Back To Machines

(Originally posted 2017-04-08.)

This is a follow up to Machines (Back To Humans) and nothing to do with Mac-hinations.

The ‘“Principle” Of Sufficient Disgust’ 🙂 kicked in – as it so often does – about a year ago.

The issues outlined in that original posted revolved around having only one way to identify a machine. My code accepted only one type of specification for a machine:

02-12345=EWELME A

By the way Ewelme is a real place[1] with one of those quintessentially English names few people can pronounce. 🙂

The 02 is the plant number (Poughkeepsie, in this case) and 12345 is the last five digits of the machine’s serial number.

Getting to the hallowed state of being able to construct a string like that was a pain. Hence my frustration. And you could probably tell I was frustrated from the original post.

So today I’ve enhanced the code to accept the following additional forms of syntax:

  1. ?-12345=EWELME A where the plant isn’t known but the 5-digit serial is.
  2. ?-?2345=EWELME A where we only have the 4-digit variant of the serial number.
  3. SYSC=EWELME A where I mean ‘the machine on which SYSC sits is called “Ewelme A”’.

To be fair, Case 1 is a rarity; Most people, if they know the 5-digit serial number, know the plant number.

Case 2 I see quite a bit in customers’ machine diagrams. It, I think, relates to SCRT and there is at least one place in SMF 70 where the 4-digit variant appears. It seems silly to be using it when we have the full plant and serial numbers in SMF 70.

Case 3 is probably the most user-friendly. I see diagrams and descriptions where customers say or depict ‘We call the machine with SYSC on it “Ewelme A”’.

Previously, I would take whichever of the previous 3 description types I got and manually work with the data to figure out the plant and 5-digit serial number (and use that in e.g. VPD[2] look ups, as well as relating it to the machine’s human-friendly name).

I don’t think I ever got it wrong but it sure was tedious.

Now, with the new code you use all those semantics, plus the original one – because I automated it.

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Extract From SMF 70 records the cutter’s SMF ID (SMF70SID) and the plant (SMF70POM) and serial number (SMF70CSC), building a lookup table.
  2. Perform lookups in that table for every utterance in one of the 4 forms above.

Really very simple.

There is one (obscure) catch: If I specify SYSA=MACHINE A and I have two different SYSA z/OS systems I will pick the first match. This won’t be quite right. But this is very rare.

The upshot is I won’t be quite so desperate to get your machine serial numbers, though I’ll happily take them. I don’t know how you refer to your machines but now I have a foolproof[3] way of handling them.

One more thing: I recently had an engagement where a customer moved LPARs from one machine to another. My code doesn’t handle that at all; We just have to be careful.

And if you listen carefully to this you will hear the refrain “Back To Machines”. 🙂


  1. But one most unlikely to ever host a machine room, despite water (for the cooling) flowing through it. 🙂 lt’s one stream over and has watercress beds, if you can picture that.  ↩

  2. Vital Product Data  ↩

  3. Though there is no accounting for the, um, “ingenuity” of customers. 🙂 Sorry, that’s a very old joke. Probably old enough to be retired. 🙂  ↩

Published by Martin Packer

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