Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system - VMS

This is a discussion on Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system - VMS ; I'm a computer-assisted reporting specialist at a newspaper in Nevada -- my beat is essentially data mining in the public realm. I'm in the middle of negotiations for inspection records kept by the local health district in a VAX minicomputer ...

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Thread: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

  1. Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    I'm a computer-assisted reporting specialist at a newspaper in Nevada
    -- my beat is essentially data mining in the public realm. I'm in the
    middle of negotiations for inspection records kept by the local health
    district in a VAX minicomputer that probably runs VMS. They are
    basically telling me that their system has no way of exporting data
    that's been entered over the years, which I find highly unlikely.
    Their IT department probably (a) doesn't know how or (b) just doesn't
    feel like it and hopes that this response will make me go away.

    All I want is a dump of these records into a file -- ideally as ASCII
    text, fixed-width or character-delimited. I've talked to some
    colleagues who have had limited VAX/VMS experience and have been told
    this is entirely possible: "They should definitely be able to get the
    data out, they might want to send it on a tape format, but unless
    they've got some really bizarre system, they should be able to copy it
    to some physical device or they can probably transfer it over a
    network to some other system to copy the data on to."

    Even if they have to dump it to reel-to-reel tapes or cartridges, I
    have a consultant in Missouri with equipment to transfer it to a
    different medium.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Specific information like:
    - Further things to find out about their VAX computer
    - Commands to transfer this data out of the system in a usable format

    If I'm just out of luck and will have to spend hours building my own
    database from paper documents, I'd like to know that too.

    Thank you,

    Alex Richards
    CAR Specialist
    Las Vegas Sun


  2. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    On Wed, 29 Aug 2007 10:06:04 -0700, wrote:

    > I'm a computer-assisted reporting specialist at a newspaper in Nevada
    > -- my beat is essentially data mining in the public realm. I'm in the
    > middle of negotiations for inspection records kept by the local health
    > district in a VAX minicomputer that probably runs VMS. They are
    > basically telling me that their system has no way of exporting data
    > that's been entered over the years, which I find highly unlikely.
    > Their IT department probably (a) doesn't know how or (b) just doesn't
    > feel like it and hopes that this response will make me go away.
    >
    > All I want is a dump of these records into a file -- ideally as ASCII
    > text, fixed-width or character-delimited. I've talked to some
    > colleagues who have had limited VAX/VMS experience and have been told
    > this is entirely possible: "They should definitely be able to get the
    > data out, they might want to send it on a tape format, but unless
    > they've got some really bizarre system, they should be able to copy it
    > to some physical device or they can probably transfer it over a
    > network to some other system to copy the data on to."
    >
    > Even if they have to dump it to reel-to-reel tapes or cartridges, I
    > have a consultant in Missouri with equipment to transfer it to a
    > different medium.
    >
    > Any help would be greatly appreciated. Specific information like:
    > - Further things to find out about their VAX computer
    > - Commands to transfer this data out of the system in a usable format
    >
    > If I'm just out of luck and will have to spend hours building my own
    > database from paper documents, I'd like to know that too.
    >

    They are giving you the run-around, there is likely many different ways to
    extract the data, the method chosen depends on how it is stored.

    > Thank you,
    >
    > Alex Richards
    > CAR Specialist
    > Las Vegas Sun
    >




    --
    PL/I for OpenVMS
    www.kednos.com

  3. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    On 08/29/07 14:47, Doug Phillips wrote:
    [snip]
    >
    > Then it's possible the system doesn't maintain historical data on-line
    > (older than some date), but they have archived it to some backup media


    Or lost it...

    --
    Ron Johnson, Jr.
    Jefferson LA USA

    Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.
    Hit him with a fish, and he goes away for good!

  4. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    On Aug 29, 3:03 pm, Ron Johnson wrote:
    > On 08/29/07 14:47, Doug Phillips wrote:
    > [snip]
    >
    >
    >
    > > Then it's possible the system doesn't maintain historical data on-line
    > > (older than some date), but they have archived it to some backup media

    >
    > Or lost it...
    >


    I think it's all on those stacks of 5-1/4" floppies setting over on
    that old x-ray machine in the corner:-)


  5. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    In article <1188414708.414314.207500@m37g2000prh.googlegroups. com>,
    richards.alex@gmail.com wrote:
    >> On Aug 29, 12:06 pm, richards.a...@gmail.com wrote
    >> > I'm a computer-assisted reporting specialist at a newspaper in Nevada

    [...]
    >I suppose I implied too much. They didn't give me hard copy -- they
    >directed me toward filing cabinets and boxes of inspections reports
    >(for restaurants, public pools, tattoo parlors) at $0.20 to $0.50 per
    >copy/page plus staff time. Slightly out of my price range,
    >unfortunately.
    >
    >They enter these forms into the VAX system. Regardless of what else
    >is maintained on their VAX system, what I want is of public interested
    >and has no exemption under state open records law. I'm not interested
    >in disseminating private or personal information.
    >
    >Most agencies won't do it for free because they don't want to set that
    >kind of precedent. I'm willing to pay a reasonable amount.


    Noting that you work for a newspaper, why should *you* pay for the information?
    Certainly, if the records are truly in the "public interest", then it is in the
    best interest of the newspaper (one of whose goals is to protect the "public
    interest") to pony up whatever monies are necessary to keep the public informed
    as to how their money is being spent.

    Then again, I'm probably incredibly naive enough to believe that a newspaper
    is something more that just a typical money-grubbing enterprise, whose only
    interest is to look after the welfare of their owners, to the detriment of
    their employees and the general public. :-)

  6. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    In article <1188407164.551718.115840@q5g2000prf.googlegroups.c om>, richards.alex@gmail.com writes:

    > All I want is a dump of these records into a file -- ideally as ASCII
    > text, fixed-width or character-delimited.


    Who pays for this?

    Moving their data from whatever storage they've got it in to a file
    of ASCII records, or even just a file without record lookup keys or
    other overhead may not be a capability their system has. It may cost
    quite a bit to add the capability to honor your request.

    There may be no-one with the technical expertise to honor your
    request, so there would be cost to bring in a consultant to work it
    out.

    It is possible that there VAX has no removable media and no network
    access. I don't think I'd configure a system like that for important
    data as I depend on removable media for backup and archive purposes,
    but they may be happy with online backups.


  7. Re: Exporting data tied up in a VAX/VMS system

    In article <1188416821.708661.44830@y42g2000hsy.googlegroups.c om>, Doug Phillips writes:
    >
    > Then it's possible the system doesn't maintain historical data on-line
    > (older than some date), but they have archived it to some backup media
    > (maybe it's just printed) and purged it from the current data-base.


    From what we know, the hardcopies in the filing cabinets may serve
    both as the historical and backup records.


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