Saturday, 1 May 2010

Giving blood on the countdown to Christmas (1982)

I've been prompted to write this by Pete Jarvis, Tim Ramson, Paul Prior and Ian Chivers.

In the 1980's, the chance of us getting a free afternoon off on Christmas eve was pretty high.
In 1982 Christmas fell on the Saturday so we decided to have a special Countdown to Christmas challenge.
The idea was that at lunch for each day of the week (Mon to Thu) we'd go the Harbour Lights for drinks - warming up for a session in Southsea on Christmas eve.
The challenge was that whatever drink you chose on the Monday, you'd have to double on the Tuesday, 3 of on Wed etc.
Some people were 'sensible' and only had a half pint on Monday.
Others dove straight into a pint of Guinness on day one.

This was fine for Mon and Tue.
And would just about have been OK for Thu if it were not for the fact that this was the also the day that the Blood vans came to North Harbour.
And being good citizens; Rammo, Paul, Pete and Chivs were all down to donate.

Suffice it to say that there were some very light headed programmers on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Wishing IBM UK people a Happy Retirement

I wonder what I'll be doing tomorrow

Retirement's great, But something's missing

I'll start a small business. Hmm. I need a web designer and web developer. 

Guess who I chose? Here's a clue. bobbing ...

Quite a number of long term IBMers retire from IBM UK on the 5th March.
I attempted to write to each of them wishing them good luck... and I attached an advertisement in my email.
The link to my website may not have worked... but the link to this blog did.

So if you want to take up my offer of 25% discount on a new website for your small business
then start by clicking on this link

25% discount for IBM retirees

Or just phone 02392 410090 or 07876 236864 and ask for Herb

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Take backups before it's too late

I had one of those dreams last night. At the time it appeared too realistic for my own liking. OK, forget the fact that I was riding a bicycle through the streets AND buildings of a city I've never been in, with two of my school mates (Keith Towell who I haven't seen since the mid 70's and Andy Starkey who I last emailed on his 50th birthday two years ago).

The important part of the dream was that I had lost my hard disk drive... and it contained all the work I'd done recently. The fact that I'd used Mercurial for version control wasn't much help; it had been a long time since I'd cloned the repositories to another drive.

So this morning I decided to create another full image copy onto my Seagate external drive.
It's 3 hours into the process. So I'm using another machine to get up to date with my blogging.

So, what's this got to do with my time at IBM.

Back in the early 90's a colleague of mine who shall be nameless, approached me late one evening and asked if I knew of any hard disk unerase program suitable for OS/2. I related my previous experience with hdunerase (a Norton program for DOS 2.1) while we searched for a new program. The program we found was called Phoenix.
He also told me why he needed it.

Apparently he'd just finished a project and was shipping the code to the customer.
It was his only copy, and guess what he's done?

del *.*

Form opinions in seconds - then take years to change them

In my time I have only had two colleagues who I've disliked from the word go. One of them was a rather cocky 'consultant' who was either still in the Foundation capability or had just graduated. When he came to work on our project he immediately started to demonstrate his ignorance of "proper programming". For example, when I asked him what he'd use for developing a web front end to our application he suggested using php.

At the time, my only experience of php was that it was used in the web pages for
I couldn't see how it could be used to replace our front end.

The chap didn't last long in our group.
But the idea of using php to build web pages has now, for me at least, turned into reality.
It may not be the world's best programming language: let's just say that the king of programming languages is REXX, and leave it at that.
But it's a lot easier than faffing about with Java or ASP.Net.
So 8 or 9 years later (?) I've nearly learnt to love it, and have been using it for all my websites.

Example: - web design - web development

PS. It will take longer than 8 or 9 years before I manage to forget about the other instant dislike.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

What's wrong with fuction?

In the late 80's we were developing some PC screen scraper programs using DOS and the C language. We had a really powerful editor called E. The version we were using at the time was probably E3. It allowed for all sorts of customization including writing your own functions and keyboard hot keys.

My mate Woody incorporated a spell checking routine, to check the spelling of comments only, not the code.

During a code inspection someone eventually noticed that all his comments contained the word "fuction". He said he'd spell checked each file so we wondered how that misspelling had made it through.
Was this a new word we'd not heard of?

It turned out that a long while ago he'd accepted the mispelling of "function" and it was now in his local addendum. So the spell checker accepted each occurrence.

If you do a Google search on fuction it now gives over 450,000 hits!

Q. Why did I think about this now?
A. I just got a php syntax error trying the same spelling.

And before you ask, I'm not using E anymore, more's the pity.
I'm using Visual Slick Edit, which keeps on suggesting that I type <param>
when I intend to type <p>

Friday, 8 January 2010

Copyright 2010 for the IBM UoS project and the rest of IBM Corporation

A while ago (well last year actually) Andy Barnes promised that he'd return my Dave Gorman's Googlewhack adventure DVD if I did a new version of my Copyright 20nn Word document, where nn was 09.

Well I didn't get around tuit before I left IBM but I've done it now. Obviously I couldn't check the internal links.
Anyway, here is the Copyright 2010 version:   ( Note: It's on Scribd at )

Now where's my DVD?