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IBM Mainframe Contest Returns

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the blackpowder-enthusiasts dept.

Programming 48

Yellowcake writes "After a successful first year IBM is back with their second iteration of the Student Mainframe Contest. Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL, and Java. The contest is divided into sections of increasing difficulty, building upon the first, which states "No Experience Necessary"."

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REXX and JCL.... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970200)

Cool what about RPG, PL/1 and APL!
If you are going to use mainframe technology use mainframe technology.
Actually why include JAVA? how different is JAVA on a mainframe than on the PC?
Just wondering since I haven't used a mainframe since I took Cobol.

Re:REXX and JCL.... (3, Funny)

xPhoenix (531848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970251)

You're not supposed to tell students about JCL until AFTER you _hire_ them. Don't want to scare them off too early.

Re:REXX and JCL.... (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970646)

I had a friend that wrote a nethack game in the JCL on the old System 38. The made him delete it since it took 30% of the CPU time with one player :)

Re:REXX and JCL.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15970772)

JCL isn't a programming language and the system 38 was a mini whose operating system didn't use JCL. Other than that, great post!

Re:REXX and JCL.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15970991)

I had a friend that wrote a nethack game in the JCL on the old System 38. The made him delete it since it took 30% of the CPU time with one player :)
That's nothing. Back in the day I wrote a database using only 0's! We couldn't afford 1's at the time.

JCL is on Mainframe, CL is on S38 (1)

raftpeople (844215) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971034)

Unless there was an option to have JCL from the mainframe on the System 38 (midrange), the control language on that machine was called Control Language and abbreviated CL.

JCL and CL look very different. Either way, we get the idea.

Re:JCL is on Mainframe, CL is on S38 (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971102)

Thanks that was a LONG TIME AGO. My time on the IBM 360 or it might have been a 370 was limited to a single COBOL class.
The System38 days where also about 17 years ago. The mind wonders with old age.

Re:REXX and JCL.... (2, Insightful)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971338)

JCL isn't all that bad. At least the MVS flavor. OTOH allocating extents on VSE...

No experience necessary, eh? (2, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970259)

me: What's this plug for? The one going from the big mainframe to the wall?

ibm: That's the power cable, but you never want to unplu---

*BEOOOoo...*

ibm: NOOOOOO!

me: awesome! I hope that noise didn't mean something bad happened.

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970327)

Also see, "it's hot-pluggable you say?" "yes but..." (disk makes an unholy grinding noise as it is unplugged)

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

morryveer (870752) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970350)

Something like that happened at our datacenter. Details are vague in my memory, but basically a group was touring the datacenter, and was shown the "master" power lever. And for some reason someone threw it.

Man you should have seen the procedures fly after that little debacle.

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15970872)

That's exactly why our mainframe's power switch now have a plexiglass cover and a lock!

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971293)

Was he fired?

Thats no different than pulling a fire alarm in a building.

Also most computer centers have nice UPS for servers and mainframes so the damage would not be too bad. After the routers reboot in a minute or so things could return to normal.

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

morryveer (870752) | more than 7 years ago | (#15974049)

It was the guest on tour that pulled it. And as I understood it was a bit of a shock to everyone. More details I don't have, unfortunately.

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970390)

Don't all mainframes have several power supplies? You should be able to unplug one or two of them without too much consequence.

In any case, we all write our software to be fully transaction-safe and cleanly recoverable after a power failure. Right? Right?

Re:No experience necessary, eh? (1)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971474)

Do that with a 3090 [ibm.com] and they'll be sweeping your remains into a jar (not the Java kind either).

my favorite prize is... (3, Funny)

JackBuckley (696547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970262)

Trips to the mainframe lab in Poughkeepsie, NY Second prize is two trips!

Could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15970388)

It could be a trip to the ex-IBM mainframe lab in Kingston, NY. Check out the google maps of the Kingston lab. The roof is fuzzed out for some reason.

former IBM Kingston [google.com]

I needed this 10 years ago... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970383)

I wished they had this 10 years ago. I was working for Fujitsu's WorldsAway [wikipedia.org] division as a QA intern. We got a new vice president from Japan who invited our small group to lunch at a Chinese resturant. I had no idea what he ordered for everyone, and since I was sitting next to him, I ate everything on that plate as not to offend him since he was the host. He was disappointed to find out that I wasn't a mainframe programmer since he said the world needed more mainframe programmers than a virtual world for people to play around in. He might've been right. I was let go when my six-month contract expired and two-third of the division was laid off two weeks after that.

*sigh* Always the Americans (3, Insightful)

nachmore (922129) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970399)

IBM seems to have an office all around the world - just like there seems to be students all around the world. So why are these competitions always US only??? There are some amazing student programmers in other countries too...

Re:*sigh* Always the Americans (3, Insightful)

jhembruff (996103) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970429)

Most likely for legal reasons, IANAL but I'm pretty sure the rules for contests and gaming can vary wildly between countries (and even within states/provinces) and if they don't adhere to them they could be in a lot of hot water. Most likely they don't want to spend the money researching/adhering to all these guidlines for everywhere in the world.

Re:*sigh* Always the Americans (1)

dadragon (177695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975812)

Well, this one isn't US only.

Re:*sigh* Always the Americans (1)

Brunellus (875635) | more than 8 years ago | (#16015977)

Yeah. Just try getting them in on visas under the current immigration regime.

The most difficult (2, Funny)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970679)

Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL, and Java. The contest is divided into sections of increasing difficulty, building upon the first, which states "No Experience Necessary".

The final level of difficulty in mainframe technology is the dreaded "dropped box of punch cards" which they have to sort in the shortest time.

[this joke may be too old for this audience. :)]

Re:The most difficult (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970902)

Only if they didn't put sequence numbers on them.

Re:The most difficult (1)

synth7 (311220) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971077)

Ah, but not quite as annoying as "two mis-punched characters in this fifty-foot paper tape" where you have to use the reader/punch/printer to get to *just* before the error, then stop the feed, lift the bail and move the tape past the error, then set the bail back down and continue.

And it's cheating to stop a *few* characters before the error and type in the characters up to and through the error by hand. Flipping the feed lever spastically to get only one character at a time as you approach the error is part of the challenge!

Re:The most difficult (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971079)

I bet you can write a towers of honia program to sort the cards in teh right column of stacks with the later cards on teh bottom and smaller ones on top.

Re:The most difficult (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971476)

That was one of the most impressive typos I've ever seen. Hanoi -> Honia? Looks like it's not just cards that are getting shuffled...

Another IBM contest idea... (1)

Twixter (662877) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970692)

Cool. I heard IBM is going to have another contest where people use 'a chisel' to create 'non-volitile secondary storage!'

First prize is your own wooden club! -Todd Put down the sig, and step away from the computer.

What the hell...? (0, Offtopic)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970754)

IT: IBM Mainframe Contest Returns 6 of 4 comments

Uhm, yeah. Strange.

What about the rest of us IBM? (1)

jbohumil (517473) | more than 7 years ago | (#15970802)

If IBM was smart about attracting talent to mainframe development, they would open up access to Z/OS and the dev tools to anyone who wanted to learn them. Where are the next generation of mainframe developers going to come from anyway? PC emulators exist but unfortunately you can't run Z/OS on them legally.

Re:What about the rest of us IBM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15974959)

Where is the next generation of mainframe programmers going to come from?

Easy. The same place the last did: Big corporations and their consulting firms, training entry-level programmers and retraining existing ones. Or did kids back then own their own mainframes, too?

If anything, it's easier to get into mainframes now, because the basic technologies are much more accessible outside of Big Iron.

Re:What about the rest of us IBM? (1)

jbohumil (517473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15975035)

Well, I've been a mainframe programmer for 25 years but when I entered the job market it was quite easy to get a job as a mainframe programmer because that was pretty what programming was. Companies expected to train people on the job. Now that doesn't seem to be the case. The training budgets are axed and jobs are filled by looking for people who already have the experience to do the job.

What does not kill you... (2, Informative)

theonetruekeebler (60888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971103)

Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL
How do you win? Fail to burst into flames? Develop super powers? Hell, just have them bitten by radioactive spiders.

Re:What does not kill you... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971498)

You win by finding an emulator, compiler, or other mechanism for running the language you want, implemented in one of these languages.

I did this last year... (1)

My Iron Lung (834019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971219)

Well, at least the first part of it. The whole contest was comprised of 3 levels.. the first level was an introduction to mainframes that held your hand and as long as you followed instructions carefully, you could move on to level 2. I never did level 2 (exams were right around the corner!), but that consisted of instructions, with a lot less hand holding and reportedly took a lot longer than level 1. The fun part of level 1 was that you had to write a haiku and fire it off as an attachment to whoever was running the contest. Don't ask me what my haiku was, but I remember being very proud of it. 6-8 weeks later I received this fabulous t-shirt that I use exclusively for pyjamas: http://www.dsfargeg.com/ibmshirt1.jpg [dsfargeg.com] http://www.dsfargeg.com/ibmshirt2.jpg [dsfargeg.com]

IBM - the future in the past? (1)

gus goose (306978) | more than 7 years ago | (#15971397)

I like IBM, so I hope they don't mind my pointing out that there is a somewhat glaring error in theire "details" page:

Registration begins September 5, 2006. The contest will run from October 2 through December 28, 2005.


I know, it is jut a typo...

(from page: http://www-304.ibm.com/jct09002c/university/studen ts/contests/mainframedetails2006.html [ibm.com]

gus

Re:IBM - the future in the past? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15976032)

IBM Mainframe Contest Instructions:

1) Build a time machine.
2) ...

Re:IBM - the future in the past? (1)

twbecker (315312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15989526)

I realize you're joking, but Mainframes are still quite pervasive in a lot of sectors, most likely because their security, reliability and massive I/O capabilities can't be beat.

Re:One of the prizes is an XBOX "360" (1)

technos (73414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15972921)

While it's probably more expensive to buy an XBox 360 than a real 360 these days, you could buy fifteen or twenty XBoxes for the price of just packaging and shipping the damn thing.

Re:One of the prizes is an XBOX "360" (1)

BigCheese (47608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973038)

They may use the same amount of power though.

The rationale behind this (1)

NighthawkFoo (16928) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973279)

The rationale behind this is that there is a drought of mainframe experience among students today. If not corrected, this will cause problems in the future when companies can't hire the skills they need to maintain their existing mainframe infrastructure.

Re:The rationale behind this (1)

bobthecow (67269) | more than 7 years ago | (#15973507)

Shhhh. Don't tell anybody because then I won't get that shockingly well-paid contracting job I've been wanting. Mmmm. Assembler.

Re:The rationale behind this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15975192)

That's great news. Then there will be lots of jobs for programmers as all U.S. government agencies have to rewrite their software for something more modern than their silicon dinosaurs.

Re:The rationale behind this (1)

hummdinger02 (997602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15979590)

IBM is wise to try and make Mainframe "cool" again! Like the new Ford Mustang! Bring back all the relics! Oh wait. . . was Mainframe ever cool?

Re:The rationale behind this (1)

NighthawkFoo (16928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15979849)

If you define cool as running most of Western Civilization, then sure!

Re:One of the prizes is an XBOX "360" (1)

triso (67491) | more than 8 years ago | (#15974790)

It would be cooler if instead of a XBOX 360 they gave away a IBM 360.
It would be much warmer with an IBM 360. You could use it to heat the house during the winter.

What about non students (1)

BlueQuark (104215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15998681)

They should target people who are already working as systems administrators, systems programmers and application developers, in addition to students.

I wouldn't mind picking up mainframe skills, but the classes are expensive and IBMmakes it difficult and convoluted.

Ah well.
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