Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori está en el extremo derecho)

English version

Unos días antes de Navidad…

Me llegó un mail de IBM anunciando los resultados del concurso Master the Mainframe Sudamérica 2012. Con mucha ansiedad abrí el mail, y recibí la grata sorpresa de que había terminado en el primer puesto. Realmente no lo esperaba, ya que fue un concurso con muchas tareas desafiantes, y una gran cantidad de participantes de toda latinoamérica.
El día de la entrega de premios en el edificio de IBM, también me sorprendí al encontrarme con algunos conocidos: el segundo lugar en fue para un compañero de la facultad de Ingeniería de la UBA, al cual había invitado al concurso y charlamos al inscribirnos. También me encontré con otro conocido, un ex-compañero de trabajo, quien estudia en la UTN. El mundo de sistemas es muy chico, y más todavía el de Mainframe: uno siempre se vuelve a encontrar con viejos compañeros.

El tratamiento “VIP”

El premio por obtener el primer lugar, consistía en un viaje a la planta de IBM en Poughkeepsie, el cual estuvo estupendo. La planta es enorme, como una mini ciudad, que posee instalaciones donde se fabrican integralmente todos los equipos: desde la confección de los circuitos y ensamble, hasta el testeo, puesta a punto y envío a los clientes. Lo que más me asombró de toda la instalación, es el aprovechamiento que realizan del agua fría del río Hudson: a través de tuberías se ingresa el agua fría a las instalaciones, la cual se utiliza para refrigerar todo tipo de equipos e instalaciones: funcionamiento de los mainframes, servidores y un Green Data Center. Pude apreciar que todos los edificios contaban con cañerías con agua fría a disposición, y debajo de todos los pisos flotantes había conexiones de agua para conectar directamente a los equipos. Es de resaltar que esta utilización del agua es totalmente ecológica, ya que es devuelta al río sin ninguna alteración ni modificación, apenas unos grados de diferencia de temperatura. Y además permite ahorrar mucha electricidad en equipos de refrigeración.

Los otros ganadores

En Poughkeepsie me encontré con los ganadores del concurso de otros países: los tres primeros puestos de EEUU y Canadá, y el ganador de España. Quiero destacar también la gran hospitalidad y amabilidad de todos los empleados de IBM con que nos recibieron a los ganadores, quienes dedicaron dos días a enseñarnos y contarnos sus tareas en la planta, y charlar con nosotros sobre la tecnología actual y todas las dudas que tuviésemos sobre lo que hacen.
Creo que fue una experiencia muy enriquecedora tanto para mi carrera profesional como para mi vida, ya que pude conocer a muchas personas importantes e interesantes de la industria y sus profesiones, a la vez que compartir su cultura y ofrecer un poco de la propia.

 

Muchas gracias por la oportunidad, y hasta el próximo encuentro!

 
 

Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori, Argentina far right)

Versión española

A few days before Christmas…

I got an email announcing the results IBM Master the Mainframe Contest South America 2012.  With much anxiety I opened the mail , and I received the pleasant surprise that I was in the first place .  I really did not expect it , as it was a competition with many challenging tasks , and a large number of participants from throughout Latin America .

The day of the awards ceremony in the IBM building, I was also surprised to meet some acquaintances : the second place went to a fellow of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires , whom he had invited to the contest and talked to enroll.  I also met by another acquaintance , a former co-worker, who studies at NTU.  The world is very small, and even more so the Mainframe : you always reconnects with old friends .

VIP Treatment

The prize for getting first place , was on a trip to the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie , which was great.  The plant is huge, like a mini city, with facilities that manufacture integrally all the teams: from the manufacture of circuits and assembly; testing; commissioning; and delivery to customers.

What amazed me about the entire system is using cold water from the Hudson River.  Cold water enters through pipes throughout the facility cooling all kinds of equipment and facilities : operation mainframes, servers and Green Data Center.  I could see that all buildings had cold water pipes on hand, and under all floating floors had water connections to connect directly to computers.  It is noteworthy that this water is completely organic, as it is returned to the river without any alteration or modification, only a few degrees difference in temperature.  And it saves a lot of electricity on refrigeration equipment.

The Other Winners

In Poughkeepsie I found the winners from other countries : the top three U.S. and Canada , and the winner of Spain.  I noted also the great hospitality and friendliness of all IBM employees that greeted the winners, who devoted two days to teach us and tell us your tasks on the ground, and chat with us about current technology and all the doubts that we had about what they do .

I think it was a very enriching experience both for my career and for my life, since I was able to meet many interesting and important people in the industry and the professions, while sharing their culture and offer some of their own.

Thank you very much for the opportunity , and until we meet again !

The purpose of this article is to share some Master the Mainframe Tips for Success that I’ve learned through my experience competing in the past four contests.

A little about myself

When I was taking AP Computer Science at Gabrielino High School, my teacher Ms. Evelyn Torres-Rangel approached me and suggested that I consider participating in the IBM Master the Mainframe Contest. My first response was mild bewilderment. Like most millennials, I had never learned about mainframes before that time. If I didn’t really even know what a mainframe was, how could I possibly be experienced enough to compete against other students?

It was not until I visited the official website and saw the words “No Experience Necessary” that I felt more comfortable about participating in the contest. I eventually enrolled and competed in the contest, and in a way, I started an annual tradition that has continued on into my undergraduate studies at UC San Diego. This year will actually mark my fifth time participating in the Master the Mainframe Contest.

The reason that I keep coming back to this contest is the critical role that mainframes play in many large enterprises, organizations, and society at large. Because of their great computational power, mainframes enable business and organizations to process a large amount of transactions instantly. I suspect this is also one reason that mainframe developers are very well paid and well respected. Unfortunately, this importance seems to be lost on many schools or universities, as courses on mainframe topics are unavailable to most students. Nonetheless, the Master the Mainframe Contest is a fantastic way for students to overcome some of these obstacles and learn about the mainframe.

How to be successful at Master the Mainframe

Here comes the most exciting part for all the contestants out there. I will share some of my personal experiences and tips on competing in the Master the Mainframe Contest.

Part 1

The challenges for part 1 are very similar every year. To get ahead of the game, you may want to do the following before the contest starts:

  1. Download 3270 emulator: This is what you use to connect to the mainframe. Get the latest version from Tom Brennan Software. Please note that this is a 30-day trial. Before the contest starts, you will receive an email containing the license key. Alternatively, if you use a Mac, you may want to read Sean McBride’s post entitled “Mac 3270 Zen.”
  2. Connect to the mainframe: If you open up the emulator, you will see Host IP Name or Alias and IP Port. The IP varies from year to year, but the port usually is 623. Again, you will receive an email specifying the IP and port ahead of time. Try to connect to the mainframe once you have received the information. You should be able to see an ASCII art of z/OS.
  3. Know your user ID: You don’t want to spend your precious time on the day of the contest digging through your emails. Your user ID will be something like IBM####. On the day of the contest, use LOGON IBM#### to log on.
  4. Follow the instructions: To win the Master the Mainframe T-shirt, you have to complete this part 100% correctly, which means do exactly what the instructions say.

Hopefully with the tips above, you are able to resolve any technical difficulties ahead of time and complete challenge 1 and 2 without any problem.

Part 2

Part 2 is a little bit more challenging, but the prizes are much more attractive! Although no programming knowledge is required, it would definitely help!

  1. Be ready for lots of JCL: You will spend a great amount of time working with JCL (Job Control Language). You may want to review the basics, but there is no need to spend a lot of time learning it beforehand. I would suggest spending most of your time on other languages. See the tip below.
  2. Why not spend more time on JCL? This contest covers JCL very well. Most of the information it gives you will guide you through the contest. However, the materials you learn from an outside source might be different/more advanced. If you are new to this language, learning it beforehand might confuse you even more.
  3. Get familiar with C, Java, and SQL: In contrast, the contest teaches you only a portion of C, Java, and SQL. You may want to study these languages ahead of time. Even if you are not planning to be a mainframer, these are some essentials skills that will help you in your future career.
  4. Don’t rush through it: Advanced programmers tend to rush through part 2 in one day, hoping to be the first 60 contestants to submit their work and get the awesome prizes. But to win the prizes, you not only need to be fast, you need to be 100% accurate. I would suggest taking your time and reviewing all your works before submitting.

Part 3

Part 3 is the most intensive part of the contest. You will have a couple of months to work on it. Unfortunately, this part is very different every year, so I don’t have any specific tips to share. One general rule is: apply the skills you have learned from the previous challenges. Below are the topics covered in the U.S. & Canada 2012 Contest:

  1. Job Control Language (JCL)
  2. TSO, ISPF and SDSF
  3. Systems programming fundamentals
  4. Advanced systems programming
  5. System utilities, system commands, system log and system catalog
  6. Collecting and reporting information about the z/OS environment
  7. Optional (but encouraged!): Rational Developer for System z, an Eclipse-based IDE for System z

Conclusion

So those are the tips and suggestions that I’ve learned over my past contests. If you are a Master the Mainframe veteran and have other suggestions for new contest participants, please post them as a comment below! If you are a student considering enrolling in the contest, please feel free to ask me or other Millennial Mainframers questions below or in the Millennial Mainframer activity feed.

Over the next few weeks, IBM will update the official IBM Master the Mainframe – North America page with 2013 contest information and open up registration.  If you end up having any issues getting started with the contest, please feel free to post your problem in the Millennial Mainframer – Master the Mainframe Forum.

Good Luck!