Monday, November 28, 2011

Official Google Blog: The evolution of search in six minutes

Official Google Blog: The evolution of search in six minutes

New challenges for new week...

Hope everyone had a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving.
I have to back burner my DB2 Query education and start planning another V5R4 to V6R1 upgrade. This will be an in place upgrade on a Power 5 model 520. After I complete this one I have one more client that needs to upgrade and I hope to get that one in December as well.
Thankfully the timing of the IBM withdrawal coinsides with my job status, enabling me to pay the bills while I search for a full time challenge.
If anyone out there needs to upgrade I am available and have a solid track record of successful upgrades.
Have a great week!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Logmein file transfer problem....

I periodically update item vendor costs for one of my clients in the aircraft engine overhaul and parts business. They use VAI System 2000 ERP software running on a iSeries 9405-520 V5R4.

This is normally a simple to do and the vendors always throw a curve every once in while to keep me from fully automating the process. The vendors only provide the prices via Excel spreadsheet format.

My process involves fixing up the data in the spreadsheet such as changing description to upper case, changing dollar amounts to two decimal places, calculating the actual cost based on discounts and changing numeric item numbers to text. I could do all of this on the iSeries but since I have data in Excel and the record counts are always under 50k, I just use Excel functions.

Once the spreadsheet is prepared for upload I use Logmein to access the clients iSeries. Logmein has a nice file transfer java applet that usually works very well. I transferred the file as usual and then I use iSeries Access to create the database file and transfer the data. When I got the scan step an error occurred "Incorrect function". I know of this error and it means that the format of the incoming file is not an Excel Workbook (BIFF8).

Ok, maybe I made a mistake (who me?) when I saved the spreadsheet, I re-saved and transferred. Same problem. I then started looking at the transfer process and found that Logmein was transferring the file with zero records. I have no idea what changed with Logmein and this is annoying.

As a work around I sent the spreadsheet to the client this morning via Email and uploaded with no issue. Hopefully Logmein will fix the problem before the next price update comes along.

It's always challenging, that's what keeps it exciting!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

After a price file update for one client I'm be back to figuring out DB2 Web Query. It is drastically different than Query/400 but so much more to offer.

Last week I managed to build synonyms and create a report of sales history for one day's sales of jeans. Then built pie chart showing percentage of colors shipped. I am attempting to build some trending analysis.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Finely, the System i Navigator has speed, no more green screen.

For many years I tried to use the System i Navigator for my daily operations task and it never was fast enough to enable me to switch from green screen. Since installing the new Power 7 all of that has changed. The interface fly's even over a remote VPN connection. Here is a good presentation on potential uses.
Great job IBM!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I love the remote Operations Console!!

Remote PTF apply is just too easy.


Error during nightly save operation

Soon after I installed and migrated to the new iSeries 8202-E4B I was informed that and error message from the nightly backup is being received by the system administrator. After diving into the job log I found the following:

40   11/16/11  00:12:46.435826  QSRGENSE     QSYS        *STMT    QSRGENSE    QSYS
From module . . . . . . . . :   QSROBJEC
From procedure  . . . . . . :   qsrSendObjectMsg__FP6qsrMsg
Statement . . . . . . . . . :   15
To module . . . . . . . . . :   QSROBJEC
To procedure  . . . . . . . :   qsrSendObjectMsg__FP6qsrMsg
Statement . . . . . . . . . :   15
Message . . . . :   Object in use.  Object is
Cause . . . . . :   An operation attempted to use object

There are two of these objects that can not be saved and I am not really sure what they are and I had not run into this before. QIBMHELP is IBM Help Server Support interface for the Infocenter. It also provides a framework (using Eclipse) that allows applications to write to it.

I don’t know why it took me so long but after an hour of searching and learning all I could about QIBMHELP I found this IBM Tech Note.

Simple enough, if IBM suggests to omit it during the IFS save then so be it.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

iSeries LAN Operations Console

For several years I have wanted to try using the Operations Console remotely. The problem is the companies I worked for already had Twinax connectivity and I could not justify the cost of adding the additional feature.

When ordering a new machine and you don't have any Twinax devices to support, it's actually cheaper to order Ops Console LAN feature. I am a little uneasy about not having a direct console connection onsite but if the network goes down there would be bigger problems than accessing iSeries.

Setup was easy following the instruction right out of the IBM manual. System i Network  also has a good article to read up on.  

It is just awesome to be able to control the entire system remotely. Even if I shut down the TCP servers I can still access the console to restart.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One decimal place can make all the difference....

Over the last couple of days I have been working on installing an interface between Optimum Solutions Payroll (OSI) and VAI System 2000 (VAI) to automatically generate and post payroll General Ledger entries.

The process involved downloading what OSI calls an Opticom which contains the programs and files needed to post payroll General Ledger journal entries to VAI. Next I created a library GLI.VAI and through the OSI Opticom process I posted the downloaded Opticom to GLI.VAI.

Next, I had to update three OSI data area’s that identifies the GLI.VAI program library, VAI files library, and the new G/L interface menu. Step five from the instructions require that I move cross reference file to the OSI files library. As I typed the command I realized something is afoot. The library I created in step one, GLI.VAI is not the object library specified in the MOVOBJ command as documented. No biggie, I just changed it to what it should be and notified OSI of the inaccurate instructions.

I then added the appropriate records to the cross reference file. To make things a little easier I created a Query of the OSI GLMASTL1 file which contained all the defined G/L accounts in OSI and output to a file. I transferred the file to my PC and opened in Excel. I then added the corresponding VAI G/L account for each OSI G/L account. I also added an addition field to hold the company number. I named the columns exactly the same name of the fields in the OSI cross reference file. I then uploaded the completed spreadsheet back to the iSeries to my personal library. I then used CPYF command with *MAP to copy the records to the live cross reference file.

To test the process all I needed is the VAI system in test mode which requires I change the prefix of two data libraries in the library list from “R” to “T”. The programs OSI provided allows me to recreate the records from the last payroll run and populate VMOPOST file, VAI daily posting file. The process generates an error report of cross references errors and I had none.

The actual posting of the G/L journal entries are done during the VAI end of day process. To fully test, I triple checked my library list settings to make sure I am working with test files and, ran the end of day job. After a few minutes the job halted and display a program message, decimal data error.

I tracked the problem down to a numeric field in VMOPOST that was not initized when the records were added. This problem will occur when fields are added to end of a file and the program that uses the file has not been recompiled. I decided to just recompile the program that adds the records to the file. The compile failed, external field names exceed six positions. At this point I realize that I could convert the program to ILE but decide to consult with OSI helpdesk.

In our discussion we talked about the several different versions of VAI; R37.2, R37.4 and R37.6. There is a different Opticom for R37.6 and the one I was instructed to download only works with R37.2. No problem, 30 minutes later I had downloaded and installed the new version and reset my test data and the end of day finished with no error.

So another lesson learned the hard way, always give the complete version number of software you are working with. One decimal place made all the difference.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

IBM SE's are like the Maytag repair man...

I received a call from one of my clients in South Florida reporting that the iSeries has a yellow light on the panel and could I look into it. 

A simple to do, I accessed a PC on their LAN via Logmein and started a 5250 session. Entered WRKPRB on command line and discovered indeed there is an error. SRC 2746B940 is displayed and upon further analysis I discover that the Twinax controller card is reporting failure. Evidently the issue first happened two months ago and was not noticed. This is one of those operation that the AS/400 iSeries is tucked under a table and only visited to take tape out and put in the next tape for daily save's. The Twinax connected console is not ever powered up and rarely used. 

I am not sure why this had not been a bigger problem since two printers are connected to the system via Twinax to IO box.
The machine is under hardware and software maintenance so a quick call to IBM to generate a PMR. Five minutes later I'm talking with a technician who verifies that the controller card is failing and he would dispatch a replacement card and systems engineer to install.

Next day, SE show's up after card delivered via Fed-Ex. After an hour the IBM SE is on the way out the door and the system is back to normal. 

I rarely get to see the SE's since I now work mostly remote and the iSeries rarely needs repair. I do have to look into why the system did not notify IBM on it's own. I am suspicious of some DSL / Firewall changes that may have broke the connection and plan on looking into the issue shortly.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

How fast a week flies Power 7 installation.

The installation of new IBM Power 7 and migration from V5R4 to V6R1 went relatively smooth. The full system save from V5R4 failed with object in library QMTC being damaged and took 5 minutes to resolve and run the save again. Lost 40 minutes overcoming that issue. I know there was a damaged object but could not find it without a full system save. I tried several of the recommended ways to find the damaged object before with no success.

I drove to Coral Springs, Florida from Jacksonville, Florida Thursday, about 4 ½ hour drive and spent the night at mom’s.

Got into the office @ 8:30am and promptly got to work checking the packing lists for the hardware and software. The hardware consists of new 8202-E4B Power 7 with 8GB of memory and 140GB of disk and operating system software loaded System I V6R1. A small machine but a real workhorse.

The best thing about this contract is that I get work with my good friend Jason, the IT Manager. As soon as I was finished with packing list and a cup of coffee we proceeded to open the Power 7 box. I wish I would have took some pictures. IBM delivers the system on a customized pallet just a bit bigger than the box itself. They make un-boxing super simple, pop out the four plastic clips on the side and slip the box up. The side of the inner box then falls to the side and then you just side the Power 7 off the pallet. This system is on wheels and no more than 120lbs, so it is easy to move around. This is not the rack mounted version. Jason likes to have all the equipment off the floor so he had a prepared spot on the table next to the Power 5 and we easily picked the system up and placed it on the table.

The 2 power supplies come disconnected and held in place with a retaining clip. Removed the clip and seated the power supplies into place. Plugged in the Ethernet cable from the switch and the the power plugs for the system. The system starts coming to life. It took me a minute to figure out that the display panel is a little push in display at the top of the machine has hidden from view. This system came with feature 5553 Ethernet console no IOP. The Operations Console will be on the LAN not directly connected to the Power 7. This is my first time installing a system that did not have Twinax console.

Jason and I had already installed the latest iSeries Access with PTF’s on his PC and my ASUS EEE PC1000 Netbook. After about ten minutes the system is ready to start configuring the Operation Console on Jason’s PC. It is really neat how this process now works. The Power 7 uses the BOOTP process to allow discovery of the system over the LAN automatically. After answering a couple of prompts we had Console display and Control panel on the screen. Pretty cool. I then tried with the Netbook over the wireless, no problem, really cool and impressive!

By now it’s around noon and the users were just finishing up, we had requested that users be done with the system by 1:00pm. My how time flies when you’re having fun.
Our next step is to install a 2844 PCI IOP card and a 5702 PCI IOA card in the old Power 5. The reason for this is that the current tape drive on the Power 5 is not compatible with the new LTO 4 drive in the Power 7. By installing the two cards we can attach a LTO 2 tape drive to the Power 5. LTO drives are backward compatible two levels. We shut down the Power 5 and carried it to a cleared desk. Slide off the side cover to gain access to the PCI slots. I already determined during the planning phase that the 2844 is goes into C1 and 5702 into C2. Flip back the container tabs to pull out the blanks and slide in the cards. Piece of cake, slice of pie!

The IBM Power systems are incredible, the machine discovered the cards and auto configured the tape drive. With the Power 5 back in play we started the full system save. I have been planning this for a couple of weeks so the devices, data, problem programs removed or identified. This is where I got bit with damaged object I mentioned above. So the total save time was 1 ½ hours.

Then following the instructions; restored the user libraries and system information such as user profiles. I varied a little from the book here, before running Object Conversion Program I ran RSTAUT. This is just if something failed during the conversion (not likely), I would be able to access the system with the transferred user profiles.

The Object Conversion was estimated to take 18 hours on the old Power 5 and I was not sure how long it would take on the new box. It’s now 6:00PM and I planned to end the day at this point.
We started the Object Conversion and left the office.

We got to office around 8:00am Saturday and found that the Object Conversion completed successfully and only took three hours. I proceeded with updating the saved system information with UPDSYSINF command. Identified the new Ethernet hardware resouce and made the configutaion changes neccssary to start up the TCP servers. Checked out subsystems and devices.

Now all the licensed programs,  QGPL and QUSRSYS  for V6R1 need to be loaded from DVD. This will upgrade the current user software to the current V6R1 version.

After all has been installed we restarted (IPL) the system. Fifteen minutes later we had console screen up. Logged in and checked QSYSOPR message queue. No real issues, license keys, ECS configuration and LDAP directory failure. LDAP not needed so no show stoppers.

Well... sort of no show stoppers. Previously the systems came shipped with the latest cumulative PTF DVD. Evidently no longer. I realized mid-after noon that we needed the latest Cumulative PTF’s and Group PTF’s . No problem we’ll just download them, right? Wrong,sort of! Placed electronic order and determined that 14GB of data needed to be download and would take 12 hours. BoooHisss! This is why I had a Sunday planned as a fall back if problem occured, had hoped to avoid it.

Retrieved the IBM Entitled software keys and applied to the system. This cleared up a few messages. We then updated the Seagull software since none of their objects were convertible. Ran the Optimum Solutions payroll update. Everything is pretty clean, so at 4:00pm we called it quits for the day.    
Based on the time required to apply PTF’s we decided that we would meet at the office around noon. I would also try to apply the PTF’s remotely.

I got up early Sunday and connected to the system by using Logmein on the Netbook using my Samsung Galaxy 7 tablet as a Verizon hot spot. What a pain, in the end it seems that the Logmein overhead and java where not playing well on the Netbook. I could not get a connection going for long. Unfortunately Jason had not configured the VPN so I could only use Logmein. It is now 10:00am so I decided I would go into the office, I could work in the parking lot using Jason's wireless. So there I sat in empty parking lot in Coral Springs applying PTF’s and controlling the system. Just too cool!!

When Jason arrived the PTF apply was 75% complete. We proceeded to removed cards we installed in the Power 5, they were rentals. Boxed up cards and tape drive. Started another full system save after PTF apply completed with no problems.We managed to get out of the office by 5:00pm.

There is one other failure, even though I have a vendor check list, none of the vendors could get me a key before the system was powered up. Usually I install a system one weekend and do the migration the next weekend. Around 6:00pm Friday I looked up at the clock and realized I failed to call the vendors. Should have had it on my main check list not separate document. Live and Learn.

I did not plan on being on location Monday morning but felt that until the keys are applied and users working I was not done. This is the first time I have caused production down time. It really is not that big of a deal for this client but a personal goal of mine. The CFO was fine with my progress and we had the users into the system by 10:00am. I left for home around noon, with a pat on the back and a check in my pocket. Yes I actually get paid for all this fun!