Interview with Roland Hughes, Author of “The Minimum You Need to Know” Series

At this time, Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is happy to be joined by Roland Hughes, who’s right here to speak about his “The Minimal You Must Know” collection, which incorporates “The Minimal You Must Know to Be an Open VMS Software Developer,” 1st Impression Publishing (2006), “The Minimal You Must Know About Logic to Work in IT,” Logikal Options (2007), and “The Minimal You Must Know About Java on OpenVMS,” Logikal Options (2006).

Roland Hughes is the president of Logikal Options, a enterprise purposes consulting agency specializing in VMS platforms. Hughes serves as a lead guide with over twenty years of expertise utilizing computer systems and working techniques initially created by Digital Gear Company (now owned by Hewlett-Packard).

With a level in Pc Data Methods, the creator’s expertise is concentrated on OpenVMS techniques throughout quite a lot of various industries together with heavy tools manufacturing, prescribed drugs, inventory exchanges, tax accounting, and {hardware} value-added resellers, to call a couple of. Working all through these industries has strengthened the creator’s distinctive talent set and given him a broad perspective on the position and worth of OpenVMS in trade.

Mr. Hughes’s technical talent units embrace the next instruments that allow him to grasp and enhance OpenVMS purposes: DEC/VAX C, DEC/VAX C++, DEC BASIC, DCL, ACMS, MQ Sequence, DEC COBOL, RDB, POWERHOUSE, SQL, CMS/MMS, Oracle 8i, FORTRAN, FMS, and Java, amongst others. Being fluent in so many technical languages permits Hughes to share his data extra simply with different programmers. This guide collection is an effort to move alongside a few of his insights and abilities to the following era.

Tyler: Thanks for becoming a member of me at the moment, Roland. Would you inform us first what makes your books stand out from different books about Java and VMS?

Roland: For OpenVMS, that is simple. There aren’t any different utility improvement books at present in print for it. There are fairly a couple of techniques administration and integration books on the market for it, however none specializing in utility improvement and even language utilization.

As to Java, I didn’t drink the kool-aid in Java City, and you will not discover my physique stacked in one of many piles being found there. I work with Java when I’ve to. It’s not, and may by no means be the language of selection for anybody critical about utility improvement. My guide on Java dives proper into the arduous stuff: Calling system companies, utilizing run-time libraries, studying and writing RMS listed information, interacting with the person on a VT-320 terminal. You do not discover every other Java books speaking about such issues as a result of their authors do not grasp sufficient in regards to the language to perform it.

Tyler: You stated Java “ought to by no means be the language of selection for anybody critical about utility improvement.” Why is that, and why do you assume different authors have problem greedy it?

Roland: One has to outline first “critical utility improvement.” Whereas the WEB could develop into a critical portion of earnings for a lot of companies, it ought to by no means be critical utility improvement. All the critical utility improvement happens on the again finish. We now name this SOA. You place a tiny little WEB service up which makes a safe name to a again finish course of that really does the entire work.

Java is unfit for again finish server improvement for a similar motive nearly all 4GL instruments had been unfit. They’re interpreted. OK, they’re p-compiled and that’s interpreted. You can’t get sufficient efficiency, robustness, and safety from an interpreted software set.

When you take a look at most SOA implementations now, they’re placing little WEB companies up which talk through some proprietary messaging system to a pre-existing again finish which was written in COBOL, BASIC, FORTRAN, or another language the commerce press has lengthy forgotten about.

Your query is its personal reply: “Why do you assume different authors have problem greedy it?” They’re authors, not skilled software program builders. They’re paid by a advertising and marketing battle chest that has funneled cash to one of many massive publishers. The big writer offers them a $4k-$5k advance and tells them to drink the Kool-aid with this guide. Additionally they inform them they should put out 5 extra books this yr per their contract. Precisely how a lot talent, data, and analysis goes into any expertise guide put out by a big publishing home? Zero. They’re busy churning out oatmeal for the lots.

Once I wrote “The Minimal You Must Know to Be an OpenVMS Software Developer” I took an unpaid yr off to put in writing that guide. Had I been working for a writer, that guide by no means would have been printed. Assuming I used to be allowed to put in writing it, the guide would have been break up into 9 totally different books, every one a watered down shadow of what the guide I put out myself at present is.

Tyler: What do you assume must be the language for utility improvement and why?

Roland: That reply actually relies upon upon your platform and the software set you might be working with. When you determine you solely wish to work with RMS listed information, then hands-down DEC BASIC is the software of selection. You have to be conscious that you’ve restricted the scale of each your utility and your organization by selecting to make use of RMS Listed information moderately than a relational database. As soon as a single listed file begins spanning a number of disk drives it turns into very gradual to entry.

You determine, for no matter motive, a primitive relational database will likely be your information storage technique of selection. You select MySQL as a result of it’s free. You’re restricted to C/C++ as your improvement language on most platforms when utilizing that database.

When you determine to make use of the most effective of the most effective in database expertise, RDB on an OpenVMS cluster with totally distributed databases, you’ll be able to actually select any language supported on the platform, even Java because the Java guide on this collection reveals.

In at the moment’s world, you select your instruments first: display screen administration, database/storage, messaging. Then you definitely choose one of many languages that work with the instruments you could have chosen on the OS you select to run.

Tyler: For the layperson, would you inform us a bit about OpenVMS and its position within the pc trade?

Roland: OpenVMS was and nonetheless is probably the most superior working system ever created by mankind. Within the 1980’s VMS gave the enterprise world clustering and set the usual so excessive no different working system has even come near the implementation. There are a variety of OS’s and distributors of OS’s who will declare they’ve “clustering” however it’s unfaithful. They should spin a brand new definition of clustering, typically right down to “we are able to spell the phrase clustering due to this fact we should have it.” No model of Unix or Linux truly clusters. That is one thing Oracle is discovering out the arduous method with their RAC10 product and a few a lot publicized journey web site outages.

Had been OpenVMS re-introduced at the moment as a model new working system it will set your complete IT trade on its ear. A lot of the IT trade is waking as much as the truth that irrespective of what number of $800 PC’s you stick on blades, it isn’t a steady sufficient platform to run your organization on.

Tyler: Roland, I need to admit, I’m not overly computer-savvy, and I discover it tough to speak with IT folks due to the jargon and the technicalities of expertise. Due to this fact, I’m shocked and happy to satisfy somebody who writes books about computer systems. What made you determine to be an creator about expertise?

Roland: It is the sphere I work in, and it’s extremely misunderstood. The trade has been decreased to 4-color glossies and MBA’s making knee-jerk choices based mostly upon which product appears to have probably the most 4-color glossies within the press this week. We’ve got to alter that. There’s a very troubling mindset in higher administration that IT employees are similar to the field stackers on an meeting line. This has led to a mad rush to off-shore IT and to flood this nation with H1-B employees. Moreover decimating the financial system, these choices are decimating enterprise. From the 1970’s by means of the 1980’s an organization’s enterprise edge was its IT division. This outlined how what you are promoting ran and allow you to outrun your rivals. Now there’s a pattern to make use of the very same software program as everybody else. You not have a enterprise edge, so MBA’s enter a worth battle to outdistance their rivals. All a non-IT particular person must do is learn the bulletins from the SEC investigating accounting practices, inventory choices, and the rash of different scandals to see the place worth battle mentality places you.

Doomsday sort folks have been preaching we are going to finally battle a world battle within the Center East over oil. If current traits don’t change, we are going to battle a world battle to get our supply code and expertise again lengthy earlier than we go to battle for oil. Somebody must put what we might want to recuperate from that battle in writing lengthy earlier than it occurs. Additionally they must level out that it’s coming.

Regardless of what the off-shoring contracts say, many companies not personal their software program. The information facilities it’s hosted in are out of the country. If the house owners of that heart reduce the community hyperlinks, how does that firm proceed to perform?

Tyler: Wow, Roland. I by no means thought of expertise in that world of a method. What do you assume is the answer to this example? Is the state of affairs one thing that firms want to unravel for themselves or is authorities intervention required?

Roland: Companies won’t resolve it for themselves. They’ve run headlong off this cliff and are too busy in search of one other worthwhile rip-off that may allow them to keep away from jail (like again dated inventory choices did for years).

Authorities intervention will occur, however not for any of the explanations you may assume. Some extremely massive and silly firm (assume Oracle or Microsoft) can have 70-80% of its supply hosted on off-shore companies (each of those firms have near that in off-shore work now when you can consider the numbers floating round). In some unspecified time in the future an entity or occasion with a fanatical nationwide coverage will take management of the federal government in that nation and nationalize all of that supply code. (Cuba did this when Castro took over, and different nations have carried out the identical, so I am not likely stretching something right here).

Think about what occurs when these multi-million greenback Oracle merchandise aren’t any being offered as Alah-DB or another radical title for $50.00/copy. Large quantities of marketing campaign funds get deposited to the re-election campaigns of all federal officers and congress declares battle on the nation that did this to guard Oracle (or Microsoft). Tens of hundreds of your little kids come house in physique baggage as a result of companies had been each too silly and too grasping to comprehend this off-shoring factor was a nasty concept.

Check out GM and the opposite massive firms off-shoring the entire software program required for day-to-day operations. What occurs when the third world nation they off-shore to has the identical factor occur? Until GM forks over billions to “license” the now nationalized software program, all of its vegetation and gross sales idle, placing a whole bunch of hundreds out of labor suddenly. Similar factor occurs. Marketing campaign contributions change arms and your youngsters begin coming house in physique baggage.

What scares me probably the most is that the off-shore firms themselves are going to power this to occur. Infokall, USTech, and the opposite massive off-shore firms are constructed on a mannequin of what quantities to slave labor. You’re seeing articles within the enterprise magazines about them complaining of expertise sniping and a scarcity of expert builders keen to work for what they’re keen to pay. Most of them are actually opening workplaces in Korea and different nations which seem third world to Indian requirements. These guys will pull out of their house nations in a single day and open the door for some radical group to be backed by hundreds of thousands of now unemployed IT employees.

The transfer to Korea was actually scary to listen to about. U.S. troops have spilled blood there earlier than.

Tyler: Roland, let’s return to your books. In your web site, you state, “These books give IT folks the data we really want moderately than the data the magazines say we want.” What do magazines say IT folks want that they do not, and why do the magazines have it mistaken?

Roland: You must perceive how the “Business Analyst” and commerce journal trade have operated for the previous twenty years to know why neither are a very good supply of knowledge. Each are funded by promoting {dollars}; each will deny it, however there it’s. When a brand new product comes out and a vendor opens up its battle chest, its first merchandise of enterprise is to develop into a paying subscriber to a number of of the “Business Analyst” corporations. This will get their product pitched to these within the IT trade subscribing to the service. It additionally will get Huge-X consulting corporations pitching the brand new product as effectively. Tons of articles seem within the weekly commerce press stating how this new product is a Mega-Pattern and the best factor to hit the trade because the semi-conductor.

This results in knee-jerk choices that launch numerous “pilot tasks” at numerous firms. These pilot tasks all require some type of licensing for the product. The seller then publishes this large variety of licenses being bought (even when they’re quick time period 120 day issues) and all of the sudden it actually appears to be like like it is a practice coming down the mountain at you. It isn’t. Till the brand new product replaces the precise core bread and butter techniques on the firm, it’s nothing greater than a flash within the pan. It takes a minimal of seven years to interchange a core enterprise system and have it settle in.

A core enterprise system is outlined as the whole circulation: Order Entry, Buyer Administration, Stock, Warehousing, Selecting, Delivery, and Invoicing.

Let me put it to you one other method. The language with the biggest put in base on this planet is COBOL. That is the language of many core enterprise techniques. There are hundreds of thousands of recent strains of COBOL code written at the moment and added to the billions of strains in manufacturing already. Precisely what number of weekly or month-to-month IT magazines do you see writing articles about COBOL? None. It’s a mature expertise and would not have huge portions of money being dumped into its advertising and marketing.

Right here is an attention-grabbing query so that you can analysis by yourself. Precisely what number of faculty IT programs have COBOL as a compulsory course?

Tyler: Roland, I am particularly intrigued by your guide “The Minimal You Must Know About Logic to Work in IT.” Your web site means that logic is not taught in faculty programs anymore, and consequently most IT individuals are unemployable. What do you see is the issue with IT faculty programs?

Roland: Faculty programs are hamstrung by a variety of issues, most of them fall into two classes: funding and tenure. I truthfully thought that Y2K was going to repair faculty programs. There was proof of it. Two years previous to Y2K hitting, a few ahead considering firms purchased an IBM mainframe for a neighborhood junior faculty. They put in it and supplied instructors. The governing physique of the faculty was knowledgeable it will educate this course and actively recruit college students for it. These firms knew that even graduating 50 college students per time period, they could not fulfill the necessity they had been about to have within two years.

Tenure is a harmful entice. It opens the door to some actually lazy conduct. When you check out the faculty textual content market, the one books professors think about come fully packaged with check, scantron reply playing cards, overheads, and lecture notes. The trainer wants so as to add nearly nothing to the course and in lots of instances would not.

Schools do not have large quantities of funding; even lots of the non-public schools solely educate what they get at no cost in the case of expertise. Supporting a mainframe or midrange pc requires fairly a bit of money and particular pc rooms. It’s cheaper to scatter donated PC’s across the campus and educate solely what is going to run on them at no cost.

Schools obtained trapped into making an attempt to chase a market funded by a vendor battle chest. When companies stated they wanted IT professionals with WEB abilities, schools taught solely the WEB abilities. All the different data IT professionals had been assumed to have did not get taught. What you ended up with was somebody who might design a very fairly WEB web page, however could not talk with the again finish enterprise techniques or perceive them. Why pay $65K/yr beginning wage to a graduate like that when you may get the identical unskilled particular person in a 3rd world nation for $10/day?

I’ve discovered only a few schools at the moment that educate logic to IT folks. The reason being that you would be able to’t make them perceive how logic helps them when you aren’t going to show them the 3GL enterprise system languages like COBOL, BASIC, C, and so forth. Logic is difficult to know in a degree and click on WEB world.

Tyler: Roland, after I launched you, I discussed that you’re the president of Logikal Options, a enterprise purposes consulting agency specializing in VMS platforms. As a enterprise guide, when you had been requested by a college that wished to begin an IT pupil program, to help them, what would you do to verify the scholars are ready for the long run?

Roland: They should have the scholars spend their first three weeks (earlier than committing to this system) learning the expansion of off-shore firms, the labor charges being paid in these nations, and the unemployment price amongst IT employees within the US. They want additionally to learn of all the opposite profession alternatives which might be on the market. They should learn the articles which have appeared in enterprise and IT publications stating that IT employees are actually “labor” and never data employees as we had been labeled within the 70-80’s.

As soon as the candidates have gone by means of that…assuming they begin with 3-4000 for these first three weeks, they should inform the one pupil that also needs to study IT in spite of everything of that to go to a different college.

Actually, given the state of affairs administration has created on this nation and globally, I can not ethically advocate ANY faculty pupil to enter the sphere of IT. Till a tragedy of large proportions occurs, IT won’t be a rewarding or effectively paying area. IT is at present not even revered by companies anymore. MBA’s sit by means of a one-day coaching course on the right way to create a contact supervisor utilizing Microsoft Entry, then get their certificates to handle IT tasks. That is how we obtained the place we’re.

Personally, I don’t assume you’ll find an IT curriculum being provided at US schools in fewer than 5 years. The final I learn is that enrollment is down over 80% in IT applications nationwide. MBA’s have themselves to thank. Some schools have fully closed the curriculum and now solely provide a couple of programs in WEB web page design and Java coding for the WEB.

Tyler: What recommendation would you give at the moment to college students enthusiastic about pursuing an IT or programming profession?

Roland: Proper now, I’d inform them to not pursue it. Change into a water effectively driller or a diesel engine mechanic. IT is headed for a practice wreck and we’re lower than 5 years away from it. The mad rush to deal with IT employees like warehouse field stackers has result in the beating down of IT salaries and big quantities of fraud within the H1-B program. A small backlash in opposition to the off-shoring has already began with some excessive profile contract cancellations. The massive hammer will fall when extra H1-B employees get arrested by Homeland Safety for acts of terrorism. After that occurs, the H1-B visa will likely be abolished. Off-shoring firms will discover themselves tightly restricted. You will not see hundreds of IT employees slipping over right here on trip visas to work many months tax-free. IT employees will as soon as once more be revered as data employees and salaries will reward those that know.

Tyler: Roland, what makes your books stand out and fulfill a necessity faculty programs have missed?

Roland: Logic is the elemental software of IT. If you don’t perceive logic, then you don’t perceive the elemental principals behind IT. You did not earn a level; you got one.

Tyler: Roland, I used to be shocked to study your guide “The Minimal You Must Know to Be an OpenVMS Software Developer” is the primary guide in ten years on the topic. With the way in which expertise is so quickly altering, how is it doable ten years have elapsed and not using a guide being written on the topic?

Roland: That is simple. HP is the third proprietor of OpenVMS. It began out with Digital Gear Company who created an OS that was 30 years forward of its time. Compaq then purchased DEC, and being a PC firm, had no concept what to do with a midrange system. Lastly HP purchased Compaq. HP has had a very unhappy excuse for a mid-range OS for a few years. You may need heard of it: HP-UX. They sink huge quantities of cash into advertising and marketing that lesser product. If that cash had been put into advertising and marketing OpenVMS, the HP-UX product would disappear within three years. HP is ready to carry out solely upkeep on OpenVMS and have the OS add hundreds of thousands if not billions to its backside line.

The put in base for OpenVMS is massive. Firms that use it know what high quality is. Additionally they know the up-time for an OpenVMS cluster is measured in a long time, not hours like it’s for a PC community. A few of you might have learn the article in “ComputerWorld” a while again. When the dual towers fell, the buying and selling firms which had been utilizing clustered OpenVMS techniques in a number of areas continued to commerce till the top of the buying and selling day. That they had an outage of lower than quarter-hour whereas the cluster verified the opposite nodes weren’t going to reply, then recovered their transactions and continued on. No different OS gives that stage of “Survive the Hearth” design.

Put your self within the sneakers of higher administration at HP. You have sunk billions into this HP-UX factor through the years. OpenVMS has a big and dependable put in base regardless of each firm that has tried to remove it through the years. Doing nearly nothing for OpenVMS nonetheless has it including hundreds of thousands if not billions to your annual backside line. When you push OpenVMS, your flagship HP-UX will vanish from the market place. Do you inform the world you had been mistaken or do you proceed sinking hundreds of thousands into HP-UX hoping in opposition to hope that it’ll at some point catch as much as OpenVMS?

Tyler: In “The Minimal You Must Know About Java on OpenVMS,” your first chapter is “Why Java?” Will you reply that query for us?

Roland: That query is greatest answered by studying the guide.

Tyler: Roland, general, what do you assume makes your collection of books stand out from all the opposite books on Java and programming?

Roland: I wasn’t paid to put in writing them. I wrote these books by myself time and revealed them with my very own cash. I wasn’t paid by some writer to crank out six books per yr aimed in any case widespread denominator of {the marketplace}. This left me free to cowl the subjects I wished and knew wanted overlaying.

Tyler: Roland, what do you discover most rewarding about programming and writing about our ever-changing applied sciences?

Roland: Expertise actually is not “ever-changing.” That is a phrase the commerce press has been cramming down our throats for many years. Expertise is endlessly rehashing previous and generally unhealthy concepts. Probably the most rewarding half about writing is with the ability to level out simply what concept is being rehashed this week by the commerce press and “trade analysts.”

Tyler: Roland, you could have been concerned with computer systems and programming for twenty years, again to when computer systems had been simply changing into widespread gadgets in households. You’ve got seen a variety of modifications in that point. What have you ever discovered to be the largest studying curve in maintaining with expertise?

Roland: Convincing MBA’s that what they’re seeing in a 4-color shiny is not new expertise, it’s a rehash of expertise that both did not survive or should not be rehashed.

While you learn by means of this collection of books you’ll find a bit the place I cowl how PC’s rehashed errors mainframes and midrange computer systems made a decade earlier than. Additionally, you will discover a part speaking about how all of those “new applied sciences” which let builders hyperlink on to databases from WEB pages is a a technique ticket to jail simply ready to be punched.

Tyler: Roland, you appear to have a bleak outlook for expertise within the subsequent few years. When you had a crystal ball, what could be your prediction for what expertise and computer systems will likely be like in fifty extra years?

Roland: Fifty is a very lengthy quantity to look out. DEC had the most effective minds within the trade working for it and so they solely regarded 30 years out. There are actually three potential outcomes.

Final result 1: Greed and corruption win. There are completely no IT jobs within the US, Western Europe, or England. Solely a handful exist in Russia. All IT work is finished by what was as soon as third world nations. They bleed us dry. The previous expertise leaders now have a tradition that exists of two courses, MBA’s and people making lower than $30K/yr irrespective of whether or not they construct homes or work at 7/11. The domino impact attributable to shedding the IT employees induced an entire obliteration of the center class by wiping out the industries which relied on them spending cash (costly houses, $70,000 SUV’s, film and music trade, and so forth.). It is the second darkish ages.

Final result 2: The SEC saves the world. Throughout a quick respite between trade extensive monetary scandals the SEC stumbles into an accounting cowl up of off-shore mission failures by a blue chip firm. They start a really deep and public investigation. Heads of the corporate go to jail and the gory story of how papering over off-shore failures was widespread observe rattles the investing neighborhood. A cursory inspection of all publicly traded firms turns up that the observe was extensive unfold. In a large plea cut price, all listed firms finish their off-shore contracts inside a month, then start an examination of what techniques they’ve nonetheless truly working. The mainframe and midrange techniques nonetheless operating their core enterprise techniques even after the corporate publicly declared they’d transformed every thing to $800 laptop’s operating Home windows or Linux become the one system nonetheless operating. A decade of purging occurs throughout which, college students are paid to go to school for core IT abilities: Logic, 3GLs, and relational databases.

Final result 3: Greed alone wins. The off-shore firms working in India confronted with having to pay actual wages and unionized programmers flash reduce their operations over to Korea and different firms in every week’s span of time. Thousands and thousands of disgruntled IT employees take to the streets. Extremist teams transfer in and recruit them. These are educated folks with a bit bit of cash, not the same old extremist honest. A number of massive US firms finds all of their software program nationalized by a brand new extremist authorities. We find yourself in a large battle with the result unsure. Every little thing we wish may be destroyed by a bombing raid or just deleted by the present authorities of the nation.

Tyler: Roland, would you inform our readers your site and what additional info they’ll discover there about your books?

Roland: There are literally two websites. For details about the present books they’ll go to For details about different books or my firm generally they’ll go to

Tyler: Thanks, Roland, for becoming a member of me at the moment. It has been an actual schooling. I hope your books develop into well-liked and result in wiser and higher IT choices and work.

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