floppy disks?

Gene Heskett gheskett at shentel.net
Sun Mar 10 02:48:44 UTC 2019

On Saturday 09 March 2019 20:27:46 Mark Lawrence wrote:

> On 09/03/2019 23:22, Peter Flynn wrote:
> > On 09/03/2019 22:44, Robert Heller wrote:
> > [...]
> >
> >> That would be a VAX-11/780.
> >
> > That was the one. Nice machine at the time. Horrible OS.
> VMS stands for Very Much Safer.  It was actually a real Operating
> System, unlike the modern day crap alternatives that masquerade as
> such. Really, how many people run ubuntu clusters, and feel safe doing
> so?
I'm glad you think so. Here's a long story with lots of implied vitriol.

CBS in the late 80's bought several pallets of 11/723's to automate the 
operation of a motorized 7 meter C band dish as they were expanding 
their network so the could sell dog food in one market, and pampers in 
the market over in the next state, but ours was a crash-o-matic, couple 
times a month it left the dish on the wrong bird because it had silently 
crashed. But we didn't get paid for airing the wrong commercial so it 
cost us money.

CBS had a contract with DEC to maintain them.  The crashes got more 
frequent eventually to 10+ times a day. Each time the DEC Field people 
would come and exchange a piece, claiming it was fixed but they 
eventually replaced everything in it but the frame rail with the serial 
number stamped on it. Without fixing the crashing which got ever more 
frequent. When it got to the point we were oweing CBS for the missed 
commercials, I called Hugo, the computer guy at CBS and told him to find 
me another machine that didn't crash, the only one he had was his test 
mule where he could test/fix boards from other stations in it.  So he 
got in touch with DEC and moved my serial number to New York City and 
sent me his test mule, registering its serial number as now at WDTV. I 
kept my hard drive because my bird map vs sky position was different due 
to a documentation mixup when we poured concrete. But the crashes moved 
to NYC, the NYC techs couldn't fix it either, and Hugo was then out of a 
test mule so CBS was forced to re-equip all the affiliates with new 
industrial IBM's with ARTIC cards in them. They just Worked.

I eventually had to disconnect the phone line and setup an updater for 
the scheduling based on using my offices coco3 as a vt-220 after the 
second new hire noticed my satellite table was AFU, and fixed it taking 
me about 3 days to refind and record all the birds used again.  Once was 
a mistake, twice after explaining the situation to programming the first 
time was stupidity. Unplugging the phone line got me a call from the 
network programmer to bawl me out, and that was the wrong thing to do 
and I melted a few miles of phone cable.  From then on, the first thing 
I did in the afternoon was to update its schedule from the email I got 
late that morning. Eventually CBS got enough channels on one bird and 
they devised an instant channel switch they could do by vits remote 
control.  So we quit waving that 7 meter dish like a 4th of July flag 
and everybody lives happily ever after.

Anyway, thats my experience with the one and only DEC I ever tried to 
keep working.  Miserable POS IMNSHO. So was their so called field 
service dept.  IMO that is the single biggest reason they went bust. I 
never met the same tech a third time, and I wouldn't have written them a 
paycheck for any service call they made to our station. Calling them 
incompetent was being kinder than they deserved. So I never expressed 
that to them, they were pawns stuck in the middle.

Back to your regularly scheduled, hopefully educational reading now. :)

> --
> My fellow Pythonistas, ask not what our language can do for you, ask
> what you can do for our language.
> Mark Lawrence

Cheers, Gene Heskett
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
 soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
Genes Web page <http://geneslinuxbox.net:6309/gene>

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