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THWACK Memories

After 20 years, THWACK is still one of my favorite places to spend time online.  In celebration of THWACK's 20th birthday, I wanted to go back a bit and try to find a few of my earliest postings.  This is easier said than done because a community like this is all about what's "current."  Let's be completely frank here: if you are working with technology that's 20 years old, you are probably spending time working on classic cars more so than working with computers.  That said, I went through the annals and found some information that gave me pause given my 2023 eyes.

My First Post

Going back, my very first post of any kind was on February 3, 2009.  (For those counting, that was 5,239 days ago and THWACK was already over 2,000 days old).  It was about some basic scripting and how to change how the data was presented in Server & Application Monitor (SAM).  Anyone who knows me realizes this was just the start of me annoying fellow THWACKsters with my requests about scripting into the SolarWinds solutions.

My Life

When THWACK was new, I was still trying to wrap my head around the best way to deal with angry users: either or a help desk or as a network engineer.  I was *grumble* years old, didn't have a clue, didn't have a plan for my life, nor any idea about my career.  So much of my adult life has been influenced by THWACK that I can't begin to imagine what this life would be like without it.

The Fun

In those early years, I spent my time on the monthly missions, taking part in the annual bracket battles, hounding the Product Managers about feature requests, and trying to level-up other people while I was being levelled-up myself by others. I remember attending my first THWACKcamp and being in awe of what the plethora of products could do.  I learned that there was more to THWACK and SolarWinds than I originally thought.  I didn't make the same mistake the next year!  I blocked my calendar for the day, invited my co-workers to a conference room, and we streamed the entire event via a projector so everyone could partake.  Just another reason that THWACKcamp holds a special place in my heart.

One year, we even hosted a D&D game night before THWACKcamp.  Such good memories.

My Job

These days I get to spend all day thinking about THWACK. It might be about the community platform itself, working with people to run the SolarWinds User Groups, helping plan things like THWACKcamp, and anything else I can think of to try and help our customers.  To this day, I still carve out a a little time to try and answer questions on THWACK, but many times, other THWACKsters have already stepped in and lent a hand.  That's true teamwork.

I always say that SolarWinds may pay the bill to keep THWACK online, but it's you all, the members, who make this a great place to spend a part of your day.

Hopefully you'll share some of your memories about THWACK and participate in the other things that are taking place this month in celebration of THWACK's 20th birthday.  By all means, feel free to comment here or start a new discussion thread so we can keep the conversations going.  Just do me a favor and add the THWACK20 tag to your post, so I can find it when I want to learn about everyone else's experiences.

Raise a glass, eat some cake, and help blow out the candles.  Here's to you THWACK and I hope you're here helping people in twenty more years!

  • Wow, it's hard to put into words everything.   I started with Thwack a long time ago, which seems like forever.   I remember when the UX team told me about their new MVP program and asked if I wanted to join.   I did.   I was honored to be an MVP for over a decade or more.   I met almost every person it seemed like from SolarWinds.   I even attended a THWACKcamp in person in 2017.   I have countless hours with the UX team, developers and others.   I have met  on a few occasions.   I have been to SWUGs, even won a prize once from a Mission.   

    I have over 20 years with SolarWinds products and Thwack helped me ensure I was ready for anything.   I've amassed over 750K points, I feel like i got everything in the THWACK store... twice, and I still love the SolarWinds products.   I remember participating in the December writing challenges a couple of times, and I really enjoy hearing from the experts on THWACK.   It's amazing to see how everyone has grown and changed.   

    Thanks for the 20 years, I have about 20 more until I retire, so keep going.   If I hang out and you make 50 years, do all current and former MVP's get a prize?   HA.  Cheers all, be happy and THWACK on....

  • Sometimes other Internet makes me feel old.

  • LOL - my IT career is older than "The Internet" (as the public know it).

Reply Children
  • If you've ever shipped physical tapes offsite to secure your backups, you are approaching retirement.

  • I wish I was that close.  Mine were not shipped I drove them to a Safe deposit box

  • subtract a few more years if they were round reels and not the cartridges used later.

    I hated pulling scratch tapes or carts of tapes for a big job.

    At least MVS tracked what tapes went to what and generated scratch lists with the proper tape management software.

  • Other than mounting and unmounting a lot of tapes for big jobs, the most fun came during large database restore/recoveries where a tape got stretched or sticky in one spot and rendered the entire set of backup tapes useless for recovery. You had to track the age of the tapes and only reuse them for a short time hoping to prevent such. After the expiration target, you had to toss them in the trash.  The bad tapes always seemed to come at the very end of the backup set after you had already wasted hours, never at the beginning.  

  • That and running the round reels through the tape cleaning machine and replacing the start and end markers on the tape.

    For our midrange machines, backups were read in and copied on the mainframe for additional archival reasons. We did daily partial backups, weekly full backups, weekly partial backups and monthly full backups. Nightly production batch also included backups of affected datasets. 

    What about manually loading tapes on the drive and feeding the tape onto the takeup reel before you hit load? Those were the days before the vacuum channels existed and the tension was handled by tension arms. The IBM round reel drives where you just popped the tape on the drive and hit load were a big time saver.

  • Another key indicator of a gold watch in your near future is if you:

    1. Referred to online storage as DASD (Direct Access Storage Device) instead of as a disk drive. 
    2. Remember when 5 1/4” floppy disks were actually floppy
    3. Know that IBM created Virtual Machines for System/370 mainframes in the early1970s long before VMWare ever existed or copied the idea for distributed systems.
    4. Pinball machines started being replaced by high tech arcade games like Pong and Space Invaders.
  • I loaded my first tape on an IBM 360 series machine in the early 70's as a kid.

    DASD was on what was referred to as spindles. 

    5.25 floppies were originally single sided. There were also 8" floppies a bit later on.

    Nothing as deafening as the sound of an entire DASD farm spinning down during a power failure.

    VM was a great tool when we did time travel testing for Y2K when I worked for a managed services company.

    The joys of swinging bus and tag cables from an old mainframe dasd to the new cpu especially if you have to pull it back to reroute and find out it is still short.

    The misery of detangling bus and tag cables that ended up ona pile under the raised floor when decommissioning them.

  • a Safe deposit box

    Drove them yourself?  Like with an armed escort?  Like a bank box... with two keys?  I guess we had significantly more backup tapes.  Ours went in in what amounted to a metal crate.  Then next week, the crate came back with backups from two weeks ago.  Overwrite with today, and lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Routing ATA cables inside beige box servers so you get good airflow.

    Learning the hard way that the "DOS" directory was inviolate and should never be "touched."

    Performing you first (failed) restore.

    And pinball machines outrank video game cabinets just for the visceral bounce of the balls.

    For the millennials:

    Using tape and a punch to protect/unprotect your floppy disks from being overwritten.

  • You have it right.   We wanted them offsite but not too far from the main datacenter, It was Vegas baby, there is a bank on every corner, well where there isn't a Casino, Restaurant, or club.  It was a long time ago, Plus you could stop for lunch on the way back, and if you made it back, you might get work done.   Ah the good old days.  WE had a 24 DLT changer so we rotated those out weekly.