Upgrade, downgrade

Flashback to the mid-1990s, when this big electricity generation and distribution organization is still using green-screen terminals and a 32-bit VAX minicomputer for a key system, according to a pilot fish there.

"Users would navigate through the text menus to their chosen report, hit Enter and submit it to batch," fish says. "They would then wait for up to ten minutes before a notification would appear at the bottom of the screen that their report was ready to view or print."

To reduce that delay, the organization upgrades to a 64-bit Alpha server. All the tests of the new system work flawlessly, and it goes live.

As soon as it does, though, help desk calls start rolling in: "Where is my report? I submitted the report and waited more than twice the usual time, and still no notification!"

But when help desk staffers check, the reports are ready and waiting for the users.

And it doesn't take much digging to figure out why. It seems the new Alphas are so fast that a report could be submitted and completed and the completion notification displayed on the bottom line of the user's screen in less than a second.

In fact, it's so fast that the notification is showing up before the terminal screen returns to the menu system -- and the bottom-line notification is erased when the screen changes back to menus.

"The users obviously missed this, and thus were waiting for their notifications, which had already arrived," says fish.

"The solution? IT changed the setup for the batch queues to add a minute or so delay before starting the jobs. This allowed time for the screen to be returned back to the menu screens, and the user to be able to catch up. Ain't new technology grand?"

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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