Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sound and Fury


On May 16, 2012 Mel Beckman wrote a piece in iProDeveloper called "Is RPG Dead?" where he argued that it was. Readers of this blog will recall that it caused a huge firestorm within our community to the point that many were calling for Mel's head on a platter.

I was as shocked as the next RPG programmer that the language was dead, but all of the vociferous reactions left me cold. What was needed, I thought, were cooler heads and reasoned rebuttal; During this period a line from Macbeth, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing", kept running through my head. One day a little poem came forth. I had originally posted it on Facebook on June 1st and now that the hub-bub has died down I thought I'd post it here:

There is much sound and fury in this tale whose hour upon the stage was spawned by Mel and the walking shadow RPG sits quietly in the mezzanine contemplating the maelstrom of which she is the subject. The poor players on the stage will strut and fret and expel their rage and in the end we all know that they will be heard no more, ultimately signifying nothing.

(Most of phrasing came from Macbeth's long winded response to the news, near the end of the play, that his wife was dead.)

Update 10/6/12

Once all of the initial shouting died down there were some very good posts written that rebutted Mel's assertions. I'd like to mention three of them here:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book of SBMJOB, Chapter on CMD

Read it here.

Years ago when I was a novice studying the liturgy of the 38 System, I started writing an early version of the book of SBMJOBALT simply because it annoyed me that I couldn't prompt its Request Data (RQSDTA) chapter. Apparently, the development angels of our lord Ib'm found this frustrating too, because when the new testament of the 400 was released, the book of the SBMJOB had a new chapter named CMD that allowed prompting. That wasn't all, of course. Our most holy lord Ib'm blessed us all with two other wonderful verses for this chapter:

  1. If a CL program submits a CALL command, the program it calls will appear on the Display Program References (DSPPGMREF) output for the submitting program.
  2. On the PARM parameter of those CALL commands, the CMD parameter can also handle data in CL variables so that you don't have to build a command string beforehand.


Of course, every far-reaching testament has some annoying errors of omission. At the following link I describe two of them and my simple solutions for both: Get the SBMJOB Command's CMD Parameter to Cooperate

Monday, June 25, 2012

Spammer is a Meathead

Of the many chores I do around the parish, one of them is dealing with the spam that comes across my desk. Of late I've been getting piles of stuff from what must be the most clueless spammer on record. My client won't display any of the contents because the entirety of each email is so malformed that it can't be deciphered. I have to edit it myself just to get SpamCop to interpret it. Check out this typical example of the piles of goo I've been getting from various locations around the world. (I've highlighted the most blatant bits of silliness):

From - Mon Jun 25 09:30:16 2012
X-Account-Key: account9
X-UIDL: 1896-1135197712
X-Mozilla-Status: 0001
X-Mozilla-Status2: 00000000
Return-path: <>
Received: from
 ( []) by
 (Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-9.20 (built Jul 15 2010))
 with ESMTP id <> for; Mon, 25 Jun 2012 04:20:51 -0400 (EDT)
Received: from SEMA ( [])
 (Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-8.04 (built Feb 28 2007))
 with ESMTP id <> for (ORCPT; Mon,
 25 Jun 2012 04:20:51 -0400 (EDT)
Received: (qmail 7526 by uid 670); Mon,
 25 Jun 2012 08:23:07 -0200From: "Enlargement pils Sample"
 <>To: <>Subject: Thrill her more
 every nightDate: Mon,
 25 Jun 2012 08:06:40 -0200Message-ID: <005f01cd52c4$82452690$86cf73b0$@com>MIME-Version:
 1.0Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
 boundary="----=_NextPart_000_005E_01CD52C4.82452690"X-Mailer: Microsoft Office
 Outlook 12.0Thread-Index: AcjupAzv1ypgP1yJ50d8AifghGpFJw==Content-Language:
 en-usThis is a multipart message in MIME
 format.------=_NextPart_000_005E_01CD52C4.82452690Content-Type: text/plain;
 charset="us-ascii"Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bitJay Leno found taking
 drugs text/html;
 charset="us-ascii"Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable<html
 =xmlns:rs=3D"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:rowset" xmlns:z=3D"#RowsetSchema"
 =xmlns:rtc=3D"" =xmlns:D=3D"DAV:"
 xmlns:Z=3D"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:" =xmlns:st=3D"=01"
 HTTP-EQUIV=3D"Content-Type" CONTENT=3D"text/html; =charset=3Dus-ascii"><meta
 name=3DGenerator content=3D"Microsoft Word 12 (filtered medium)"><style><!--
 /* Font Definitions */ @font-face=09{font-family:"Cambria Math";=09panose-1:2
 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4;}@font-face=09{font-family:Calibri;=09panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2
 4 3 2 4;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal,
 Section1=09{size:8.5in 11.0in;=09margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in
 1.0in;}div.Section1=09{page:Section1;}--></style><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml>
 <o:shapedefaults v:ext=3D"edit" spidmax=3D"1026"
 ></o:shapedefaults></xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso >9]><xml> <o:shapelayout
 v:ext=3D"edit">  <o:idmap v:ext=3D"edit" data=3D"1" ></o:idmap>
 </o:shapelayout</xml><![endif]--></head><body lang=3DEN-US link=3Dblue
 vlink=3Dpurple><div class=3DSection1><p class=3DMsoNormal><o:p>Jay Leno found
 taking drugs</o:p></p><p class=3DMsoNormal><o:p><a
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2012 04:20:51 -0400 (EDT)
Date-warning: Date header was inserted by
Message-id: <>
Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT
Sun-Java-System-SMTP-Warning: Lines longer than SMTP allows found and wrapped.
Original-recipient: rfc822;

See what I mean? There are no carriage-return/line-feeds (CRLF) before the header keywords (From:, To:, Subject:, X-Mailer:, etc.), the boundary separators, the envelope keywords, before the envelope's content, or most other areas that could benefit from a strategically placed CRLF. I haven't even bothered to try and figure out what's going on in the HTML envelope near the end, but it looks dreadful.

This has been going on for weeks and every email has a different link for a different "product". I can't believe this meat-head is actually getting paid for these malformed missives of debatable commerce. It has to be one person running some kind of scam and has no idea that almost none of it is actually being read by their "target audience".

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Call for Prayers to Solve the Problem of List Parameters and Variables in CL

Feature Requests and Requirements
Greetings worshipers of our lord Ib'm and the most holy "i". Today I would like to talk about an issue that has been with us since the days of the old testament. Yes, I'm talking about a chapter in the story of the land of System/38 and king CPF.

Since those early days we who toiled in semi-darkness, right through to modern times, were bedeviled by specifying variables for list parameters in CL programs. For every other parameter on the system, if we needed to specify a variable we were good to go, but to this day, even with the most holy "i", we’ve never had a good way to specify a variable with list parameters.

I think I've hit upon what I consider to be a workable solution to this intractable conundrum, but it will require the minions of our lord Ib'm to make three changes. It will also require many prayers from the faithful to prod its angels to effect these modifications. Towards this end I recently wrote a piece for System i News called Solving the Problem with List Parameters and Variables in CL. If you agree with the arguments set forth in that post then please register your prayers for this change by going to the COMMON Feature Requests and Requirements page and voting for the following requirement requests:
  • Arrays in CL #212: "Problem: The CL language does not have array support, which is something that would be very useful." Regular readers of this blog might recognize this as requirement #4 in my blog post Top Ten Requirements for CL Enhancements.
  • Qualified data structures in CL #215: "Problem: Currently CL variables whose storage is defined inside another variable (known in RPG as a data structure) cannot be qualified to that variable. CL modules are getting more and more complex given the expanded features IBM has introduced. The number of variables are getting larger and so are the number of data structure sub-fields and they must have unique names within the module. It is getting harder and harder to devise self-documenting field names with only 10 characters to work with, which was the problem that RPG had for many years before IBM allowed for qualified data structures." Regular readers might also see some resemblance to requirement #10 in my aforementioned blog post Top Ten Requirements for CL Enhancements, but of course it's been somewhat improved.
  • List Parameters and Variables in CL #216: "Problem: ...(redundant verbiage redacted-see 2nd paragraph of this blog post)... If you specify one list element you're OK, but that's rarely what is needed. Often times one needs to specify multiple list elements and you can never be sure how many will be needed at execution time. The current design of the command processing environment makes this difficult."
You will also be able to vote for these requests at the COMMON Council of Anaheim gathering next month. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend, but I will be there with you in spirit.

In the name of the Corporation, the Power System, and holy "i", Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Where in the name of Ib'm have I been...

Greetings fellow worshipers of Ib'm and its most holy "i".

I am writing today to explain my dearth of sermons of late, to expound on my general absence from the net-sphere (mostly blogs/Facebook/Twitter), and to make a confession of sorts. The truth be told my essays on this blog has been bereft because I have been submitting secular tomes for publication in another venue. The process of churning out said tomes, and other travails of life in 2011, has been arduous and has left little time for writing the free-wheeling missives that I've posted here over the years. While this state of affairs is rewarding, the blog, et al. has lain fallow.

I'm unhappy with this situation to say the least and I'm going to be making a concerted effort to post more on the net in the future. It is the age-old problem, post theological treatises here so that they're freely available to all, for very little remuneration. -or- Submit other content to a profit-making journalistic organization, for personal monetary gain. As so often happens, subjects that would be perfect for this blog end up not getting written because the siren song of the coin of the realm is hard to resist.

You might be asking yourself "which aforementioned organization does he shill for?" Well, to be blunt, my benefactor in this realm is the Penton Media Group, specifically System i News magazine, for whom I've written staid and professional sounding articles, tips, and (ironically) blog posts. Even more ironic is the fact that the writings on this particular blog that you're currently reading is what got me this great gig in the first place.

If the next thing you're asking is "wait, I don't remember seeing anything written by Joe Code in the magazine or website", then you'd be correct. Father Joe Code is of course the nom de plume that I adopted for the purposes of anonymity when I first started out with the blog. I didn't know how people would react to someone writing theological treatises on the monotheistic worship of our most holy "i".

Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
The more I wrote professionally the more the anonymity started becoming a hindrance to actually posting on the blog. Also, I couldn't comment on my articles. The most I would say about them was submitting a tweet saying "my friend and colleague has posted ..." on my Twitter feed. Of course doing so has had the unintended result that this supposed secret identity is now about as secret as Silverlake was back in the 80's.

Believe it or not, the name Joe Code actually came from the Jargon File. (Also, I liked the sound of "Father Joe" better than say, "Father Steve".) For the record, my real name is Peter K. Levy and I've been programming computers, first in college and then as a career, since late 1978. If you click the link on my name it will take you to my web site. There you can click on the "Writings" link to view the secular articles that I've written to date.

The idea for an iSeries priest also came from the Jargon File. I did and do feel as if we alone know how to write the words that make the bits flip, the numbers crunch, the disks spin, and the great waste of paper. We are the select few, who wear the cassocks of our high office; muttering prayers and incantations in languages that only we understand; to do the things that will impress the board of deacons, scare the lesser priests, and confuse the parishioners.

The dialect of this blog will not change. I am a proud and humble priest of the church of our lord Ib'm and its most holy "i". I will not shirk my responsibility to enliven the ecclesiastic point of view that is so needed to enhance the meditative state necessary for enlightenment in our dank and fluorescent drenched cubicles.

Satire is important in all aspects of life and I should mention that in this blog I am not satirizing religion; I'm poking fun and satirizing our tendency as technicians to worship at the alter of one computer platform eschewing all other gods and idols. Many a flame war is the result of this tendency. We should all not judge those worshipers of false religions for they know not what they are missing out on.

Dominus, dominus, dominus, you're all Ib'm-ists now. Bless your heathen souls. May the most holy "i" reign supreme forever or, at the very least, long enough until we can all retire. ;-)

In the name of the Corporation, the Power System, and the holy "i", Amen