2014 — 9 July: Wednesday

As I said, the latest monthly dollop of Windows 8.1 security patches and "enhancements" seem to have made themselves1 comfortable. But I can't be the only person irritated by the way the documentation of these fixes in KnowledgeBase articles linked directly from them takes its own good time to be prepared for me to read. Case in point: after the main dollop was installed yesterday and I had rebooted, my paranoid habit of re-running "Windows Update" promptly fetched another 'optional' 25MB lump that slid smoothly into place, demanded its own reboot, and remained mute as to its purpose until this morning. Only now does it reveal that it's changed a default security setting that was rather rash.

Fixing it in 'pubs' ...

... was a long tradition (standing joke? mantra?) in CICS code development (in, I'm sure, only the baddest of the bad old days of long, long ago my Best Beloved). And I don't mean debugging code over a pint in the "Dolphin". I mean sweeping up the dropped bits and other code messes in the publications produced by the "Information Development" department. I know of what I speak2 because I could have been found toiling in that very department on three separate occasions over the years during my downward career in IBM. Would you believe, for example, that this little gang was at one point in the mid-1980s responsible for the entire CICS library of documentation?

CICS writers

Alas, three of us have already skidded off Life's Little Highway. Incredible. Your diarist is the one who didn't like wearing plain shirts. (I had very little time for neckties, either, to be honest. Let alone jackets.)
Left to right: DCM, Roger Figg, Ray Small, Ray Weir, Doug Braund, Mike Vale, Geoff Cooper.

"Pubs" was the bolt-hole into which I retreated whenever other fox-holes became intolerable. Or boring. Or, sometimes, both.

What about some brekkie ahead of today's little ramble? Good idea!


Now this is more likely the way the (human) world ends, not with a bang but a whimper...


Meanwhile, I had hoped that this was going to be about evolution. It wasnt :-)

Back in 1972...

... the sum of 75s (or, in 'modern' coinage, £3-75) was an awful lot of money to splurge on a single book.3 But that was exactly what I laid out for this splendid tome. It defines its subject as "apparently artistic operation which makes up for a lack of creative force by stimulating the imagination through particular ingredients — erotic, political, religious, sentimental".


Fast forward four decades and without me having to change anything, it seems my taste in lowbrow art has metamorphosed from kitsch to avantgarde (allegedly). Nice to know. I have meanwhile managed to lose what little taste I once had for thermodynamics. Very odd.

And in 2014...

... my latest favourite online bank has just given me a Warren Buffet quotation to ponder right at the end of their "investments" newsletter:

According the name 'investors' to institutions that trade
actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in
one night stands a romantic.

"Alec has 'am!"

Now this is extremely cool. Recall a wonderful comic monologue called "The Secret Life of Walter's Mittens"? You'll find it among "Fairly Truthful Tales". Good hunting.

My evening...

... entertainment has been Malik Bendjelloul's fascinating recent film "Searching for Sugar Man" (aka Sixto Rodriguez). I first heard a bit about this on NPR quite some time ago, so I was delighted to be lent a Blu-ray of it. Indeed, I've just ordered my own copy of both that and the associated CDs. Magical stuff. Sad, too, to learn that Bendjelloul killed himself just two months ago, aged less than 37.



1  Less so, their hapless custodian.
2   Indeed, I still shudder to recall a two-page CICS manual amendment I once released as a Technical News Letter — it noisily fixed a trivial 'error' on the front page while very quietly (on the "down low") removing an inadvertent piece of product pre-announcement — a cardinal sin in IBM — on the back page. (It had been perfectly accurate when I wrote it, but the product in question [one of our rivals, naturally] then slipped its own release date, dagnabbit.)
3  Slightly more, in fact, than I had by then handed over rather more reluctantly for my mandatory copy of "Engineering Thermodynamics" by Rogers and Mayhew.