Angus: How to change the world..

I have noticed a trend in our industry. The people who are vocal, tend to include a large bunch of whiners. It seems to me, that there is a lot of sitting on butts behind keyboards, making slams at IBM, making slams at other people in the industry, and complaining about everything. The positivity to balance all this negative time-wasting seems to be lacking, or just not as vocal. It seems that some people think it makes them look better if they comment on something and find only the flaws. Debate, it is not. Annoying, it is.

Certainly, people express their feelings when their feelings are stirred, and some of the noise out there is a result of being stirred in a negative way. A normal reaction is to lash out, and this is easy when you are working at your keyboard all day. Even people who are shy in “real life” can make their complaint to the world with a simple comment or blog entry. Not a lot of thought is required to be ‘against’ something.

Where is the positivity? Where are all the excited people? Is it truly that the IBM i industry is comprised of a bunch of disgruntled programmers who have been around so log they are jaded? There are certainly passionate and excited people, but it seems they are either not as obviously excited as the whiners, or they may be engaged in actually DOing something out in the world. It may be, though, thatthey are not willing to offer their opinion for fear of being attacked or demeaned by the whiners.

Another thought is that IBM has just not offered them anything that is exciting enough to write about positively. Nah… there is so much that is cool and wonderful in the latest IBM i 7.1, yet it does not seem like many people have noticed the positive side of these updates.

Here are some topics that get a lot of negative press, but little positive press.

1. COMMON conference housing costs.

Certainly, the cost of the hotel room for a COMMON conference is often higher than other conferences in this industry. There are many explanations, but the simplest one is, that to provide the wide selection of education sessions, and the largest expo in this industry, COMMON has to make different contract arrangements with hotels and conference venues than other events. On the other hand, if an individual is paying for their own attendance, it can be difficult to justify a high hotel room rate. And, from an insider’s perspective, I know this is an important and high priority topic for the COMMON organization, and they are doing everything they can to alleviate costs in future conferences.

But, regardless of the cost, there is only whining. The complaints begin with “waah waah poor me”, but not one whiff of “how can I help?” or “have you thought of these ideas?”. No positive contribution is made, and the whiners rely on someone else actually DOing the work.

Waah, waah, you are doing me wrong! Waah, waah, I will still be there, but I need to find something to complain about.

2. The name! The name!

IBM ~did~ change the name of the platform several times in the last decade. However, in 2008, IBM gave us a new platform – Power Systems, running our favorite operating system. Since it would be ridiculous to run OS/400 or i5/OS on a Power Systems platform, IBM changed the name of the operating system to be IBM i. How fantastic is this opportunity? Our OS runs on the mainstream hardware platform from IBM, and since Power7, the best hardware platform on the planet bar none.

Yet, all we hear are complaints about “what the name will be next week”. Once upon a time, our industry was so excited about the advent of the AS/400, and very few people referred to it as a S/38 or a S/36. History has not repeated itself here, and many people see Power Systems and IBM i as just ‘another name’. Instead of whining, how about leveraging this new platform in our own career? From a personal marketing and PR perspective, it is such a wonderful thing to be able to brag about using the most integrated, scalable, virtualized server on the planet.

Waah, waah, the name has been changed! Waah, waah, I cannot handle the change, so just let me whine.

3. RPG Open Access

For years, and years, the detractors of our platform have claimed that the lack of a ‘native’ GUI was the largest downfall of the platform, and caused companies to leave the platform in droves. Of course, ‘native’ GUI has been available on our platform for almost as long as the platform itself. Third party software vendors have been providing graphical user interfaces that either disguise, reengineer or work around the 5250 data stream. CGI connections between RPG and HTML have been native for almost as long. Something as simple as iSeries Access for the web gave browser access to the traditional green screen application. Webfacing and HATS were both IBM ‘native’ products, yet the slams were still made. EGL was essentially a native GUI to IBM i with promise, but the mismanagement of the engaged resources pitching EGL as something else and the mismarketing of what it actually was, meant it did not match the ‘native’ GUI moniker, and the platform was still slammed for something that was quote easily achievable – natively.

Part of the problem was, with so many possible solutions, application software vendors were so snowed by the sales pitches of the GUI vendors and tools, that they ran scared from the platform when someone asked for a Windows solution – because it was ‘natively’ GUI. For many of those vendors, their transition to another platform cost them dearly, while those who added a ‘native’ GUI solution to their IBM i application remain in business and are competitive with this new Power server running IBM i.

With the IBM i 7.1 announcement, RPG OA was announced. Inside RPG, the programmer can use a handler program to have a conversation with whatever User Interface the handler will provide. After all the clamoring, complaining, moaning, whining, and BS, IBM has supplied customers with the ability to provide more than just a native GUI – in fact, now there can be no claim that IBM i has none!

What happened after the announcement was incredible. Vendors are excited about this new capability. Customers flocked to the webcasts outlining RPGOA and the various vendor tools. The RPGOA session at a recent conference was quoted as being “dead, until the RPGOA part, and then the questions would not stop”. The buzz this has generated is fabulous, and several companies are leading the way to implementing successful solutions using the new capabilities.

And then the noise began. There is a charge to run RPGOA, and that is totally unacceptable. Even when the people complaining will never have to pay for it. The so-called pundits even spread misinformation about the cost of the runtime, causing a flurry of whining. The people who were supporting RPGOA were labelled as simply ‘cheerleaders’. The technical ability of the tool was questioned around and around, and the ability to achieve this functionality using other tools was used as the reason to not accept RPGOA. There was a lot of complaints about not being able to demonstrate your software that uses RPGOA without the customer having paid for the runtime, even though this was speculation, and even though this is standard software development practices. It seemed like RPGOA just became some kind of target for negativity and whining.

The potential of this product is huge. Now that many software vendors are getting on with adopting the tool, fortunately not listening to the noise from the peanut gallery, the future of RPGOA is assured. There are quite a few companies who are eager to get their hands on RPGOA and incorporate it into their solutions. And, no doubt, there will be open source handlers written and shared with the community. The negativity does not match the activity and the potential of RPGOA.

Waah, waah, IBM is making me pay. Waah, waah, I can already do that.

It really is time to stop the whining. Unfortunately, it seems that those who have the time to react emotionally to the things outside of their comfort zone, or who engage in negativity and spreading FUD, are happy in that frame of mind. There is not much we can do about their BS, and just as with any internet forum, there is very little to do about all the blind followers who tend to spill their own ignorant reactions to the leaders of the whiny cause.

So, what is to be done? Simple. For every negative whine and noise out there, create your own blog or forum, where you express your passion, your positivity, your success stories, and your hope for the future of our platform. Tell the world how amazing this platform is, be a cheerleader by DOING, then TALKING and WRITING. Make some positive noise, and extend the life of this platform.

When someone asks you what you have done for this platform, you can tell them how you whined about everything IBM has done, you can complain about the name changes, or you canengage them with tales of your passion and excitement. It is time to change the world. Are you up for it?


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Aaron BartellApril 29th, 2010 at 6:37 pm

>Even when the people complaining will never have to pay for it.

I probably fit into this mold, so I will comment on it 🙂

I am sure I can get a no-charge copy of RPGOA, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is that there is a new layer of complication of implementation once a compiler is sliced into separately chargeable components. My stance is this: RPG OA is great because it shows RPG is getting some attention and it will produce some good products, and shame on IBM marketing/sales for taking the compilers teams hard work and making it’s adoption less than optimal.

As you know, based on our debates on my blog and Chris Maxcers, obtaining the RPGOA compiler feature isn’t even close to being easy. Maybe I am just not conditioned to how IBM does software purchases because I am used to having everything I need already on the machine. I guess if anything this makes me realize how good we have had it to date by having RPG+DB2+IBMi by default on the machine (by default I mean I only had to purchase 5722WDS and DB2+IBMi was already there).

Jean MikhaleffMay 5th, 2010 at 2:25 am

With RPGOA you can hide complexity, you can move some RPG code inside handler. For example, Profound had native graphical before Handler, they have the same after Handler. You don’t add any functionnality with Handler. Of course, to hide the complexity is very important because business developpers want to simplicity. In fact if you don’t have any web controller, you don’t have native GUI, with or without handler. Profound had a web controller before Handler and the same web controller after handler. However, I think that IBM i will not have native GUI without a native web controller to manage persistence. For stateless RPG programs we already have CGIDEV2 for free.

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