The Information Age

Ever wondered why it’s called the information age?

Well it’s because we’re now generating such vast quantities of electronic data every day. Eric Schmidt is the CEO of Google – a company that knows a thing or two about data. Speaking earlier this month, he stated:

There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, … but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing…

For non-techies, 5 exabytes (5EB) probably means as much as “one-point-twenty-one-gigawatts” did in Back To The Future, but take it from me that’s a lot. In PC World terms, 5 exabytes is 5,000,000,000 gigabytes. Average computers have hard disks around 500 gigabytes in size. And now we’re generating that every day.

That’s why it’s called the information age.

Creating an OpenSSL Certificate

This post is more of a reminder to myself than any public service regarding creating certificates. It’s one of those tasks I need to do once or twice a year, but always forget how to do it. This entry simply reminds me of the commands I need.

Create the private key:

openssl genrsa -out new.pem 2048

Create the certificate signing request file:

openssl req -new -key new.pem -out new.csr

Sign the certificate using your CA:

openssl x509 -CA ca.crt -CAkey ca.key -req -in new.csr -CAserial -out new.crt -days 365

And finally export it in PKCS12 format for use elsewhere:

openssl pkcs12 -export -clcerts –inkey new.pem –in new.crt -out new.p12 -name 'My Convenient Name'

Done! That wasn’t too hard to remember was it?

It’s Finally Available

After many years of working on the product, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS 4.1 is now available for customers to try out as a beta version.

This is what I have been working on for the past 15 months at IBM and it’s nice to show what you do to the world every now and again. My “bit” has been developing what’s listed on the website as the RESTful Web Services – providing information about, and allowing configuration of, CICS systems.

Don’t just expect your PC to run it though. This is a program designed for customers with mainframes – million-dollar plus machines with service contracts and dedicated support and admin staff.

New Laptop

My trusty workhorse of my IBM-supplied ThinkPad T42p has finally bitten the dust. After several months of the fan sounding decidedly rough, it simply failed to start one day with some ominous BIOS beeps and the “Fan Error” message, followed by an automatic power-down.

Luckily, I’ve now been issued with a replacement model: a Lenovo W500. This isn’t a bad machine, but it does lack some of the tactile niceties of the more solid T42p. Sure, the screen is wider (running at a resolution of 1920×1200), with a much faster CPU (Intel dual core 2.5GHz) — thing is, though, I don’t really need this horsepower and I certainly don’t need such a high-resolution screen. With the T42p I used to work all day with the screen, whereas I think this display may get a little tiring on the eyes after a while. Only time will tell.

There are some neat touches with the system: it does have a fingerprint scanner (which isn’t just a gimmick) and built-in GPRS connectivity for mobile internet, should I ever decide I want to use that.

Of course, I currently can’t boot my old system, which means my data is currently stuck on the old hard drive. Yes, I have a backup, but it is now 30 days old (having been on holiday for a week and working at home for a while before that). The files which I need now are the ones which I use every day, hence they are the ones which are not up-to-date in my backup copy.

According to PC Pro though, it’s a highly-capable laptop so I shouldn’t complain: review here.


Ages ago (in a pre-blog world), I wrote on my proper web-site about my new Philips SLA-5520 (aka “The Streamium”). All was good with the world and my collection of CDs were available at the touch of a button, streamed wirelessly from my mini-ITX PC.

Unfortunately, bad things started to happen. Sometimes it would fail to power on; or briefly power-up, then reset itself, only to reset itself again and end up in a very slow loop. Combined with the fact we didn’t play music that often, I never really gave it much thought. Last week it really got to me, I had a bit think and concluded it must be a power supply problem.

Off to eBay then to source a suitable PSU. It needed to be a unit capable of delivering 9V at a current of at least 500mA. I managed to find a brand-new 1200mA version, taken from a high-end BT cordless phone. Hopefully that would be beefy enough to supply the device with any spikes in startup current required, while remaining stable enough as time went by. Delivered for £6.

It arrived yesterday and I’m pleased to report things are hunky-dory again. I needed to take the connector off the old supply and use it to replace the one on the new supply: the old one was a right-angled version to make the leads run away to the back nicely; and it had a small locking indent near the tip. A bit of electricians’ tape later and we are up and running.

The music lives on.

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