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Words of wisdom and insight from the IBM i (System i / iSeries / AS400) community

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Simon Coulter

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This is a very sad month for the IBM i community … First Lukas passed away … and today I learned that Simon Coulter, also a frequent contributor to many midrange.com lists, passed away after a rather short battle with cancer.

Simon had remarkable insight & intelligence … and was always willing to help solve a problem.

You will be missed, Simon.

I learned today that my friend, and frequent midrange.com contributor, Lukas Beeler passed away recently.

I received an event invitation from Lukas’s Facebook account … but the content was in German. I ran it through Google’s translate function and, although far from perfect, the resulting text made mentioned “died in intensive care”. It also gave an email address for Gabriele Beeler.

I contacted Gabriele and asked for more details … Gabriele, who is Lukas’s mother, informed me that he had suffered an accident in the mountains. Although I’m not 100% sure, it sounds like he was hiking and fell. He was in a coma for 10 days after the accident and couldn’t be brought out of it.

Lukas was quite skilled in Windows & Linux, as well as IBM i (although he did grouse about the pricing … but who doesn’t). He was passionate about technology and was willing to help out when he could. He also contributed to this blog.

Lukas and I often debated technical issues in the midrange.com chat room. Although I didn’t always agree with his position, his ideas were always well thought out and had a sound basis. I’ll miss those debates.

I’ve asked Gabriele if there is a particular charity the Lukas’s family would like a donation made to … midrange.com will certainly make a contribution.

Auf Wiedersehen my friend.

Aaron Bartell posted an interesting link to a new Frankeni Technology pursuit: IBM i Personal Development in the cloud (leaked by iGor, aka Jim Oberholtzer, on the WEB400 list).

This should be VERY interesting … watch that space.

Well, another COMMON Conference & Annual Meeting is in the bag.

I’m currently at my departure gate in Orlando Airport and I figured this is a great time to make a post (especially since they have free wifi).

My current, totally unscientific, impression is that attendance was up. I’ve heard other people, including COMMON officers, mention the same.

The expo was well attended and the usual vendors were there, although I wasn’t able to wander the isles myself (had to do booth duty for MKS).

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Aaron Bartell wrote about the new RPG Open Access (RPGOA) feature available for IBM i.

The biggest problem with RPGOA is the cost … it’s not included in the base OS or RPG compiler. The cost is $500 – $5000, based on your system tier.

As the IBM i community has demonstrated repeatedly … charging extra for features that used to be, or should be, included is a significant barrier to adoption.

One point that Aaron brings up is, in my opinion, quite important … as an ISV (Independent Software Vendor), how do you demo software on a customers system if they don’t have RPGOA installed? Do they have to purchase RPGOA just to run a trial or proof of concept for a software product?

Imagine having to pay $25 for the .net framework on a Windows machine (and it was licensed on a per system basis). How many people would be using any products developed using .net?

Don’t get me wrong … I think RPGOA is a great idea … and could be a great driver for the IBM i. But if it doesn’t get adopted by the users it’s going to die on the vine.

I ran across an interesting post by Bruce Richardson of Infor:

When I joined Infor a few months ago, I was surprised to learn that so many companies continue to run our software on the IBM System i platform. This was a product line that many analysts, myself included, had started to write off 15 years ago.

My second surprise came when I saw how happy customers are with the platform and our software. Our System i customer retention rate continues to be several points higher than our 93% level average across all of our products.

http://blogs.infor.com/inside/2010/03/the-amazing-resilience-of-the-as400.html

Definitely worth a read.

My favorite part is ‘Does Larry have a case of ‘AS/400 envy’?’

COMMON 2010

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It’s time for the COMMON Conference once again … this time in Orlando Florida. This conference will be especially auspicious because it’s the 50th anniversary of the COMMON organization.

If you would like to say Hi, stop by the MKS booth on the expo floor. You can also pick up an official midrange.com button. I also have a handful of midrange.com ball caps with me … and I’ll be giving those out on a fairly random basis. There might be a couple of hats that will be auctioned off at the main event and/or the COMMON Education Foundation.

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I’ve recently been working on an ILE RPG program that needs to read a SQL table that has a VARCHAR column encoded with CCSID 1200 (Unicode).

Since RPG doesn’t normally handle Unicode, it takes a little extra effort to process the contents.

Here’s a quick example of how you handle this data …

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Here’s a quick tip for troubleshooting API calls:

If you are calling an API and notice that data you are expecting isn’t being provided, verify that you are allocating enough space for the return values and telling it how much space you’ve allocated.

Many APIs require you to allocate space to hold the returned info – but if you don’t tell the API how much space you’ve provided, it will only return the information that fits in the space it knows about.

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The year end is approaching fast … and now is the time to get those pesky charitable contributions sent in in order to be considered for 2009.

The COMMON Education Foundation’s Al Barsa scholarship is a charity I consider well worth an investment … and I encourage you to send what you can.

midrange.com has just faxed the CEF a contribution for this year. I plan on making it a regular contribution, so long as finances allow it.

http://www.common.org/foundation/scholarships.html#barsa

While I’m at it … I’d like to wish everyone in the IBM i community the very happiest of holidays and a successful new year.

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