I hope you enjoy your Sunday Morning Coffee page. It is here to inform, have fun and enlighten your day. Dip in and out during the day, put your feet up and relax. Have a coffee and enjoy.
Sunday Morning Coffee ‘The Headliner’
Welcome to the Sunday Morning Coffee – Confessions of a 70’s Computer Operator
Trainee Junior Operator
When I started out in computing in the late seventies, I was a trainee junior operator. My job involved putting tapes into tape decks; exchanging disk drives that looked like the Star Trek Enterprise; emptying the printer and restacking it with fresh paper; putting some operating commands into the operating console; and generally keeping the place clean for visitors. We were also asked to be the night time building security team. No extra pay was forthcoming.
Visitors to the holy grail ‘The Computer Room’
I learnt very early on that visitors to the computer room topped everything else and were to be treated as VIP’s. Programmes stopped running while we played host. We had to perform like monkeys. This involved being presentable and nice to the guests, while we were oglied from the viewing gallery. One time a new billing system was rolled out and the CIO (Director of Computing in old money), came along with his guests and they all watched while we printed his quarterly bill. He even wrote a cheque there and then to pay it. Little did he know his direct debit was going out the same day, hey ho. We had spent a couple of hours earlier, to ensure his bill turned up while the guests were watching. He was kind of put on the spot and had to pay
I was promoted in no time to the position of computer operator. This allowed me to avoid some of the cleaning duties and the bonus of putting more commands into the operating console. The machine was an IBM make and model. It was housed in a computer room which had a gas halon system. The CPU was the size of a large fridge. The computer memory (RAM) the size of a walk in the cupboard. The disk drives were like washing machines. The tape decks were like grandfather clocks. The printer was like the ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, venture near it and be prepared to be inked.
Why Halon Fire Suppression Systems Were Banned?
The down side of now being an operator, was that I had to learn how to reset the halon gas and water system shutters. This was no small task. Get it wrong and you would be headline news on the local evening rag. ‘Boy decapitated while shutting off the computer’ it would have read. Or ‘Boy breathed in too much of the gas’.
In later years the Halon system was banned. For many years, Halon 1301 was the holy grail of fire suppressants for high-value assets that would be damaged by traditional sprinkler systems. But, in 1989, when the Montreal Protocol determined that halon depleted the ozone layer, and the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency subsequently banned its manufacture in 1994, the search was on for halon replacement options. Luckily or fortunately, I was out of the computing operating system game by then. However, It’s true that properly maintained systems could be grandfathered and remain in use. Some are still in use today, but, like any mechanical system that is 15 years old, current halon systems are getting a bit long in the tooth. Parts are harder to come by, and there are fewer people capable of servicing the older units. Who cares about their employees!
Call the emergency services
TIC TAC TOE
Call the emergency services
Five years into my incumbency as an operator, I was doing some overtime on a Saturday morning. Yes, I needed the money. The programmers were running a full blown test of a new emergency system for emergency agencies, therefore with real users online around the county. I had very little to do and ended up playing tic tac toe, now this isn’t a war games story. I didn’t kick off a nuclear cold war battle. I did however, slow down the new emergency system. After an hour of playing the game, I took a call from the emergency control room. They said the system was really slow, and the response times were unacceptable. The programmer team lead came down and said they couldn’t understand it. I said I would take a look at what the task performance measures were doing.
Computer mainframes like to know who runs first and prioritise services. It just happened my ‘tic tac toe’ game was the one program that drained the performance from the machine, when the operator was running it from the computer operating command console. Yep, I was in command. I did two things, I stopped playing the game and gave the program the lowest priority. I became a hero. A quick phone call back and I had saved the day. The emergency system went live and the next month, everybody was happy. Happy days 🙂
How SME Can Get Up and Running Fast
Getting up and running fast is key to immediate business needs. Addressing these needs with streamlined solutions is part of my aims. Using providers with the same ethos as mine is why I know the SMEs can bridge the gap and be successful. My consulting is here to help them realise the advantages of working with collaborators, like myself.
The morale here is be inclusive and inform all your team members of the plan, you never know who might be playing a game. Good collaboration will give small business owners the reason to get up in the morning and to start working, if you get it right.
I have a lot more stories, until next time.
Stressful things in life and work to avoid
It’s best to avoid your false friends, such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. These are mood enhancers that contribute to stress if used to excess. Focus and be aware of how your emotions are affecting not only you, but also the people around you. So, if you are a small business owner don’t get stress out. If you lack direction in life, take time out to write a list of all the things you would like to achieve. A little help from an I.T. a professional can help resolve what seems like insurmountable objects. If you feel in need, please read more about myself and the services I can offer.
Read about the UK Government HSE Policy on Stress (Only 3 page pdf)
What they recognised, “We recognise that workplace stress is a health and safety issue and acknowledge the importance of identifying and reducing workplace stressors. This policy will apply to everyone in the company. Managers are responsible for implementation and the company is responsible for providing the necessary resources.”
Computers are like air conditioners: they stop working when you open Windows.
The road to success is always under construction.
A TV can insult your intelligence, but nothing rubs it in like a computer.
I was told this week that offering I.T. services to small and medium-sized enterprises cover a really wide range of business types. I don’t disagree. This led me to think about the businesses I was trying to target my I.T. consulting services at. Would my solution and service offerings fit a very broad set of companies?
May Review Out Now
I’ve spent the month of May during the lock down, creating content to explain my business I.T. services and solutions. I’ve also had a bit of fun writing a Sunday Morning Coffee column. I am an I.T. Consultant professional, everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. Read more about my activities in May, 2020 here
About our I.T. Services and Solutions
A selection of our previous posts…
Let’s build something together.
Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional
Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional. When it comes to managing the different aspects of your business, an IT consultant can help with many different facets.
As a small business owner (or medium-sized business owner), you are in charge of all aspects of your business. You may have to tend to many different things you would rather not have to. This may include, being the administrator, salesperson, marketing lead, and even in charge of Information Technology (IT). Taking one or more of these jobs that don’t quite relate directly to your business can help you focus on the things that matter most.
Hiring an IT Consultant can be beneficial to your business, but finding one can be a task in its own. Everyone can use a little help from a designated professional.
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