Normally, IBM has its announcements on Tuesdays, but this week it was on Monday!
I am here in New York City, at the Kaufmann Theater of the American Museum of Natural History, for the [IBM Storage Innovation Executive Summit]. We have about 250 clients here, as well as many bloggers and storage analysts.
My day started out being interviewed by Lynda from Stratecast, a division of [Frost & Sullivan]. This interview will be part of a video series that Stratecast is doing about the storage industry.
(About the venue: American Museum of Natural History was built in 1869. It was featured in the film "Night at the Museum". In keeping with IBM's focus on scalability and preservation, the museum here boasts skeletons of the largest dinosaurs. The five-story building takes up several city blocks, and the Kaufmann theater is buried deep in the bottom level, well shielded from cell phone or Wi-Fi signals allowing me to focus on taking notes the traditional way, with pen and paper.)
Deon Newman, IBM VP of Marketing for Northa America, was our Master of Ceremonies. Today would be filled with market insight, best practices, thought leadership, and testimonials of powerful results.
This is my first in a series of blog posts on this event.
This certainly was a great way to start the day!
Last month, the National Association of Broadcasters [NAB] had their big [2011 NAB Show]. Broadcast Engineering [announced the 2011 NAB Show Pick Hit winners]. The big news was that IBM's Linear Tape File System (LTFS) was a "Pick Hits" winner at this conference!
IBM introduced the Linear Tape File System last year, which I explained in my post [IBM Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary for LTO tape], and released it as open source to the rest of the Linear Tape Open [LTO] Consortium so that the entire planet can benefit from IBM's innovation. IBM presented a technology demonstration of its Linear Tape File System - Library Edition at the NAB conference, showing how this new IBM library offering of the file system can put mass archives of rich media video content at the users fingertips with the ease of library automation.
From left to right, here is Atsushi Nagaishi (Toshiba) and Shinobu Fujihara (IBM). Fujihara-san is from IBM's Yamato lab in Japan where some of the LTFS development was done. The Yamato Lab was not damaged by the [Earthquakes in Japan].
With the capabilities of LTFS, IBM has introduced an entirely new role for tape, as an attractive high capacity, easy to use, low cost and shareable storage media. LTFS can make tape usable in a fashion like removable external disk, a giant alternative to floppy diskettes, DVD-RW and USB memory sticks with directory tree access and file-level drag-and-drop capability. LTFS can allow the for passing of information around from one system or employee to another. And as for high video storage capacity, a 1.5TB LTO-5 cartridge can hold about 50 hours of XDCAM HD video!
A group photo of the global IBM LTFS team, from left to right, David Pease from IBM Almaden Research Center, Ed Childers from IBM Tucson, Shinobu Fujihara and Hironobu Nagura from IBM Japan.
IBM was once again #1 leader in Tape worldwide for the year 2010. With this exciting new win, tape is not just for backup and archive anymore!
Next week, I will be in New York City for the [IBM Storage Innovation Executive Summit].
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!"
Often I get feedback from my readers that I focus too much on storage products in this blog, and have been asked to break out of the work world for a change. Fair enough! The first Sunday of May is designated "World Laughter Day". I am proud to be one of the founding members of the [Tucson Laughter Club] back in 2004, and we held our first World Laughter Day event on May 1, 2005 at Udall Park.
Over the past seven years, we have had four other clubs "spin off" from the main group to form their own club. However, for World Laughter Day, the five sister clubs (or five warring tribes, as some call them) put down our differences and got together for a day of fun. In keeping with the tradition of having these events outside, we were granted permission to hold our event at the University of Airzona mall.
While the Tucson Laughter Club is recognized as one of the oldest laughter clubs in the United States, there are actually over 6000 clubs worldwide in over 60 countries. Laughter clubs started in India, when Dr. Madan Kataria (a medical doctor) and his wife Madhuri (a yoga instructor) gathered people in a park to try laughter as a form of healing and exercise. Today, [Laughter Yoga] is practiced outside in parks or indoors.
Up until now, all of the World Laughter Day events in Tucson have been organized by the original Tucson Laughter Club, but this time we decided to pass the baton over to Gita Fendelman of [Curve's Laughter YogHA club] to take the lead. Here she is standing next to a large yellow sign with facts and figures about the history of World Laughter Day.
We had about 45 people join us in a large circle, and proceed with a series of breathing, stretching and laughter exercises. Many of the laughter exercises involve moving around to look at each of the other participants eye-to-eye, and with 45 people, this can be quite challenging.
The weather could not have been nicer. Clear blue skies, a slight breeze, and an unusually cool 75 degrees F. Last week we were in the nineties approach summer, so we were delighted the weather cooled down for this event.
As a certified Laughter Yoga instructor myself, I offered to help lead the events for World Laughter Day. We had plenty of other certified laughter leaders on hand, and so both Gita and Emily (from Laughter Yoga with Emily) served as co-chairs.
I brought my [CRATE battery-powered amp] and microphones so that we could project our voices loud enough to the entire group. There was no electricity anywhere near our location, so battery-powered amps are the way to go for these situations.
After two hours of laughing, we all lie down for some relaxing meditation. Some people use this time to pray for World Peace. In a delightful coincidence, later that day, US President Barack Obama announced that the [world was a better place] having eliminated one of the world's most dangerous terrorists.
I would like to thank Jeff from our local NBC News Channel 4 affiliate [KVOA] who came to interview Gita and video us while we did our laughter exercises.
For more photos from this World Laughter Day event, see my [World Laughter Day 2011 Photo Set on Flickr].
Back in Februray, my blog post [A Box Full of Floppies] mentioned that I uncovered some diskettes compressed with OS/2 Stacker. Jokingly, I suggested that I may have to stand up an OS/2 machine just to check out what is actually on those floppies. Each floppy contains only three files: README.STC, STACKER.EXE and a hidden STACKVOL.DSK file. The README.STC explains that the disk is compressed by Stacker, a program developed by [Stac Electronics, Inc.]. The STACKER.EXE would not run on Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. The STACKVOL.DSK is just a huge binary file, like a ZIP file, compressed with [Lempel-Ziv-Stac] algorithm that combines Lempel-Ziv with Huffman coding.
In my follow-up post [Like Sands in an Hourglass], I explained how there are many ways I could have tackled this project. I could either use the Emulation approach and try to build an OS/2 guest image under a hypervisor like VMware, KVM or VirtualBox, or just take the Museum approach and try taking one of my half dozen old machines, wipe it clean and stand up OS/2 on it bare metal. This turned out to be more challenging than I expected. The systems I have that are modern and powerful enough to run hypervisors don't have floppy drives, so I opted for the Museum approach.
(A quick [history of OS/2] might be helpful. IBM and Microsoft jointly developed OS/2 back in 1985. By 1990, Microsoft decided it's own Windows operating system was more popular with the ladies, and decided to break off with IBM. In 1992, IBM release OS/2 version 2.0, touted as "a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows!" Both parties maintained ownership rights, Microsoft renamed OS/2 to Windows NT. The "NT" stood for New Technology, the basis for all of the enterprise-class Windows servers used today. IBM named its version of OS/2 version 3 and 4 "WARP", with the last version 4.52 released in 2001. In its heyday, OS/2 ran the majority of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), was used for hardware management consoles (HMC), and was used worldwide to run various Railway systems. After 2001, IBM encouraged people to transition from Windows or OS/2 over to Java and Linux. For those that can't or won't leave OS/2, IBM partnered with Serenity Systems to continue OS/2 under the brand [eComStation].)
Working with an IBM [ThinkCentre 8195-E2U Pentium 4 machine] with 640MB RAM and 80GB hard disk, a CD-rom and one 3.5-inch floppy drive, I first discovered that OS/2 is limited to very small amounts of hard disk. There are limits on [file systems and partition sizes] as well as the infamous [1024-cylinder limit] for bootable operating systems. Having a completely empty drive didn't work, as the size of the disk was too big. Carving out a big partition out of this also failed, as it exceeded the various limits. Each time, it felt the partition table was corrupted because the values were so huge. Even modern Disk Partitioning tools ([SysRescueCD] or [PartedMagic]) didn't work, as these create partitions not recognizable to OS/2.
The next obstacle I knew I would encounter would be device drivers. OS/2 comes as a set of three floppy diskettes and a CD-rom. The bootable installation disk was referred to affectionately as "Disk 0", then Disk 1, then Disk 2. Once all drivers have been loaded into memory, then it can start looking at the CDrom, and continue with the installation. In searching for updated drivers, I came across [Updated OS/2 Warp 4 Installation Diskettes] to address problems with newer display monitors. It also addresses the 8.4GB volume limit.
The updates were in the form of EXE files that only execute in a running DOS or OS/2 environment, expanded onto a floppy diskette. It seemed like [Catch-22], I need a working DOS or OS/2 system to run the update programs to create the diskettes, but need the diskettes to build a working system.
To get around this, I decided to take a "scaffolding" approach. Using DOS 6 bootable floppy, I was able to re-partition the drive with FDISK into two small 1.9GB partitions. I have the full five-floppy IBM DOS 6 set, I hid the first partition for OS/2, and install the DOS 6 GUI on the second partition. I went ahead and added a few new subdirectories: BOOT to hold Grub2, PERSONAL to hold the data I decompress from the floppies, and UTILS to hold additional utilities. This little DOS system worked, and I now have new OS/2 "Disk 1" and "Disk 2" for the installation process.
(If you don't have a full set of DOS installation diskettes, you can make due with "FORMAT C: /S" from a [DOS boot disk], and then just copy over all the files from the boot disk to your C: drive. You won't have a nice DOS GUI, but the command line prompt will be enough to proceed.)
Like DOS, OS/2 expects to be installed on the C: drive. I hid the second partition (DOS), and marked the first partition installable and bootable. The OS/2 installation involves a lot of reboots, and the hard drive is not natively bootable in the intermediate stages. This means having to boot from Disk 0, then putting in Disk 1, then disk 2, before continuing the next phase of the installation. I tried to keep the installation as "Plain Vanilla" as possible.
I had to figure out what to include, and what to exclude, and this involved a lot of trial and error. For example, one of the choices was for "external diskette support". Since I had an "internal diskette drive", I didn't think I needed it. But after a full install, I discovered that it would not read or write floppy diskettes, so it appears that I do indeed need this support.
OS/2 supports two different file systems, FAT16 and the High Performance File System (HPFS). Since my partition was only 1.9GB in size, I chose just to use FAT16. HPFS supported larger disk partitions, longer file names, and faster performance, none of which I need for these purposes.
I thought it would be nice to get TCP/IP networking to work with my Ethernet card. However, after many attempts, I decided against this. I needed to focus on my mission, which was to decompress floppy diskettes. It was amusing to see that OS/2 supported all kinds of networking, including Token Ring, System Management, Remote Access, Mobile Access Services, File and Print.
Once all the options are chosen, OS/2 installation then proceeds to unpack and copy all the programs to the C: drive. During this process, IBM had informational splash screens. Here's one that caught my eye, titled "IBM Means Three Things" that listed three reasons to partner with IBM:
You might wonder how these OS/2 splash screens, written over 10 years ago, can appear almost identical to IBM's current [Smarter Planet] campaign. Actually, it is not that odd. IBM has been keeping to these same core principles since 1911, only the words to describe and promote these core values have changed.
To access both OS/2 and DOS partitions, I installed Grand Unified Bootloader [Grub2] on the DOS partition under C:/BOOT/GRUB directory. However, when I boot OS/2, I cannot see the DOS partition. And when I boot DOS, I cannot see the OS/2 partition. Each operating system thinks its C: drive is the only partition on the system.
Now that I had OS/2 running, I was then able to install Stacker from two floppy diskettes. With this installed, I can compress and decompress data on either the hard disk, or on floppy diskettes. Most of the files were flat text documents and digital photos. After copying the data off the compressed disks onto my hard drive, I now can copy them off to a safe place.
To finish this project, I installed Ubuntu Linux on the remaining 76GB of disk space, which can access both the OS/2 and DOS drives FAT16 file systems natively. This allows me to copy files from OS/2 to DOS or vice versa.
Now that I know what data types are on the diskettes, I determined that I could have decompressed the data in just a few steps:
However, now that I have a working DOS and OS/2 system, I can possibly review the rest of my floppy diskettes, some of which may require running programs natively on OS/2 or DOS. This brings me to an important lesson. If you are going to keep archive data for long-term retention, you need to choose file formats that can be read by current operating systems and programs. Installing older operating systems and programs to access proprietary formats can be quite time-consuming, and may not always be possible or desirable.
Yes, it's Tuesday, and that means more IBM Announcements! A lot was announced today, so I have selected an eclectic mix for your enjoyment.
If you are contemplating a visit to an IBM [Executive Briefing Center], then April and May is a great time to come to Tucson. The weather is ideal here. The cold snap appears to be over, and spring is in the air!