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Is History Repeating Itself? Mainframe == Web Browsing

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My boss at RBC told me that mainframe computing is a demand because of the need to preserve legacy systems and to consider the prospective future – this future he was alluding to was the web. He compared the web browser as a modern day terminal connected to mainframe boxes. This perspective lingered with me throughout my extended co-op experience with the bank in where I deal with mainframes. Initially I was very lost and frustrated in understanding mainframes. The struggle was not so much in understanding the concepts but more in trying to find appreciation in learning and respecting this technology.

During my studies with DPS909 I was both directly and indirectly surrounded by fascinating technological trends. From the many listed projects in DPS909 (source symbol service, localization scripts, distcc, etc.) to the latest and the great in this years FSOSS (Miro, Pure Data (PD), Linux as a Desktop).

Furthermore, Coop is an extension that I am currently working on for my DPS909 project called Desktop Social Networking Integration. My interests in this project was not so much the growing trend of social network tools out there but the problem in trying to manage all these mash-ups of connecting people in the virtual world with the existing methods of social interaction – whether it be virtual or physical.

During my research and reflections on the Coop after releasing 0.2 I stumbled on a forum posted by Stevo Bengtson, a software developer for Songbird (I’ll get into Songbird a little later on). Stevo was sharing his thoughts on componentizing the Coop and shared his ideas based on work that has been done on a new browser specifically focused on social networking called Flock (Basically the Coop with a whole bunch of services and features mashed-up in one browser…I wonder what’s Mozilla’s reactions to this? I guess that’s why the Coop initiative was developed…well quoted from a brief chat with Shaver he seems not to focus on the competition but rather on the mandate of Mozilla which is being open and cultivating choice in the web.

<tjduavis>just really curious of the bat, how is
mozilla's response to flock, i figure it seems
like a threat since it has firefox

<shaver>"winning" for us isn't the whole world
using Firefox

<shaver>it's the whole world being able to choose
any browser, and the market having a number of
healthy and active choices in it

My response was:


Well as you can see its just that but I think I still have a lot to comprehend on being “open”. As you can tell from my proud report about FSOSS, I am very much intrigued in the business/economics/marketing side of open source. I wonder if I can get a MBA specializing in Open Source hahaha)

My other collection of interesting trends and technological projects that I been fascinated and intrigued about ever since getting into open source are:

  1. Coscripter
    • Cool approach on testing the web sites, a tool I recommended my boss and team at RBC to test their internal web applications.
  2. Chandler and The Chandler Hub
    • Indirectly pointed by a reply from Chris Cooper regarding potential work with an OSAF project: based on GTD …Something I need to apply on my DPS909 labs!
  3. Amazon’s Cloud project with Red Hat
    • A crazy product released by a book company? I believe a DPS909 classmate of mine is working on a project related to the Cloud!
  4. Songbird
    • ‘Songbird promises to be the Firefox of media players.’ – Aaron Boodman, Greasemonkey Creator”…Pretty powerful statement Mr. Boodman!

How does this all relate back to mainframes? Well on one side most of technology is depending on the web. It’s now going from a desktop centric approach of computing to back into a distributed model. It’s easy to get intimated with catching up with all these technological trends but I think its easy to agree with another point my boss made about the information technology industry. For the most part current and future technological initiatives have been already conceptualized / materialized in some form in the past and its just a matter of how one language or platform implements it differently.

So maybe the importance is not necessary in learning the ins and outs of a platform or technology but rather respecting and understanding history…no matter how dull that terminal screen blinks at you…


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