I know quite a bit about Web page creation and about Web site administration, but it is not something I do professionally.
I also enjoy Windows programming in Prolog and especially Python. And I'm one of the world's great relational data modelers.
In December 2002 CGI began running League Data's IT infrastructure on an outsourcing basis. I was a contractor at League Data and so became a contractor at CGI. In May 2004 I became a full-patch CGI member.
I provide systems programming and database administration to a Unisys ClearPath Plus Dorado 4390 system site running OS 2200 in support of on-line banking for credit unions in Atlantic Canada. Specific duties include system software generation, installation and troubleshooting, security design and administration, automated operations, disaster recovery planning and testing, performance analysis, and staff education. HVTIP, DMS 1100, COBOL (UCOB), Symbolic Stream Generator (SSG) and Enterprise Output Manager (aka DEPCON) are used extensively. I also program on Windows using Python.
I provided technical support for large-scale Unisys CPIX/2200 Series systems (2200/900, IX5800, IX4400). These systems provide quotation services for Nasdaq's electronic stock market, which is capable of trading up to two billion shares per day. I worked in a wide variety of 2200 areas including Exec, TIP, Operating System Group (OSG) products, Universal Compiling System products (UC, UCOB, LINK), OS2200 Security, Smart Console, and year 2000 testing. I worked in Nasdaq's then state-of-the-art new building in Trumbull. (I believe Nasdaq has since closed this data center and sold the building.)
I hear that Nasdaq turned off its last 2200 system circa 2004.
I provided systems programming and database administration on a contract basis to a Unisys 2200/500 site running OS 2200 in support of on-line banking for more than 100 credit unions in Atlantic Canada. My other duties included security design and administration, automated operations, disaster recovery planning and testing, performance analysis, programmer education and assembly language programming. HVTIP, DMS 1100, COBOL, and Symbolic Stream Generator (SSG), are used extensively. I did some work with Unisys' RDMS relational database management system, SQL, C, and PLUS. I did a small World Wide Web pilot project just before I left.
This was my second tour of duty at League Data. It's a small company with only about forty employees. That had some advantages and some disadvantages. I didn't plan to stay for six years. Despite getting off to a rocky start, I developed a strong relationship with my boss, Ian MacNeil, who made it a very difficult decision to leave. But I felt I'd accomplished all I could at League Data.
During these years I collaborated with Bill Toner (aka Univac Bill, aka Basic Mode Bill) and Tom Nelson to develop the Group W Toolset, an integrated set of 1100/2200 freeware programs. Quite a few sites use it. I'm most proud of AUTO, an SSG-based automatic scheduler that I designed and implemented. AUTO performs thousands of tasks per day at sites around the world.
I was employed as a teaching assistant while pursuing graduate studies in
philosophy. I taught two freshman courses in Rational Thinking. And I
assisted with the teaching of numerous courses in Rational Thinking,
Introduction to Philosophy, Existentialism, and Symbolic Logic. My friend and
did much to keep me sane during this period.
Besides studying philosophy, I spent a lot of time hanging around in the coffee
shops and dingy live-music bars that dot downtown
Athens. One of the best students
in my Rational Thinking courses was Ben Mize, who at the time was the drummer
in an obscure, now-defunct Athens band called Greenhouse. He subsequently
spent 8 years as drummer in Counting Crows
(no doubt inspired mightily by my lessons in logic!), and has since become a
teacher. Another of my best students is also a drummer:
band, Five-Eight, should
be as popular as Counting Crows. And my friend Jim Reinholz now plays bass in
Hoover's G-String, a band based
in Washington, DC.
Besides studying philosophy, I spent a lot of time hanging around in the coffee shops and dingy live-music bars that dot downtown Athens. One of the best students in my Rational Thinking courses was Ben Mize, who at the time was the drummer in an obscure, now-defunct Athens band called Greenhouse. He subsequently spent 8 years as drummer in Counting Crows (no doubt inspired mightily by my lessons in logic!), and has since become a school teacher. Another of my best students is also a drummer: Patrick Ferguson's band, Five-Eight, should be as popular as Counting Crows. And my friend Jim Reinholz now plays bass in Hoover's G-String, a band based in Washington, DC.
I supported all operating system and database management software running on a Unisys 1100/72 mainframe. Duties included software generation and installation, client education, and SSG and assembly language programming in support of on-line banking. This was a conversion from a Univac VS/9 system (remember the days when sites converted to the 1100?!). I hung around after the rest of the conversion team moved on.
I left with the intention of getting out of computers and becoming a philosophy professor (it seemed like a good idea at the time!).
I worked as a database administrator responsible for customer service and power distribution applications. The environment consisted of an IBM mainframe utilizing the ADABAS database management system and Natural, its associated fourth-generation language. Duties included data modelling (entity-relationship analysis), physical database design, performance analysis, database back-up and recovery, and PL/1, Natural and assembly language programming.
You can develop applications very quickly with Natural, and we did. I learned a lot about application and database design during my time here. Since then I marvel at how few data processing professionals have truly learned to "think relationally." Working on IBM was very useful: It taught me that there are other legitimate--sometimes superior--approaches to OS design.
While at NB Power I had the pleasure of working with two very innovative contractors: Ron Hunter-Duvar and Tom Driscoll.
I provided systems programming during two conversions to Sperry Univac 1100 Series machines--North York Hydro in Toronto and Victoria & Grey Trust (which later merged with National Trust and is now part of the Bank of Nova Scotia) in Stratford. My duties included software generation and installation, all aspects of database management using DMS 1100, customer education, and converting old COBOL and RPG programs from OS/3 and VS/9 to the 1100.
A colleague once told me that everyone should work on at least one conversion early in their career and I think she was correct. A conversion teaches you that there are many ways to do the same thing (some ways better than others) and it allows you to improve your technical abilities quickly. I certainly learned more during this time than during any other period of my computer career. I taught myself Exec support and MASM, considerably improved my skill in TIP, DMS and SSG, and spent a lot of time with the octal number system.
I won an award as the "SA of the Year" for 1982 in Sperry Univac's Toronto Central branch. They weren't exactly into incentive compensation: I think they gave me $50 and changed my title from "Systems Analyst" to "Senior Systems Analyst" (but they didn't re-print my business cards, which would have cost another $50!).
At North York Hydro, I enjoyed working with Harvey Button (whom I'd also worked with at Province of New Brunswick) and Ed Hawkes. At Victoria & Grey, Ron Shortt was not only very likeable but also technically gifted.
I progressed from COBOL applications programming to database administration in a large Univac 1100 shop. The first application I ever helped develop, a Social Services Income Maintenance system, was still running as of a couple of years ago. I think I wrote about half the COBOL/DMS code. It ran for many years but was replaced in the late 1990s due to Y2K and old age.
This was a fun place to work, with good people. More than anyone else I've worked with, Don McDonald taught me how to approach computer problems in a systematic, disciplined way. And I learned the value of dedication and planning from Gary Crandlemire. But there were organizational problems: Salary was very much based on years of experience and I was faced with waiting four years to earn the same as the other DBAs. I'm not that patient.
I also worked here as a summer student in 1977. Sometimes I think that not much has changed in 1100/2200 software since then.
Certificate in Accounting, 2009-2012
Mount Saint Vincent University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
I completed several accounting courses at UNB in the late 1970s, briefly considered making a career of it, and have since maintained an interest in it. I completed this program, which requires 12 semester courses in undergraduate accounting, in May 2012.
No degree (political science), 1992-1994
Saint Mary's University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
I often thought about going to law school because I see a close connection between law and philosophy. Although I never applied to law school, I did take several advanced undergraduate courses in judicial review from Ed McBride, who was a terrific professor.
No degree (philosophy), 1990
I only spent one semester at Emory in its philosophy PhD program but the courses I took from Tom Flynn and Nick Fotion are among the highlights of my academic career. I soon realized that there might not be a lot of future openings for forty year-old assistant professors. Although I was more than holding my own in Emory's program, I wasn't exactly going to set the philosophical world on fire with my brilliance (who is?). So I decided to return to earning an honest living.
Master of Arts (philosophy), 1988-1990
The University of Georgia
My MA thesis was entitled Authenticity and the Consequentialist Vacuum Cleaner: An Examination of a Good that Appears Resistant to the Maximizing Logic of Consequentialism. Bernard Dauenhauer was my very able supervisor. My plan was to combine the best of analytic philosophy with the best of continental philosophy (particularly that of Jean-Paul Sartre). My fear is that I combined the worst of both. Although they share no blame should I be correct in my self-assessment, the work of David McNaughton and Piers Rawling heavily influenced me. And I very much enjoyed studying with Frank Harrison and Bob Burton.
No degree (philosophy), 1987-1988
Saint Mary's University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
During my first tour of duty at League Data, there wasn't always enough interesting work for me to do and I was bored, so I started studying philosophy part-time. I particularly enjoyed studying under Arthur Monahan and Wayne Grennan. I met some of my all-time favorite people doing philosophy at Saint Mary's, including Steve Monk. What I learned here in 16 months (and good GRE scores!) got me into graduate school in philosophy.
Bachelor of Arts (economics), 1975-1979
The University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Although my major was officially economics, I took quite a few courses in computer science, accounting, and finance. Professor Rod Cooper largely shaped how I approach computer work. I thoroughly enjoyed living in MacKenzie House for four years. Among my best friends there were Aardvark, Redwood and, of course, The Purple Mongoose (their real names remain classified). And who could forget the Fun And Games Society, or the Serious Club!
High School Diploma, 1972-1975
James M. Hill Memorial High School
Miramichi, New Brunswick
I discovered computer programming in Computer Education class during the 1973-74 school year. Technology was crude: We filled in cards with special pencils, sent our card decks on the bus to Fredericton (100 miles away), and wouldn't get our results for a week. But it worked. I quickly became a good programmer. Looking back, I'm impressed that such a course was offered in that dark age of computers. Much of the credit must go to Fred Holmes, a great teacher.
I live and work in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax is a truly great city, overlooking the world's second largest natural harbor, but in mid-February when there's half an inch of freezing rain on everything and the wind is blowing in off the Atlantic at about 1000 miles per hour, one wonders!
|Heritage:||Irish, English, French, Welsh|
|Parents:||Lois and Robert|
|Birthplace:||Chatham, New Brunswick, Canada|
|Current residence:||Halifax, Nova Scotia|
|Home:||"Where the earth shows its bones of wind-broken stone and the sea and the sky are one" -- Stan Rogers|
|Joy:||My nieces, Charlotte and Marilla, and our grandson, Braden|
|Interests:||Ideas (see below), listening to music (see below), walking, swimming, bicycling, watching sports (soccer, football, baseball, hockey)|
|Ideas:||Western philosophy (existentialism, ethics, history, argument analysis), computer software (programming, relational database, artificial intelligence), constitutional law (theory and practice of American judicial review), urban planning (car-free cities and new urbanism), theory of evolution, speculative cosmology|
|Music:||Classical, rock, blues. And some folk (personal not political), jazz (1945-65), grunge, punk, Celtic. I like music with a hard edge--nothing too sweet, middle-of-the-road, or 'poppy'.|
|Friends:||Quality over quantity, because as Sartre said, "Hell is other people"|
|Aphorism:||"The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth" (I first heard this from Gary Crandlemire)|
|Prime numbers:||11, 17, 79|
|Pet peeve:||Incompetence, mediocrity and impurity in all their many forms|
|Proudest moment:||Successfully defending my thesis and thereby earning Master of Arts degree in philosophy|
|Best decision:||Studying philosophy|
|Worst decision:||Giving up piano lessons after a couple of months when I was eight|
|Worst fears:||Aging and dying (Heidegger was right--we are "being toward death")|
|Future goals:||Read more philosophy, work part-time, spend winters in the south, age gracefully; avoid neckties, suburbs and commuting|
|Ice Cream:||Butterscotch Ripple|
|Beer:||Heineken, Schooner, Propeller Pale Ale. In the USA: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. RIP: Ten Penny|
|Bar, hangout:||Seahorse Tavern (Halifax, Nova Scotia). Honorable mention: The Globe (Athens, Georgia)|
|Bar, live music:||40 Watt (Athens, Georgia).|
|Swimming:||Beach: Martinique Beach (East
Pepeswick, Nova Scotia)|
Wharf: Gordon's Wharf (Miramichi River, New Brunswick)
|Coffee shop:||Local Jo (Halifax, Nova Scotia)|
|Bookstore, Used:||Atticus Books (Toronto, Ontario)|
|City:||Halifax, Nova Scotia. Honorable mention: Athens, Georgia|
|Sports teams:||Chelsea Blues (English Premier League soccer), New England Patriots (NFL), University of Georgia Bulldogs (US university football and baseball), Saint Mary's University Huskies (Canadian university football), Montreal Canadiens (NHL)|
|Transportation:||2014 Trek Dual Sport DS 8.4 hybrid bicycle; 2010 Toyota Venza (I am no longer car-free)|
|Fashion:||Very casual (shorts, jeans, t-shirts, rugby shirts, sneakers, baseball caps)|
|Small pleasures:||Bendy straws; those crackers packaged in cellophane which come with your soup in diners|
|R.I.P:||Toks Akpata, Gary Crandlemire, Dennis Cook|