Home page for Richard Sims

Welcome to my home page.

I'm a systems programmer in Boston University's Information Services & Technology, where the division in which I work is principally involved in server functions: mail, timesharing, backup/restore/archiving, printing, Web services, etc.

I graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering, but the absence of jobs in that field at the time inspired me to pursue my other interest: computers. I've been doing that now for some 37 years, both as a profession and avocation. My first computer experience was back in 1967 with a nifty IBM 1130 16-bit computer, using FORTRAN. Later I did a stint working at NASA on a project to use computers to generate the various electrical power waveforms needed by spacecraft, and thence got assembler programming experience on a Honeywell DDP-516 minicomputer, which was a classic 16-bit system. Then I served 16 years in The Phone Company working on a variety of mainframe systems, starting way back in OS/MVT release 21, the pre-cursor to MVS, running on IBM System 360 mainframes. There, I got into System 360 and 370 assembler programming, and later, C. I did MVS tech support, IMS DB/DC support, and was a systems programmer in the project to establish a dedicated VM-based software development system for the programming staff. The Phone Company situation degenerated such that I was spending most of my time contending with politics rather than doing anything useful, so I looked elsewhere. Boston University was doing interesting things and was looking for a systems programmer, so I took the worthwhile big pay cut to pursue things that mattered. I initially became their VM guy for their central time-sharing system. After a few years, the 3090 mainframe became Old Technology. (After all the years of carefully tending it, it was just incredible to see a crew come in with cable cutters and hack it apart for scrap metal). We converted to what became a cluster of IBM RS/6000 systems running AIX, which grew to a complex called ACS (Academic Computing System), supporting the overall needs of some 30,000 academic users. The Linux platform then came along to more economically implement servers.

Today I'm one of the systems programmers supporting our AIX systems, mail, web, printing, and other applications. Being in academic information technology means that we more often design and write software, and so our knowledge and insights are deeper than in a shop which largely just installs and administers commercial applications. My professional specialty is writing high-performance client-server and utility software in C, as well as various adjunct software in Perl. I'm the author/developer of the Checker facility which we depend upon to monitor the health of our operating systems, file systems, and services, testing and probing local and remote facilities utilizing low-level functions and protocols to absolutely minimize the possibility that the operation of the monitor itself could be subject to system problems. It follows that the software I write performs extensive error checking and reports problems such that an administrator can fully understand and act upon a situation — and so it is that I have little patience with the "lazy programming" in commercial software which only vaguely describes a problem and fails to report the details which it has at hand.

I find programming to be an immensely satisfying pursuit, to be able to create abstractions which take on a life of their own (an outgrowth of my engineering bent). Users are largely unaware of how much systems programmers toil to make things possible (unless we sysprogs bungle something — then the users are very aware of us). And I'm known as a documentation guy, as writing has always been something I've enjoyed.

A principal responsibility of mine is for our Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) facilities for data preservation and assurance, including the backup of central systems, HSM services, and data archiving for researchers. I participate in the ADSM-L support group mailing list, both for my own edification and to lend my experience to help others.

I'm also the long-time systems programmer for academic printing, which is now based upon the powerful Infoprint Manager server software. In 2009 I did the database design and print server work which, in conjunction with team members working on Convenience Points integration and Web app development, resulted in the successful implementation of the new MyPrint arrangement for printing. MyPrint is a release-based system involving a sheets allocation followed by real-time charging for printing beyond that. In heightening awareness of the high cost of printing, MyPrint has resulted in substantial reductions in printing waste.


Over the years I've gotten into quite a few different subject areas, each with its own disciplines, vocabulary, and body of knowledge. A substantial challenge is in keeping all relevant information at hand, in order to be able to support each subject area. How often have we all found ourselves in the situation of needing a piece of information, knowing for certain that we encountered it in our pursuits some months earlier, but being at a loss to recall just where in order to be able to retrieve it? That happened to me once too often, and I resolved to keep categorical notes as I traveled through a product or subject area. Further, I wanted an reference where I could search on the manifestations of a problem and thereby find its cause. I initially termed such bodies of notes as "functional directories", deriving from an original desire to document how to achieve a desired goal. I later gave these files the more adroit name QuickFacts, as their purpose evolved. These compilations of information allow me to rapidly retrieve factoids and details which might otherwise remain elusive, or unrecallable. As Albert Einstein put it, "I never waste memory on things that can easily be stored and retrieved from elsewhere." Such categorized information not only helps me, but also allows those with whom I work to benefit from my explorations, to quickly look up facts they may need when I'm not available, to assist in an area with which they may only have glancing familiarity.

We have all benefited from the abundant information which technicians around the world have seen fit to make available on the Web, to help others by sharing their knowledge. It is appropriate for us in turn to "give back" and share what we have learned, as we reach a point of proficiency and experience where we may help others. To that end I am making QuickFacts available through this web site...

ADSM QuickFacts and associated illustrations, information, and utilities.

Infoprint page
Various information and illustrations which I share, based upon my experiences with this IBM's Infoprint Manager software and Infoprint printing hardware.

Linux usage QuickFacts
A compendium of often hard-won information on understanding and dealing with Linux.

MySQL QuickFacts
A compendium of often hard-won information on understanding and dealing with MySQL.

MySQL Enterprise Edition QuickFacts
A compendium of information on understanding and dealing with MySQL Enterprise Edition, representing an extension of the MySQL QuickFacts.

Software Technology

Click on one of the following links to visit pages involving software creation.

Programming Examples
Illustrations of methods for accessing various AIX system facilities to aid in their management, monitoring, and support.

Systems Engineering and Programming

Click here to go to my area providing insights on systems engineering and systems support.

Things Apple

Click here to go to my area on things about Apple, including the Macintosh, iPhone, iPad, AirPort.

Printing technology

Click here to see my information on various aspects of printing.


Click here to read my take on things recent.

The Trump disaster

Click here for my take on the worst thing to happen to the United States and the world as a whole in recent history, as a completely unqualified, hate-filled person now occupies the most poweful position in the world.

Also, Trump watch to chronicle the inanities and lies coming out of the Trump administration.

Tesla, the car

Click here for my information on buying and owning a Tesla (Model S).

Things We Pay For

Click here for reviews and thoughts on goods and services we all pay for.

The Home Owner

Click here to benefit from my years of experience in owning and maintaining a house.

The Media Room

Click here to go to my area on the home entertainment experience.


Click here to visit my page on movies I have seen.

Pets in need

We're just one of the many animals on this planet — and too often the others get forgotten in our preoccupation with our own species. Man domesticated animals eons ago for hunting, safety, and companionship, as well as an instinctual link to the rest of the animal world. As members of that contining line of our own species, we have something of a responsibility to helping the line of animals that our kind domesticated.

Throughout the world there are animal shelters which take in those animals who need help. Today, many shelters have a "no-kill" philosophy, made feasible by animal breeding control measures. And those shelters indefinitely care for the animals until they are adopted. Sadly, some animals are never adopted, and spend their entire lives in the shelter. Nevertheless, they enjoy a safe environment staffed by caring volunteers.

Needless to say, the housing, feeding, and veterinary care of numerous sheltered animals is costly, and the shelters look to the community for help in their effort. We can all help in some way. Various stores provide a donation bin where pet food, cat litter, towels, and toys can be left for pick-up by the shelter volunteers. Many shelters host periodic yard sales of donated goods, which brings them many hundreds of dollars as well as providing us an excellent way of getting rid of things we no longer use.

Most shelters have web sites these days, and perhaps the best way to find them is via petfinder.com. This site not only allows you to locate nearby shelters, but also to perform a categorical search for a prospective pet with characteristics you would want. If your specific fancy is dogs, see petstew.com for guidance in choosing a breed and finding that one dog. Even if you are not looking to adopt a pet now, during adoption days you can readily visit shelters and enjoy seeing and petting these little ones. They'll enjoy it, too.

If you have any comments or suggestions, you can email me: rbs at bu.edu