Category Archives: General

WordPress and the Systems Programmer

There are lots of people blogging these days … Lots! But not everyone has the skills or time to manually code the web pages necessary to maintain a blog. Fortunately, that is not necessary thanks to providers like WordPress.

WordPress is software that takes care of all the grunge work in keeping a blog. Bloggers can post without knowing a thing about HTML. However, the software has to be installed on their web host’s site. Many web hosts provide WordPress, but many others would require the software to be installed by the  customer. People that are not interested in coding web pages are by and large not interested in trying to install software on their web site, either. So WordPress also hosts their own software, and makes it available to bloggers at no cost. Over a quarter million blogs are hosted on WordPress.com. This blog is one of them, as is any blog where the address is in the format http://blogname.wordpress.com. I have registered a domain named theCICSguy.com, and have it pointing to this site, http://theCICSguy.wordpress.com.

It’s not real easy to find, so to start your own blog on WordPress, click here to find out all the info you need to know to get started.

No wonder there are so many bloggers! It is easy, and it is free … All that is required is the time to post your opinions, thoughts, or information! Systems programmers have a long history in computing, and thus a lot of opinions and tons of information to share. If you have a blog that systems programmers would be interested in (especially if it is CICS related), please let me know; I’ll post some links to my favorite blogs in a future posting.

Follow theCICSguy on twitter here

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LinkedIn and the Systems Programmer

LinkedIn is the most professional of the social media sites. There you will find over 70 million professionals networking with each other, and the site is growing at a pace of about 1 new professional per second!

You can think of LinkedIn as being Facebook for professionals. Instead of “friends”, you have “connections”. Instead of posting “what you are doing”, you “share networking activity”. To facilitate networking, LinkedIn can not only show you your connections (your “first connections”), but also their connections (your “second connections”). The idea is to make it easy for people to gain access to new contacts.

There are some job-seeking / employee-seeking  advantages to being on LinkedIn. Employers with a need can post job lists and search for possible candidates; they can also check with a connection for recommendations on applicants that are connected to them. Job seekers can search job lists, check the profiles for hiring managers and see if they have any mutual connections that may aid in their job pursuit, receive notifications for new job offers when particular companies are listing them, and they can bookmark possible job opportunities for review later.

There are mainframe, CICS, educational, and other special interest groups to join on LinkedIn to use to make new connections or revive old ones. I am currently a member of the Missouri University of Science and Technology Alumni (I am a UMR graduate), Mainframe Experts Network, System z Advocates, IBM MAINFRAME, CICS Special Interest Group, and SHARE groups. Please let me know if you find another z or CICS-related group that CICS sysprogs should be joining!

There are lots of reasons to be on LinkedIn. Keeping an active network can help keep you in touch with your current contacts and help you make new contacts that may help you now or down the road. If you are not on LinkedIn, sign up today and connect to theCICSguy!

Follow theCICSguy on twitter here

Twitter and the Systems Programmer

Wow, how time flies. I can’t believe July is here, and I haven’t blogged since April! No wonder another blogger that linked to me recently referred to me as a “sometimes blogger”!

Last time, I said that I’d write a few lines about Twitter. Twitter is the micro-blogging site, with posts limited to 140 characters, that has a reputation of being where people write what they had for breakfast. Well, Twitter is not just for breakfast anymore!

Postings on Twitter are called “tweets”, and the 140-character limit on tweets coincides with the limit on SMS text messages on cell phones. It is very convenient to both post and read tweets on today’s smart phones, making Twitter a truly portable application. A smart phone is not required, though – the traditional browser interface works just fine.

While many people do use Twitter to post the most mundane events of their lives, it has become a very popular tool used by businesses to put out news. While I also tweet new things as I come across them, I follow a number of businesses and other tweeters and “retweet” the ones that deal with CICS and/or sound of interest to those that wear CICS systems programming hats.

Some of the industry-related tweeters I follow include @IBM_CICS, @CICSfluff, @IBMredbooks, @dianegjohnson, @mainframemag, and @MainframeZone. There are also tweets with current and upcoming information on conferences, such as @SHAREhq and @IBMimpact.

Some interesting non-industry-just-for-fun tweeters I follow include parody musician “Weird” @AlYankovic, late night host @CraigyFerg, astronomers Neil deGrasse Tyson, @neiltyson and Phil Plait, the @BadAstronomer, mythbusting Adam Savage, who is @donttrythis, and musician/podcaster @GeorgeHrab.

Who do you follow? If you’re not following anyone, get out there and look for the kinds of people you are interested in, and share!

Follow theCICSguy on twitter here

Facebook and the Systems Programmer

Facebook is easily the king of the social networking world. It seems like everyone is on Facebook. While I mainly use Facebook for personal communications, many use it for professional purposes – to promote their business or services, or to socialize with others in their profession. And yes, there are resources on Facebook for the CICS systems programmer.

The first place to look on Facebook are the CICS- or systems programming-related groups. The I ♥ CICS group, where members are encouraged to post tips, experiences, and resources, boasts 448 members, and is easily the largest CICS group on Facebook. At least, the largest group interested in the IBM software called CICS; you will find that there are many other types of CICS groups that have nothing to do with transactional processing if you do a search! A newly formed group, CICS TS Q&A, looks to be promising as new members jump on board. Its whole purpose is for CICS folks to have a place to ask questions and get answers. A couple of others not specific to CICS you may want to check out include IBM Mainframe Professionals and Mainframe Sysprogs.

Why check out these groups? Because that’s where you’ll find others in our field! “Friend” all those you know (request that they become your Facebook friend), and read the posts for new info and to learn about others that you do not know yet. Scan their profiles to see if they blog, as most bloggers have a link in their Facebook profile. By “friending” them, you will also learn some interesting tidbits about some of the leaders on our field; for example, Leigh Compton is an avid reader!

As I mentioned, I primarily use Facebook for personal use, and I’m sure you will find many people you know in other fields that you may want to keep up with using Facebook. It’s a great tool for that. Just don’t overlook the ability to also use it to keep up with your CICS colleagues!

I’ll post more info about Facebook as new angles appear, or as I learn new things about it that I did not know before. By all means, if you have some additional insight, please share! Facebook … Get on it, and use it while it’s worth using, before it becomes overcommercialized!

Next time … Twitter!

Follow theCICSguy on twitter here

Social Networking and the Systems Programmer

I saw recently that Facebook is now the most popular web site in the US, getting more hits than Google. Social networking is exploding! Professionals (and those planning to become professionals) need to watch what they post on these social networking sites, but they can be useful and fun when used properly.

How are you using social networking sites? If you are not using any, you are missing out on some potential fun in keeping up with friends and colleagues, and you are also missing out on a lot of information being put out by leaders in our field. In my next series of blog postings, I plan to lay out how I use some of them and what tools I use. Some I use strictly for personal use, but many I use professionally. If you use any additional social networking sites, or know  of additional tools to make the most use of them or get the most enjoyment out of them, please leave a comment and share.

The social networking sites I will cover include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • WordPress
  • YouTube

OK, it may be a stretch to consider WordPress and YouTube as social networking sites, but there is the opportunity to interact and there is CICS information to be learned from others posting on them, so I am including them.

So, next time around we’ll take a look at Facebook.

Follow theCICSguy on twitter here

The Right Kind of Offshoring Activity

Sallie Mae, the leading provider of student loan programs, announced last week that it is returning its overseas operations to the US, creating 2,000 new jobs. The jobs to be created over the next 18 months include call center, IT, and operations support positions in various communities across the country. Just the kind of news we need in this economy. If only more companies would admit it when offshoring does not result in the results desired and bring more IT jobs back to the US.

IBM to Buy Sun? What Would It Mean?

According to the Wall Street Journal, IBM is in talks to buy Sun Microsystems. The fact they are even discussing it tells me that IBM is in sound financial shape and is looking to take advantage of the down economy to make acquisitions. It is reported that IBM would pay at least $6.5 billion in cash, which  is the equivalent of double Sun’s current stock value.

So what would it mean if the transaction were to take place? As a mainframer, the first thing I think of is storage. Sun bought Storage Tek in 2005, and purchasing Sun would give IBM a very large share of the market in mainframe storage. A big concern in such situations is that less competition could mean higher prices, but it’s not certain that there are more big iron dollars available – it could just mean that IBM gets a larger share of what’s currently there. Another thought is that Sun has been struggling, and that IBM could breath new life into its product lines. However, there is a lot of overlap, so some Sun lines would certainly be phased out or merged into IBM lines.

But, it’s not all about the mainframe. The buyout could give IBM a near two-thirds share of the UNIX server market. There are many interesting angles to the Sun open software. Since IBM is big on Java, one would expect Java to blossom under IBM. But what about MySQL? IBM has DB2, and it is hard to imagine that they have much interest in growing a competitor to it.

Whatever the benefits, IBM will have to consider the potential legal headaches it could bring.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds – if anything. It’s all speculation right now. The only thing for sure now is that the speculation has been good for Sun stockholders so far.