Sparta logo

April 2024

SPARTA President’s Corner

contributed by Randy Springs

This month, we will again be holding our SPARTA meetings via Zoom format.

For our April meeting, join us for a presentation from Ed Webb, former senior systems programmer at SAS, and a participant of many SHARE activities over the past few decades. Ed recently attended SHARE in Orlando and will provide an overview of the conference and the technical sessions he attended on current IT topics.

Invite your fellow systems programmers to join us for this informative and interesting virtual meeting.

We hope to see you online on Tuesday, April 2, on Zoom. Watch for meeting information coming your way soon.

Randy Springs
Retired (Truist)

Future Speakers (subject to change)

April 2, 2024 at 3 p.m. - SHARE 2024 Orlando Report by Ed Webb of SPARTA

May 7, 2024 - TBA by TBD

We need ideas and volunteers for future speakers. Presentations don’t have to be fancy, just informative and interesting. Even a 5 or 10 minute talk can start an interesting interaction. Contact Ron Pimblett by phone as noted below.

2023-2024 SPARTA

Board of Directors

Randy Springs - President

Retired (Truist)                  (919) nnn-nnnn


Raleigh, NC 27604

Ron Pimblett - Vice President

MDI Data Systems

Land line 613 599 6970

Mobile 613 981 6919

190 Guelph Private

Kanata, ON K2T 0J7

Chris Blackshire - Secretary

Retired (Dell, Perot Systems, Nortel)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Durham, NC 27713

Randy Springs - (Acting) Treasurer

Retired (Truist)                  (919) nnn-nnnn

see Randy

Springs earlier

Ed Webb -  Communications Director

Retired (SAS Institute Inc.)  (919) nnn-nnnn


Apex, NC 27523

Mike Lockey -  Web Master

Guilford Co. Information Services  336-641-6235

201 N. Eugene St.

Greensboro, NC 27401


Coronavirus Change: All meetings for the foreseeable future will be held online at 7 p.m. via the Zoom App. The link to meeting is sent to SPARTA Mailing list within 24 hours of the meeting time for security reasons. Stay safe.

Meetings are scheduled for the first Tuesday evening of each month (except no meeting in January), with optional dinner at 6:15 p.m. and the meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m.

These monthly meetings usually are held at LabCorp’s Center for Molecular Biology and Pathology (CMBP) near the Research Triangle Park (see last page). Take I-40 to Miami Boulevard and go north. Turn right onto T.W. Alexander Drive. Go about a mile or so. Then turn right into LabCorp complex and turn Left to the CMBP Building (1912 T.W. Alexander Drive). In the lobby, sign in as a visitor to see Bill Johnson. Bill will escort you to the conference room.

Call for Articles

If you have any ideas for speakers, presentations, newsletter articles, or are interested in taking part in a presentation, PLEASE contact one of the Board of Directors with your suggestions.

Newsletter e-Mailings

The SPARTA policy is to e-mail a monthly notice to our SPARTA-RTP Group. The newsletter is posted to the website about five (5) days before each meeting so you can prepare. The SPARTA distribution List is maintained by Chris Blackshire; if you have corrections or problems receiving your meeting notice, contact Chris at

December 2023 “CBT Tape” Shareware Online

The directory and files from the latest CBT tape V506 (dated December 5, 2023) are available from

If you need help obtaining one or more files, contact Ed Webb (see Board of Director’s list for contact info).

Minutes of the March 12, 2024 Meeting

• The March 12, 2024 meeting was called to order at 3:05 PM by Randy Springs, the SPARTA President.

• This Fortieth (April 2020 to March 2024) virtual SPARTA meeting was held via the Zoom Software.

• Twelve (12) people were present at the virtual meeting.

• The business portion of the meeting followed the presentation.

• The meeting started at the 3 PM special time to accommodate the speaker's availability.


• The minutes of the October 3, 2023 meeting as published in the November 2023 Newsletter were approved (there was no November meeting).

• The minutes of the last meeting as published were approved.

• The February 29, 2024 Treasurer's report as published in the March 2024 Newsletter was approved. As of February 29, 2024, the current balance is $805.46.

• Call For Articles: Articles are needed for this newsletter. If you would like to write an article for this newsletter, please contact Ed Webb. Keep in mind that you don't really need to write the article, it can be an article that you read that you would like to share with the membership.

• The SPARTA Web page is available at this site: Please send any comments or suggestions about the Web page to Mike Lockey. Be sure to check the Web page every once in a while to see any new or changed information.

• 2024 meeting dates, Future Speakers and Topics (subject to change based on internal politics, budget, the weather):





April 2, 2024

Retired (SAS)

Ed Webb

SHARE Update Orlando
Mar 3-7, 2024

May 7, 2024




June 4, 2024




July 9, 2024
Special Date




August 13, 2024
Special Date




September 10, 2024
Special Date

Retired (SAS)

Ed Webb

SHARE Update Kansas City, MO
Aug 4-8, 2024

October 1, 2024




November 5, 2024




December 3, 2024




If you have suggestions about speakers and topics, contact Ron Pimblett.

• The next SPARTA monthly meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

• The annual dues have been suspended (motion passed in the March 2021 monthly meeting).

• Thanks to Randy Springs for online hosting the March meeting via Zoom.

• There are currently about 100 people on the SPARTA e-mail distribution list.

• Send any e-mail address changes to Chris Blackshire so he can update the SPARTA distribution List. The SPARTA meeting notices are being sent via a simple distribution list maintained by Chris.

• Randy Springs is looking for a new Treasurer volunteer. He projects about 2 hours per month is needed.
- Contact Randy Springs if you are interested.

• Randy Springs has setup a SPARTA group on LinkedIn. Please join.

• There was discussion about a possible 2024 in-person meeting, depending on vaccinations and room availability. Stay tuned.
- Randy will contact Bill Johnson to determine the LabCorp meeting place status.
- Jay Hall will look into using a NCSU Centennial Campus room.


• There was significant discussion about how to increase attendance at SPARTA meetings. After discussing ending SPARTA given lack of participation, the attendees decided to keep trying for another six months.

• We will continue meeting virtually for now with a future in-person meeting date TBD. Stay tuned.
• The Business portion and the meeting ended about 4:05 P.M.

• The Presentation started at 3:15 PM after “Around-The-Table” brief introductions.

• Presentation Topic: dsfs admin via ISPF dialog And Enhanced Shell Experiences

by Lionel Dyck, a long-time SHARE member and IBM Z Champion

Lionel been in systems programming since 1972 (starting with MVT 21.6, back when IBM APARs were delivered on punch cards) and has developed a number of tools over the years. He has created a website to (1) share useful code that he has developed and (2) to return a little back to the community of mainframe systems programmers from whom he has learned so much. He has gleaned code and knowledge from the MVT Tools Tapes (remember the Blue Berets?) to the current CBT Tape and a wealth of Web Sites. He hopes his contributions on the website are helpful to others.

• Agenda
• Introduction to Data Set File System (dsfs)
• dsfs admin ISPF dialog
• Enhanced Shell
• Experiences
• Questions

• Presentation Access - See Below for a full outline of the presentation.

See the SPARTA webpage for all recent presentations including this March one and the link to video of the presentation.

Contact Info:
Speaker: Lionel Dyck
z/OS Systems Programmer and IBM Z Champion

• The March 12, 2024 monthly meeting ended about 4:05 P.M.

Treasurer’s Report for March 2024

contributed by Randy Springs

The balance in the account is $805.46 as of March 31, 2024.

SPARTA Financial Report
03/01/2024 through 03/31/2024


Opening Balance 03/1/2024


Total Deposits

Food money donated











Web Site


Petty Cash


Bank Service Charges






PETTY CASH on hand




Items of Interest

SPARTA Schedule and Menu for 2024

contributed by Chris Blackshire

Apr 2, 2024 BarBQ
May 7, 2024 Pizza
June 4, 2024 Chicken
July 9, 2024 Subs (July 4 holiday falls in the first meeting week date)
Aug 13, 2024 BarBQ (changed from August 6 as SHARE is August 4-8)
Sept 10, 2024 Pizza (Labor Day holiday is in the first Tuesday meeting week)
Oct 1, 2024 Chicken
Nov 5, 2024 Subs
Dec 3, 2024 BarBQ

Submit a Session Proposal for SHARE Kansas City!

contributed By Ed Webb

"Submit a session proposal for a chance to present at SHARE Kansas City, taking place August 4-8. The deadline to submit a proposal is Sunday, April 7.

Why Present?

SHARE events are your opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and showcase your innovative approaches to the industry. By presenting on any number of key enterprise IT topics, you will broaden your reach to hundreds of industry professionals and support your peers by sharing your expert knowledge.

All speakers selected to present will receive a discounted speaker rate for the full week or a discounted one-day rate for the day they present."

Check out the range of topics being considered for SHARE Kansas City.

Mainframe Modernization: From Myth to Mastery

Contributed by Ed Webb

Scott Fagen, President of SHARE, addresses the ongoing effort to "modernize" z/OS business applications.

"Question: After "System Down," what are the two most feared words for an IT manager with mainframe responsibility?
Answer: "Mainframe Modernization."
Why? There are several reasons.

First and foremost, because nobody ever got famous, made a splash, or got their picture on the cover of or in an interview in your favorite IT publication—outside of Enterprise Executive or Enterprise Tech Journal—by continuing to stay the course on a stable platform that has delivered consistent, worry-free service to their business.

Second, because, for technology, the term "modern" has become conflated with "invented after" which deviates from its dictionary definition.

And third, because various marketing organizations have successfully added "better" to the list of qualities associated with modern. Of course, one only needs to think of modern art to know that "better" is not a universally accepted description.

All these principles are used to put someone in the position of supporting the mainframe into a defensive posture, shifting the conversation from the facts—the mainframe is just as modern as any other hardware platform—to refuting emotional considerations.
There is an entire industry dedicated to promulgating and propagating the myth that the mainframe is somehow not modern and that, in many IT infrastructures, the mainframe is the barrier to progress. The fact is: Nothing could be further from the truth!"

Read Scott's vigorous defense of the mainframe and its modernity in this article from Enterprise Tech Journal 2024: Issue 1.

IBM's Future Systems Project History

Contributed by Chris Blackshire

An interesting IBM technology history from wikipedia:

"The Future Systems project (FS) was a research and development project undertaken in IBM in the early 1970s, aiming to develop a revolutionary line of computer products, including new software models which would simplify software development by exploiting modern powerful hardware.

Besides System/38 and the AS/400, which inherited much of the FS architecture, bits and pieces of Future Systems technology were incorporated in the following parts of IBM's product line:
* the IBM 3081 mainframe computer, which was essentially the System/370 emulator designed in Poughkeepsie, but with the FS microcode removed
* the 3800 laser printer, and some machines that would lead to the IBM 3279 terminal and GDDM
* the IBM 3850 automatic magnetic tape library
* the IBM 8100 mid-range computer, which was based on a CPU called the Universal Controller, which had been intended for FS input/output processing
* network enhancements concerning VTAM and NCP

Future Systems planned on making the single-level store the key concept in its new operating systems. Instead of having a separate database engine that programmers would call, there would simply be calls in the system's application programming interface (API) to retrieve memory. And those API calls would be based on particular hardware or microcode implementations, which would only be available on IBM systems, thereby achieving IBM's goal of tightly tying the hardware to the programs that ran on it

A “new” idea...DBOS Cloud

'What if the operating system is the problem': Linux was never created for the cloud — so engineers developed DBOS, a new operating system that is part OS, part database

DBOS operates by coding operating system services in SQL on a high-performance distributed, transactional, fault-tolerant database management system (DBMS). As Stonebraker says, ‘This is in contrast to the traditional method of running the DBMS in user space on top of an OS without DBMS services”.

Created as a joint MIT-Stanford open source R&D project, the DBOS prototype demonstrated comparable performance to Linux, but with the addition of several notable features, including high availability, time travel, transactionality, fault tolerance, built-in multi-node scaling, SQL-accessible system state and observability data, and cyber resilience."

History really DOES repeat itself.


Wit and Wisdom continued

contributed by Ed Webb

True friendship is like good health: the value of it is seldom known until it is lost.
Men stumble over pebbles, not mountains.
Never underestimate the power of denial.

The best way to win an argument is to begin by being right.
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.
That which dominates our imagination and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character.

It's A Pun-y World!

contributed by Ed Webb

What did Obi-Wan say to Luke when he saw him having trouble eating in the Chinese restaurant ?
Use the fork

My wife said I have 2 major faults...
1.  I don't listen.
2.  I forget what it is

Did you know French fries weren't cooked in France?
They were cooked in Greece

My wife really have no sense of direction, do you?  I said..where'd that come from?

My wife said the salads I make tend to be on the dry side....definitely something that needs a-ddressing

My wife said quilts are better than duvets...I said, you better be careful making blanket statements like that

Membership Information

Don’t Forget the Next SPARTA Meeting

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Time: 3 p.m.

Location: Online

Information about access to our online meeting will be sent to our e-mail list by Tuesday, April 2.

Free Food before meeting: Your Food at Your Home


SHARE 2024 Orlando Conference Report


Ed Webb of SPARTA

SPARTA Corporate Sponsors:

DTS Software

Rocket Software

Software Diversified Services


March 2024 Presentation outline

• Presentation Topic: dsfs admin via ISPF dialog And Enhanced Shell Experiences

by Lionel Dyck, a long-time SHARE member and IBM Z Champion

Lionel been in systems programming since 1972 (starting with MVT 21.6, back when IBM APARs were delivered on punch cards) and has developed a number of tools over the years. He has created a website to (1) share useful code that he has developed and (2) to return a little back to the community of mainframe systems programmers from whom he has learned so much. He has gleaned code and knowledge from the MVT Tools Tapes (remember the Blue Berets?) to the current CBT Tape and a wealth of Web Sites. He hopes his contributions on the website are helpful to others.

• Agenda
• Introduction to Data Set File System (dsfs)
• dsfs admin ISPF dialog
• Enhanced Shell
• Experiences
• Questions

• dsfs admin ISPF Dialog (live)

• Enhanced Shell Experience (live)

• Where +
- for dsfs admin ISPF Dialog
- for Enhanced Shell Experience

• Discussion and more
- System Z Enthusiasts Server - registration required

• Questions
- Answers

• The entire live presentation was recorded and can be watched anytime using Passcode: A%X4*y%1

• See these for some more information:
mantastic-man viewing tool

The presentation ended about 3:55 and the meeting ended at 4:05 PM after a short business meeting.