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Programming IBM IT Technology

IBM Mainframe Contest Returns 48

Yellowcake writes "After a successful first year IBM is back with their second iteration of the Student Mainframe Contest. Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL, and Java. The contest is divided into sections of increasing difficulty, building upon the first, which states "No Experience Necessary"."
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IBM Mainframe Contest Returns

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  • Cool what about RPG, PL/1 and APL!
    If you are going to use mainframe technology use mainframe technology.
    Actually why include JAVA? how different is JAVA on a mainframe than on the PC?
    Just wondering since I haven't used a mainframe since I took Cobol.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xPhoenix ( 531848 )
      You're not supposed to tell students about JCL until AFTER you _hire_ them. Don't want to scare them off too early.
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
        I had a friend that wrote a nethack game in the JCL on the old System 38. The made him delete it since it took 30% of the CPU time with one player :)
        • Unless there was an option to have JCL from the mainframe on the System 38 (midrange), the control language on that machine was called Control Language and abbreviated CL.

          JCL and CL look very different. Either way, we get the idea.
          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
            Thanks that was a LONG TIME AGO. My time on the IBM 360 or it might have been a 370 was limited to a single COBOL class.
            The System38 days where also about 17 years ago. The mind wonders with old age.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BigCheese ( 47608 )
        JCL isn't all that bad. At least the MVS flavor. OTOH allocating extents on VSE...
  • by 192939495969798999 ( 58312 ) <info&devinmoore,com> on Thursday August 24, 2006 @11:51AM (#15970259) Homepage Journal
    me: What's this plug for? The one going from the big mainframe to the wall?

    ibm: That's the power cable, but you never want to unplu---


    ibm: NOOOOOO!

    me: awesome! I hope that noise didn't mean something bad happened.
    • Also see, "it's hot-pluggable you say?" "yes but..." (disk makes an unholy grinding noise as it is unplugged)
    • Something like that happened at our datacenter. Details are vague in my memory, but basically a group was touring the datacenter, and was shown the "master" power lever. And for some reason someone threw it.

      Man you should have seen the procedures fly after that little debacle.
      • Was he fired?

        Thats no different than pulling a fire alarm in a building.

        Also most computer centers have nice UPS for servers and mainframes so the damage would not be too bad. After the routers reboot in a minute or so things could return to normal.
        • It was the guest on tour that pulled it. And as I understood it was a bit of a shock to everyone. More details I don't have, unfortunately.

    • by Ed Avis ( 5917 )
      Don't all mainframes have several power supplies? You should be able to unplug one or two of them without too much consequence.

      In any case, we all write our software to be fully transaction-safe and cleanly recoverable after a power failure. Right? Right?
    • Do that with a 3090 [] and they'll be sweeping your remains into a jar (not the Java kind either).
  • by JackBuckley ( 696547 ) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @11:52AM (#15970262) Homepage
    Trips to the mainframe lab in Poughkeepsie, NY Second prize is two trips!
  • I wished they had this 10 years ago. I was working for Fujitsu's WorldsAway [] division as a QA intern. We got a new vice president from Japan who invited our small group to lunch at a Chinese resturant. I had no idea what he ordered for everyone, and since I was sitting next to him, I ate everything on that plate as not to offend him since he was the host. He was disappointed to find out that I wasn't a mainframe programmer since he said the world needed more mainframe programmers than a virtual world for peo
  • by nachmore ( 922129 ) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @12:04PM (#15970399)
    IBM seems to have an office all around the world - just like there seems to be students all around the world. So why are these competitions always US only??? There are some amazing student programmers in other countries too...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jhembruff ( 996103 )
      Most likely for legal reasons, IANAL but I'm pretty sure the rules for contests and gaming can vary wildly between countries (and even within states/provinces) and if they don't adhere to them they could be in a lot of hot water. Most likely they don't want to spend the money researching/adhering to all these guidlines for everywhere in the world.
    • Well, this one isn't US only.

    • Yeah. Just try getting them in on visas under the current immigration regime.

  • Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL, and Java. The contest is divided into sections of increasing difficulty, building upon the first, which states "No Experience Necessary".

    The final level of difficulty in mainframe technology is the dreaded "dropped box of punch cards" which they have to sort in the shortest time.

    [this joke may be too old for this audience. :)]

    • by rlp ( 11898 )
      Only if they didn't put sequence numbers on them.
    • by synth7 ( 311220 )
      Ah, but not quite as annoying as "two mis-punched characters in this fifty-foot paper tape" where you have to use the reader/punch/printer to get to *just* before the error, then stop the feed, lift the bail and move the tape past the error, then set the bail back down and continue.

      And it's cheating to stop a *few* characters before the error and type in the characters up to and through the error by hand. Flipping the feed lever spastically to get only one character at a time as you approach the error is p
    • I bet you can write a towers of honia program to sort the cards in teh right column of stacks with the later cards on teh bottom and smaller ones on top.
      • That was one of the most impressive typos I've ever seen. Hanoi -> Honia? Looks like it's not just cards that are getting shuffled...
  • Cool. I heard IBM is going to have another contest where people use 'a chisel' to create 'non-volitile secondary storage!'

    First prize is your own wooden club! -Todd Put down the sig, and step away from the computer.

  • If IBM was smart about attracting talent to mainframe development, they would open up access to Z/OS and the dev tools to anyone who wanted to learn them. Where are the next generation of mainframe developers going to come from anyway? PC emulators exist but unfortunately you can't run Z/OS on them legally.
  • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Thursday August 24, 2006 @01:05PM (#15971103) Homepage Journal
    Participants are exposed to a range of mainframe technologies and programming languages such as JCL, REXX, COBOL
    How do you win? Fail to burst into flames? Develop super powers? Hell, just have them bitten by radioactive spiders.
    • You win by finding an emulator, compiler, or other mechanism for running the language you want, implemented in one of these languages.
  • Well, at least the first part of it. The whole contest was comprised of 3 levels.. the first level was an introduction to mainframes that held your hand and as long as you followed instructions carefully, you could move on to level 2. I never did level 2 (exams were right around the corner!), but that consisted of instructions, with a lot less hand holding and reportedly took a lot longer than level 1. The fun part of level 1 was that you had to write a haiku and fire it off as an attachment to whoever was
  • I like IBM, so I hope they don't mind my pointing out that there is a somewhat glaring error in theire "details" page:

    Registration begins September 5, 2006. The contest will run from October 2 through December 28, 2005.

    I know, it is jut a typo...

    (from page: ts/contests/mainframedetails2006.html []


    • IBM Mainframe Contest Instructions:

      1) Build a time machine.
      2) ...

      • I realize you're joking, but Mainframes are still quite pervasive in a lot of sectors, most likely because their security, reliability and massive I/O capabilities can't be beat.
  • The rationale behind this is that there is a drought of mainframe experience among students today. If not corrected, this will cause problems in the future when companies can't hire the skills they need to maintain their existing mainframe infrastructure.
    • Shhhh. Don't tell anybody because then I won't get that shockingly well-paid contracting job I've been wanting. Mmmm. Assembler.
    • IBM is wise to try and make Mainframe "cool" again! Like the new Ford Mustang! Bring back all the relics! Oh wait. . . was Mainframe ever cool?
  • They should target people who are already working as systems administrators, systems programmers and application developers, in addition to students.

    I wouldn't mind picking up mainframe skills, but the classes are expensive and IBMmakes it difficult and convoluted.

    Ah well.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.