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Unix Remains A Flexible System

unixsAt the management consulting firm of Kestnbaum & Co. in Chicago, Systems Manager Joe Day got tired of waiting for OS/2. “Too little, too late,” he said. “It’s still so far off that we don’t intend to address it at all.” So Day made the move to Unix with a companywide network of 386 systems.

Day supports about 20 users who have a variety of jobs. “Some write C, some know statistics, some are secretaries who do word processing and electronic mail,” he said. “They can all use the system to whatever level they need. They all use multitasking, with several sessions running at any time.” A multiwindow interface makes it easy for novice users to keep tract of several tasks.

When companies move from stand-alone PCs to networks, most are concerned about two things: complexity and performance. At first, network administration was “a little overwhelming,” Day acknowledged. But after a few classes for himself and his colleagues, he reported, “We’re doing all right.”

Performance, too, has been satisfactory, he said. “The only time we had a problem was when a database was running on one system, with four clients sharing its disk as well. The dial-up users for that system were a little unhappy.”

Day’s comments underscore a key feature of Unix: It’s relatively simple and inexpensive to add users of basic functions by connecting dumb terminals. Those users can be connected directly or via modem; the latter option has greatly benefited Sedgwick Sales, a retail jewelry firm in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

“We have 200 kiosk locations nationwide,” said Don Sedgwick Jr., vice president of marketing. “They all send in sales and labor reports weekly by modem–also ordering requests, usually overnight. We handle the payroll and inventory accounting that way.

“We used to scramble around the office doing the reports for these 200 stores, everyone taking the stuff over the phone,” he said. “With the modem system, it really alleviates a lot of work.”

Sedgwick Sales’ experience highlights yet another feature of Unix: convenient portability of applications, in many cases upward from DOS as well as laterally across different Unix platforms. The applications were written in FilePro, from The Small Computer Co., of Hawthorne, N.Y., and originally developed by Technology/One, in Irvine, Calif., for Sedgwick Sales’ earlier DOS-based XT system. As the firm grew, the FilePro applications were transferred to a more capable 386 Unix platform.

“One of the selection criteria was the ability to move up,” said Bill Hiatt, president of Technology/One, a value-added reseller of Xenix systems, from The Santa Cruz Operation Inc. (SCO).

SCO is best known for SCO Xenix, its implementation of Microsoft Corp.’s licensed version of the AT&T-trademarked Unix. This unfortunate alphabet soup of names, like Xenix, Ultrix (from Digital Equipment Corp.) and Esix (from Everex Systems Inc.), all with their own twist on Unix, has contributed to corporate uncertainty about whether Unix is a sound foundation for commercial applications. Fortunately, said Hiatt, this is diminishing as vendors start to license the Unix name from AT&T.

The Macintosh community is also embracing Unix, especially now that standard Macintosh applications can run directly under Apple Computer Inc.’s A/UX version of Unix.

A hybrid system of Macintoshes tied to a 386-based server is up and running in Atlanta at Culpepper &Associates, management consultants for the software industry. “We have Unix tied in to our Macintosh network,” said Steve Benfield, research associate at the firm. “We use it for electronic mail, accounting, and our direct-mail and other databases.”

Benfield sees Unix systems in client firms as well; many companies find it far more economical than LANs. “Adding a new user is just [the cost of] a new terminal, rather than a new PC,” he explained. “One $10 million company is running 30 terminals on a single 386 box. I’ve heard of some people running 40 or even 60 users.”

Unix servers can make good use of more advanced desktop terminals, such as 286-based PCs with cooperative processing systems. This is the approach selected by Larry Saltzman, director of business affairs at Viacom Productions Inc. in Universal City, Calif., producer of such TV offerings as the new Perry Mason movies.

“We needed Unix to really unleash the speed and power of the 386,” Saltzman explained, “and the databases available under Unix were also much more powerful than dBASE or R:base.”

Most Unix users and developers echoed the sentiments of Donald Landwirth, president of DML Associates Inc., a systems-integration firm in Larkspur, Calif., which recently ported a dBASE III application to SCO FoxBase+ under Xenix.

“We did a successful conversion from DOS to Unix–it’s faster, it’s true multiuser,” Landwirth said. “There have been some clear benefits. If we had to do it again, we’d do it the same way.”

Service Bureaus Still Have Importance

gcspThere are two ways to generate a 35mm slide from a graphics program: Take the job into your own hands by transmitting slide data directly to a film recorder or send your graphics files to a graphics service bureau. Each method has its trade-offs. Read more ›

What Is A Hard Drive Crash?

wiahdcNowadays, everyone is online and use different computers and laptops to do their work, school stuff, and catching up with friends and loved ones. But if your computer suddenly crashes and blacks out, what do you do next? A hard drive crash is often called the “blue screen of death” which sucks all the stored data in your computer. What happens is the entire screen turns blue and you will be unable to access your files, photos, notes, and more. There is a difference between an operating system failure and the hard drive failure. Because compared to the operating system crash, wherein it is considered a logical failure, no matter what type of system you’re using – Windows or Mac – a hard drive crash is actually a physical failure wherein the hard drive has been exposed to either dusts, rusts, or what have yours.

Fortunately, some hard drive failures don’t necessarily mean that all your data is lost. Some crashes just mean that your stored data is not as accessible readily but it is still intact, you just can’t get through to it. However, in some cases, a hard drive crash can mean absolute and complete loss of data, and in these cases, there aren’t much to do to recover said data.

Do Not Ignore The Signs Of Hard Drive Failure That May Be Right In Front Of You

While there are no clear cut signs of hard drive failure, there are some things that you can watch for in order to catch it before it is too late. What I mean by that is the fact that you do not want to lose any of your precious and often times irreplaceable files. Such as those photos, audio tracks, and cute or funny videos.

You would think that with the average lifespan of a hard drive being between 5-10 years you would never need to worry about it. Since we as consumers are replacing our computer equipment much more frequently than that. The issue lies with the fact that we are on-the-go community now and many have laptops or even external hard drives. These get moved around entirely too much which lessens their lifespan to approximately 3-5 years.

Be mindful and when and if you experience your computer getting slower, freezing up, or even if you get the blue screen of death. You need to immediately make a backup, do not delay this process. If you are having an absorbent amount of files that are corrupt or refuse to open at all, this is one of the most prominent signs of hard drive failure.

Clicking Hard Drive How-To

Imagine it: you’re working on a paper for school or for a report at work that has already taken almost eighteen hours of your day and as you are about to save the file, you suddenly heard a clicking sound and it seems to take forever before you finally get to save your draft. Are you about to panic? Don’t be, it might just be a clicking hard drive sound.

As one of the most important and sensitive parts of the computer, hard disk drives are where we store data. It is the part that works hard on storing, retaining, and retrieving all our files. Now a clicking hard drive sound may be annoying and might cause panic at first but don’t worry. Simply try to confirm first if it is indeed a clicking hard drive sound. If so, professional data recovery may be necessary. IF you have time, immediately start to backup all your data and files, if you haven’t already, then run check disk on your hard drive. See if there are any results on possible errors that are causing the clicking hard drive noises. Once you determine the cause of the sound, then you can go ahead and start fixing and troubleshooting accordingly.

Shippers Fight It Out With Network Systems

nsnHow do major international corporations prepare their computer systems for the new economic community that will form in Europe in 1992? A pattern for future developments may be emerging in the parcel-delivery game, and hardware platforms are key elements in the top two players’ game plans.

Top-ranked Federal Express Corp. is armed with Read more ›

BA Was Strong On IT From The Get-Go

basitSpeeding along the road to recovery from years of support problems and end-user revolts, Bank of America’s information center has opened four new retail stores that sell software, cabling and services — but only to the bank’s end users.

The concept of an in-house retail chain as the distributor of end-user products has been tried and has failed at other major corporations. But after a month of operations at Bank of America, users Read more ›