Time traveling for work

It’s been a relatively quiet week for me, everywhere but work where there’s a lot of stuff happening. The big story is that due to someone departing, I’m going to be taking on a new project. Well, an old project, actually—I’m going to edit the new edition of first book I ever worked on when I came to “the big reference company.” I worked on that directory from late 1985 till 1992, when I got pushed out to different projects. So it’s been 18 years, and it doesn’t look like the book itself has changed much at all. The production method has, though. In the late 80s it took 7 people in-house to do it. Now it takes one person part-time through about six months. That’s why I could take it on and still keep doing the typesetting that I’ve been doing the last four years.

Getting all set up for this has been a blast from the past. I got the client for the computer system installed today. It’s a system that was designed in the 1980s, hasn’t been updated in a decade because we keep intending to replace it but it’s not gone yet. It’s so quaint. And it still works, which is the main thing. If I said what operating system it was, I’d probably get blank stares from … well, maybe everyone. (See?) I should still remember what to do; it’s only been a decade or so since I last logged in….

Stepping out of the ol’ comfort zone, here… just not too far out.


About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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4 Responses to Time traveling for work

  1. animist says:

    I may still have a pocket guide to Prime OS version 4 BASIC around my parents house. A Prime 400 was the first computer I ever used, using a DECWriter II back in high school! I once stopped the entire system (about two dozen terminals) while it waited for me to hit return using a BASIC function that timed the delay between query and response. Needless to say, that function was disabled soon after that!

    • songdogmi says:

      Wow… I forgot how much of a geek you are. šŸ™‚ They wrote front-end programs so generally the users never had to interface with the OS, but I managed to “escape” for a couple of things over the years, more out of relative boredom than anything else. I found the EMACS editor there; that was fun, though I had to learn everything by trial-and-error because users weren’t given manuals for stuff like that.

      I don’t remember exactly which model Prime(s) we had. I do remember being very impressed when I learned the first one had 11 gigabytes of disk space. This would’ve been around 1990, I guess. That probably cost tens of thousands of dollars back then.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Holy Prime OS, Batman! Is it still running on actual Prime hardware? At this point I’d think getting it moved to some other environment would be a very high priority, perhaps even a higher priority than the book itself (whichever one that is.)

    That should be especially true considering the pressure to turn such reference sources into online databases these days.

    I have no personal experience with Prime, but I certainly remember who they were. I believe they were a contender for the project that eventually introduced me to the VAX and VMS.

    • songdogmi says:

      I have been told that we are using the same Prime hardware we’ve always had, which must be over 25 years old because it was here when I got here (24 years, 10 months ago as of Saturday). At one point we had three units, and I think we’re down to two active units, the third one being used for parts.

      They’re halfway through the testing phase for a replacement system (which supposedly I will not need to be involved with). I don’t want to say too much, but I will note we’ve been talking about replacements since 1994. But Prime keeps chugging along. Over the years a lot of functionality was added to the software, and it works very well, albeit archaically I suppose. It very nicely outputs data and with maybe a couple of conversion scripts it’s ready for uploading online. If it wasn’t for the possibilities that things break and programmers retire, I’d say we should keep it. šŸ™‚

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