Upgrade woes / sheep farm

In the early 1980s Cambridge Computer Service moved from an aging IBM 370 to a new shiny 3081. The move was not without its difficulties, however, and the following exchange between user PWD3 and Support illustrates the depth of feelings on either side.

PWD3 20 MAR 84 19.59

Congratulations! INFO.MVS.SCHED brightened up an otherwise dull terminal session this afternoon. It does seem a pity, however, that you couldn't save it for April the First. I am sure that Aesop, had he known about such things, would have come up with a fable along the following lines:

Once upon a time there was a rabbit who liked gadgets of the latest and most expensive variety. One day feeling extremely indulgent (for it was his Birthday) he decided to buy himself an IBM model 3081D micro-computer which was, he had been told, the latest & most expensive gadget. A few days later it was delivered and he settled down in front of his BBC micro-computer/terminal to see how it all worked. He was most disappointed to discover that he couldn't log on and rushed over to his push-button, waterproof radio-phone and rang up IBM(UK) to see what he'd done wrong. The rat that answered the phone (who was very old and not up with the latest fashions) didn't know what the matter might be and so passed Rabbit on to a higher authority (who was a weasel).

'Oh Yes' said the weasel, 'you ordered the Cambridge Interim Scheduler for Phoenix 3 didn't you?'. This was indeed the case for the Bear (of Very Little Brain) that advised people about such matters had told Rabbit that this was what he needed. 'All that you have to do is give yourself more shares, as long as you've got more than 30 (500 is a good number) you can log on without difficulty.'

'Thank you' said Rabbit, and he hurried back to his machine to remedy matters. A few minutes later IBM received another call from the now distraught Rabbit; 'Help' he cried, 'How do I give myself more shares?' .

'Just log on & modify your allocation using Operator status' replied the Weasel, who knew about such things, being very well educated. Weasel was very disconcerted to hear noises, over the phone, of a particularly violent kind and wondered what could possibly be happening. He was never to find out! Later, Rabbit's neighbours found him in a charred heap holding the axe that he'd used to reprogram his toy.

The moral of this is that one should never blame the computer, just the people that design the Schedulers!

Reply : 3 APR 84 10.23

A recently discovered, hitherto unknown Fable:

Once upon a time there was a sheep farm. The ground was rather poor and there was not much to eat, but the farmer and his men worked hard, and gradually they improved the land so the sheep grew fat and well contented. The flock began to increase, and in a few years it was clear that, however hard they tried, there was not enough land to support so many sheep, so they decided to move to a bigger farm. They took this decision reluctantly, because it meant moving a long distance to land which was not much better than the original had been when they first started.

Now the sheep were slightly intelligent, so in order not to give them too great a shock, the farmer and his men started to warn them about the coming move. For a while they ignored the warnings, because the move seemed a long way off, and although life was a bit crowded at times, the grass was still reasonably plentiful and the sun shone.

As the time drew near the message started to get through, and the sheep began to grumble. They forgot how hard the farmer had worked to make the farm as pleasant as it was (indeed, many of them had not been born in the early, hard times). They thought the farmer wanted to move just to use the latest farm machinery (which was too large for the small fields of the old farm). Some of them were downright rude to the men! The farm workers were by turns depressed and angry, and the farm was not the happy place it used to be.

(The manuscript of the fable is damaged at this point; there seem to be three alternative endings.)

ENDING I: The wiser sheep persuaded the rest of the flock that the move was in their best interests in the long run, and they all lived happily ever after.

ENDING II: The farmer and his men developed a desire to emigrate, and a taste for mutton ...

ENDING III: In spite of the grumbling from the sheep the farmer and his men worked long and very hard because in truth they cared about the welfare of their sheep. As the new farm was improved, the sheep kept on grumbling how ever much the farmer and his men did for them because that is the way sheep are.