How to watch The Orville in the UK

Orville,Star,Trek

 

I know this is a tech blog, but many of us grew up watching Star Trek and that may in part be responsible for why we now work in tech.  While I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the new Star Trek Discovery we’re also excited about The Orville. The first episode of The Orville will air on September 10th in the US on Fox.

As of September 3rd, no details have been given of how or when the Orville will be released in the UK. This is a little strange these days when we are used to global distribution arrangements.

We are monitoring this on a daily basis. We expect it to at the very least become available on Amazon, Netflix or Apple iTunes stores around the time it launches in the US.  The episodes may also be posted onto YouTube as the studio would be sure to make a fortune off the advertising income.


How to improve MySQL 5.7 Performance

MySQL 5.7 How to fix performance issuesWe upgraded to MySQL 5.7 and have had numerous problems with performance. We upgraded because we needed the new support for fractional timestamps but we’ve since learnt that this functionality has been ported back to MySQL v5.6.35.  So in some situations the best way to fix MySQL 5.7 performance issues is to downgrade to V5.6.35 which actually came out after 5.7.

We also struggled with some indexes which MySQL 5.7 ignored despite everything we tried. The queries kept coming back up in the slow running query log. These indexes then just started working after we had rebooted the whole server for another reason. So if you are finding MySQL 5.7 slow, it’s worth trying a reboot.

The other problem we had was that 5.7 can take a very long time to startup. We still haven’t found a solution for this other than to downgrade back to 5.6.35. It in part seems to be caused by having very large record sizes on some tables but then we also saw it affecting some very short tables. It seems to be that after a restart MySQL 5.7 rebuilds the query optimisation statistics cache and buffer pools each time. In previous versions these can be preserved when the Database is closed down. We haven’t managed to make this work in 5.7.

In my view as of January 2017 5.7 is not production ready and the only real solution to addressing the performance issues is to downgrade back to v5.6.35.  For the record I’ve found MySQL V5.6.35 reliable and performant so far.


AS400 Operating System Introduction

So what makes the AS/400 Operating System so special?

The AS400 Operating System is one of the most modern Operating Systems in wide spread use today.  I was at an interesting talk given by Doctor Frank Soltis the chief designer for the IBM AS/400 and the IBM System 38 that came before it. He explained that Windows can trace it’s roots back via Windows NT to VAX VMS, Unix, Linux and OSX can trace their roots back into the late 60’s. In comparison OS/400 or CPF (Control Program Function) as it was known on the System/38 was designed the ground up in the 1980’s.

In current terms OS/400 has more in common with the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) than operating systems like Windows. OS/400 has a machine independent layer that sits between it and the underlying processors and hardware.  Over the years the processors have changed many times, for example from CISC to RISC whilst marinating software compatibility. Software first compiled in the 1980’s on long forgotten hardware can still be run on the latest hardware today without being recompiled.

In addition to the Technology Independence Layer, OS/400 also features something called Single Level Storage.  In computer software the most expensive operation is the Branch operation. This is where the processor switches from one task to another.  OS/400 handles this by having a single continuous 128 bit  address range. This covers all the physical memory and disk storage. The Operating System then uses heretical storage management to move the most frequently used content into the fastest memory in the Single Level Storage. These days this will range from slow mass storage drives, SANS, fast drives, SSD’s to RAM.

OS/400 is not a truly Object Orientated Operating System in the current sense (i.e. inheritance and polymorphism) but it is Object Based and very much embraces Encapsulation. Being Object Based literally everything on the system is an Object. Each object has a set of interfaces and can only be accessed through those interfaces. This has made the platform incredible secure as most of the memory overrun and buffer attacks that hackers exploit on other platforms are not possible.

The other interesting thing about OS/400 is that it has a built in database. These days it’s called DB/2 and shares much of the DB/2 technology from other platforms. OS/400 uses this built in database for many of it’s own storage requirements. DB/2 on iSeries leverages the Single Level storage to be highly reliable and low maintenance.  Unlike on other platforms the AS/400 will run for years without any operator or DBA (Database Administrator) assistance.  For example I’m aware of several companies in the UK where AS/400 applications run for years on end with little to no operations support. I’d contrast this with Microsoft SQL Server based applications where performance degrades if not given regular attention.  IBM S/38 was the first commercial computer to implement a Relational Database using SQL. This took the conceptual work from Ted Codd at IBM and implemented it for real in the S/38.  At the time the S/38 CPF Operating System was ahead of the processing power really available for this type of processing. It was slow but successfully proved the vision of a Relational Database based on SQL. IBM had invested everything in the development of the S/38 and continued this investment as they improved the processors, hardware and Operating System and relaunched it in the 1990’s as AS/400.

The AS/400 as a whole is often perceived to be out of date (by people who don’t know better) because it still runs many Green Screen or Character based applications on dumb terminals or terminal emulation.  From a systems architecture perspective this is no more relevant than say the console interface on Mac OS (OSX) or the Terminal Interface on Windows. These days most modern applications are browser based and the users would never know that the backend is running on OS/400.

For anyone studying Systems Architecture or Computer Science OS/400 is something you really must study to get an alternative view of how well a fully integrated, single vendor system can work on an enterprise scale. Few doubt this today on the desktop or iPhone when they look at Apple products.