Angus: A morning chuckle! Or, is that giggle? Wait…

Trolling the IBM i related groups on LinkedIn (ok, to post the survey link), I caught up on some of the interesting discussions about our platform, and of course, what particular name should be used. One in particular can be found here – I will leave you to read the entire conversation.

I am mentioned frequently as the antagonist in the game – for example:
To be honest i got tired of fighting endlessly with Trevor Perry’s disciples over the topic.“,
I’m not Trevor Perry (nor his disciple)“,
his fervor sometimes borders on that of the Sharia police“.
The most interesting part was this comment: “when i actually met Trevor for the first time in London a few weeks ago, he seemed such a nice bloke, so i thought “why not?” So IBM i it is.“. Me being a “nice bloke” shouldn’t be a reason, really. Nor should my police activity. It would be nice if the community would come together on the platform – name included – for reasons that our platform will die on its past, and live on its future. Referring to the platform or the tools as though it were the same as 5, 10, 20, or 24 years old, seems to be a backward thinking philosophy, but there is always some excuse on offer.

The best comment was a perspective that needs to be spread as far as possible. I definitely plan on using it for my IBMi2 effort. Here it is, verbatim.
In fairness to the Mother Ship, IBM (along with most other marketing driven companies) has always believed that you have to change the names of lines/brands periodically. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the products. You just need to change things to keep interest in the products current.

“¨”¨Microsoft Windows has had, what, seven renames. GM has dropped dozens of brands over the years, only to resurrect them under a new name with a slightly different body style. Everything from refrigerators to PCs changes from time to time. Candy gets “lite” versions. M&Ms get almond versions. Coke gets polar bear cans (then withdraws them). And on and on. It’s the nature of product marketing. You change things to get attention and reflect improvements. It’s like talk radio – angst creates interest….

“¨”¨Is it distracting to those who want things to be the way they always were – of course. Otherwise we’d still be calling it a System/3 running SCP version 2000.1.1.

“¨”¨What we really object to, subconciously, is the complexity of dealing with everything in the computer industry. And it’s not really so much IBM’s fault. The longer I work in the I/T industry, the more I marvel at how the whole thing keeps from falling from the sky from the weight of all the details that have to be accounted for and managed.

“¨”¨IBM will change the name of the hardware and the operating systeme again. You can count on it. As followers of the technology, we just need to keep up and stay current. We need to learn new skills and blend new application technologies. And we need to call it what it is, not what we’d like it to be called.

ҬӬI used to do carpentry on the side with a hammer, a hand saw and some nails. Now I have to carry around nail guns, power saws (I wonder if those secretly run on IBM i?), compressors, and more. But do I yearn for the days of doing it all manually Рnope. I just adjust and move forward.

ҬӬFor the most part, POWER technology is sold, not bought. Very few buyers of technology that costs this much Google it and buy it on the web. IBM has failed repeatedly at trying that. IBMers and business partners have to get in front of customers and sell this stuff. Same-same with HP-UX (HP3000 is gone) systems, Sun Microsystems (OK, now Oracle) and other complex, integrated computer systems costing thousands of dollars.

“¨”¨As consumers, we Google everything. We think of YouTube as the answer. And it’s nice to be able to find information about stuff using Google.But Google is not the answer to everything. IBM does a good job of making all kinds of information available to us via the web – probably too much information. We get confused trying to find it all, so we add countless blogs and forums to make it even more difficult to find everything.

“¨”¨Our job is to soldier on and try to keep up with the madness that is I/T. It’s a hard job. But it pays OK and keeps us out of the Occupy Wall Street camps……….

Thanks Doug!

Angus: Trending survey results!

After 100 survey takers, there are some trending results – mostly in that there is a lot of different perspectives of what this platform is, and what it can do. Without doubt, every response is fabulous information, and will help build the first ibmi2.com site.

And yes, that includes the responses that are pointed at me personally. 🙂

The first thought that comes to mind is simply this. Wouldn’t it be great if we, the IBM i proponents, were to spread a unified message about the platform. Including the name, the modern tooling, the integration capabilities, the business case? This is how ibmi2.com will be built – not focused on the past, but focused on a unified message, and how we can deliver that.

Thank you to everyone who has participated. Send the ibmi2.com link to everyone you know and ask them to spend a few minutes with their answers. The IBM i industry press will be mentioning the survey in the next week or so, and that will spread the word further!

20i2 – a year of unity in the IBM i community!

Angus: Take the IBM i survey!

The next stage in the IBMi2 campaign is to survey the community about their perception of the platform. You can participate – anonymously – by starting at ibmi2.com. Navigate to that site, then click the link to take the survey. The poll will be open for a few weeks…

I appreciate everyone’s feedback.

Angus: What has IBM i done for you lately?

If you are willing to give back to the IBM i community, I am building a new campaign for 20i2. The motto is:

20i2 – a year of unity in the IBM i community.

If you think you would like to contribute to building a strong unified IBM i community, email me here..

Angus: Year 2 of the 2nd decade of the 21st century!

In my usual wanderings on LinkedIn, I found a software company posting that promised free “AS/400” software. I asked the poster if it would be available on IBM i, and one of the company leaders then asked me a question about what I meant when I said “I am hoping you will actually cater for IBM i….”.

Here is my response..

My perspective is that our platform is the best business system on the planet. Most of the community has a passion for the platform that is admirable and hard to find for most systems. However, what “platform”? Is it the AS/400? The iSeries? The System i? OS/400? i5/OS? Or, IBM i? Or Power Systems?

It is the latter. IBM ~only~ sells IBM i on Power Systems. It is the evolution of all the others, and it is the ONLY one that IBM sells. No matter which of those “platforms” you believe in, the next one you upgrade to will be IBM i on Power Systems. So, the platform we work on in 20i2 is IBM i, and it runs on Power Systems. Call it IBM i (so we can google it), speak i, talk about IBM i on Power, (or even Poweri to confuse), but don’t call it an AS/400. Not when AS/400 is 12 years old now – as long as we had an AS/400.

Many companies (you know who you are), and many community members, don’t address the platform by its current name. For some, apparently stubborn, ignorant, out of date, reasoning, everyone seems to want to view the platform as their own name – not the actual name.

And yet, it is ~not~ about the name. It is about the perspective. If we look at the platform as something modern – IBM i on Power, we may tend to use it with a more modern approach. Modern Eclipse-based development tools. Modern database. Modern user interfaces. Modern coding techniques. Modern applications, and so on…If we think our platform is an AS/400, the trap is to use it like an AS/400 – old and outdated. RPGIII using SEU. DDS based files. and so on..

On the other hand, while competitors and our own naysayers continue to wail loudly about the AS/400 being dead, we have a reputation that is tarnished. And, while we ~inside~ the community still bicker about the “name” of the platform, we are simply doing it a terrible injustice, and propagating the doom and gloom of the platform’s enemies.

Vendors, such as your company, SHOULD be the leaders in our community. While you do need to cater for SEO and marketing and mention the PAST platform names and references, it is time to stop LEADING with all the old names and platform references. Our platform is IBM i, and it runs on Power Systems. Vendors, in my opinion, should be selling for the IBM i platform and to IBM i customers, and not playing silly name games. Vendors should be educating the community about the CURRENT and MODERN platform. Vendors should, in my opinion, not be ~leading~ with AS/400, iSeries, System i, OS/400, i5/OS, i5, or any OLD variation of our glorious past. Vendors should be catering for IBM i.

Whatever excuses are given by vendors and community members for NOT referencing the platform by its current branding are simply that – excuses. It is time to stop the complaints and the noise, and come together on what an amazing platform we have – IBM i on Power.

Power is such an amazing branding exercise. IBM i on Power is an amazing business platform. We have an opportunity to blow away the competition with our amazing platform. Yet, we choose to wallow in the idiocy of the name game.

It is time to lead!!
Will you keep selling what appears to be old technology?
Or, will you step up and lead the community into the present and the future of our platform?
You are in a position to educate as you sell and market – won’t you take that opportunity?

Thanks for asking. This has been my opinion.

How about you? Are you a leader?

Angus: 20i2 – the images

The next part of the IBM i2 movement..

Get your IBM 20i2 icon here: i4everyone.com

Stay tuned for more!

Angus: 20i2

Our IBM i community has one thing in common. We love the platform. However, we are a divided community, in that we don’t consistently treat the platform as the same thing. To some people, we are still working on the same wonderful AS/400 we had in 1988. For others, we have this amazing IBM i operating system running on the best business servers on the planet – Power Systems. And some of us think we are somewhere in between. We don’t all agree on what this platform is, how to use it in a modern way, or what we should call it. Yet we all love it?

Given that our platform has detractors who wish for it to go away, this disunity is a source of material for them. There are many who claim this platform is nothing but an old AS/400, out of date, and out of place. They work to migrate from this platform to a solution that is inferior, and in the long run costs far more to own. Yet, they manage to encourage people to move away from the platform with FUD about how they must modernize and upgrade. They push companies to move with claims that the user interface is old and outdated, and to modernize they must choose another platform.

This seems ironic, given that within our platform, we can upgrade to the best hardware and run a modern version of the best business operating system, with some robust applications that can be upgraded to the most modern of user interfaces. However, until the world knows the truth about our platform, this behavior will continue. The best defense to this continued chicanery would seem to be an offense. If the community of IBM i customers, consultants and vendors would spread the word ~outside~ the community, we could have a huge impact on the future of our platform.

Yet, we still argue about the name we should use for our platform and complain about the multitude of name changes wrought upon us by IBM. We defend our use of development tools that are outdated and outmoded. We complain about a perceived lack of marketing by IBM, and blame blame blame everyone else but ourselves. It is time to stop this waste of effort, unite in our passion for the platform, and make some positive noise in the I.T. world.

Imagine what we could do if we really did unite as a community! We could spread the word about our wonderful platform, fight back against the detractors, raise the visibility and reputation of our platform in the global I.T. community and add to the recent upward momentum of Power and IBM i.

Of course, this will take an effort on everyone’s behalf. We need to be consistent, direct, purposeful and positive. It will be difficult for many of us. Here are some thoughts on steps we can take.

  • Call the platform by its current name
  • Encourage people to use the current name
  • Stop complaining about name changes
  • Write the current name everywhere on the web
  • Encourage websites to use the current name
  • Stop complaining about IBM’s marketing
  • Engage in marketing the platform ourselves
  • Stop blaming IBM for anything
  • Use the platform like it is 2012
  • Modernize your developer skills
  • Read the industry press
  • Read industry blogs and forums
  • Contribute to industry related social media
  • Stop personal attacks on forums
  • Start responding positively and in force to community efforts
  • Respond positively and in force against detractors and naysayers
  • Celebrate our strong heritage

If the platform has done anything for you or your career, it is time to pay that back. It is time for all of us to start being positive about our platform and its future. 2012 gives us the opportunity to come together as a community

My thoughts on this topic began when I was working on a new button for 2012. My 20ii button was a hit – you can find it here. However, this theme does not translate quite as well to 20i2, so something else needed to happen. On top of that, the news that Power Systems and IBM i, have had four quarters of growth in a row (read Steve’s blog), shows that we are no longer on a permanent decline. Naysayers be damned!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting together my ideas for the 20i2 button, and making an attempt to start a movement that everyone can join. Our theme will be “building unity in the i community”. A website with an FAQ will be a start. Following that will be a way to get materials and you should be able to start your own small movement in your immediate community.

All ideas are welcome, and I will be posting more as it happens. Stay tuned!!

Angus: Why are you insulting the IBM team? Yes, you!

The usual shenanigans about the name of our platform continue in our insular community. Today, on a popular IBM i related mailing list, a post was praising IBM i 7.1 – something that seemed to start well. However, the last line was “Thanks to the iSeries team at IBM”.

Normally, it is my opinion that some education to the group could be made in the form of a reply – to inform the poster that there is no “iSeries team” at IBM, and, in fact, there has not been one since 2006. However, this particular group tends to ignore the content of my posts and consider every word I write there as an attack. Given the lack of comprehension skills by the members, I resort to my own blog to ponder this predicament.

It is obvious that the team at IBM who are responsible for IBM i have been working hard, not only to improve, modernize, enhance and grow the operating system to be world class, and to run on the best business hardware platform on the planet. I suggest that calling them the “iSeries team” is a HUGE insult. Their work, apparently, has gone unnoticed, and people – yes, YOU – are telling them that they still live in the past. Every time someone refers to IBM i on Power by any of the old brands, names, or nicknames, it is telling IBM – and the IBM i team in particular, that all their effort is worth nothing.

Why would you insult the IBM i team this way? Their efforts have produced the best operating system available, leveraged the past versions of the operating system and hardware, and built something quite extraordinary. And, to pay it the right amount of attention, branding and marketing, an appropriate name for a long term future was chosen. The old hardware, including iSeries, has been replaced with Power Systems, and IBM i brings business to Power with flexibility, integration, scalability, reliability, and low cost of ownership.

And still, you call it names? Old names?

This is like telling the IBM i OS, who has graduated college, that they are still in kindergarten.

Fortunately, IBMers, including the IBM i team, never offer their perspective to the community about their feelings towards your lack of respect . It is past time that we all started to respect their efforts, thank them profusely, and tell everyone about the ~current~ platform, and what it can do.

IBM i on Power!

Angus: Modernization ain’t new…

There has been a recent resurgence in the interest in modernization, mostly because a lot of IT organizations seem to have finally caught up to the last serious vendor-push of a few years back. It bodes well for our industry, especially since the majority of modernization requests seem to be related to reusing and leveraging existing IT assets – including business logic, applications, and platform. Maybe it is time to write a focused modernization blog – more on that to come.

In the meantime, ponder this. Many people have spread the myth that native GUI was not available for our platform, causing droves to escape the tyranny of GUI-less applications for lesser hardware, software and applications. To counter this complete and utter myth, I give you this front page from July 28, 1995!

Midrange Computing July 28, 1995

Relevant title: “The Final Word on GUIs”. Let the laughter subside to a reasonable level…

Angus: A spark?

I was relating news of the recent OCEAN conference to a friend who could not make it, and as I spoke, I realized I was talking a lot about the passion I saw at the conference. Certainly, our industry has been in a slump for some time, in terms of perception, in terms of passion, in terms of coding and modernization, etc. My session called “How To Be an IT Survivor” is always packed, but seems to be full of people who want to be led, rather than willing to make change on their own. Recently, and this includes OCEAN, I have noticed a subtle difference in the attitude of attendees at IBM i and Power conference and user group meetings, and contributors to online forums.

There seems to have been some corner turned. People are starting to understand the difference between IBM i on Power vs its predecessors. Whining about branding seems to be abating, and there is a genuine interest in IBM i and its future. RPG programmers are interested in becoming better IT developers, rather than just finding another RPGIII/RPG400 job. People are looking to expand their skill set, and are willing to learn outside their box of fear-of-change. Curiosity is creeping back into the community, manifested by the questions people are willing to ask at the smallest of user group meetings to the largest.

Certainly, attendance at IBM i community events has not increased substantially, but there are more online participants in IBM i related forums, blogs and social media venues. Twitter has more #IBMi noise as people begin to understand that vehicle. LinkedIn has far too many IBM i groups than seems necessary, but the membership in them is growing quickly. For example, the membership count of the IBM i Professionals group, which I facilitate, was once compared to the membership count of the AS/400 Professionals group. This was when the average new membership requests for a week was between zero and ten. Over the last couple of months, new membership requests in the IBM i Professionals group runs between five and fifteen per day. Eventually, the count will move in favor of the modern branded groups, much to the dismay of the outdated noisemakers.

IBM i noise has, subtly I think, started to move towards the positive. Certainly, there are lots of people who struggle with change, growth, evolution, modernization, and so on, and their only means of self-importance is to trumpet the standard tired-old complaints about name changes, IBM marketing and the like. And, there are a few, just a few, loud noisy complainants whose focus on life is slanted negatively, and will continue to attempt to make themselves bigger by simply making negative and content-free noise. The tide seems to be moving against them..

Take the discussion about COMMON membership this week on the Midrange-L mailing list. One lone voice began a tirade against a COMMON that used-to-be, rather than today’s much evolved organization. In the past, this voice would have had companions galore, all railing on the perceived failings of their community’s largest user group. This week, that lone negative voice remained lonely, with several positive points being made by a diverse range of contributors. Sure, it may not be a major change, but it does seem that the general tone of IBM i related conversations on the internet are slanting away from the negative.

So, we have IBM making positive noise (see this and this), internet forums and comments leaning toward togetherness and positivity, user groups and conferences taking on a more positive and curious tone, and less negativity as the old complainants turn tail and run.

Maybe this spark will ignite the fire.

Angus: Platform? What platform?

LinkedIn discussions are fodder for vendors, spammers, and slamming other people. But if you sort through the noise, there are some wonderful discussions. However, for IBM i, these discussions simply prove that we, as a community, are just not a community. There are so many of the so-called faithful who simply don’t know the platform.

Example 1…
Title: So, how would YOU promote the IBM i?
A comment: iseries I/T can be a huge business driver with B2B or B2C facing web apps.
Note: Who promotes IBM i by pitching the benefits of iSeries?

Example 2…
Title: IBM i and .NET
A comment: the above link is a RPGLE program running on my Core API that runs CGIDEV2 “down under” – so it is actually CGIDEV2 performance you are looking at
On the link: iSeries 520 power6
Note: iSeries never ran on Power 6.

Example 3…
Title: IBM i and .NET
Recent comment: we feel you might find either some of the answers to your questions or maybe even some end solutions by looking at (link to website)
On the link:
iseries
i5 Systems (aka AS/400)
IBM i5 systems
i5 (aka AS/400)
IBM i5 (aka AS/400)
AS/400
IBM i5
AS400
i5
Note: None of these mentioned brand ‘names’ belong to the platform as it is today, and some were never brand names.

It simply amazes me that this continued confusion and ignorance reigns. What is happening here? Why can’t the people who work on the platform KNOW what the platform is? Complaints about the name change are no longer an excuse – we have had IBM i on Power for three years – quite an eternity in IT.

Certainly IBM has many things to fix, since they really don’t appear to help in many ways. But surely there is enough noise in the community about IBM i, that the old names just make the speaker/writer look and sound hopelessly outdated? Why would anyone, in the technological industry, continue to talk about outdated technology? Yet, it seems rampant among the so-called faithful.

This questions keeps coming up, and the same old answers keep getting thrown at me. The name, the name. IBM, IBM. Marketing, marketing. Google, Google. All of these are tired and ignorant, and just excuses. If you want to promote a platform, why do you keep promoting its predecessors?

I truly think it is several things.
First, fear. For those who loved the AS/400, some of whom may have finally made it to the iSeries, they continue to code the same way as they did 20 years ago, they continue to work the same way, with the same tools. They are the hand crafters of our industry. While they may do good work, and be geniuses at their craft, they are afraid of change, or afraid of learning.
Second, lack of discipline. Most of us don’t think about the correct branding of the platform. We have no constant motivation to remember to use the correct branding. I find it easy – the competition wants it to die, you have a chance to help it live. Keeping that in your mind at all times makes for great motivation.
Third, habit. I asked one person to use the right name, and their response was “I am a recovering AS/400, iSeries, System i whatever aholic”. Of course change is difficult, but in this case, can’t you become an iHolic? Same great flavor, same addiction, more power…

I repeat here for your benefit, a version of the email I sent to the iSeriesHolic…

I just saw a response from you on IBM i Professionals, where you used the (now very very old) term iSeries.
My plea is, since you are someone who is visible in the community, for you to use the current branding when you write on public forums, and in presentations? We are an extremely fractured community with the BS about naming, and no matter what argument we use, no matter how tied we are to the past, we must come together as a community. Being consistent in our use of branding will help. Those who are very visible in the community are important, and by making a concerted effort to regularly use the current branding, obviously referencing the previous branding when appropriate, will make a difference.
Can I plead with you to make this effort? It is not a lot of work for you, and it would be a HUGE help to getting through this current quagmire of WTF-is-the-name-this-week BS.
Thanks!
Really…

Now it is your turn. In the competitive world we live in, where we do have the best business platform on the planet, I encourage you, plead with you, exhort you, beg you, promote the platform. The current one!

IBM i on Power.

Angus: Grandstanding

Wandering the Las Vegas casino between my ‘hotel’ room and some kind of ‘food’ establishment, I ended up walking behind some gentleman who was sauntering the venue pretending to be someone. He was over-dressed, coiffed perfectly, and obviously enjoying the fact that he was self-important. It seems that almost everyone in this place is here for the excess – something which does not appeal to me, so I am not blinded by the flashing lights and the strutting/showing off/name-dropping/acting up that goes on in a place with a reputation “what happens in Vegas….”. It reminded me of earlier this week at the COMMON Annual Conference in Minneapolis.

During the IBM i Q&A session, one of the attendees complained that the name had been changed, and continued to use the old name. His complaint was further extended to the lack of a “sound-off” session at the beginning of the COMMON conference. For those who don’t know, the “sound-off” session was held following the COMMON conference opening session, and gave an opportunity to address the IBM team responsible for the platform. The open mic allowed attendees to “sound off” about their questions, concerns, complaints, or the occasional kudo.

When these questions were asked in this week’s Q&A, the IBM response was calm, measured and absolutely perfect. IBM’s commitment to Power Systems was clear, and we learned that a brand for our OS that would appropriately represent the platform for the long term was a careful consideration. From the answer, a few more people learned that IBM does have a long term commitment to IBM i, and the future of IBM i on Power Systems is important to IBM.

While this is not something new to many people in our community, not everyone has had a chance to understand this. When IBM speaks to us about this in person, it begins to make more sense to the those living in the glorious past of what the platform once was. With this understanding, ignorance of the modern IBM i OS and its ability to run on the mainstream IBM Power Systems servers is addressed, and slowly, our community becomes one again. The complaints about the name change are starting to dissipate, and even if it is slowly, the community is beginning to spread the word.

On the other question of why there was no longer a “sound off” session, the explanation was brilliant. Translating will not do it justice, however the essence can be distilled here. First, a “sound off” session at the beginning of a conference can set the tone of an entire conference. Evolving that session into a Q&A session adds value to the people who can now interact more closely with the IBM i representatives, it appears to resolve more open issues, and tends to result in a more positive outcome. Any negative impact caused by a large number of small but loud complaints no longer lowers the tone of the conference.

Second, a perspective was offered to us that the “sound off” session provided an opportunity for several members of the audience to “grandstand”. Looking back and reviewing the history of this event, “grandstand” is the perfect definition. Every year, without fail, there were some well known members of the COMMON audience and our community who found their voice at the “sound off” session. Their rants included complaints important to themselves, positions they personally wished to advocate, and lots of noise. The evolution to Q&A session means this “grandstanding” has lost a forum. This year’s Annual Conference was positive and upbeat, and the energy was high. Certainly, evolving “sound off” into a Q&A session has contributed to that, and IBM deserves many kudos for that.

This morning’s Mr. Self-Important was a reminder that grandstanding is far more pervasive than a “sound-off” session at a COMMON conference. Vegas is full of people who run around for a few days with a head full of “memememe”. The gang of guys I rode with in the elevator last night were all trying to one-up each other on who was the best or worst at something they had done that evening.

And our community online has a cadre of grandstanders. Watching the forums is sometimes an exercise in laughter, sometimes humility, sometimes disgust. It is unnerving to have someone scream (ok, so it reads that way) about “get your facts straight” when they spread FLUD (Fear, Lies, Uncertainty, Doubt). If you lie, while asking others to stop lying, you are grandstanding. A couple of other pundits like to insult people for any actions with which they disagree. One of them represents a reasonably well-known vendor, and promotes their product mercilessly – just more grandstanding. All the while, they continue to sling personal insults, and slander and libel – grandstanding with some ultimately horrible and possibly legal consequences.

I am often accused of personal promotion, and that would definitely be a form of grandstanding. With this recent realization of the prominence of memememe, I will definitely be more careful to qualify my online words to check for grandstanding. Recently, I wrote a one-line response to a message in a public forum, and the subsequent backlash taught me many lessons in the difference between intent and the result, between my inside voice and that of the reader. Of course, I will also work hard to prevent losing the impact of the words or the effectiveness of the message. Certainly, better choice of forums and better choice of topics or ‘partners’ for any online debate will help.

How about you? When you write on public forums, message lists, news items, etc, what is your motive? I expect that there will be some people reading this who will immediately identify instances of grandstanding, and there will be some who still won’t recognize their own. There is a lot of negative noise in our community and industry, and we can help in two ways – first by not grandstanding, and second by not even acknowledging someone who is. Let them play with themselves!

This topic is not an easy one, since our faceless posturing online can be interpreted in many ways. However, I encourage you to question your motives, and write accordingly.

Angus: Platform history – a new perspective

System/38


A/400


System i


Power Systems


IBM i on Power


Angus: Outdated, soon to be replaced

iMonkey004.005-001

Angus: Are you stuck in a rut?

Angus: New article posted at YiPs ZA

In the ongoing series of notes to the YiPs in South Africa, this is the latest article..

This week’s topic is: Don’t listen when people tell you that you can’t do something!

Angus: Are you a leader, or a follower?

The members of the IBM i community are a mixed bag. A proportion are stuck in their AS/400 religion, unable and unwilling to move into the future. Some have moved forward a little, but have chosen another name for the platform, stubbornly sticking to their favorite old name.

I always wonder why this is the case, because it appeals to my desire to study human nature. I even started a discussion group which asked the question why people indulge in this kind of behavior – calling something the name ~they~ want, rather than the actual name. I quickly removed that discussion, knowing it would just turn into a blame game, and a bunch of name-calling.

Certainly, IBM’s renaming antics have caused confusion. Their current web sites add to that confusion. Their support adds to that confusion. Their employees add to that confusion. Their IBM Interactive division calling themselves IBMi adds to the confusion.

Possibly, you may have a server or OS of an earlier generation. You may be upset at IBM for changing the name of the platform. You may have your own ideas about branding – which you think is better than the owner and manufacturer of that platform. You may have your own marketing ideas about how IBM should market the platform – which you think are better than the owner and manufacturer of that platform. Maybe you are just stuck in your old habits, and habits are hard to change when you have been coding as long as you have.

But, none of these are an excuse to call it the wrong name. IBM i on Power has been out for over 2 years, and there is plenty of press that mentions this. If you are commenting on discussion groups, surely you are reading those discussion groups, surely you are reading other news stories, surely you are reading emails from news sources, surely you KNOW the current name of our platform.

I think that is a decent theory, but this morning I learned differently. On a discussion group, I was told “Unless someone else refers to it as something other than System i, I call it System i. But like I have said, at work it is still called the iSeries.” I laughed and laughed. The author told me two completely separate things: 1. I do what everyone else does. 2. I don’t do what everyone else does. I felt saddened and amused all at the same time. And then the light came on. Whatever the author is, they are simply just not willing to extend the limits of their knowledge and learn the truth. They are willing to sit on their behind and do what everyone else is doing.

I realized, with much sadness at the state of the human condition, that all these complainers, all these whiners, all these so-called platform bigots, are simply just followers. Not a single one of them wants to be a leader. Each one is quite happy to make noise and complain about something, but they won’t lead. They won’t take action. They won’t press for change with any real effort. They are quite happy to stick with the pack and maintain the status quo – no matter how moldy it is becoming. Not a single one of them is willing to step up and forge a new trail.

How about you?

Are you a follower?

Or, will you be a leader?

i i i i

Angus: Your 20ii challenge – a little commitment

Back in October 2009, I wrote a blog entry titled “Asleep at the wheel“. I posted a link to the blog entry on the IBM i Professionals LinkedIn group discussion board, essentially contending that IBM i Professionals were mainly whiners, not doers. Comment activity flared up again in February 2010, and again just two weeks ago.

In that discussion, I challenged people by asking what they had done FOR IBM i. While there were a few wonderful comments on things done to promote IBM i and things done for the community, the majority of positive comments were about what cool, interesting, or even mundane things people had done ON IBM i. I challenged a couple of them with questions about how they might promote those cool, interesting, or mundane things, and one or two had great ideas.

Then, the comments became what I had predicted. A bunch of complaints and whining about IBM, the name game, IBM’s marketing, platform loss, and so on. For the most part, those complainers never even got the name of the platform correct – a stunning development, since they all have had two years to get used to IBM i on Power, and more stunning since they are posting to a group with IBM i in the name!

Unrelated to this discussion, I had recently reenergized the i4everyone web site. A set of new additions to the site included some marketing suggestions, and I am attempting to add new ideas to that site as regularly as possible. I have had four suggestions over the last two weeks, but no other contributions.

There seems to be a HUGE disconnect here. From all the noise and complaints about marketing IBM i, there seems to be 99% commitment to whining and 1% commitment to actual marketing. While i4everyone is just one site, it is an attempt to spread a little attention, levity and marketing for the platform. And, there are a few other people who market the platform every chance they get. There are several IBM i related blogs, IBM i focused magazines, online networks and a load of software companies that promote their offerings on IBM i, and some valuable IBM i related forums.

The noise of the whining is deafening. Yet, the noise on the tweetverse, the noise on StumbleUpon, the noise on digg, the noise on Facebook, the positive noise on the internet can put you to sleep.

I put it to you, that YOU – yes, YOU – can have a positive impact on our platform. All you need to do is something regularly, that identifies the positive things you see and hear about IBM i. Get a Twitter account, and make liberal use of the #IBMi hashtag. Encourage bloggers to add a “share this” link to their entries, and share those entries. Make up your own marketing ideas, and post them everywhere. Print them out and stick them in your break room. If you need help with graphics, send them to me and I will attempt to build something that suits.

There is so much that each and every person in our IBM i community can do. Grassroots movements can turn into something incredible, and with a little commitment from a lot of people, we can really have a positive impact on the world.

Got a little time? Got a lot of commitment? Add a pinch of commitment to a smidge of time, and get out there a make your difference!

Angus: Take a look at yourself

On a LinkedIn group called by an old name, starting at the end of last year, someone asked in a discussion if the younger generation were no longer keen to work on an AS/400. I laughed and laughed. And laughed some more.

On a recent cruise, we were talking to a young couple about life, the universe and everything. At one point, they talked about computing, and I mentioned punch cards. Now, for most of us, we hark back to punch cards as a measure of how long we have been in computing. Some of us mention using wires to ‘write’ programs. In any case, we are proud of how much we know about computing and its history. This young couple, who are not computer professionals, but computer users only, had glazed eyes while I prattled on about punch cards, and so on and so on.. Young people have NO idea about our glorious computing past.

For many of us with years of experience, an AS/400 is a symbol of something. It represents the most amazing computing platform we have worked on. And, for many years, we would see people start with the system, only to have a similar, almost religious, experience. Even if it wasn’t our first platform, we treat it with the memory and reverence of a first major event in our lives.

Normally, the memories of our ‘firsts’ fade with time. We remember our first kiss, our first beer, our first you-name-it, with fondness and warm feelings. (Usually!). But with the AS/400, we got to have that same first kiss over and over – every day. Then it moved from being just a new exciting experience to a full blown addiction. We had support groups, conferences, fabulous AS/400 friends, and we could share our experiences in testimonials, and water-cooler chat. Our AS/400 buddies shared our obsession, and we even had celebrities to gush over. Life was wonderful.

Then one day, IBM changed everything. Well, one thing, really. They stopped selling AS/400 servers, and started selling something called an iSeries. Sure, it ran OS/400, but it was not ~our~ AS/400. It looked like a different server, but it ran just like an AS/400, smelled like an AS/400, let us code like an AS/400 – it was a duck! So, we called it an AS/400.

On another day, IBM, realizing their branding mistake (eServer…), decided they would stop selling iSeries, and released a new box called a System i5. And, they renamed the operating system to i5/OS. Quickly realizing their mistake, they surreptitiously took the 5 out of the server name, but left it in the OS. Stubbornly, we still called it an AS/400.

And then, one recent day, IBM stopped making the AS/400 – well, the System i. Just like they had done with the S/38 and S/36, they released a new product which was the result of merging two product lines. This new product took advantage of the power in the name of their chip – Power, and the servers released in 2008 were called Power Systems. Now the hardware was able to run multiple operating systems, and one of them was called IBM i. It looked like a duck, smelled like a duck, so we called it an AS/400 and ran around blaming IBM for renaming the platform – AGAIN!

Today, our glorious past is over. Our IBM i on Power is simply not an AS/400. We can now eat solid food, yet we continue to ask for gruel. We want the old stuff, because the old stuff was so cool, so amazing, and we are geniuses on the old stuff.

Now, consider a YiP – a young i professional. Someone who comes to the platform recently, someone who wants to be excited about something, someone we know will experience the same religious fervor for the platform as we did, someone who has passion bubbling out of them, someone who is ready and willing to learn. Wait! Wasn’t that YOU? Once upon a time?

Now, tell them all about the AS/400. Tell them about SEU, and how it can show almost 24 lines of code at a time. Tell them how you create a physical file with some simple lines of source code called DDS. Show them how you create a user interface that fits on 24 rows by 80 columns of green screen. And be sure to show them how Client Access.. er.. iSeries Access.. er.. IBM i Access lets them modify the 8 background colors and 8 foreground colors so you can have multiple windows open and know what you are working on. Tell them how you write the entire code in one linear mainline program – but of course, use modern constructs like subroutines and looping – none of that old GOTO stuff! Explain how you have to exit the source code, then submit your compile to batch, wait your turn, then go check a spooled file for the compile results. Teach them to “work with” stuff, and show them how you can change priorities and timeslices on jobs so you can get ahead on the queue. Show them how to end a job, and how to copy your compiled program into a production library.

You will be laughed OFF the planet. They will think you are talking about knitting (spooled file?) and won’t want to end their job – they only just got here! They will walk away thinking you are the most out-of-date programmer on the planet, and they will never want to use an AS/400 ever again.

Now, show them IBM i on Power. Show them how you can graphically manage tasks, reports, schemas, tables, indexes, views. Show them how to use RD Power to edit source for multiple programs simultaneously. Show them where to run PHP programs, and show them how to write RPG free format, leveraging the power of ILE.

They can only think that this is a modern platform. And, where is the AS/400? It has been left in the last century.

The comments on the LinkedIn discussion were really quite discouraging. If this is what our community thinks about our platform, then there is a bunch of doom and failure waiting to happen. I do know, though, that this is not representative of the community. Those people who are stuck in the past, living with their fond first kiss, are becoming fewer and fewer.

As IBM updates IBM i and RPG, and continues to invest in this operating system, and as we see that Power Systems are the best, most scalable, highest performing servers for business, we see that the combination of IBM i on Power is our new first kiss. It has come a long way from the AS/400 we love.

So now it is time to check yourself. Are you a proponent of AS/400? I expect you will be. Are you a proponent of its future? Keep calling it an AS/400, keep coding in SEU, keep using DDS to build your database, and you will simply fade into the past.

I added a comment to the LinkedIn discussion, and ended with this paragraph. I do the same here..

Keep your blinders/blinkers on, and you won’t see change in the world. Open up your skillset, open up your eyes, change your perspective just a little, and you will see that there IS an interest in this platform, it is not dying, and young people love it.

Angus: YiPs words of advice #2

One more article in the series for YiPs Africa. Always do more than asked

What would you write to mentor the next generation of IBM i developers??

Angus: ‘Tis the season?

For some reason, the end of the year brings out the noise. The same missive to IBM is expressed – a plea for IBM to market IBM i. The same complaint is loudly expressed about how IBM i is losing ground, going away, disappearing. Twitter seems to have provided a new place to spread negativity and complaints.

These particular members of our community have been awarded an AS/400 Syndrome award, using the well-known definition of insanity from Einstein – er, wait, Benjamin Franklin, er… from Rita Mae Brown’s 1983 book Sudden Death.

Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

Year upon year, the same accusation is rallied forth against IBM and its ‘lack of marketing’. Year upon year, IBM responds by not doing the marketing that is being requested by the complainants. There must be some point where said complainants realize a few things. First, IBM will not be marketing according to any plan except their own. Second, IBM is marketing the platform, just not where, when and how the complainant wants it to be done. Third, most of the complainants are not marketing savvy, simply tech folk offering just their own opinion about a business practice of which they have little knowledge – reminiscent of programmers designing graphical user interfaces. Last (for now), for IBM to be influenced enough to engage in a non-planned marketing campaign, there would have to be extraordinary circumstances.

It seems that the last point is the only one where any of us in the community have a chance to influence IBM. There are many examples of how grassroots campaigns have influenced companies to change their marketing. And we could certainly do that – there are a lot of passionate people in our industry.

However, there is one major flaw. The majority of our industry community are not willing to put forth any effort, other than words, to impact IBM marketing in any way. iSociety in 2006 and 2007 tried hard to engage the community. There was a video contest, engaging students and the community – the results are still available if you sort through the archives at i4everyone.com. The total number of videos outside the student contest sponsored by IBM’s Academic Initiative was small. A large number of podcast tools were handed out at COMMON and other industry events as prizes, and the recipients promised to record and post a podcast about i – System i back then. The total number of podcasts recorded and posted with this equipment was ZERO! Where was the follow through on those promises?

Just this week on the i4everyone.com site, a series of images promoting IBM i were posted. A tweet was tweeted to encourage IBM i tweeters to take a look, with the hope that they would start something small – maybe some feedback, maybe some more suggestions, maybe some retweets. What happened? A tweet was posted to tell us that IBM i is (in all caps) NOT GOING AWAY.

What is happening here? Are we all living in pessimism? Marketing is not about spreading the word that we are LOSING ground. Marketing succeeds when something stands out, when something is positive, when something encourages OTHER people to come play in our playground.

I encourage… no, exhort… even, plead.. with the IBM i community. Stop complaining about the same things over and over. Stop calling the platform by one of its predecessor’s names. Get off your arse and DO something. Make a video, post a blog entry, tweet, tweet, tweet, tell your non IBM i friends, digg every IBM i centric article you see.

Tell everyone about the AMAZING IBM i that runs on Power Systems.

You can, you know.

Angus: Annual AS/400 Syndrome awards..

Are you on the list? The initial awards for 2010 are published.

Remember to congratulate the winners, and send in your nominations!

Angus: The name game – part 72

i for Business
Reading the press/internet, there are many references to our platform. This blog entry is to identify what the name ~is~, and what it is ~not~.

What it is:

Written
  • IBM i
  • IBM i on Power Systems
  • IBM i on Power

(We do this for search engines! Oh, and for consistency 🙂

Spoken – in addition to the written choices
  • i
  • i on Power

What it might be, if you say it loud enough:

  • Power i

What it once was, but is no longer:

  • AS/400
  • OS/400
  • iSeries
  • eServer iSeries
  • System i
  • System i5
  • i5/OS

What it is NOT:

  • ‘i’
  • IBM ‘i’
  • the IBM ‘i’
  • i/OS
  • iOS
  • Power on i

Just for the record, did you know?

The current operating system version is:

  • IBM i 7.1

The previous operating system version is:

  • IBM i 6.1

The version before that is now named:

  • IBM i 5.4

and is no longer named:

  • i5/OS V5R4
  • IBM i V5R4

This is outlined in the IBM i document found here.

And one more interesting tidbit!

Did you know that IBM i is NOT a registered trademark for IBM? i5/OS, AS/400, OS/400, iSeries, System i are all registered by IBM, but on their Copyright and Trademark Information page, they do not have IBM i listed! Of course, they qualified their page with “This list is not a comprehensive list of all IBM trademarks”..


If you have other names to add to any of these sections, send a note to: angus@angustheitchap.com

Angus: YiPs words of advice #1

I recently made a video to congratulate the YiPs Africa for their 1 year anniversary. Richard and his team have been making an impact on the industry in South Africa, and with support from many people, are working on more change. I am truly impressed with their work and progress.

Here is a link to the article I posted on their site:
Happy Anniversary

Here is the first article on the list of my extended “words of advice”:
If you do the Right Thing for the Customer, it will be the Right Thing for You

Send them your congratulations!

Angus: But, it ~IS~ an AS/400…

I spend a lot of time evangelizing IBM i on Power Systems. Once someone listens to an impassioned speech – ok, a story about the evolution of the AS/400 through iSeries through System i to the new Power Systems – the result is the listener says something like “oh, I see how it is no longer an AS/400”. I have seen people, after some transition period, stop using any old name for our platform. And, it is nice to see many industry experts, pundits and commentators begin using the correct branding.

Of course, there are the usual holdouts. Stubborn, stuck in their ways, never evolving, screaming and whining to some bitter end – most likely their career. There are those who use nomenclature that does not exist – I see IBM ‘i’ regularly. I see complaints about how IBM will change the name again soon. I even read where Power Systems is going out of business, because they could not get the name straight. Even with conversations related to iManifest, there are still people whining, using the old name, and generally just being negative.

I always chalk this negativity and pessimism up to ignorance. If someone were to spend a little time talking to each of these people, explaining the significance of Power Systems, explaining how to write, speak and google IBM i, explaining the world that IBM lives in (the one that is different than most customers), and clarifying our future, I think it would go a long way. Unfortunately, those who do speak/write this information are not read by the entire community. Small pockets of holdouts gang together to commiserate the loss of their favorite name.

I even pleaded with a local user group recently, to have them conspire with me to only speak the correct platform name, to help drag those holdouts into the present, and with us to the future. As usual, the response from the audience was lackluster, bordering on “what is a power system, anyway?”. Ironically, the moniker i has now been in the name almost 11 years, while AS/400 was only sold by IBM for 12 years.

So, with all my evangelizing, it has taken a long long time for me to discover the true root cause of the AS/400 name being so popular. It was during one of my stories, I was told by a customer – who had a Power6 server in their computer room – that it did not matter what IBM named it, they would always call it an AS/400. When I asked why, they responded that it was because they would only ever USE it like an AS/400.

When I delved, I discovered he was talking about using SEU, SDA, RPGIII style coding, DDS built databases, Query reports, green screen applications, and so on. Even though we were building a refaced and repurposed solution using their green screen application, they were still relying on it being green. I asked about web applications, PHP, web services, ILE, modularization, n-tier applications, and their response was that none of these would ever be built on their “AS/400”.

The light went off for me. It is not the name of the platform that is the problem, but the way the platform is used. People whining about the name change are certainly afraid of change, and the name is certainly something they can cling to for safety. However, it is the new STUFF that is available that seems to be the most fear inducing.

IBM has not forced any customer into moving forward and using new development tools or techniques. Even though they have provided world class development tools, powerful scalable SQL databases, service enablement, etc etc etc, customers continue to use this platform in the same way they have for 10 or 20 (or 30?) years. It is extremely difficult to ding IBM for this, since it has produced a very, and I repeat, VERY loyal customer base.

So, the next step, IMO, is to educate the customer base about what IBM i on Power Systems can do for them. Their next server will be a Power Systems server, their next OS will be IBM i. Why are they still using it like an AS/400? What can we do to encourage them to use RD Power, SQL DDL, PHP, etc? I believe ~this~ is the conspiracy in which we need to engage. Spread the word about the new STUFF that can be done while retaining their AS/400 skills, and bring them into the 21st century.

I have started. This is the next step. What is yours???