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+ - Mainframes and Mullahs: Exploring Iran's IBM Mainframe Ecosystem ->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Iran is subject to severe international sanctions, but Iranians freely admit that there are many IBM mainframes running in Iran. Presumably some of these current Iranian mainframe users began their mainframe journeys before Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979, but other users may have joined the mainframe bandwagon later and recently. There seems to be a vibrant cottage industry of local mainframe sales, service, and support to keep these users (and potential new ones) running as smoothly as possible — illegally, of course, as with myriad other embargoed products. It may or may not be easy to get an IBM mainframe in Iran, and surely it’s impossible to get IBM’s support, but those obstacles clearly haven’t been always insurmountable."
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Comment: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Score 3, Insightful) 206

by BBCWatcher (#44772097) Attached to: Drone Hunters Lining Up and Paying Out In Colorado
I don't think anybody likes drones except perhaps the people who build them. However, I'm really upset with the idiots who even think about pointing a weapon up in the sky -- or aiming a laser, for that matter -- in a misguided attempt to fight the spread of drones. There are *people* flying overhead all the time in aircraft both small and large, and there's no way to tell which aircraft is manned and which isn't even if you want to do something stupid. There's a federal death penalty for anyone interfering with an aircraft (or "related facilities") that results in death, so this is serious stuff. I don't like it when people go duck hunting without being careful not to point their weapons anywhere near a family cruising along in their Cessna. If you want to fight the spread of drones then do it in ways that won't get people hurt or killed -- resulting in more drones, probably. Defund them, prevent them from being based in or launched from your community or state, boycott their manufacturers and affiliates, tax them heavily, make their owners/operators/manufacturers personally liable for the worst torts imaginable, and/or whatever. But for the sake of the people up in the skies, please, please don't even think about shooting at them.

Comment: How about Mobile Phones? (Score 1) 108

by BBCWatcher (#44573047) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Printing Options For Low-Resource Environments?

Mobile phones are low power, rugged, cheap, and well accepted in Zambia. I think I'd be looking at how much of the electronic medical record keeping I could push onto very basic mobile phone-based services such as SMS, MMS, voice/voice recording, and/or (for example) very lightweight Java ME applications (using MQTT probably which is free, bidirectional, low power, secure, and extremely bandwidth efficient/tolerant). Voice input, for example, is very fast -- faster than writing/typing at the point of service -- and labor is cheap to take dictation locally or remotely. A cheap camera phone can take decent pictures of body parts and what they look like. Patients with mobile phones -- many of them -- can input their own histories for registration (via a Java ME or WAP app probably), or somebody remote can call them who can then key in the history via Q&A -- even before they get to the clinic. Get an IBM "Watson" (or connect to one in the "cloud") for diagnoses. And so on. Think of how to deliver as many and as much of the business processes via mobile feature phones and (for the clinics) slightly more advanced tablets with very lightweight protocols and near-ubiquitous services. I agree with the commenters upthread: stay away from the paper if at all possible. If there is any paper, let them use the manual typewriters they already might have and then have a "scanning station" with a camera phone on a tripod sort of thing to get the paper "into the system" immediately.

As for freezer labeling, how about not labeling at all in the field? Get tubes/containers pre-marked "at the factory" with unique sequential barcodes and serial numbers, and then associate that tube with the patient electronically when the sample is collected. The technician would also jot down the patient's assigned code using a simple freezer-compatible pen/marker. Again, a simple mobile phone with a camera would be able to scan the barcode on the tube and look up the patient code (or register the patient to that tube). The code could be something as simple as the patient's mobile phone number concatenated with a couple alphanumerics: initials, date of birth, or something else. (This would depend on the cultural context of course. It should be short, unique, avoid characters that can be mixed up like 0 and O, and have a check character embedded to avoid false match errors.)

Comment: Let the Post Office Be a Boring Bank (Score 1) 867

by BBCWatcher (#44377813) Attached to: Door-To-Door Mail Delivery To End Under New Plan
Postal banking is very common in many countries. To save the Post Office let the Post Office provide a reasonable range of basic, low fee, CFPB-approved consumer banking services at every post office: international remittances, international money orders (they have some, but bring back near-global coverage), and simple interest-bearing deposit accounts with debit/ATM cards and bill paying. Your debit card would be compatible with government benefits (e.g. SNAP), and cardholders would be strongly encouraged to include their photo on the front. Card-not-present transactions would be allowed but only with a generated one-time use virtual card number. Cards would have chips, and magstripe transactions would be limited to $200 per day unless the account holder overrides the default. Limit cash deposits and withdrawals to the postal ATM to reduce the safety risk at post offices. No loans, no overdrafts. No foreign transaction fees. Simple Roth IRAs would be available but you only get one investment choice: your age-appropriate Vanguard "target" retirement index fund (assuming Vanguard bids the lowest cost to the consumer). No business accounts, no joint accounts, but you could designate a payable on death (POD) beneficiary. Accounts would be federally insured. To avoid "too big to fail" problems there would be regional postal banks, but there would be no cross-region postal ATM fees. Regional banks would be organized something like: Atlantic Postal Bank (PA, DE, MD, WV, DC), Cactus Postal Bank (TX, NM, AZ), Dixie Postal Bank (VA, NC, SC, GA), Gulf Postal Bank (FL, AL, MS, LA), Harvest Postal Bank (MN, NE, ND, SD, IA), Lakes Postal Bank (OH, IN, IL, MI, WI), Middle Postal Bank (KY, TN, AR, MO, KS, OK), Oceanic Postal Bank (AK, HI, GU, VI, PR, AA/AE/AP, MP, AS, FM, MH, PW), Pacific Postal Bank (CA, WA, OR), Rockies Postal Bank (WY, CO, MT, UT, ID, NV), and Yankee Postal Bank (NY, NJ, and New England).

Comment: IE6 Will Run "Forever" (Score 1) 614

by BBCWatcher (#43661579) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software?
Organizations that want to run IE6 "forever" have a way to do that: a virtual machine. Their virtual machine image can be frozen and the destination IP addresses firmly locked down to access only known internal Web servers to avoid nasty malware surprises. They can set up the virtual machine to launch and run IE6 as if it were any other application running on the desktop. They can even set up shared server-based IE6 delivery farms if they wish. No problem, and life goes on.

Comment: Don't Like It? Stop Broadcasting (Score 1) 64

by BBCWatcher (#43345589) Attached to: Court: Aereo TV Rebroadcast Is Still Legal
Broadcasters have a solution if they don't like this decision: don't broadcast over public airwaves, and surrender your valuable spectrum. In other words, be less like ABC and more like ESPN. (Disney understands both business models because they own both, so this isn't a secret.) Of course terminating one's broadcasts would probably mean losing viewers and advertising revenue, but that just reflects the fact that free-to-air ATSC broadcasting is still a financially rewarding way to distribute programming.

Comment: Re:He has a chance (Score 2) 52

by BBCWatcher (#43334735) Attached to: WikiLeaks Party Launching This Week
Not a problem. Assange would have several Commonwealth-only commercial airline routes from England to Australia. It's also possible to fly him privately from England to Australian territory nonstop, probably using a Gulfstream G650 and probably from Manston which offers a long runway. For example, Manston to the Cocos Islands would be 6,176 nautical miles (Great Circle distance) which is the sort of range a Gulfstream can manage quite safely. There are three other Commonwealth countries under that particular flight route, and Christmas Island might be a suitable alternate.

Comment: Kissability? (Score 4, Funny) 97

by BBCWatcher (#42933419) Attached to: Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution
If you had a choice, would you kiss a cave woman (or man) with her/his supposedly lovely oral biodiversity, or a member of the Scope, Colgate, and Oral-B generation? I would bet a lot that, if someone had those oral inventions 7,500 years ago, he/she would have passed on a lot more DNA to future generations.

Comment: But We're Living a Lot Longer (Score 1) 97

by BBCWatcher (#42933393) Attached to: Ancient Teeth Bacteria Record Disease Evolution
We may have some researchers getting way ahead of their results. The same plentiful, storable food is probably a big reason so many more of today's humans even survive long enough to "suffer" having a less bacteriologically diverse oral ecosystem. (And we also have fluoridated water, which really works quite well.) I would be more careful making comparative value judgments about what is still an interesting finding.

Comment: Here's My Formula for U.S. Currency (Score 1) 943

by BBCWatcher (#42153763) Attached to: Is It Time For the US To Ditch the Dollar Bill?
1. Withdraw the penny, nickel, paper dollar bill, 2 dollar bill, and 5 dollar bill from circulation;
2. Introduce 2 and 5 dollar coins and a 500 dollar bill;
3. Substantially increase production of the dollar and half dollar coins;
4. If the Republicans in Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling without conditions, the U.S. Mint would issue one or more 1 trillion dollar coins which are deposited with the Federal Reserve. These coins would feature the likeness of former President Ronald Reagan on one side and a quotation from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the other: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

Casualties in the withdrawals would be Lincoln (penny and 5 dollar bill), Jefferson (nickel and 2 dollar bill), and Washington (1 dollar bill). Consequently Jefferson would appear on the new 2 dollar coin, and Lincoln would appear on the new 5 dollar coin. Washington already appears on the quarter, and he'd stay there. The dime (FDR) and half dollar coin (JFK) would also remain the same. The presidential series of dollar coins would continue, but the existing Sacagawea dollar coin would be issued concurrently and thereafter as planned. The new 500 dollar bill would depict Martin Luther King on one side and the Apollo 11 Moon Landing on the other. It would also be physically larger than the other denominations, and it would be distinctly, tastefully, vibrantly multicolored. Hamilton would remain on the 10 dollar bill, Andrew Jackson on the 20 dollar bill, Grant on the 50 dollar bill, and Franklin on the 100 dollar bill.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.