Getting to Know Your z/OS Bug Busterz Instructor: Patty Little

By Manny Veiga

SHARE Atlanta 2016 is rapidly approaching, and this year we’re presenting two exciting tracks: CICS Immersion and z/OS Bug Busterz. Presented by experienced z/OS Level 2 professionals, the latter program includes a full day for z/OS systems programmers and applications programmers to dive into the concepts, fundamentals and best practices for diagnosing and debugging problems that occur on the IBM z/OS operating system.

We spoke with one of the program’s instructors – IBM’s Patty Little – to get a sense of what to expect from this brand new track.

The full-day z/OS Bug Busterz track is brand new to SHARE. What’s the overall goal of this program?

Up until now we've done individual presentations on z/OS debugging, but this is our first opportunity to have a whole day of teaching and knowledge sharing. It's a little bit of a niche topic, but it seems to be an area where a lot of programmers would like to develop their skills – especially our dedicated core of SHARE attendees, who really want to better understand how to resolve their own z/OS issues.

The program is only eight hours, but we really could talk about debugging all week. So we’ve pinpointed not only the most common types of customer problems, but also the ones that attendees can most readily get their hands around in a class setting. That’s what we’ll cover in this session. Luckily, there’s a big overlap between the list of common z/OS problems and those which lend themselves to a standard diagnostic approach. We’ll feature core problems that customers see every day, like ABENDs, program checks, Loops and Hangs and more. We'll be building on our content throughout the day, with each presentation acting as a stepping stone to the next.

What drew you into this career, and into volunteering with SHARE?

I actually started with IBM in RTM development, and after about three years I was offered a temporary opportunity in MVS software support. I was hesitant about moving away from development, so I insisted I would only stay for six months. I even asked my manager to put it in writing!

It didn’t take long for me to discover that I really enjoyed direct customer contact. It was an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience to work together with customers to solve problems. So when my six months were up, I asked my manager to forget the paperwork and leave me here. I’ve been here ever since.  

As far as getting into SHARE, I've always enjoyed teaching, and SHARE gives you a great outlet to do that. A colleague first invited me along to help with a presentation, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Are there any major takeaways you hope attendees gain from the Bug Busterz track?

I would like them to walk away with a sense of comfort about the core skills that we teach. If you can grasp a strong fundamental knowledge of operating system concepts, it can really open up a world of debugging to you. You can't solve computer problems unless you start thinking like the operating system. Hopefully, after this track, attendees will understand the thought process, logical approach, and diagnostic steps used by service personnel to debug common z/OS problems, and will feel comfortable applying these same steps themselves to problems encountered on their own z/OS systems.

We also like giving trainees the opportunity to participate in labs and get their hands dirty with all these great concepts. We’re aiming for an interactive session – we love questions and want to hear from attendees. Debugging is fun, and I hope everyone goes away with that same feeling.

For expert training in z/OS problem solving from Patty Little and IBM instructors, click here to register for SHARE Academy. The z/OS Bug Busterz track runs from 8 am to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 31 as part of SHARE Atlanta.

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