Tag Archives: mizzou

Read this before you buy a car

My former classmate Judd Slivka, now a journalism professor at Mizzou, pointed me to Long-Term Quality Index, a long-term study of the reliability of used cars co-created by our fellow Mizzou alumnus Steve Lang. Judd called it an outstanding example of data-driven journalism, and I agree.

The results are enlightening. Continue reading Read this before you buy a car

Things I said at the Royals-Cardinals game last night

So last night I went to the Royals-Cardinals game in St. Louis with one of my best friends. Being a Cardinals fan, he doesn’t follow the Royals much, so I filled him in a bit.

I told him I like when the Royals play National League teams and don’t have the DH rule, because their pitchers are some of their best hitters. To prove my point, James Shields, the Royals’ starting pitcher, went two for two with a single, a double, a run scored and a run batted in. Continue reading Things I said at the Royals-Cardinals game last night

KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security

Last week on Jan. 16, KSDK-TV caused Kirkwood High School to go on lockdown as part of a news story.

As a security professional, a journalist, a St. Louisan, and a parent, I have more than one stake in this. And an opinion. KSDK has no leg to stand on. Continue reading KSDK-TV was wrong to test Kirkwood High School’s security

What on Earth is a Mainframe?: A review

I’ve been reading David Stephens’ self-published What on Earth is a Mainframe, (also available on Amazon) which is as close to z/OS For Dummies as we’ll ever see.

I deal with mainframes at work from time to time. I interacted with an old IBM mainframe of some sort when I was in college, using it to get on the Internet, do e-mail for classes, and write programs in Pascal. That mainframe has been gone almost 20 years now, but it’s more mainframe experience than most of the people in my department have.

That’s the thing. Mainframes have been on their way out for 20 years–which was why Mizzou retired Mizzou1–but they aren’t any closer to the door now than they were when I was in college. I wouldn’t call it a growth industry, but there are some tasks that haven’t managed to migrate down to smaller iron yet, and if they haven’t by now, maybe they never will. But the universities aren’t producing new mainframe administrators–ahem, IBM calls them system programmers–so while it’s not a growth area from a numbers perspective, it’s a marketable skill that isn’t going away.

That’s where this book helps.

Continue reading What on Earth is a Mainframe?: A review

The 11 Neff Hall chop shop

I saw an IBM PS/2 Model 55SX at an estate sale this past weekend. It took me back to my first non-food service, non-retail job, doing desktop support at Mizzou.

Well, as a precursor to doing desktop support, they tried me out just building and tearing down machines. I worked out of Room 11, which was at the time a dingy, dark, musty place. But they pay was good and it meant I got to spend my time between classes taking computers apart all day, and that was nice.

My first assignment was to build IBM PC 330 and PC 350 computers to sit on professors’ desks. These were 50 MHz 486DX2s. They were a bit outmoded by then, but they were a lot better than what they were replacing, which was, in most cases, a PS/2 Model 55SX, which was a 386SX running at either 16 or 25 MHz. My second assignment was to disassemble those Model 55SXs, reverting them back to their factory configuration, and sort out all of the add-ins so we could use them to upgrade other machines, and then, sell whatever was left as surplus. Continue reading The 11 Neff Hall chop shop

Go to college, but don’t go broke doing it

I saw in this morning’s Post-Dispatch that 25% of student borrowers can’t repay their debts.

I understand why, but it’s preventable. Jim Gallagher’s column has some good advice. I’ll add some more, having recently spent a little time on my old stomping grounds at Mizzou. Continue reading Go to college, but don’t go broke doing it

Where I was when I first heard about the end of the world

Since all the cool kids (or at least some of them) are writing about the end of the world, I thought I’d write about where I first heard about this.

I’m such a notorious cheapskate, the Mayans had a folk song about me. I was at a library sale, scooping up cheap books, in the summer of 2007. You meet some interesting people at these places, and one of the more colorful is a guy named Jim. Continue reading Where I was when I first heard about the end of the world

Don’t hide your abilities to avoid bullies

There’s a disturbing story on Slashdot today: Kids are playing dumb to avoid being bullied.

I have two things to say. I was bullied when I was a kid. In seventh grade, it was me against the world (or at least the entire school), and the problem followed me, though not as intensely, through two more schools, until sometime in my sophomore year.

But it gets better. Trust me on that. Some of the losers who picked on me never graduated high school. Some spent time in jail. Some couldn’t get a date if their lives depended on it now. Their lives peaked right around age 18. Meanwhile, things are pretty good for me, largely because each time I’ve been told to pass a long test if I want to keep my job, I’ve been able to do it.

Continue reading Don’t hide your abilities to avoid bullies

Advice on avoiding college debt–at least for Missouri residents

The business section of the Post-Dispatch had a good article on avoiding college debt. It’s tricky, as even Mizzou costs $22,000 a year now. I’m pretty sure when I was a Tiger, it was more like $10,000 a year, though I had scholarships that knocked that down even more.

Continue reading Advice on avoiding college debt–at least for Missouri residents