*NEWS*EDITORIAL FROM AN IBM DEALER
*NEWS*EDITORIAL FROM AN IBM DEALER
2007-10-10 at 11:57:00 am #19170
A lingering death
I got my first car in 1980 when I was Junior in college. It was an orangey-yellow Ford Maverick, a 1972 with about 70k miles on it. It was kind of ugly, but that kind of ugliness added to its beauty in an odd way. I wasn’t afraid to take things apart, such as my busted old lawnmower. It was putting them back together again that messed me up. So, when I lifted the hood of my “banana-boat” Ford, the simple straight-six engine was distinct — pulleys, distributor, alternator, etc. — I could really understand what I was looking at, even if I wasn’t totally sure how it all worked. Whenever the car was in for service, I would try to peer over the shoulder to watch what the mechanics were doing. I didn’t want to make him nervous looking over his shoulder. I asked if he would show me the distributor, because I never really understood what it was and why it was such a big deal. They used a strobe light to check the timing and I thought the whole thing was very cool. I felt more comfortable with the whole idea of unde
rstanding the inner workings of the engine. It was the sort of aimless exploration and discovery that a layman could do in those years. It was in that spirit, that I also began to dig into the fledgling microcomputers at the time. (Nowadays, I lift up the hood my car and don’t really know what’s what, nor would I even thing of trying to fix anything, excepting that maybe that poking around and looking at stuff would fix it.)
I got my first microcomputer in 1982, an Atari 800 with a real keyboard, a cassette tape backup (no hard drives yet), and a Basic coder. It attached to a black and white TV. After I got simple stuff going, I wrote a really stupid and clumsy address list report. Problem was that without a printer, it did little good except suck down a lot of evening and weekend time. I bought a used 150lb Centronics 101 printer with its new Centronics parallel port in addition to serial. Just getting it out of the car and up the stairs was an exercise unto itself. Using the printer and the computer, I was successfully able to actually “do” something. My mother’s high school class reunion was my first customer (for their mailing list). It helped that my mom and her friend were the reunion chairwomen. Anyway, that’s where this began. That was when I could actually make my computer do stuff, and printing was my interest. I explored the sending and receiving of data and manipulated the sequences of Hex code I sent to the printer.I monitored the serial port for its Hex responses. I gained a deep understanding that it takes to establish communications between CPU and printer..
Fast forward to today. The technology has heaped layer upon layer of function onto simple 8-bit byte code which runs printers at their most fundamental level. It is the understanding of the fundamentals which is commonly not taught, and the programmers, engineers, and designers, giving short shrift to “boring” old impact printers, seem to assume higher level language and interfaces in their interoperations.
It against this backdrop that I present the following extremely important analysis. The next release of operating system for the iSeries (AS/400), OS/400, will NOT SUPPORT SNA. Very few people understand how vast the ramifications will be for printing. IBM surely knows that many of the workarounds for printing over TCP/IP rely, at their most basic level, on an SNA link from the host. IBM’s solution? Advanced Function Printing (AFP) using Intelligent Printer Data Stream (IPDS) for FLOW CONTROL over TCP/IP. Unless you happen to have seen this coming, you may not have IPDS implemented, and replacing all those impact printers (or dealing with Host Print Transform and PCL bandwidth and processing overhead) with new devices is going cause quite a lot of consternation. The whole concept of the “Black Hole of Printing” will become familiar to those who have puzzled at the lost jobs, strange outputs and flaky printer performance and network traffic they create.
I have been and will continue to offer solutions to these complexities. The effort and cost that so many people will expend on understanding the implications and potential solutions to this issue will be astounding. I’ll cut through the variables for you and help you through the most vexing challenges.