(Mostly) Computing Bio of: Neil Rieck

1950s

  • Born: 1952-09-14
     
  • My father purchased an black + white RCA console TV in 1955. A TV repair man visited in 1958.
    Questions:
    • How does this box display moving pictures and sound?
    • What are those glowing reddish-orange wires inside the glass tubes seen through the ventilation holes on the back?
    • Why do the glass tubes come in different shapes and sizes?
    • How does the TV Repair Man know which tube to replace when they all appear to be glowing the same way?
    • Does the signal really enter into the TV via two wires in a flat brown plastic coming from the antenna on the roof?
    • Why does the roof antenna have those odd looking lengths of passive metal not connected to the flat brown wires?
    • Why are all antennas in my neighborhood different?
    • Why do some of the antennas point in different directions?
    • Why do some occasionally move while ours does not?
       
  • I became infatuated with technology while watching NASA manned spacecraft launches on TV. On top of that, when one of the Buffalo (New York) TV stations went on the air Saturday mornings, they rolled through images from around town which included the dome of an astronomical telescope at the University of Buffalo. Science and technologically were literally and metaphorically "in the air".
     
  • While watching TV movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet I became  infatuated with electronics as well as electronic computers (what do those spinning tape reels do? Within 15-years I would have hands-on knowledge)

1960s

  • My father woke me early one morning to watch the ECHO balloon travelling north to south (I think) as the sun was just beginning to rise. Wow.
     
  • I became infatuated with technology and computing devices in comic books. (How are computers capable of doing math? Does this mean machines can think?)
     
  • I became infatuated with computing devices seen on TV programs like: The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits , The Jetsons and Lost in Space
     
  • I started reading science fiction authors like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke (I was introduced to these authors by fellow students at Forest Heights Collegiate in Kitchener)
  • Star Trek came out in 1966 then 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. Both had more computers than you could imagine.

1970s

  • Studied to become an Electronics Technician/Technologist at Conestoga College
     
  • Apollo Launches I viewed from Titusville Florida.
    Mission Launch Notes
    Apollo 14 January 31, 1971  
    Apollo 15 July 26, 1971  
    Apollo 16 April 04, 1972  
    Apollo 17 December 7, 1972 This was a night launch. We stood in the water (with a camera and tripod) of Indian River in Titusville Florida. (near the corner of highways US 50 and US 1 while horseshoe crabs tickled our toes.

  • Hired by Bell Canada in 1973 as a "Central Office Technician" (a non-computing job). Like everyone else, I started on "The Frame" (MFD = Main Distribution Frame; IDF = Intermediate Distribution Frame). MDF wiring provided dial-tone while IDF wiring provided you with a telephone number. During this time I was also introduced to wiring cross-bar number groups (5XB).
     
  • While working at Bell Canada I worried that my electronics skills would become rusty. So between 1974-1976 I worked a part time job at a local musician store called Mother's Music. The money wasn't great but I wasn't there for that reason. Instead, I received lots of experience working on electric guitars, amplifiers, microphones, electric pianos, electronic organs, ARP synthesizers, Moog synthesizers, Mellotrons, Solina String Ensembles, and something called a Guitorgan (played like a guitar but sounds like an organ), etc. (Many thanks to Dave Boehm for the experience. Working on the repair-bench at Mother's Music was my finishing school)
     
  • After doing "my duty" on "The Frame" Bell Canada moved me into a "SxS" (step-by-step electromechanical logic) switching office. What a shock, they never talked about this in college.
     
  • Since I had missed the TTL and CMOS technology revolutions (1973-1975), I returned to community college in 1977 to learn low-level digital electronics. (What a shock: full-time final-year students now had access to a DEC PDP-12 which was really two DEC PDP-8 machines connected back-to-back) 
     
  • My first "hands on" computer experience was in 1977 on an Interdata Model 70 which was a clone of an IBM minicomputer (yes, people were cloning back then). Bell Canada as training me as a computer-hardware technician (so we could do 24/7 self-maintenance). You were required to learn low-level machine code in order to diagnose many problems as well as boot the machine (does anybody remember "the 50 sequence"?). You toggled the 50-sequence into the processor using front panel lights and switches: running this stub would allow you to load diagnostics from either cassette-tape or 9-track tape (HP-7970C).
    This was when I was first bitten by the computer bug (not the same one that causes programs to misbehave :-)

  • A friend asked me to fix an annoying key-bounce problem on his Heathkit H9 Terminal. I agreed to fix it free-of-charge provided he let me borrow the Heathkit H8 Computer (anyone remember Benton Harbor BASIC?) and H9 for a month in order to learn BASIC programming. Four weeks turned into six but this turned out to be the best deal I've ever made. Now I was addicted. (Many thanks to Fred Hoffman for the experience)

  • In the spring of 1978 I received Hewlett-Packard hardware training in order to install and service HP7970C and HP7970E nine-track tape-decks in our telephone switches (Northern Electric 5xB, Northern Telecom SP-1, NTL DMS-100, NTL DMS-200, etc.)

  • In the summer of 1978 Bell Canada asked me to build a custom digital clock for use on a 5xB office (telephone switching center) in Cambridge, Ontario. This office had been installed without a master timer which meant that the trouble recorder could not be used to produce time-stamped trace evidence for legal use by the courts. The clock was pulsed from the 60 cycle hydro line and used optical isolators to interface between the TTL circuits and the -48 Volt DC trouble-recorder field relays. In true telephony fashion, we implemented an internal encoding system called "2 of 5" (each digit was represented by five signals named: 0, 1, 2, 4, 7; two signals must always be asserted in each field for the digit data to be considered valid)
    Value Punches
    1 0+1
    2 0+2
    3 1+2
    4 0+4
    5 1+4
    6 2+4
    7 1+6
    8 1+7
    9 2+7
    0 4+7
  • In the fall of 1979 my employer asked me to build a custom digital "ringing code monitor" (Central Office Alarm) for use in a Northern Electric SxS (step-by-step) office in Baden, Ontario. Frame wiring in rural offices like this one were done by field service technicians rather than central office technicians. Field service people were constantly leaving solder splashes on the ringing-code blocks (thus shorting them together) and causing numerous "code-5 errors" (customer complaints traced to the C.O.) killing our district's stats. After installation, whenever someone accidentally shorted the blocks an immediate audible alarm was sounded which would alert the technician to the problem. My efforts were an instant success.
    • What are ringing-code blocks? Single-party residential lines used a standard ringing code of 2 seconds on followed by 4 seconds off. In party lines (2, 4, or 8 customers on one line) each telephone number was wired back to a ringing block which would provide the coded ring assigned to that customer (everyone heard all the rings but only one customer should have answered) . One code I remember was "3-shorts" while another one was "one long followed by 2-shorts".
    • Visit my Telephony page to see more about T+R and SxS
        
  • Apple LogoIn the summer of 1979 I purchased an Apple ][ (Apple2) with 48K RAM, 16K Language Card, two 5.25 inch floppy drives for over $4000 (Canadian). This enabled me to learn:
     
    • Apple BASIC (integer BASIC written by Woz)
    • Applesoft BASIC (floating point BASIC written by Microsoft)
    • Apple 6502 Assembler and Sweet-16 (anyone remember "CALL -151" ?) .
    • Apple Pascal (a.k.a. UCSD Pascal)
    • Apple FORTRAN (a.k.a. FORTRAN-77).
    • Apple DOS 3.2 and 3.2.1
      • 35 tracks x 13 sectors = 455 (116,480 bytes)
      • "5 and 3" encoding to avoid all consecutive zero bits
        • 5 data bits become 8 magnetic bits; 410 bytes are needed to store 256 bytes)
        • data -> magnetic pattern written
          • 00 (lo) -> AB (10101011)
          • xx         AC (10101100) which is not used
          • 1F (hi) -> FF (11111111)
    • Apple DOS 3.3
      • 35 tracks x 16 sectors = 560 (143,360 bytes)
      • "6 and 2" encoding to avoid all but one pair of consecutive zero bits
        • 6 data bits become 8 magnetic bits; 341 bytes are needed to store 256 bytes)
        • data -> magnetic pattern written
          • 00 (lo) -> 96 (10010110)
          • 01      -> 97 (10010111)
          • xx         98 (10011000) which is not used)
          • 3F (hi) -> FF (11111111)
      • Third-party tools existed to do cool things like:
        • extend the number of tracks from 35 to 40
        • remove DOS from tracks 1-3 to them available for 100% data storage (prior to this, every disk is bootable)
        • write data between tracks as a crude form of copy protection
          (another program called Locksmith could be used to analyze and copy these disks anyway)
      • Click Apple-2 Forever for more details 
    • My buddies wondered how I'd use all that memory!

1980s

  • In 1980 I started a series of community college classes that resulted in learning HP-BASIC and COBOL-68 on an HP-3000 minicomputer. Many of these classes were taught by programmers from the local insurance industry. Many thanks to Mike Purdle. (bad memory alert: this could be: Mike Pirtle or Mike Purtle)

  • I was very fortunate to have received DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) training at their schools (Ed Services) in places like:
    • Kanata, Ontario (100 Herzberg Road; just west of Ottawa)
    • Bedford, Massachusetts (12 Crosby Drive). Just north-west of Boston on Route 128
    • Maynard, Massachusetts (129 Parker Street). West of Boston
    • DEC Training at non-DEC locations:
      • Hull, Quebec (just East of Ottawa, Ontario)
      • Montreal, Quebec
      • Toronto, Ontario
  • On hardware which included...
    • 16-bit processors: PDT-11/150, PDP-11/04, PDP-11/23, PDP-11/34, PDP-11/44, PDP-11/73, PDP-11/84
    • 32-bit processors: VAX-11/730, VAX-11/750, uVAX-3500, uVAX-3800, uVAX-4300, VAX-6430
    • disk drives: RX01/02, RK05, RK06, RK07, RP04/05/06, RL01/02, RA60, RA80/81
    • tape drives: TU16, TE16, TU80, TU58
    • printers: LA50, LA120, LP05, LP25
    • communication interfaces: DL-11, DZ-11, DH-11, DELQA
    • special hardware: CB-11, PCL-11, DT-07, KFQSA, KZQSA
    Notes:
    1. this training stint was over a 12 year period between 1981 and 1993 and easily went over 52 weeks total
    2. I've worked on a lot more stuff than what is listed above (see: Alpha, Itanium and x86-64 further down this page)
    3. you haven't lived the techie life until you've done a head alignment on an RP06 disk drive. This thing was the size of a Maytag washer, had 18/19 heads and was only good for 200 megabytes. If you ever forgot to take off your wrist watch, it would be pooched as soon as you moved your hand near the head-positioning magnet. The heads had to be laterally adjusted to within 200 micro inches while flying 35 micro inches above the pack surface (why didn't the Yanks ever go metric?)
    4. bored by this? Then jump here: Technological Change
  • In 1982 I bought a clone Z80 card for my Apple ][ (Apple 2) to get hands-on experience with CP/M-80 and the "8080/Z80 assembler". Does anyone remember using PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program) to copy files in CP/M? (This program had the same name in DEC's RSX-11M operating system)

  • I received my first exposure to RSX-11M when I landed a job doing hardware maintenance on a medium sized PDP-11/44 based system (BSIMS)

  • I bought an Apple Macintosh in May of 1984 (the first year they came out) for three reasons:

    1. to learn 68K assembler
    2. to experience what I thought was the world's first GUI-OS
    3. it was obvious that Apple was going out of their way to not develop the still very popular Apple-2

      (In hind site I can now see that Apple had changed from a cool engineering company to a money-grubbing marketing company. Why is it that "the suits" come in and think they can improve things when they really don't have a clue? Don't believe me? Just take a look at the Apple-III which was designed by committee run by "the suits")

  • I received my first exposure to UNIX (BSD 4.2) when I landed a job in 1984 doing hardware maintenance of a system which consisted of two PDP-11/44 processors running UNIX and one PDP-11/44 processor running RSX-11M. Processor inter-communications took place over a PCL-11 (Processor Communications Link) while peripheral devices were connected using a DT-07 Unibus switch. A very cool setup for 1984.

  • In 1986 I bought a 286 clone just to get experience with MS-DOS based systems. How many of you ever worked on MS-DOS 2.0? At this time I also did some Motorola 6809 embedded design work for Bell Canada. The code was written and cross assembled on the 286 then blasted to a 2732 EPROM.
     
  • In 1987 I landed a corporate job programming in VAX-BASIC on both VAX-11/730 and VAX-11/750 processors which were later migrated to a dual VAX-8550 cluster (one of the first in Canada). The 8550 was connected to two HSCs (Hierarchical Storage Controllers) which were connected to 32 shadowed RA-80 disk drives. I learned DCL the hard way the leaned how to write code in MACRO-32 and then call it (as well as VMS run-time library routines) from VAX-BASIC. This was also my first exposure to packet networking. We used Ethernet, DECnet, LAT (Local Area Transport), MOP, and CSSI (Computer Storage Services Inteconnect).
     
  • In 1988 I upgraded my Macintosh to a larger Macintosh SE. The only reason for this was to get more memory and a big 20 Meg hard drive so I could load and learn MacPascal and Lightspeed-C

  • On 1988-Oct-08 I had the privilege to attend a Carl Sagan lecture at Convocation Hall, University of Toronto. Wow! What an impression he made on everyone by focusing more attention on the younger people of the audience. (one kid asked "how do I become an astronaut?"  Carl answered "very few people actually fly in space but many thousands of scientists are involved in space-related research. Go into science and you life will be more satisfying)
     
  • I traded up my MacSE to a Macintosh LC around 1989 (the first Mac really should have been a color machine. What was Apple thinking?)

  • In 1989 I acquired another job programming as well as maintaining (yes, a hardware and software job) a pair of VAX-11/750.

1990s

  • In 1991 we moved our corporate application to a uVAX-3500 which was then upgraded to a uVAX-3800.

  • In 1992 our corporate application was migrated to a uVAX-4300. Of course this lead to more hardware and software training at DEC:
     
    • Hull, Quebec (just East of Ottawa)
    • Bedford, Massachusetts (12 Crosby Drive). Just north-west of Boston on Rte 128
    • Marlborough, Massachusettes
    • Maynard, Massachusetts (129 Parker Street). West of Boston

  • In 1993 I became SynOptics certified to work on Ethernet and Token Ring networks. I did the whole TCP/IP, SNMP, RIP/EGP/BGP thing.

  • Also in 1993, I did some free-lance work designing a 68HC11 based controller for a ground-source heat-pump. The code was developed on my Mac using the uASM cross assembler from Micro Dialects. The printed circuit board layout was done using McCad from Vamp. Click here for more info. (Many thanks to Dave Hatherton for the experience.)

  • In 1994 I traded up my Macintosh LC to a Macintosh Centris 610

  • I built a two messaging system between my uVAX-4300 and the ARDIS radio network (based upon a Motorola DataTAC radio). I did all the VAX-VMS work while Bell Mobility did the radio side. (our technicians were using an HP-100 PDA wired to a DataTAC to receive/acknowledge/close work tickets)
     
  • In 1995 I bought a 100 MHz Patriot 486 (an IBM Blue Thunder 486 clone chip on an IBM Microelectronics Mother Board) to:

    1. use with Turbo-C so I can do my C/C++ college programming assignments (I'm just an evening student)
    2. run a Whitesmiths-C development package (from Intermetrics Microsystems) for a 68HC11 based controller for a ground-source heat-pump. Here are some details
    3. run a copy of personal Oracle 7 so I can learn SQL

      I now live in a dual computing-technology household.

  • In 1995 I  signed up with and Ontario ISP called Hookup Inc. I'm now on the net (via dialup) and I've got my own home page. At this time the Internet is just a plaything for scientists and computer geeks.
     
  • I acquired a DEC-C++ compiler for my VAX at work. Our applications are still written in VAX-BASIC but compute intensive routines will be moved to C++ and called from VAX-BASIC. I also acquired a GNU-C compiler just for hacking purposes.

  • In 1996 our over loaded uVAX-4300 would periodically crash and no amount of tuning would help. We upgraded the OS from VMS 5.5 to OpenVMS 6.2 and now its rock solid. Digital really knows how to build an OS.

  • In 1997 I took over maintenance of:
     
    1. ten Sun SPARC 5's (Solaris 2.5.1)
    2. three Sun Ultra 170's (Solaris 2.5.1)
    3. six HP-9000's (HP-UX-10.2)
    4. five DEC Alpha 4100's (Digital UNIX 4.1)
    5. three 486 based industrial boxes (QNX 4.2)
       
    UNIX wise, it now looks like I'm back in the thick of things...

  • In 1998 we moved or corporate application from our uVAX-4300 to a VAX-6420. (Our department is cheap so we bought a used machine)

  • I returned to community college to attend an advanced Microsoft Access 97 course from a professional instructor (you can learn it on your own, but you'll never get a handle on the gazillion features of this product unless you learn them from someone else; Who would have thought that Microsoft needed to include 22 tool bars just to present everything to You?)

  • In 1999 I purchased a new Windows-98 based system for home use. I had a local integrator build a system consisting of the following:

    1. ASUS P2B main board featuring an Intel 440BX chip set running at 100 MHz
    2. 350 Mhz Intel Pentium-II with 64 Meg of SDRAM
    3. 8 Meg ATI Rage Pro graphics adapter (AGP based)
    4. Lectron 56K V.90 modem (ISA based) featuring the Cirrus CL-MD56xx chip set (an internal hardware based modem; not a WinModem or SoftModem)
    5. 8.4 Gig hard drive, 40x CD-ROM, 100 Meg internal IOMega ZIP drive (IDE-ATAPI based), 3.5 " floppy drive
    6. all in an ATX case with an ATX power supply (not as common a combination as one would think)
    7. The usual el-cheapo stuff:

      • Advanced Logic sound card (PCI based)
      • PureData 36 bit Scanner
      • Lexmark 1100 Inkjet Printer
         
      By the way, I sold both the Macintosh Centris 610 and the Patriot 486 to help fund the purchase. (It seems I have been totally assimilated by the BORG from Redmond, Washington but who cares? As long as I have a reliable on ramp to the internet)

  • Bell Canada's Sympatico division finally offered 1-Meg high speed internet in my neighborhood and I was the first kid on the block to sign up.
     
  • In 1999 our over loaded VAX-6420 would periodically bog down and tuning would not help. We upgraded the OS from OpenVMS 6.2 to OpenVMS 7.2 and now it's rock solid. Compaq (formerly Digital) really knows how to build an OS. We also bought a used CPU module in order to upgrade to a VAX-6430 (this machine can support up to 6 CPUs)

  • In December of 1999 I was asked to attempt the port some OpenVMS apps from 32-bit VAX to 64-bit Alpha. Click VAX to Alpha Porting Diary for the hairy details. While the rest of you were waiting for Y2K to destroy the world I was tweaking VMS-BASIC compiler optimization switches.
     
  • Hardware Maintenance Summary for this decade (199x):
    processors (all 32-bit VAX machines): VAX-11/730, VAX-11/750, uVAX-3500, uVAX-3900, uVAX-4300, VAX-6430
    storage: RA80, RA81, RA60, BA565, HSD05, StorageWorks

2000s

  • Hardware Maintenance Summary for this decade (200x):
    processors (all 64-bit Alpha Servers): AS-2100, AS-4100, AS-DS20e
    storage: StorageWorks RA-3000, HSZ22-aa
     
  • Oops. I just learned that 10% of the VAX code base was written in VAX-C with some functions hand-coded in VAX-MACRO. It was no big deal to convert these to DEC-C for Alpha. Click VAX to Alpha Porting Diary for more details.
     
  • In 2000 I upgraded my ASUS-P2B to an ASUS-P3B (a Pentium-/// running 550 MHz). The L2 cache is smaller but I've got lots of throughput since it's on chip. This was the year I also signed up for 1-meg ADSL. I'll never be able to go back to 56k dialup.
     
  • In 2001 I started porting another large application from 32-bit VAX to 64-bit Alpha. We will be moving off the afore mentioned VAX-6430 to an Alpha-4100 with two CPUs. There will be an associated job moving a web server from VAX-4300 to Alpha-2100 (one CPU).
     
  • In 2001 I learned that Compaq has gone over to the dark side (Intel) by agreeing to stop development of Alpha (EV8 is cancelled). They claim that all Compaq servers will be using IA-64 starting in 2004, so I'm starting to read Itanium manuals. Check back here to see if I'm doing another port in 2006 or 2007.
     
  • Oops. HP (Hewlett-Packard) has just announced that they will stop development of PA-RISC (for a second time) and only focus on IA-64 (Itanium). They also announced that they will merge with Compaq which will result in a company slightly larger than IBM. What was that oriental curse about "living in interesting times"?
     
  • We must be doing good work because management just (2002) presented us with a brand new Alpha Server DS20e (two CPUs running 833 MHz; HSZ22-based RA-3000 StorageWorks RAID array employing 24 spindles)
    volume 1 volume 2 notes
    1a0 1b0 1c0 2a0 2b0 2c0 primary RAID shelf
    1a1 1b1 1c1 2a1 2b1 2c1 mirror shelf
    volume 3 volume 4  
    3a0 3b0 3c0 4a0 4b0 4c0 primary RAID shelf
    3a1 3b1 3c1 4a1 4b1 4c1 mirror shelf
     
  • In 2002 I built an "MQSeries gateway" to allow our OpenVMS/Alpha platform to connect to IBM's ECI in Lexington Kentucky. Click here for more info.
     
  • I just (2003-Apr-2) attended my first lecture at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Waterloo, Ontario. It was presented by Simon Singh and was titled "Cracking the Cipher Challenge".
     
    Update: view recorded PI lectures here: https://www.youtube.com/user/PIOutreach
     
  • In the Spring of 2004 we received word that one of the OpenVMS software applications (VDSL Provisioning System), developed in our "Skunk Works" at Bell Canada, resulted in a granted patent:

           09/847,535 (US)  filed June 5,  2001
          2,348,405  (CA)  filed June 5, 2001
          CA01/00862 (PCT) filed June 11, 2001
  • In January of 2005 I thought I might return to my roots; I purchased an "Apple //e Platinum Edition" computer on eBay for a very reasonable price (US$80 for: Computer with 64 K memory, 80 Column card with additional 64K bank switched memory, 13" Color Monitor, and two 5 1/4 inch floppy drives. Shipping: US$60). Additional purchases include:
    • an unopened copy of Apple Pascal 1.2 (UCSD Pascal) software package (US$20 from Paris, France)
    • an unopened copy of Apple FORTRAN software package (US$10 from North Carolina, USA)
    • a genuine Microsoft "Z-80 Softcard" with CP/M (US$20) along with Microsoft's Fortran-80 compiler (Bill Gates would flip if he knew this was going on)

    Now don't think that I've given up on modern technology; this is just my version of a car lover's "1962 Corvette" (although I'm sure the rest of the world sees this as worthless junk). Click here for some cool Apple-2 Links

  • In February of 2005 I started to work on an IVR (interactive voice response) solution based upon technology from Nuance Communications. Their Vocalizer product is the best TTS (text to speech) interface that I've personally experienced. Their slightly more expensive NVP (Nuance Voice Platform) can work in both directions forming the basis of any voice application including IVR (Interactive Voice Response). This system seems to be able to deal with voices from males or females, young or old, plain or accented, with no required pre-training (although the voice recognition service can be placed into a "learning mode" to improve results and recognize faster). They also support languages other than English. Nuance software employs VoiceXML (VXML) and VoIP to connect to telephone system interface appliances from 3rd party vendors like Intel. I'm currently evaluating an NVP solution based upon the Intel� NetStructure™ PBX-IP Media Gateway (specifically the PIMG80LSV4 a.k.a. PIMG80LS) which can connect a 100MHz Ethernet to a maximum of 8 standard analog "Tip and Ring" telephone lines. Other models in this product line can connect to any PBX including switches from Nortel, Mitel, Avaya, NEC, Siemens, etc. Click here for more information including links.
     
  • In 2005-12-xx I purchased a new PC for home use.
     
    MB ASUS-P5GD2 Chipset: Intel i915P/i915G
    CPU P4 3.2 GHz Prescott (hyper-threaded, mono-core, 32-bit)
    Memory 1 GB DDR2
    Storage   160 GB SATA
    Optical GSA-4163B (LG)
    Video ATI Radeon X600 via PCI-Express
    OS Windows-XP Pro 2002
    Cost $1200

  • In 2006 I converted our "MQ Series gateway" (based upon "Aventail VPN") into a "Websphere MQ gateway" (based upon SSL) to allow our OpenVMS/Alpha platform to connect to IBM's ECI in Lexington Kentucky. Click here for details.
     
  • On 2007-04-20 I purchased a refurbished PC for use with Solaris-11 and Sun Studio 11. I'm keeping my ASUS for Windows-XP use.
     
    MB ECS-Asterope3 Chipset: ATI RS400/RC400/RC410
    CPU "PENTIUM-D 820" 2.8 GHz Smithfield (hyper-threaded, dual-core, 64-bit (EM64T))
    Memory 1 GB DDR2
    Storage   200 GB SATA
    Optical TS-H652L
    Video Embedded ATI Radeon Xpress 200 (uses shared memory?)
    OS #1 Windows-XP Media Center Edition 2002
    OS #2 Solaris-11 (SunOS 5.11) along with Sun Studio 11
    Cost $500

    OK so this motherboard isn't as good and I'm using now embedded video. But after 18 months, the number of cores double, the number of CPU bits double, but the price drops in half?
     
  • On 2007-09-30 I became aware of the fact that folding@home is the only distributed computing program which will affect human life almost immediately. I purchased some new computers and used ATI Graphics cards in order to do my bit (pun intended).
     
  • On 2008-02-xx I purchased my first Quad core (Intel Core2-Quad q6000) to explore the SMP folding@home client.
     
  • After 2008-06-xx  I attended two week-long courses at Learning Tree in Toronto.
    • LT-489: JavaScript for Web Development
      • I learned many new things about "DOM 4" but the biggest eye-opener was AJAX
    • LT-522: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for Web Page Development
      • I have been doing everything wrong for the past 10 years. Application programmers who switched their users from VT100 series terminals to browsers need to know about this. Embedded styles and external CSS technology reduced the size of my HTML traffic by 40%
         
  • In 2009-08-xx, I put the finishing touches on an OpenVMS-based Employee Safety Protection Plan (ESPP). My employer requires that all employees (working alone or not) need to check in with their respective work centers every 120 minutes or sooner. My system sends an email reminder to technician's cell phones at 100 and 110 minutes. At 120 minutes an MIA (missing-in-action) message is sent with courtesy copies (cc's) sent to the control center as well as the technician's immediate manager. We escalate to the manager's manager 20 minutes after that. Although we are currently using Sanyo SCP-2300 smart phones, we intend to move to RIM BlackBerry units ASAP. Here is a table of 3-letter codes I implemented when replying by smart-phone email:
    Numeric Code Alphabetic Alias Meaning Comments
    000 OOO check OUT "zero" looks like "Oh" in OUT
    111 xxxxxxxxxx III xxxxxxxxxx check IN (to location) xxxxxxxxxx "one" looks like "Eye" in IN
    222 xxxxxxxxxx DDD xxxxxxxxxx set DESTINATION (to location) xxxxxxxxxx "two" sounds like "to" as in "going to"
    777 SSS check in to SAME location as before "seven" begins with "s" as in "same"
  • Starting with 2009-09-xx, I have replaced all my folding-at-home CPU clients with BOINC clients (to support Rosetta-at-home and POEM-at-home). All machines with an ATI graphics card sill crunch for folding@home

2010s

Neil Rieck in 2012
  • As of 2010-01-01
    • I'm still developing commercial applications for OpenVMS on Alpha
    • On the home front, my wife and I own two PC's based upon Intel's Core i7 860 CPU (2.8 GHz) which do various forms of scientific analysis when we aren't using them (they are never turned off). They primarily support folding@home via Graphics Cards as well as Rosetta-at-Home and POEM-at-Home via BOINC
       
  • In 2010-08-xx I was approached to build a SOAP interface into my OpenVMS systems (will connect between Waterloo, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec). After setting up a preliminary demo solution employing AXIS2 under Apache Tomcat, a better solution was achieved using gSOAP. Click here to see my notes.
     
  • 2011: More work with gSOAP
     
  • 2012:
    • achieved Shodan (first Black Belt) in GoJu Ryu Karate and Classical Kobudo
    • More work with gSOAP
    • Worked on a corporate VAX hardening project
      • we moved from ten VAX platforms (running VMS-5-5.2) to ten DL-385 running Windows Server Edition 2008 and Charon-VAX
      • inter-platform DECnet connections (banned on the new network) were replaced with DECnet tunnels via TCPware
      • Both Telnet and FTP were secured via SSH
      • SNA-LU6.2 was replaced with Java
    • Discovered and fixed a serious bug in OpenSSL for OpenVMS affecting program c_client.c (used in the OpenSSL CLI used to test connections)
    • Discovered a bug in the MOD() function of HP-BASIC-1.7
       
  • 2013
    • Wrote a commercial web-based application (employing AJAX, HP-BASIC, and RMS) for my employer
    • Used FireBug (a FireFox plugin) and YSlow (a Yahoo! tool) to debug a commercial web server running Apache
       
  • 2014
  • 2015
    • wrote/built my own authentication module for CSWS (Apache on OpenVMS)
    • built an OpenVMS version of lib_mysqludf_sys (a User Defined Function which allows you to execute DCL commands in SQL and Stored Procedures)
    • racked a new HP Integrity rx2800-i2 (two 4-core Itanium 9340) then installed OpenVMS
  • 2016
    • cutover our primary business system from OpenVMS-8.4 running on an Alpha Server DS20e to OpenVMS-8.4 running on an Itanium HP Integrity rx2800-i2
    • returned to CIFS-Samba after ten years to install this package on OpenVMS-8.4 Itanium running MultiNet-5.4
    • cutover our development system from OpenVMS-8.4 running on an Alpha Server DS20e to OpenVMS-8.4 running on an Itanium HP Integrity rx2660
       
  • 2017
    • We use MariaDB-5 over OpenVMS on Itanium but while testing improvements to MariaDB-10 over CentOS-7 on ProLiant we noticed that our OpenVMS production software was much faster when connecting MariaDB on the remote Linux platform. So we permanently moved our production database...
       databaseOShardware
      from: MariaDB-5.5-25OpenVMS-8.4 HP rx2800-i2
      to:MariaDB-10.1.19 CentOS-7 HP ML370-G6
      Click:
    • Learning AngularJS at udemy.com
      comments:
      • by common usage, AngularJS refers to version #1 while Angular refers to version #2 and higher (version #3 was never release but as of this writing versions 4-9 exist (when will the madness stop?)
      • lots of people look at AngularJS and wonder to themselves "what is the point?" For those out there thinking the same thing let me respond with "there are differences between an editor, a word processor, and a full blown publishing system". If your jobs are small then you will only need an editor and anything else will seem pointless (look how many people use MS-Word with "spell checking" and-or "grammar checking" disabled). But there comes a point when your web-application will become too large to properly maintain (or you fear that touching anything will break something). This is where JavaScript frameworks like AngularJS, Angular and React step in. And while I'm on my soap-box be sure to check out jQuery and Bootstrap
  • 2018
    • Our primary business system contains ~ 15 GB of data. 50% is relational (MariaDB) whilst 50% is ISAM / RMS
    • Since I am the remaining RMS specialist still working on this system, all our existing programs need to be modernized before I retire in December of 2020
    • Since there is no time to totally rewrite the ~ 100 programs (some written in VMS-BASIC , some written in VMS-C), I have decided to replace RMS specific routines with calls to MariaDB.
      • RMS was built into VMS-BASIC but to connect to MariaDB I have written a collection of MySQL client routines written in C.
      • VMS-BASIC programs will link to these routines which have the ability to copy row/column data from MariaDB into two-dimensional arrays in BASIC.
    • Time permitting, I hope to have this work finished by March of 2019.
    • Need to migrate our Linux environment (DVLP + PROD) from ProLiant ML370-g6 servers to ProLiant DL385p-gen8
  • 2019
    • Learning Python3 at udemy.com
    • Moving program functionality from various languages on OpenVMS to Python3 on CentOS-7

2020s

My Workplace (cyberpunk)

I work on modern mini Mainframes and Servers (software and hardware) in a 1942 building which hasn't seen any fresh paint since 1990. I feel like a cyberpunk character in a William Gibson novel.  

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.