Sunday, March 25, 2012

My 1991 "Legendary" print-stacking mainframe project

It was about twenty years ago that I implemented a mainframe project in a salary deduction billing system with the prosaic purpose of stacking all the bills sent to member employers one database and printing them in one stream so they could be mailed automatically.  It was said to enable user departments to eliminate one clerical position.

Technically, the project involved writing the print images onto shared VSAM file set up to “emulate” IDMS running through a CV.  I remember that once in a while VSAM errors were generated anyway. 

And back in 1991, random VSAM writing could be slow.  It could take about three hours to write 26000 images in the last step for the largest bill.   Well, the biggest bills were single threaded and run as “night bills”.  Oh, those were the days, as that song goes.  At work, this project got the nickname “The Legendary” (sounds like Tubin’s Second Symphony).

My resume (as I wrote it in early 2002 with the help of an outplacement company) describes this “accomplishment” as follows:

“Reduced head count (by 2) for administration of billing of life insurance premiums to employers through salary deduction, by developing major reporting system enhancements. I extensively modified and tested a number of batch COBOL and IDMS programs and designed a batch job to capture print images from a common source, after debriefing users. I also provided ongoing support to salary deduction system with respect to such issues as complex scheduling of multiple billing and collection and missed-deduction letter-generation jobs, and electronic data transfer.”

No wonder people lost interest in the mainframe world. It got boring.

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