Ode to a Pager
I've been on-call for most of the last 11 years. I was on-call for the CS Department at Mudd. I was on-call at
Yelp, in a rotation that at times contained as few as three people. I was on-call at Uber in rotations ranging from one
to twenty people. And I've been on-call at EasyPost — initially in a rotation with one other person, and
currently with two other people. I have responded to tens of thousands of pages. I have been woken up in the middle of
the night hundreds of times. For the last seven or …
*nix Tip of the Day: VMS
Okay, so this is maybe a little unusual, but today's "*nix Tip of the
Day" isn't about Unix/Linux/etc. at all. Instead, it is about their
antiquated archenemy: VMS. First, a little bit of history:
Way back in 1970, the PDP-11 was hot stuff. Ken Thompson, Dennis
Richie, Brian Kernighan, and others at Bell Labs were writing what would
become Unix for the PDP-11 (well, for the PDP-7 at first, but nobody
talks about that). Unix was a huge improvement over what DEC shipped
with the PDP-11, DOS-11 and RT-11. This couldn't stand, so Dave Cutler
at DEC designed VMS. It was a new operating system, with lots of fancy
features, like networking and, uh, lots of upper-case letters.
VMS and Unix sort of battled on. Or so some people would have you think.
Really, Unix won early on and VMS stumbled along with corporate
financing and an obnoxiously difficult-to-use interface. It passed from
DEC to Compaq to HP, from the PDP-11 to the Alpha to the Itanium. And it
still lives on, churning away in scary back-rooms here and there.
So, why do I bring this up? Well, as some of you may know, Harvey Mudd
College has a few VMS machines around. The most well-known of these (to
students) is thuban, which is a 667MHz DEC Alpha running OpenVMS
7.3-2. Today, I had the, uh, interesting experience of using it, and
thought I'd share my impressions with my readers. You can see the proof
of my VMS skills at my VMS homepage. That's right, I'm on the
Internet. And on DECnet.
In Claremont, Again: Musings
Today marks my first week back in sunny California. Actually, scratch
the "sunny" part – it's rained here almost every day since I arrived.
It's still nice to be somewhere where the average daily temperature has
more than one digit, though.
Class is exactly as I remembered it. Hours drag by, but days seem to end
almost without beginning in the first place. I'm staying on top of my
homework, which is a good thing. We'll see how well I can keep that up,
particularly when biology and STEMS (signals and systems engineering)
start to load it on.
I've also started …