UNIX #atozchallenge

I worked mostly with large computer systems built by IBM (and a couple of other manufacturers) for most of my career up until the mid ’90’s, when the company I was with went “client-server.” The idea behind client-server was that the workload was spread across multiple computers, with each one having a part in getting the job done. Oddly enough, at least in our interpretation of the task, IBM mainframes were not one of the computers. Never mind that the two companies that had merged in 1989 had made their fortunes writing software that ran on IBM hardware, we were escaping all that.

I think it should have been called client servers, because while the user’s end was a PC with our software loaded onto it, there were usually more than one type of server. One was the database server, which held all the data in SQL databases, another was the processing server, which performed all the work that wasn’t done on the client, and a third was a file server, where all non-database data was kept. Occasionally there were others in there, maybe a maintenance server that could push software changes to the clients, for example. The operating system running on the client machines was Windows, while the server machines would run one of the many flavors of UNIX. Thus, if you were a technical guy like me, you had to know Windows and UNIX. To that end, they sent me to class so I could learn me some UNIX.

One of the first things I learned was that UNIX was a lot like the IBM operating systems I had been working with: they both were multiuser and multitasking. In other words, any number of people could be signed on to a UNIX machine and run any number of jobs, and the stuff that user A was doing didn’t affect user B and vice versa. Next, I learned that UNIX was the brainchild of some engineers at AT&T, who built machines that would use UNIX as their operating system. They did such a good job that they started licensing UNIX to other equipment manufacturers and academic institutions, each of which made its own contributions and customized it to fit their needs, and they in turn rebranded the original UNIX to make it unique: IBM’s was AIX, Microsoft called theirs Xenix, Hewlett-Packard had HP-UX, Sun had Solaris, UC Berkeley created BSD, and so on. Each one was different enough from the others to give you fits.

After a while, AT&T sold UNIX to Novell, who has spun it off and it’s now governed by a group called The Open Group, which developed a Single UNIX Standard to eliminate the annoyances I was just talking about. The current version of UNIX with the largest install base is, believe it or not, Apple’s Mac OS (formerly called Mac OS X), which was based on a version called Darwin.

I started using Macs during the whole Windows Vista debacle. I was in the market for a new computer, and had heard enough bad things about Vista that I knew I didn’t want to have to mess with it. I had been playing with various distros of Linux (an operating system developed by Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki that’s virtually the same as UNIX), and when I learned that OS X was based on UNIX, it made my decision much simpler.

Ubiquity #atozchallenge


Ubiquity is the condition of being ubiquitous, i.e. omnipresent. Always there.

Mary used to carry her knitting projects (and everything else she needed if she was out) in canvas tote bags. After a while, I called them her “ubiquitous bags” because she always had one and sometimes several of them with her wherever she’d go. I’m not sure whether that would make them “ubiquitous,” but it was close enough for me.

We’ve had one or two cats who were always where we wanted to go. We said that one was ubiquitous. Again, not sure if that was the appropriate word, but hey, close enough for folk music.

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks did a song about “Moody Richard,” who always seemed to be around… From 1972’s Striking It Rich

The Internet is a sort of ubiquitous presence, following you wherever you go, always there to bring you news, entertainment, selfies, cat pictures, and, of course, the ubiquitous trolls. Before the Internet, they rode on buses, mumbling to themselves and making everyone nervous. The Internet has made it possible for them to do all their trolling from the comfort of home. They don’t even have to put pants on…

Seriously, we’re bombarded with pictures of people we don’t even know, pictures of places we have no intention of visiting, food we think is disgusting and would never eat. This goes on 24 hours a day, 365.2425 days a year. There’s a meme going around that shows a beautiful, rustic house in the middle of the woods, the caption reading “‘like’ if you’d give up the Internet and all mass media if you’d live here for a year.” Or something like that. Would you? I would. As long as I could take books with me, I’d love it. Or if there was a library in the house.

You know, I bet they don’t have Internet in heaven. You just know they have it in hell.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas #atozchallenge


Bet you were wondering how I’d come up with something that starts with U and ends with V, didn’t you?


From their website:

Since our first classes were held on campus in 1957, UNLV has transformed itself from a small branch college into a thriving urban research institution. Along the way, our urban university has become an indispensable resource in one of the country’s fastest-growing and most enterprising cities.

UNLV is a big institution, with almost 25,000 undergraduates, 4,300 graduate students, and over 1,000 faculty members (I can’t say whether that includes administrators or not). They offer over 350 degrees and are the second-most diverse university in the nation, according to US News & World Report.

Their athletic teams are called the Rebels, and they compete in the Mountain West Conference of the NCAA. They compete in men’s baseball, football, basketball, golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and tennis, and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swim & dive, track & field, volleyball, and tennis. They have done quite well in all their sports.

By all means, visit their website. I can’t do it justice.

Update: Five More Train Songs #atozchallenge


First, a technical note: Those of you who read the simulcast of this blog on Blogger might have noticed that, for the last week or so, the videos weren’t coming through. They must have changed something and the code I had been using to embed them was being eliminated, either by IFTTT or by Blogger when it got there. I’ve used a different technique which seems to work all right (it was how I embedded yesterday’s videos, which came through), and I hope these work as well. If not, I might have to reconsider whether simulcasting via IFTTT is worth the trouble.

Anyway, I shared five train videos on Saturday and asked which were your favorites. God knows there are enough train songs out there. So today, I give you an update with five more songs about trains, suggested by you, the readers.

Morning Train (9 to 5) – Sheena Easton: Stephie came up with this; she said “I know, that’s a lame choice,” but actually, I like this one. This was Sheena’s biggest hit, reaching #1 in the US, Canada, and Australia and #3 in the UK.

Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight & The Pips: The song practically everyone mentioned; Uncle Jack said he was surprised it wasn’t the first song I thought of. It was #1 on the pop chart for two weeks and on the Soul chart for four in October 1973.

Atcheson, Topeka and the Santa Fe – Judy Garland: from 1946’s The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger (I think they were in another movie together), and John Hodiak.

Chattanooga Choo-Choo – Glenn Miller and His Orchestra: From the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade starring Sonja Henie and John Payne. All kinds of goodness here: Glenn and his orchestra, with Tex Beneke on saxophone and vocal; the beautiful Dorothy Dandridge and the Nicholas Brothers; and Milton Berle for good measure.

Last Train To Clarksville – The Monkees: This was the Monkeees’ 1966 debut single, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. It reached #1 in the US and Canada and #23 in the UK. While Clarksville, Tennessee (a very nice town; Mary and I used to stop there on our way back from Chicago) is close to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Boyce and Hart weren’t thinking about it when they wrote the song; they just wanted a town name that fit the music.

Did your favorite make the list?

Monday’s Music Moves Me will return next week!

#atozchallenge: Underwhelmed

underwhelmed =
under + overwhelmed


grumpy cat
The lovely Miss Tarder Sauce, also known as Grumpy Cat

The first time I heard the word “underwhelmed,” it was from a friend of mine who had a less-than-impressive quest for his bachelor’s degree. Where it took most of us four years or less to earn the BA, or BS, or in my case BBA, it took him six years and four transfers before he got his degree. (Nowadays, that’s the norm; forty years ago, people asked what the hell was the matter with you.) He got a note from the public relations office of his eventual alma mater, telling him they were going to contact his high school to let them know he graduated, and asking for the name of a contact person. He called them and begged them not to do that, saying “Six years and four schools before I get my degree? They’ll really be underwhelmed.”

Underwhelmed, according to The Free Dictionary, means “not impressed or excited.” But you probably figured that out. I find that TV shows and movies are most likely to underwhelm me. Mary and I have figured out that the more a movie or TV show is hyped, the worse it’ll be when we actually see it.

What was the last thing that underwhelmed you? Besides the choices we have for President of the United States, I mean?