shouted
> over the din, "Don't worry, the halon system failed its acceptance test
> last
> week.  It's disabled and nothing will happen."
>
> He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge.
> But the
> secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and instantly
> did
> its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had twice the
> capacity and
> six times the discharge rate.
>
> Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive
> and
> fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. It
> came
> up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover panels
> off,
> decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer room, we could
> see
> the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.
>
> We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was
> escaping
> I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual flickering
> of
> the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was happily
> rebooting.
>
> Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone
> calls
> to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and backup
> 3090s
> were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs arrived with
> dozens
> of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew what to expect
> when an
> immortal power source commits murder.
>
> In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and
> logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was just
> fine
> with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center manager's
> office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, "He isn't
> expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?" I left a
> slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other computers, the
> VAX was
> intact and functioning normally.
>
> Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a demonstration
> of
> how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just
> coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from
> Switzerland
> but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and
> the
> directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up on the data
> center.
>
> Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of
> the
> 3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was
> working on
> the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a fireman was
> standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was returning to
> normal,
> but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.
>
> Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape
> racks
> where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU.
> He saw
> me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, "Oh my God,
> we
> forgot about the VAX!"  Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted
> it.  It
> was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just don't belong some
> places.
>
> -- Dave
>

[-- Attachment #2: Type: text/html, Size: 13756 bytes --]

<div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div class="gmail_default" style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif"><span style="font-family:-webkit-standard;color:rgb(0,0,0);text-align:-webkit-center">An old Usenet Apocrypha message.    IIRC this show up after the great automated crash in 1987 and was being used an example of why the IBM monoculture led to the melt down of the markets.</span></div></div></div><br><div class="gmail_quote"><div dir="ltr" class="gmail_attr">On Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 9:16 PM Dave Horsfall &lt;<a href="mailto:dave@horsfall.org">dave@horsfall.org</a>&gt; wrote:<br></div><blockquote class="gmail_quote" style="margin:0px 0px 0px 0.8ex;border-left-width:1px;border-left-style:solid;border-left-color:rgb(204,204,204);padding-left:1ex">A little off-topic, but quite amusing...<br>
<br>
-- Dave<br>
<br>
---------- Forwarded message ----------<br>
<br>
Time to post this classic; I don&#39;t recall who wrote it.  Note that the <br>
references are pretty obscure now...<br>
<br>
-----<br>
<br>
VAXen, my children, just don&#39;t belong some places.  In my business, I am <br>
frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So when a <br>
friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called me one <br>
day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a really major VAX <br>
user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and plenty of sharp VAXherds to <br>
take care of them.<br>
<br>
So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It seems they <br>
had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, PC style, <br>
into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the rest of the disk <br>
drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had three street <br>
addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to quote my friend, they <br>
were having &quot;a little trouble adjusting to the VAX&quot;, were a bit hostile towards <br>
it and probably needed some help with system management.  Hmmm, hostility... <br>
Sigh.<br>
<br>
Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX muscle <br>
elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said so <br>
bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it was an <br>
&quot;extremely sensitive and confidential application.&quot;  It seems that the 750 had <br>
originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and in the care of <br>
one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when the Chief User went <br>
to visit his computer and its VAXherd.<br>
<br>
He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI&#39;s <br>
Director of Data Processing that, &quot;There are some very strange people in there <br>
with the computers.&quot;  Now since this user person was the Comptroller of this <br>
Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled over <br>
to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, &quot;was a more suitable place.&quot; <br>
The people there wore shirts and ties and didn&#39;t wear head bands or cowboy <br>
hats.<br>
<br>
So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five feet <br>
tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome who was <br>
about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for about an hour before <br>
they decided my modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing their <br>
system and I got the assignment.<br>
<br>
There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would <br>
immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome seemed <br>
to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the apprentice&#39;s son <br>
had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that &quot;backup&quot; meant making a copy of a <br>
program borrowed from a friend and why was I doing that?  Sigh.<br>
<br>
I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who greeted me <br>
with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really weren&#39;t hostile <br>
- it just seemed that way.  It&#39;s like the driver of a Mack 18 wheeler, with a <br>
condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing its best <br>
to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, &quot;I really warn&#39;t mad at mopeds but to <br>
keep from runnin&#39; over that&#39;n, I&#39;da had to slow down or change lanes!&quot;<br>
<br>
Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was reboot it. <br>
This was their universal cure for any and all problems. After all it works on a <br>
PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? Sigh.<br>
<br>
But I smiled and said, &quot;No sweat, I&#39;ll train you.  The first command you learn <br>
is HELP&quot; and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So the data <br>
center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators watched the <br>
LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished they turned to me <br>
with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, &quot;This is your most <br>
important command!&quot;<br>
<br>
The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a minute. <br>
He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and asked, &quot;What do <br>
you use it for?&quot;  Sigh.<br>
<br>
Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by the <br>
750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc set.  I <br>
designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into simple <br>
foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to the top of <br>
the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone number.<br>
<br>
The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual <br>
maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the data <br>
center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch on the CPU <br>
cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza drippings, etc.<br>
<br>
But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually got <br>
things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the system, <br>
the operators didn&#39;t have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a lot.<br>
<br>
Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon gas <br>
fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center manager <br>
apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and so could not <br>
be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected but I <br>
made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. At least it would <br>
get going again quickly when power came back.<br>
<br>
Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would have one <br>
of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to myself, <br>
&quot;Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators eating Chinese <br>
takeout on the CPU.&quot;  I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the cheat <br>
sheets.<br>
<br>
One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going to <br>
give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what the <br>
750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan administration <br>
had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for bid.  My Extreme <br>
Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was, as ELFIs are wont <br>
to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.<br>
<br>
On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of directors <br>
how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.  The <br>
apprentice whispered, &quot;Would you please look in on our computer?  I&#39;m sure <br>
everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better if you are present.  I&#39;m <br>
sure you understand?&quot;  I did.<br>
<br>
Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to check <br>
things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift supervisor <br>
and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller&#39;s office.  Suddenly there was a <br>
power failure.<br>
<br>
The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over the load <br>
of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still on <br>
city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big deal because it <br>
was 7 AM and gnomes don&#39;t work before 10 AM.  I began worrying about whether I <br>
could beg some immortal power from the data center manager in case this was a <br>
long outage.<br>
<br>
Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first five <br>
minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the gas <br>
turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us automatically start up <br>
getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. We all beam at each other.<br>
<br>
At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas turbine <br>
generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just fine. <br>
Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.<br>
<br>
At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is taking <br>
the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source commits <br>
suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it took both <br>
3090s with it.<br>
<br>
So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system had its <br>
own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage batteries of the <br>
immortal power system had been discharging at a furious rate keeping all those <br>
big blue boxes running and there was a significant amount of sulfuric acid <br>
vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke detectors were convinced it <br>
had.<br>
<br>
The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon gas <br>
release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager shouted <br>
over the din, &quot;Don&#39;t worry, the halon system failed its acceptance test last <br>
week.  It&#39;s disabled and nothing will happen.&quot;<br>
<br>
He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge. But the <br>
secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and instantly did <br>
its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had twice the capacity and <br>
six times the discharge rate.<br>
<br>
Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive and <br>
fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. It came <br>
up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover panels off, <br>
decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer room, we could see <br>
the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.<br>
<br>
We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was escaping <br>
I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual flickering of <br>
the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was happily rebooting.<br>
<br>
Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone calls <br>
to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and backup 3090s <br>
were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs arrived with dozens <br>
of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew what to expect when an <br>
immortal power source commits murder.<br>
<br>
In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and <br>
logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was just fine <br>
with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center manager&#39;s <br>
office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, &quot;He isn&#39;t <br>
expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?&quot; I left a <br>
slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other computers, the VAX was <br>
intact and functioning normally.<br>
<br>
Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a demonstration of <br>
how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just <br>
coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from Switzerland <br>
but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and the <br>
directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up on the data center.<br>
<br>
Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of the <br>
3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was working on <br>
the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a fireman was <br>
standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was returning to normal, <br>
but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.<br>
<br>
Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape racks <br>
where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU.  He saw <br>
me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, &quot;Oh my God, we <br>
forgot about the VAX!&quot;  Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted it.  It <br>
was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just don&#39;t belong some places.<br>
<br>
-- Dave<br>
</blockquote></div>

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* Re: [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
  2019-10-19  1:15 Dave Horsfall
@ 2019-10-19 14:47 ` Arthur Krewat
  2019-10-19 19:26 ` Clem Cole
  1 sibling, 0 replies; 7+ messages in thread
From: Arthur Krewat @ 2019-10-19 14:47 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tuhs



On 10/18/2019 9:15 PM, Dave Horsfall wrote:
> A little off-topic, but quite amusing...
>
> -- Dave
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>
> Time to post this classic; I don't recall who wrote it.  Note that the 
> references are pretty obscure now...
>
> -----

I've read this a few times, but every time, I have to laugh out loud. ;)

art k.


^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
@ 2019-10-19  1:15 Dave Horsfall
  2019-10-19 14:47 ` Arthur Krewat
  2019-10-19 19:26 ` Clem Cole
  0 siblings, 2 replies; 7+ messages in thread
From: Dave Horsfall @ 2019-10-19  1:15 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

A little off-topic, but quite amusing...

-- Dave

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Time to post this classic; I don't recall who wrote it.  Note that the 
references are pretty obscure now...

-----

VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places.  In my business, I am 
frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So when a 
friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called me one 
day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a really major VAX 
user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and plenty of sharp VAXherds to 
take care of them.

So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It seems they 
had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, PC style, 
into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the rest of the disk 
drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had three street 
addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to quote my friend, they 
were having "a little trouble adjusting to the VAX", were a bit hostile towards 
it and probably needed some help with system management.  Hmmm, hostility... 
Sigh.

Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX muscle 
elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and said so 
bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it was an 
"extremely sensitive and confidential application."  It seems that the 750 had 
originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and in the care of 
one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when the Chief User went 
to visit his computer and its VAXherd.

He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI's 
Director of Data Processing that, "There are some very strange people in there 
with the computers."  Now since this user person was the Comptroller of this 
Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly hustled over 
to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, "was a more suitable place." 
The people there wore shirts and ties and didn't wear head bands or cowboy 
hats.

So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five feet 
tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice gnome who was 
about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for about an hour before 
they decided my modes of dress and speech were suitable for managing their 
system and I got the assignment.

There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would 
immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome seemed 
to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the apprentice's son 
had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that "backup" meant making a copy of a 
program borrowed from a friend and why was I doing that?  Sigh.

I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who greeted me 
with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really weren't hostile 
- it just seemed that way.  It's like the driver of a Mack 18 wheeler, with a 
condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over a moped doing its best 
to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, "I really warn't mad at mopeds but to 
keep from runnin' over that'n, I'da had to slow down or change lanes!"

Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was reboot it. 
This was their universal cure for any and all problems. After all it works on a 
PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? Sigh.

But I smiled and said, "No sweat, I'll train you.  The first command you learn 
is HELP" and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So the data 
center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators watched the 
LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished they turned to me 
with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, "This is your most 
important command!"

The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a minute. 
He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and asked, "What do 
you use it for?"  Sigh.

Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by the 
750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc set.  I 
designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into simple 
foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to the top of 
the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone number.

The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual 
maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the data 
center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch on the CPU 
cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza drippings, etc.

But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually got 
things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the system, 
the operators didn't have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a lot.

Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon gas 
fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center manager 
apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and so could not 
be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little rejected but I 
made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. At least it would 
get going again quickly when power came back.

Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would have one 
of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to myself, 
"Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators eating Chinese 
takeout on the CPU."  I resolved to get a piece of plastic to cover the cheat 
sheets.

One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going to 
give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what the 
750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan administration 
had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for bid.  My Extreme 
Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and was, as ELFIs are wont 
to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.

On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of directors 
how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the Bahamas.  The 
apprentice whispered, "Would you please look in on our computer?  I'm sure 
everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better if you are present.  I'm 
sure you understand?"  I did.

Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to check 
things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift supervisor 
and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller's office.  Suddenly there was a 
power failure.

The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over the load 
of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, still on 
city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big deal because it 
was 7 AM and gnomes don't work before 10 AM.  I began worrying about whether I 
could beg some immortal power from the data center manager in case this was a 
long outage.

Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first five 
minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear the gas 
turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us automatically start up 
getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. We all beam at each other.

At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas turbine 
generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just fine. 
Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.

At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is taking 
the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source commits 
suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it took both 
3090s with it.

So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system had its 
own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage batteries of the 
immortal power system had been discharging at a furious rate keeping all those 
big blue boxes running and there was a significant amount of sulfuric acid 
vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke detectors were convinced it 
had.

The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon gas 
release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager shouted 
over the din, "Don't worry, the halon system failed its acceptance test last 
week.  It's disabled and nothing will happen."

He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge. But the 
secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and instantly did 
its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had twice the capacity and 
six times the discharge rate.

Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive and 
fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. It came 
up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover panels off, 
decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer room, we could see 
the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.

We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was escaping 
I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual flickering of 
the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was happily rebooting.

Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone calls 
to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and backup 3090s 
were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs arrived with dozens 
of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew what to expect when an 
immortal power source commits murder.

In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and 
logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was just fine 
with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center manager's 
office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, "He isn't 
expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?" I left a 
slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other computers, the VAX was 
intact and functioning normally.

Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a demonstration of 
how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was just 
coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from Switzerland 
but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very slowly and the 
directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up on the data center.

Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of the 
3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was working on 
the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a fireman was 
standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was returning to normal, 
but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.

Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape racks 
where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 CPU.  He saw 
me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, "Oh my God, we 
forgot about the VAX!"  Then, before I could open my mouth, he rebooted it.  It 
was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places.

-- Dave

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

* [TUHS] Vaxen, my children...
@ 2018-10-18 22:28 Dave Horsfall
  0 siblings, 0 replies; 7+ messages in thread
From: Dave Horsfall @ 2018-10-18 22:28 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society

Time to post this classic; I don't recall who wrote it.  Note that the 
references are pretty obscure now...

-----

VAXen, my children, just don't belong some places.  In my business, I am 
frequently called by small sites and startups having VAX problems.  So when 
a friend of mine in an Extremely Large Financial Institution (ELFI) called 
me one day to ask for help, I was intrigued because this outfit is a 
really major VAX user - they have several large herds of VAXen - and 
plenty of sharp VAXherds to take care of them.

So I went to see what sort of an ELFI mess they had gotten into.  It seems 
they had shoved a small 750 with two RA60s running a single application, 
PC style, into a data center with two IBM 3090s and just about all the 
rest of the disk drives in the world.  The computer room was so big it had 
three street addresses.  The operators had only IBM experience and, to 
quote my friend, they were having "a little trouble adjusting to the VAX", 
were a bit hostile towards it and probably needed some help with system 
management.  Hmmm, hostility...  Sigh.

Well, I thought it was pretty ridiculous for an outfit with all that VAX 
muscle elsewhere to isolate a dinky old 750 in their Big Blue Country, and 
said so bluntly.  But my friend patiently explained that although small, it 
was an "extremely sensitive and confidential application."  It seems that 
the 750 had originally been properly clustered with the rest of a herd and 
in the care of one of their best VAXherds.  But the trouble started when 
the Chief User went to visit his computer and its VAXherd.

He came away visibly disturbed and immediately complained to the ELFI's 
Director of Data Processing that, "There are some very strange people in 
there with the computers."  Now since this user person was the Comptroller 
of this Extremely Large Financial Institution, the 750 had been promptly 
hustled over to the IBM data center which the Comptroller said, "was a 
more suitable place."  The people there wore shirts and ties and didn't 
wear head bands or cowboy hats.

So my friend introduced me to the Comptroller, who turned out to be five 
feet tall, 85 and a former gnome of Zurich.  He had a young apprentice 
gnome who was about 65.  The two gnomes interviewed me in whispers for 
about an hour before they decided my modes of dress and speech were 
suitable for managing their system and I got the assignment.

There was some confusion, understandably, when I explained that I would 
immediately establish a procedure for nightly backups.  The senior gnome 
seemed to think I was going to put the computer in reverse, but the 
apprentice's son had an IBM PC and he quickly whispered that "backup" 
meant making a copy of a program borrowed from a friend and why was I 
doing that?  Sigh.

I was shortly introduced to the manager of the IBM data center, who 
greeted me with joy and anything but hostility.  And the operators really 
weren't hostile - it just seemed that way.  It's like the driver of a Mack 
18 wheeler, with a condo behind the cab, who was doing 75 when he ran over 
a moped doing its best to get away at 45.  He explained sadly, "I really 
warn't mad at mopeds but to keep from runnin' over that'n, I'da had to 
slow down or change lanes!"

Now the only operation they had figured out how to do on the 750 was 
reboot it.  This was their universal cure for any and all problems. 
After all it works on a PC, why not a VAX?  Was there a difference? 
Sigh.

But I smiled and said, "No sweat, I'll train you.  The first command you 
learn is HELP" and proceeded to type it in on the console terminal.  So 
the data center manager, the shift supervisor and the eight day-operators 
watched the LA100 buzz out the usual introductory text.  When it finished 
they turned to me with expectant faces and I said in an avuncular manner, 
"This is your most important command!"

The shift supervisor stepped forward and studied the text for about a 
minute.  He then turned with a very puzzled expression on his face and 
asked, "What do you use it for?"  Sigh.

Well, I tried everything.  I trained and I put the doc set on shelves by 
the 750 and I wrote a special 40 page doc set and then a four page doc 
set.  I designed all kinds of command files to make complex operations into 
simple foreign commands and I taped a list of these simplified commands to 
the top of the VAX.  The most successful move was adding my home phone 
number.

The cheat sheets taped on the top of the CPU cabinet needed continual 
maintenance, however.  It seems the VAX was in the quietest part of the 
data center, over behind the scratch tape racks.  The operators ate lunch 
on the CPU cabinet and the sheets quickly became coated with pizza 
drippings, etc.

But still the most used solution to hangups was a reboot and I gradually 
got things organized so that during the day when the gnomes were using the 
system, the operators didn't have to touch it.  This smoothed things out a 
lot.

Meanwhile, the data center was getting new TV security cameras, a halon 
gas fire extinguisher system and an immortal power source.  The data center 
manager apologized because the VAX had not been foreseen in the plan and 
so could not be connected to immortal power.  The VAX and I felt a little 
rejected but I made sure that booting on power recovery was working right. 
At least it would get going again quickly when power came back.

Anyway, as a consolation prize, the data center manager said he would have 
one of the security cameras adjusted to cover the VAX.  I thought to 
myself, "Great, now we can have 24 hour video tapes of the operators 
eating Chinese takeout on the CPU."  I resolved to get a piece of plastic 
to cover the cheat sheets.

One day, the apprentice gnome called to whisper that the senior was going 
to give an extremely important demonstration.  Now I must explain that what 
the 750 was really doing was holding our National Debt.  The Reagan 
administration had decided to privatize it and had quietly put it out for 
bid.  My Extreme Large Financial Institution had won the bid for it and 
was, as ELFIs are wont to do, making an absolute bundle on the float.

On Monday the Comptroller was going to demonstrate to the board of 
directors how he could move a trillion dollars from Switzerland to the 
Bahamas.  The apprentice whispered, "Would you please look in on our 
computer?  I'm sure everything will be fine, sir, but we will feel better 
if you are present.  I'm sure you understand?"  I did.

Monday morning, I got there about five hours before the scheduled demo to 
check things over.  Everything was cool.  I was chatting with the shift 
supervisor and about to go upstairs to the Comptroller's office.  Suddenly 
there was a power failure.

The emergency lighting came on and the immortal power system took over the 
load of the IBM 3090s.  They continued smoothly, but of course the VAX, 
still on city power, died.  Everyone smiled and the dead 750 was no big 
deal because it was 7 AM and gnomes don't work before 10 AM.  I began 
worrying about whether I could beg some immortal power from the data 
center manager in case this was a long outage.

Immortal power in this system comes from storage batteries for the first 
five minutes of an outage.  Promptly at one minute into the outage we hear 
the gas turbine powered generator in the sub-basement under us 
automatically start up getting ready to take the load on the fifth minute. 
We all beam at each other.

At two minutes into the outage we hear the whine of the backup gas turbine 
generator starting.  The 3090s and all those disk drives are doing just 
fine.  Business as usual.  The VAX is dead as a door nail but what the hell.

At precisely five minutes into the outage, just as the gas turbine is 
taking the load, city power comes back on and the immortal power source 
commits suicide.  Actually it was a double murder and suicide because it 
took both 3090s with it.

So now the whole data center was dead, sort of.  The fire alarm system had 
its own battery backup and was still alive.  The lead acid storage 
batteries of the immortal power system had been discharging at a furious 
rate keeping all those big blue boxes running and there was a significant 
amount of sulfuric acid vapor.  Nothing actually caught fire but the smoke 
detectors were convinced it had.

The fire alarm klaxon went off and the siren warning of imminent halon gas 
release was screaming.  We started to panic but the data center manager 
shouted over the din, "Don't worry, the halon system failed its acceptance 
test last week.  It's disabled and nothing will happen."

He was half right, the primary halon system indeed failed to discharge. 
But the secondary halon system observed that the primary had conked and 
instantly did its duty, which was to deal with Dire Disasters.  It had 
twice the capacity and six times the discharge rate.

Now the ear splitting gas discharge under the raised floor was so massive 
and fast, it blew about half of the floor tiles up out of their framework. 
It came up through the floor into a communications rack and blew the cover 
panels off, decking an operator.  Looking out across that vast computer 
room, we could see the air shimmering as the halon mixed with it.

We stampeded for exits to the dying whine of 175 IBM disks.  As I was 
escaping I glanced back at the VAX, on city power, and noticed the usual 
flickering of the unit select light on its system disk indicating it was 
happily rebooting.

Twelve firemen with air tanks and axes invaded.  There were frantic phone 
calls to the local IBM Field Service office because both the live and 
backup 3090s were down.  About twenty minutes later, seventeen IBM CEs 
arrived with dozens of boxes and, so help me, a barrel.  It seems they knew 
what to expect when an immortal power source commits murder.

In the midst of absolute pandemonium, I crept off to the gnome office and 
logged on.  After extensive checking it was clear that everything was just 
fine with the VAX and I began to calm down.  I called the data center 
manager's office to tell him the good news.  His secretary answered with, 
"He isn't expected to be available for some time.  May I take a message?" 
I left a slightly smug note to the effect that, unlike some other 
computers, the VAX was intact and functioning normally.

Several hours later, the gnome was whispering his way into a demonstration 
of how to flick a trillion dollars from country 2 to country 5.  He was 
just coming to the tricky part, where the money had been withdrawn from 
Switzerland but not yet deposited in the Bahamas.  He was proceeding very 
slowly and the directors were spellbound.  I decided I had better check up 
on the data center.

Most of the floor tiles were back in place.  IBM had resurrected one of the 
3090s and was running tests.  What looked like a bucket brigade was 
working on the other one.  The communication rack was still naked and a 
fireman was standing guard over the immortal power corpse.  Life was 
returning to normal, but the Big Blue Country crew was still pretty shaky.

Smiling proudly, I headed back toward the triumphant VAX behind the tape 
racks where one of the operators was eating a plump jelly bun on the 750 
CPU.  He saw me coming, turned pale and screamed to the shift supervisor, 
"Oh my God, we forgot about the VAX!"  Then, before I could open my mouth, 
he rebooted it.  It was Monday, 19-Oct-1987.  VAXen, my children, just 
don't belong some places.

-- Dave

^ permalink raw reply	[flat|nested] 7+ messages in thread

end of thread, back to index

Thread overview: 7+ messages (download: mbox.gz / follow: Atom feed)
-- links below jump to the message on this page --
2019-10-21 15:10 [TUHS] Vaxen, my children Pat Barron
  -- strict thread matches above, loose matches on Subject: below --
2019-10-19  1:15 Dave Horsfall
2019-10-19 14:47 ` Arthur Krewat
2019-10-19 19:26 ` Clem Cole
2019-10-19 20:29   ` Richard Salz
2019-10-21  5:03     ` Dave Horsfall
2018-10-18 22:28 Dave Horsfall

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