TCC   NEWSLETTER                                                         VOLUME 3,   NUMBER 7




C 0 N T E N T S



We have formally accepted the DECsystem-20! The ninety day warranty period started on December 1, and we will start paying for maintenance on March 1, 1978. The system came up with few problems; a bad memory module and an obstinate tape drive were the only anomalies. We expect that we'll see a very smooth system from now on. The biggest troubles will no doubt be due to our unfamiliarity with it.



On Friday, December 2, we placed four DECwriter-Il terminals in the keypunch room. It certainly has been a good reliability test for the DECwriters ... I don't think they've had five minutes of idle time since then. The ability of the students to become familiar with the TOPS-20 operating system has been phenomenal! Of course, the GAMES programs have been thoroughly exercised. APL has been given a pretty good workout, and we've already found a bug in it. DEC's response to the APL problem has been extremely good, and we expect to have the problem fixed very quickly.

Since putting the terminals out for student use, the keypunch room has been e complete shambles, even worse than usual. We ask that you PLEASE pick up your debris when you leave. Stack the used paper NEATLY in the boxes provided instead of stuffing it randomly in a box or wastebasket. Your fellow users will appreciate your efforts of keeping the place neat, and you'll find it a more pleasant place to work.



On Thursday, December 15th between the hours of 1:00 and 3:00 pm, we will have an open house so that students, faculty, and staff can look around the Computer Center. We will have tours through the computer room so that you can see the DEC-20 as well as the IBM-360 ... a combination that is probably unique on Earth! We'll have the games programs up so that you can try those it you want. There will be coffee and cookies to sustain you. Stop by and inspect the facilities, ask questions, and visit!



We've discovered another feature of IBM 360/44 FORTRAN which isn't in the DEC-20 FORTRAN. This one won't affect very many users, but it should be kept in mind:

COMPLEX*16 variables and constants are not supported. Any COMPLEX*16 specification is flagged with a warning message and automatically converted to COMPLEX. There is no DOUBLE PRECISION COMPLEX capability included, and DEC has no plans to implement it in future versions. If you need this capability, you will have to declare the necessary DOUBLE PRECISION

variables and keep track of the real and imaginary parts separately.



Computer games may be played according to the following schedule:

Monday—Thursday:   midnight—7:30 AM   and   10:00 PM—midnight.

Friday:     midnight—7:30 AM   and   5:00 PM—midnight.

Saturday, Sunday, holidays:   all day.

We will restrict the number of terminals in the user area on which games may be played so that others may do useful work. Right now, they are allowed on the four DECwriters. When the video terminals become available, games will be restricted to four of those terminals. The other four video terminals and the four DECwriters will not be available to the games programs. To initiate the games, the following command must be given:


The rules and a list of the available games can be obtained at that time.

If the games programs start interfering with other users who are attempting to do useful work, we will further restrict their usage or, if necessary, eliminate them altogether ... so please don't abuse the games and the other users!



The User Manual being published by the Computer Center is nearly ready for distribution. We intend to have them available for purchase from the Computer Center by Monday, December 19th. The cost will be $1.00 (bargain!). The manual covers getting started with the DEC-20, using the text editor, and a brief introduction to the batch system.

DEC is preparing to publish a new manual which will cover all the TOPS-20 commands; however, it won't be available until late spring or early summer 1976. Its cost wilt be considerably more than $1.00!!!



The availability of dial-up service, which we projected for the spring of next year, will happen a bit sooner than we thought. The necessary equipment and telephone lines have been ordered, and we hope to make the service available by the end of January at the latest. This addition will enable remote users to dial the DEC-20 and then attach a terminal operating at 300-baud (30 characters per second). We hope to make a few 1200-baud dial-in ports available later next year. Until then, you're limited to 30 characters per second. The next Newsletter will describe the use of the dial-in capability.



We have reached the point where we are about ready to assign user accounts for using the DEC-20. Beginning Tuesday, January 3rd, any user wishing to establish an account can do so by making the necessary arrangements with Mrs. Quick in the Computer Center. The following types of accounts will be available:

  • Instructional
  • Administrative
  • Faculty non-sponsored research (FNSR)
  • Faculty sponsored research
  • Thesis
  • Outside accounts
  • Student non-sponsored research (SNSR)

These are identical to the accounts available on the 360/44. Instructions for using an account on the DEC-20 will be given at the time the account is established. We suggest that you purchase the user's manual (at the bargain price of $1.00) at the same time.

SNSR accounts will be given a fund limit of $100.00 per semester. SNSR accounts ray be used by students for any purpose they desire, but when the $100.00 is exhausted, IT'S GONE!!!

We will summarize the usage of each account daily so that you can examine your usage and the costs incurred.



The Calcomp plotter, the old tired one we're now using, will be connected to the DEC-20. We hope to be able to replace it with something more modern next year, but until then we'll Plod (or plot) along as usual. We don't have the necessary software installed on the DEC-20 to support it yet, but it will be available by the time we get rid of the 360. The use of the plotter will be a bit different from the user's point of view, but it will not be difficult. It will be documented in the next Newsletter. FORTRAN programs which use the Calcomp plotting subroutines should not have to be charged since the subroutines will be functionally equivalent.



The line printer on the DEC-20 will accommodate special forms, just as the 360 printer does. Jobs which require forms changes are now run only at specific times during the day. On the DEC-20, these jobs may be run at any time: however, you will not receive your printed output back except at specific times during the day, very few users require special forms, and this restriction will apply mainly to the administrative users. We'll take care of those separately, but any other user needing special printer forms should contact Mrs. Quick prior to running the job which uses them, we plan to print special forms at the following times during the day:

  • 6:00 AM
  • Noon
  • 4:00 PM

We may have to modify this schedule after we have some experience.



The Computer Center will provide regular backup of all disk files. The procedure will be the following:

Once a month, the first Monday of the month, we will make save tapes of all disk files in use on the system. These tapes will be retained for a period of three months. After three months, they will be used for the next backup.

Once each week, again on Monday, we will copy to tape all those directories and their files which have been changed since the last weekly save, This procedure is automatic, and the owners of the files need not inform the Computer Center which tiles have been modified. These "incremental" backup tapes will be retained until the next full save; i.e. until the first Monday of the next month,

Users who wish to provide their own backup capability in addition to this may do so.

Another ability which we hope to acquire sometime next semester is to automatically remove files from disk which have not been used for a long period of time. These files will be stored on tape. The purpose of this is obvious ... we want to keep dormant disk space at a minimum so that users who need it will find It available. It will also keep your charges for disk space down ... BUT, you may find that your disk files are gone someday if you don't police them yourself. Replacing them, in that case, is a simple task which we'll do for you.



The Computer Center will hold two user training courses for faculty and staff personnel on January 9th and 10th. The two courses will be identical and will be limited to ten persons each. The reason for the limited attendance is so that we can provide each "student" with a terminal to use during the course. The courses will cover the DEC-20 capabilities in general, the text editor, a brief introduction to the batch facility, and the use of FORTRAN.

Section l, will meet from 9:00 AM until Noon on Monday and Tuesday, January 9th and 10th.

Section 2, will meet from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM on the 9th and 10th.

Reservations will be accepted on a first come first served basis by Mrs. Quick in the Computer Center. If necessary, we will repeat this course later in the semester. A special course will be held for non-programmer users later in January. This course will be designed for the administrative user who is not concerned with developing programs, but with running production jobs.

If you have any questions regarding these training sessions, please contact Mrs. Quick.



The Keypunch room, hereafter referred to as the User Area, since the keypunches' days are numbered, will undergo a pretty good overhaul during semester break, we plan to start this on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16th. This is during finals week, so it shouldn't impact most users. To do this, it will be necessary to close the user area. The 360/44 and the four DECwriters will, therefore, not be available for use from the 16th thru the 20th or 21st of December. When the remodeling is completed, the user area will be much roomier, and we'll place more DEC-20 terminals there as soon as we can. We ask you indulgence for these few days when we take the walls out (for the last time l hope).



Next semester we plan to keep the user Services desk occupied much more regularly than we have during the past semester. We have six "user servants" lined up -- all of whom have had some DEC-20 experience. These folks will provide a valuable resource to all users who are attempting to become familiar with e new computer and its capabilities.



Preventative maintenance for the DECsystem-20 and its peripheral devices will probably be during non-prime hours. Latest indication is that it will be between 4:00 and 8:00 AM on every other Friday. If so, there will be very little impact on users. If this schedule changes, we'll let you know.



Beginning with Spring semester, we will keep the DEC-20 running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Initially we will provide operator coverage between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm on weekdays, and between the hours of 1:00 pm and 8:00 pm on weekends and holidays.