Why migrate databases - we have E-Mail! or: Macs are superior

  • Reading these stories on The Daily WTF reminded me of a story I had to live through.

    1995: A cartography / graphic design studio is introduced to computers. The cartography programs only work on Windows, the design programs (Adobe / MacroMedia FreeHand) were rumored to only work on Macs. $CEO decides to buy Windows machines for the cartographers, Mac machines for the graphic designers. A reasonable choice for that time.

    They needed to manage their orders. So they hire a programmer who designs a software in VisualFoxPro. It works, they are happy. But wait, the accounting lady needs to use it! So we put her on a DOS machine. Happy to have solved the problems for now, $CEO is on his merry way home.

    2003: Customers are cumbersome. What better way to store information about them than in a database! $CEO isn't good with computers, he consults his son. $SON is a web developer, and is therefore a great fan of Macs. So he recommends a Mac-based, proprietary, file-base database system (it's called Daylite and it still exists). $CEO is happy to have such a tech-savy son. But wait ... how do we synchronize the customers and their orders (to the old Windows XP program)? Well, $CEO has the bright idea to just let the accounting lady do it manually. But that would mean that the accounting lady needs a Mac? So let's buy another Mac and be done with it. Accounting lady has two computers now, one for the orders (Windows), one for the customers (Mac).

    But how do the cartographers (on their Windows machines) have access to Daylite, which is a Mac-only program? $CEO consults his son (who doesn't work in the company). "Macs are superior to Windows anyway. Just by Macs." The cartographers reject: "But all of our software runs on Windows! Why should we switch to Macs, just because of one program?" - alas, their cry is unheard. "My son is quite good with computers, he knows what he's talking about." They get Macs and VMWare. VMWare slows down the production considerably. But now they have access to Daylite, which they use a total of five minutes per day. So much more efficient. Happy that he has shown his dad the right way, $SON departs to Spain, where his next development job with Ruby on Rails awaits. "I'm sure the problems with Macs will settle and they'll see that Macs are truly the superior machines".

    2007: The internet! We need more customers! How about we make a Wordpress website and put that up on display? Great! But Daylite and the old Windows program (which was over 10 years in use at that point) don't allow for any network connections! Should we migrate to something different, let's say MySQL or a local Postgres database? "Why migrate databases - we have E-Mail!", says $SON, calling in from his holiday in Italy. Swiftly he installs a Wordpress Plugin for sending E-Mails whenever customers enter their order details (no encryption, by the way). It is now account lady's job to check for new E-Mails, transfer those customers into the old Windows program, then into the Mac-based Daylite.

    2013: I arrive at my first day on the job as a cartographer. I quickly grow custom to the bitching and moaning of the cartographers over the constant VMWare problems. I grow accustomed to problems of Daylite corrupting itself. I grow accustomed to constantly having to ask other people to sign out of Daylite because only one user at a time should be editing the Daylite database. But the machines start to show their age. Accounting lady is often complaining that her 2007 iMac isn't up to par anymore, 6 years later. $CEO gives the cartographers new iMacs ("you've earned it, guys") and the older iMacs should now go to the accounting lady.

    Now, I thought, hey let's end this misery and just set up a Windows VM for the accounting lady so she can use the old Windows program (which was 18 years in use at that point). But she still has to receive E-Mail, to get the orders in! I work as quickly as I can and do the unthinkable - in 20 years of history, I create the first backup. Two days later, her hard-drive fails.

    Taxes are hard to calculate. What better way to manage them than to use an endorsed program from the bank you are using! Of course, it only works on Windows. And Windows 7, that is. Now, you have to understand that the old program was written for DOS and it was a 16-bit program. Windows XP is the last OS to support 16-bit programs, DOSBox wouldn't work. But the old program HAD to work. So now accounting lady has three computers, one for the E-Mail + Daylite, one for the DOS-based ordering program, one for managing taxes. Accounting lady now manages to spend a large amount of her day rolling around in the office between three different computers. She looks busy, so $CEO is happy.

    Now, Daylite has a special mode where you can install it on a local server. Of course, it has to be a Mac server (another Mac to buy). Since it's not often used, $CEO tells me to install the Daylite Server on an unused 2009 iMac and put it in a closet to be done with it. I warn him about last time where Daylite corrupted itself and the full database had to be sent to support to be fixed. I tell him that it would be better to migrate the old orders database, the E-Mail based system and Daylite into a single MySQL or similar database. "But we've always worked this way". Alright fine, have it how you want it. I put Daylite Server on an iMac and put the iMac next to the closet with the file server - next to the coffee machine. It's a pity because of the nice Retina display.

    I contanct $SON about this. "Don't you think we should throw out Daylite and migrate to only Windows - the constant Mac / Windows back-and-forth is making lots of problems".

    "No", he replies. "Macs are superior".

    Half a year later, I can't save files on the internal file server anymore. Wondering what has occured, I take backup drive to inspect the file permissions, as this was the first thing that the error message suggested. That file system can't be recognized by Windows or Mac, strange. I ask the others about it.

    "Oh that? That's running Linux or something. Have fun."

  • @smartsnoopy said in Why migrate databases - we have E-Mail! or: Macs are superior:

    Windows XP is the last OS to support 16-bit programs

    (Not true.) (Sorry my pedantic dickweedness is coming to the surface.) (But even Windows 10, if you install the 32-bit version will run 16-bit applications.) (The compatibility problem is lazy chip makers not allowing 64-bit code to run in the same CPU mode as 16-bit code, it has nothing to do with the OS and in fact Microsoft would love to run 16-bit code on their 64-bit OSes if it were possible.) (Parenthesis.)

  • @blakeyrat (worried) You're not turning into a lispie are you?

  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @pleegwat He's not nearly smug enough. We're safe.

  • @pleegwat straight as an arrow.

  • Fake News

    @blakeyrat said in Why migrate databases - we have E-Mail! or: Macs are superior:

    lazy chip makers not allowing 64-bit code to run in the same CPU mode as 16-bit code

    That would be a HELL of an endeavor with significant cost, significant risk, and next to no promise of a significant return in the marketplace.

  • @smartsnoopy said in Why migrate databases - we have E-Mail! or: Macs are superior:

    So now accounting lady has three computers,

    Why didn't they just create a VM with XP?

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