Friday, October 01, 2010

The Cult of Ib'm and the Most Holy iSeries

My sermon today concerns the deeper meaning of the cult of Ib'm and the future of its most holy computer, the iSeries.

By using the word "cult" I of course don't mean some fringe religion with only a few adherent, although we are slowly becoming that (but I digress). I mean it in the way of the ancients when they worshiped temporal objects that helped them survive and/or gave their lives meaning. For example, everyone knows that among the ancient Egyptians there was a cult of cat worship. It got its start, not top-down with prophets, visions, and visitations from the cat god, but bottom-up because it was the cats that kept the rodents in their grain stores under control.

In a recent Maxed Out blog post Chris Maxcer wrote, among other interesting things, that my blog is "not trying to disparage any religion". Of course he's right. There is no intended disparagement of any religions. If there are any computer geeks out there who are also adherents to the Abrahamic religions, please do not be offended by my conflation of the language of said religions with this little cult of ours. Outside of work many of us have pledged our souls to a deity (or pantheon of deities) of our choice, but at work our hearts belong to the lord Ib'm and its most holy computer, the iSeries; for not only does it help us survive but it gives our lives meaning.

Most of the readers of this blog are well versed in the worship our lord Ib'm and its most holy computer, but computer geeks everywhere generally are priests in the temples of other idols at the same time. Unlike its behavior in the distant past, Ib'm will no longer get wrathful and send down plagues upon your systems and withhold service when one worships idols. In fact, the minions of lord Ib'm should probably, if they're on the ball, redouble their efforts to get people away from those false religions.

It's nice when all of the worlds religions can play nice together and be worshiped at once, but life isn't always like that. In an earlier time and much larger parish than my current one, we had several of the most holy AS/400s. We even had a System/36 -and- there was some worship of the Sun god, the ancient pagan rites of the Unix daemons, and the goddess Sybase. I personally had nothing against the worship of these pagan deities in my parish. After all, the nature worship that is Unix is almost as old as the F.S. Project itself and both grew out of that ancient tradition of geekdom's distance past where the command line interface (CLI) held supreme.

Eventually some new PHB's came on board and without warning there was an inundation of adherents to the twin gods Hewlett and Packard, and their object of worship, the HPUX O/S. Along with HPUX came the twin Mephistopheles of Unix faith everywhere; I am of course speaking of the foul beasts Oracle and NT. The houses of worship for these deities did not hold the CLI in high regard. Theirs was a world of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that mesmerized and held the bean counters in a trance such that they couldn't resist these temptations.

The most high and benevolent Ib'm and his many saints and angels were powerless to stem the tide of GUI worship amongst my flock. The temples to both the Sun god and the Sybase goddess were destroyed. The small System/36 cult was suppressed and the iSeries became a minority cult among this new tide. Attendance at my parish shrank, until finally there was no parish anymore. I too was tempted to abandon my faith, but it would have meant becoming a novice again after so many years as a high priest, so I chose to remain an iSeries adherent, but that also meant moving on.

As our lord Ib'm has taught us time and again, change happens, and we've all had to get used to that. I can't say that it's been easy watching this transition take place in our community. I attend the ecumenical conventions and I'm struck by how few young people are there. It appears that we are all aging out and that gives me pause. In addition the holy of hollies itself is slowly being inundated with more and more aspects of the pagan Unix cults. So much so that one day we may find that our beloved iSeries has become a pSeries.

Our lord Ib'm makes the light of the truth of the most holy iSeries, but we are its keepers. We have it in our hands to rise up and perpetuate this calling that gives our lives meaning. We cannot wait for Ib'm to come down from on high and preach to the masses the benefits of our faith. That's not going to happen, so we have to do it ourselves. In the same Maxed Out post Chris also wrote that Bishops Paris and Gantner were out teaching RPG to some VB acolytes and they most certainly have garnered more than a few converts. (You can read their blog post on the subject here: Good News in i Land.) Our counterparts in Japan have taken up the reins of proselytizing the iSeries to the unwashed masses and doing very well from what I've read. If we all do the same there is so much we could potentially accomplish not only for our benefit, but for future generations.


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