‘Twas the night before Xmas and…

My new HP Apollo 9000-725 just arrived….
A workstation for estimation and database to drive.
The programmers were waiting in their room air conditioned
So unpacking and booting – that was my mission

This workstation was late, overdue, caught in customs
Air freighted from Perth without much discussion
The delays had been costly in both time and money
In management view both sins and not funny

The resource statement was due, it had to be finished
Lest the company’s results and share price diminish.
And those programmers creating a bespoke mine info system
Were somewhat determined, impatient and very insistent…

To make is matters worse this new system ran UNIX.
My knowledge was lacking, no skills for this unit!
The pressure was mounting at work and at home
It looked like this Christmas I’d be working… alone.

More problems I faced with network connections
Ethernet vs token ring with no intersections
Yet geology data was needed and I hate to admit
The solution was ludicrous, serial cable and kermit

Installing software resources with UNIX command
Was one extra hurdle, much more than the plan!
Mistakes come from rushing some are not a quick fix
Don’t try this at home… chmod 666…

From good progress to zero, an utter disaster
I’d removed execution… while logged in as master!
The HP support desk guffawed at my blunder
They couldn’t believe this errant boy wonder.

Four hours… much later… with a new rebuilt kernel
Exhausted and chastened and feeling nocturnal
The workstation was working, awaiting instruction
Data plus wireframes equalled model construction.

Thankful for macros and good documentation
Updating the estimate and saved from castration.
The clock stuck midnight as processing finished
Just time to rush home and grab a quick Guinness!

I ran to the car with a song and a whistle
And flew o’er the hill like down on a thistle
In the distance I swear I heard a faint echo
Of laughter and music sung allegretto

The bright moon arising dealt my sight a swift blow
And gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the head frame – beyond the footwall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

He wrestled his sleigh, his team all a bristle,
They all flew away with the speed of a missile.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

For all working late on resource estimation
Hang in there my friends I feel your frustration
It’s Christmas and New Year so despite deadlines looming
I send seasons greetings and hope you found this amusing.

ps. chmod 666 -R from the top of the UNIX directory structure is a really (reallly) bad idea. It sets the permissions to all files in every directory to read/write only…. and removes the execute permission. That includes all the UNIX commands and the chmod command itself. Suddenly you cannot use any Unix command or run any other program. That was a hard lesson! Thankfully this as a new workstation and I had only begun to transfer data across from the legacy Apollo system we were using.


pps. The workstation in question cost over $100k and the air freight was another $10k in 1993 dollars. All for less computing power than the smartphone in your pocket. How utterly transformative and disruptive….

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