A Busy Week -- 01/12/02
Okay, so I figured I'd be skipping a few days of entries here, but I didn't expect it would end up being a whole week...

It's just been a very busy week... My last entry was Friday, Jan 4th... the next day I had to go into work to finish installing and configuring and testing software for the class I would be teaching on Monday. This ended up taking all day (yes, as in I put in a full eight hours or so working on a Saturday) and left a unresolved problem because I could not reach a backend system that I needed to reach in order to do the hands-on lab exercises for this course. It is a course in using a software product that allows information from backend systems to be used in webpages -- that is, if you had information that could be accessed via a "greenscreen" application (a character mode screen, the kind of thing you'd get on a "dumb" terminal, something on a VM system or perhaps CICS or IMS on a mainframe or something on an AS/400, etc.) and you wanted to leverage this software investment (and avoid having to duplicate all of that original programming effort)... this software would allow you to capture in software the sequence of events (keystrokes, etc.) that a person would use in accessing that backend application (storing that in XML files and java beans) and then generate Java Server Pages (a form of server-side scriping that will generate dynamic html output) that use those java beans... and there you have it... a web application that can access information from backend system (without the web user having to know anything about that backend application).

My problem here was that the backend application to be used for the lab exercises was running on an AS/400 machine in Texas that belongs to a marketing group within my company (they use it to do demonstrations for customers) and although this worked fine in August and September and October, at some point this fall our network of routers and such was outsourced to a major telecommunications company... and our site was not configured as a site that could reach that site... in fact, using tracert from a DOS prompt seemed to indicate that I did not even get out of our building, blocked after one router (the tcp/ip address was considered to be a "private" address)... Okay, so just get some configuration files changed, right? Uh not so easy... and apparently not something that could work its way through the bureacracies of two companies in timely enough fashion to fix the problem for my class.

So I ended up having to make it up as I went along... I used some CICS applications on our small mainframe and working without any written exercise instructions, without any testing of coding or procedure steps, literally standing there, showing the backend applications and designing approaches and building web applications and testing them all live and unrehearsed... class went past six o'clock on Monday, almost to six on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we were there until almost eight o'clock at night... so by the time we wrapped things up around two o'clock Thursday afternoon (skipping lunch in order to finish as early as possible)... I was more than just a little bit exhausted... in fact, I did some post-class paperwork and split about three-thirty.

Yesterday I went in to work in the morning, then went to a 12:30 dentist appointment (just a cleaning -- my other dental problem is an infection for which my periodontist has put me on antibiotics and for which he may end up doing some surgery but in the meanwhile it's keeping me from getting to sleep at night) and came home and did a little technical reading but mostly just vegged-out (I had well over fifty hours in for the week by the time I got to the dentist, so I did not feel compelled to be sure to put in a full four hours of work at home in the afternoon.)

So last night I thought I'd put up an entry... and could not connect to the Internet with my laptop (I'd been thinking about answering some of the "Friday Five" questions that have been cropping up in some of the journals I read)... My dialing software keeps insisting that my modem is already in use by another program... Last week I had been having some token-ring card problems and tech support worked on my machine that Friday afternoon -- replacing my card and the connecting cable -- but also doing a lot of playing around with configurations. Last night was the first time I had tried a dial-up connection since then so I suspect that some setting somewhere got changed... and I do not feel like spending the weekend uninstalling and reinstalling modem and dialer software, so I think I'll just go back to tech support next week and ask her to fix it. (Yes, we're a small office and we have a one-person on-site tech support dept.)

I usually like to do my entries on my laptop and then load them to the web... since I can't do that, I thought I would write on my laptop and copy to a diskette and then use one of our other computers at home... but I left my diskette drive in my office at work... so here I am, down in the basement using my son's computer.

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