True tales of IT life are Sharky’s stock in trade, but the real people in them don’t normally get named. This tale, however, comes from a pilot fish who heard it as a lad from Bob Coveyou, a noted mathematician who worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with fish’s father, and he’s worth mentioning because the tale involves what may well have been a computing first.

The tale is from the early 1950s, when Bob was one of several scientists who wrote programs for a unique computer at ORNL called ORACLE, or Oak Ridge Automatic Computer and Logical Engine. Like other
computers of that era, it had enough vacuum tubes to fill a room. It also had a couple dozen cathode-ray tubes for its memory. Each CRT could store 1,024 binary digits (bits) of electrostatic memory in the form of a 32-by-32 array of charged dots spaced a fraction of an inch apart on the tube’s flat face.

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It’s the mid-’90s and this pilot fish is the DBA for DB2 running on MVS. He’s the software DBA and the application DBA, meaning he does it all: installing and tuning DB2 itself, backing up the catalog, changing the ZPARMS, designing the application tables with the programming staff, backing them up, tuning the buffers for each application, and more.

A new head of IS is installed who seems to just like to stir things up. Which may be the entire reason she decides they should use DB2/2 running on OS/2 for a new project.

Fish points out that no one on staff is familiar with either OS/2 or DB2/2, but the boss isn’t concerned: “I’ve hired an expert on DB2/2 because you don’t know anything about it.”

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Tech gear is a perennially popular holiday gift. If you’re the proud owner of a new phone, tablet, computer or other device — or you provide tech support for family and friends with new devices — we’re here to help.

Check out and share these stories, which can help you get the most out of a new Android or iOS device, Chromebook, Mac, or Windows PC.

Android devices

Android apps: Best of the best

Our Android expert highlights the standout apps in the categories that matter most to busy professionals: office apps, privacy and security apps, email and texting apps, note-taking apps, apps for team collaboration, apps for organizing your life, and more.

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This local business has its own print shop — and a big boss who’s a world-class skinflint. The print shop is needed because the business does a lot of custom printing of promotional materials, the really big kind that you can hang at a festival and will be noticed above the sea of humanity. The skinflint buys a rather ramshackle warehouse, in which the print shop is also installed. Budget for building improvements: $0.

The print shop is like a data center in that it is crammed with electronics that need to be kept cool. Unlike a data center, it also has a huge laminator that throws off a lot of heat. Throw in a scorching climate, and even the tightfisted boss knows air conditioning is needed. But why pay for extra BTUs — or even an adequate number of BTUs? Naturally, the A/C is overstrained, to the point that even the big boss realizes something has to be done.

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Mobile web browsing is all about finding what you need quickly and with as little hassle as possible — well, in theory, anyway. In the real world, the act of surfing sites from your smartphone is often anything but efficient.

From sites that have not-so-friendly mobile interfaces to browser commands that take far too many steps to execute, hopping around the World Wide Internuts from a handheld device can frequently leave something to be desired.

Fear not, though, my fellow finger-tappers: There are plenty of tricks you can learn to make your mobile web journey more pleasant and productive. Try these next-level tips for Google’s Chrome Android browser and get ready for a much better mobile browsing experience.

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Following its WWDC 2019 reveal, Apple shipped macOS Catalina in early Fall and most Mac users have already taken a look at its most discussed improvements, but had you come across these?

One everyone knew

I guess most Mac users are aware of the tweaked windowing controls. Hover your cursor over the green button in the application window and you can open the app up in Full Screen, Tile Left and Tile Right views, or exit if you are already in those views.

If you are using an iPad with the same Apple ID on the same network, you can also enable Sidecar view here.

Light mode, Dark mode, Auto

You have been able to choose between Dark and Light mode in System Preferences>General>Appearance ever since Mojave. Catalina adds one more thing – an Auto button that will adjust which mode you are in depending on the time of day.

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[Disclosure: Intel is a client of the author.]

After a recent debrief on Intel’s 3D XPoint memory effort (aka Optane), I was again struck with the fact that this technology is selling well below potential. That’s sure to change as virtual providers of desktop and gaming platforms realize it’ll be critical to their efforts to remove latency, mostly in storage but also when a cloud customer or on-premise user needs to do the massive in-memory analysis of large data sets.

What got me thinking about this was when Dell EMC launched its DC D4800X product earlier this year and I saw the early reviews of Google’s new cloud gaming service Stadia, which has been getting bad reviews due to the unacceptable latency. This latency may be even more pronounced on competing services.

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Microsoft this week reworked its Windows 10 development model, severing links between features and specific releases so that it can deliver the former “when they are ready.”

“While features in the active development branch may be slated for a future Windows 10 release, they are no longer matched to a specific Windows 10 release,” Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, wrote in a Dec. 16 post to a company blog. “New features and OS improvements done in this branch during these development cycles will show up in future Windows 10 releases when they are ready.”

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