Sunday, 20 May 2012

Two operating systems, and rubbish customer service from a 'phone manufacturer

Two Saturdays ago I woke to find my Windows Phone (Samsung Omnia 7) was on a major go-slow - it was fine for anything not involving the built-in secure SD card, but I couldn't even do a hard reset. The (always excellent) Bath T-Mobile shop agreed with my provisional diagnosis and sent the 'phone back to Samsung for repair, providing me temporarily with a little Nokia 'phone which proved surprisingly full-functional (if you can live without 3G and with a storage capacity of about 50MB, that is).

In the meantime I decided that it was time I stopped evangelising Windows Phone from a position of knowing nothing about either iOS or Android, so I bought myself a 7" Ice Cream Sandwich tablet (Neuropad). An interesting and overall positive experience.


  • Good and clearly responsive supplier (AndroidSlates via Amazon)
  • Brilliant battery life - I never turn it off
  • Pretty intuitive (though it took me a while to work out how to display the app list - initially, I was faced with what seemed a completely blank screen)
  • Clearly excellent selection of apps (though I have installed no functionality that doesn't exist for WP7, except BBC iPlayer)
  • Perfect for productive train travel - handle emails, read PDFs without straining eyes
  • Good wifi reception (could use a 3G dongle if I needed to)
  • File Explorer, and ability to map tablet as network drive via USB
  • Good support for Windows Live and SkyDrive, once you've found the apps (why call the WL app Hotmail?)
  • Nice implementation of OneNote Mobile (free of charge, and with far faster sync than on WP7)
  • Respectable Office document editor (Documents to Go) for under £10 (though the PowerPoint element is feeble)
  • Flash (iPlayer app works perfectly ... but see below for the other side of this story)
  • 'Running apps' list with 'close' function (I see now why the relevant request has so many votes on


  • Can't launch attachments from OneNote pages (now using SkyDrive direct instead, but it's not as seamless)
  • Billing complications - Amazon option doesn't work in the UK as far as I can see; Google Play allows entry of an Amex card, but then doesn't let you use it for Android app payments, without explanation
  • Can't see the back / home / menu buttons in the dark (surprisingly annoying)
  • Even on max volume, Neuropad is pretty quiet
  • Non-integrated email (why should I care whether it's Gmail or not?)
  • Contact handling is not at all intuitive - took me a while to work out where it was finding contacts, and even longer to identify/install a decent app to manage them with - no built-in contact management app at all (even the little Nokia mentioned above did better than that)
  • Apps fairly frequently stop responding - may be related to trying to do too much with small memory in Neuropad (fair enough) and/or to bad wifi reception
  • Flash (even worse than on Windows, e.g. Cricinfo website is unusable)

Lots more to do - install and learn Swype keyboard, find better browser, etc. - but overall v pleased with it. However I have seen nothing to make me think I would be better off with an Android 'phone.

Meanwhile after only 10 days the Windows Phone was ready for collection.

Samsung informed us in writing that they had tested everything in sight and 'updated the software to the latest level'. We were puzzled, given the fact that there'd fairly obviously been a hardware fault.

On investigating the 'phone and switching it on, it became clear
a) that this was not my 'phone handset but a rather battered looking replacement they hadn't bothered to mention (so my carefully preserved Zune backup would be useless), and (worse)
b) that, far from being on the 'latest level', it was on the very earliest shipped OS level (7004).
I think the politest way of describing Samsung's actions here is 'economical with the truth'. I can't see that they give two hoots about their customers. I'm as angry about this as I have been with a vendor for a long time - it feels like they're taking both the Bath T-Mobile shop and me for fools.

Anyway three hours, much swearing at Zune, a PC restart, and 4 updates later, I was ready to re-install my apps and get things back to normal.

In summary: much as I love my Omnia, my next 'phone will probably be a Nokia Lumia 900; and it won't be running Android.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The #ibmi timeline up to date

What an amazing story ...

System/3 1969-1975 Product of General Systems Division, formed as result of anti-trust legislation. Low-end batch system replacement for unit-record equipment. Used RPG programming language. Disk and terminals soon added. 28-instruction CPU. Over 25,000 sold.
System/32 1975-1977 System/3 follow-on.
System/34 1977-1981 System/32 follow-on. Ran SSP OS.
System/36 1981-1986 System/34 follow-on. Ran SSP OS.
System/38 1978-1988 Pioneering design, revolutionary architecture system, continued in AS/400, iSeries, System i5, IBM i to date, provides complete insulation for user applications against technology change. Also, first system line to include in-built relational database system. Ran CPF OS.
AS/400 1988-2000 Repackaged and improved S/38, hugely successful in medium business markets, using S/38 architecture. By mid-late 1990s, became open, e-business capable server. 200,000th AS/400 sold by 1992. OS/400 OS. From 1995 based on RISC chip (PowerPC).
iSeries 2000-2002 Repackaged and re-branded AS/400, under eServer strategic initiative.
New iSeries 2003-2004 Radically reshaped and extended, repackaged and re-priced iSeries, repositioned as "On Demand" e-business hub platform consolidating Windows/Intel, Linux, AIX, Java and Domino (as well as traditional OS/400) workloads. Over $500M IBM investment.
System i5 2004-2007 Technology convergence with pSeries, including AIX in a partition. Operating system now called i5/OS.
IBM i on PowerSystems hardware 2007- No distinction between i and p hardware - all just Power Systems. Operating system now called IBM i.
IBM i on PureSystems platforms 2012- Expert integrated systems: ranges of infrastructure and application platforms with full support for IBM i workloads.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Assorted #ibmi hints and tips #4 : Creating an output table directly from a SQL SELECT

Another only recently learned but mega useful SQL trick ...

create table schema/table as (select statement) with [no] data

create table MYLIB/MYOUTPUT as (SELECT COLUMN1, COLUMN2, COLUMN3 FROM ...) with data
creates physical file MYOUTPUT in MYLIB with fields COLUMN1, COLUMN2, COLUMN3  and populates it with the SELECT result set, while
create table MYLIB/MYOUTPUT as (SELECT  COLUMN1, COLUMN2, COLUMN3 FROM ...) with no data
creates empty physical file MYOUTPUT in MYLIB with fields COLUMN1, COLUMN2, COLUMN3, and
create table MYLIB/MYOUTPUT as (SELECT  * FROM MYLIB/MYINPUT) with data
does the equivalent of

It's worth pointing out that the columns of the SELECT have to have valid field names, thus
create table MYLIB/MYOUTPUT as (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM ...) with data
will not work, while
create table MYLIB/MYOUTPUT as (SELECT COUNT(*) AS MYCOUNT FROM ...) with data
is fine.

The newly announced RUNSQL CL command will make the above even more useful, as it will make it immediately accessible from CL.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Assorted #ibmi hints and tips #3 : Handling multi-member physical files from SQL

Here's another useful possibility I hadn't spotted until recently.
For SQL access to a non-default member, use an alias, e.g.:

By the way, if you missed hint #2:
Assorted IBM i hints and tips #2: Making physical file DDS changes faster, easier, and less risky  Nice article at