Tim Malone, MCSECamarillo, CA(818) 257-0513†††††††††††††††††† tim@3tcm.net

ďOver 30 years of managed expertise in computer technologyĒ INDEX

 

Information Systems Manager†††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Feb 01 to Aug 04

Condor DC Power Supplies, a $45M Electronics Manufacturer in Oxnard, CA

 

Link to technical addendum with specific hardware and software supported at Condor.

 

  • Managed upgrade transition from AM6000 to AM7000 computer system.
  • Solved a major information problem by writing hundreds of Crystal Reports.
  • Used SQL code to retrieve data from MS Access database into reporting formats.
  • Administered Exact Software Macola Progression 7.5 and 6.2 accounting systems.
  • Administered Khalsa Metropolis accounting system on Alpha Micro System.
  • Part of support team for 160+ end-users with a manufacturing plant in Mexico.
  • Administered four terminal servers to provide computing services for remote users.
  • Wrote programs in d/BASIC to extract data from closed Alpha Micro system.

 

I was last employed as the Information Systems Manager at Condor DC Power Supplies located in Oxnard CA.The majority of my time each day was utilized in troubleshooting and supporting an aging Alpha Micro computer system.This particular system is about twenty years old and has been upgraded half a dozen times.Here is a picture of the old Alpha Micro:

 

As you can see itís an ugly old machine.The computer itself is at the bottom of the picture.If you look closely, you can see the QIC streaming tape drive.Thatís the front of the computer chassis itself.Inside is an old modified S-100 bus with about twelve slots for IO cards, most of them filled with old serial port cards.We still run a 56K multiplexed line with 32 ports going down to our plant in Mexico.

 

Most of the users, both local and remote use the TCP/IP port, but the serial ports are left over from the old days when you could only connect to the machine through dumb terminals.The modem and MUX are on top of the chassis in front of the terminal.The wiring center and hubs behind the machine are for half of our building.We have a new wiring center on the other end of our building where we use switches instead of hubs to reduce network contention.

 

This old machine locks up several times a day and requires constant attention to keep it running and available.Itís hard to believe that it is the most mission critical piece of hardware in the company.The license allows 152 physical connections to the machine, but the accounting database only supports 80 concurrent users.

 

There are four people in my department.John Beecroft is the Director of Information Technology and has been with the company about seven or eight years.John is a power supply engineer who used to head up the Engineering department.Mark Goldberg is the previous system administrator, and has been with the company about as long as the Alpha Micro.He moved to Maine a few years back, but still supports the custom software he wrote over the years to run the business.When he moved, the company hired an IT Director, an MBA who only lasted about six months because he had no real-world experience.John became the Director of IT when the MBA was fired and started looking for an IS Manager.Thatís when I came on board.

 

UPDATE: The IS Department was reorganized in March 2003.Craig Reynolds of our sister company, Teal Electronics became the Director of IT and John moved to Business Development as a Senior Engineer in the sales department.We finally dumped the old Alpha Micro in December of 2003 and purchased Mfg/Pro from QAD which is written in and runs under Progress 9.1D.

 

I was recruited by a headhunter because of my IS background and my recent experience with Macola.Condor had purchased two companies that ran Macola and needed someone with Macola expertise.For a while we ran both Macola 6.2 and Macola 7.5.We have since sold the division that ran Macola 7.5 and have just about integrated all the business on 6.2 back to the old Alpha Micro.So while I got the job based on my strength in Macola, we donít use it in the business any more.We used to have a network administrator but he was the first to go when the business dropped so much in the second quarter of 2001.Harold Heuser, the desktop support specialist, John and I took over his functions.

 

I have been with the company since February of 2001.I spent the first six months supporting Macola and writing hundreds of Crystal Reports to help the company get the information out of the Macola database into the format they wanted.That division was sold in July 2001 and I started a project of exporting the data from the Alpha Micro into a format that can be used in the Windows environment.The Alpha Micro is a closed box.There is no ODBC interface (yet), so the only way to get the data is to write a program in Basic to export it to ASCII text, FTP it to Windows, and import it to MS Access.

 

Thatís what I have been doing since August of 2001.I wrote about twenty or thirty export programs and have them run automatically every morning at 5am.I also have written scripts to export the files to my machine every morning at 6am.I also wrote macros in MS Access to import the files into and upload them to one or our NT servers (we have about eighteen).I have written dozens of Crystal Reports to access those files and generate bookings, backlog and shipping reports as needed.I compile my reports and place them on a web page menu for easier access by the users.

 

I have several current projects.The most important one is to continue to write extraction programs for all the data files on the Alpha Micro.There are two kinds of data files Ė Metropolis accounting database files and MRP ISAM files.I have figured out how to extract both kinds.Because there are so many files to extract, it will take many months and perhaps years to get all the extraction programs written, the MS Access database designed for each one, and the associated Crystal Reports written.Many of the Crystal reports access multiple databases.

 

I have been writing in Crystal 7, which came with the Macola software.We just purchased Crystal 8.5 but are not too impressed with the main feature they are touting Ė the web reporting functions in Crystal Enterprise.It adds a whole new level of complexity that is really not needed.I think we are just going to stick with compiled reports with links to them from web pages.The new web reporting functions in Crystal 8.5 require the installation of a report server along with another layer of security.About the only advantage I can see to the new method is that you can see previews or thumbnails of the reports before you run them.

 

The goal is to eventually dump the Alpha Micro and run the company on a SQL server or Oracle system.†† It was in the budget and planned for the third quarter of 2002, but the parent company, SL Industries, has put Condor up for sale and all capital expenditure projects are on hold.In the meantime, we are waiting for Alpha Micro Products to come out with their ODBC.Once we have that installed, we can write Crystal Reports to access the live database instead of the static data files that I create every morning.

 

I have also been researching a way get a backup Alpha Micro system in here, but the darn thing is so old that itís almost a waste of money to buy a redundant system.We are evaluating several proposals right now and hope to implement some sort of solution that will give us greater security in case of catastrophic system failure.It would be nice to simply migrate everything to an NT or Unix system, but there are so many technological considerations that it would be a very difficult proposition with lots of trial and error.

 

UPDATE:We upgraded the Alpha Micro in December 2002.The machine is still running but it is no longer our MRP system.

 

Here are some links to the server rooms at Condor that I manage:

 

Old Server Room††† New Server Room†††† Tealís Server Room (Our sister company - what we would like our servers to look like)

 

A page documenting the process of rearranging our server room including unbolting and moving the main wiring rack.

 

This is part of the online resume of Tim Malone, MCSE at http://www.3tcm.net or https://3tcm.com