Dalliances with documentation

In the wake of the Great Plumbing Upheavals of the summer of 2010 I turned up an ancient print that had been featured in the IBM Hursley Lab's staff newsrag "Developments". I'm sure the original article said all sorts of nice things about the excellent work of a grand group of splendid chaps beavering away for a monk's pittance in dimly-lit backrooms, candles guttering, seated on tall stools, hunched over writing desks, and putting our quill pens to good use. I invoke the statute of limitations:

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 that were churned out by the lorry-load to accompany the product code. I know of what I speak1 because I could have been found toiling in that very department (although it changed its name quite regularly) on no less than three separate occasions over the years during my downward career in IBM.

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.)

Here's the little gang that was at one point in the mid-1980s responsible for the entire 11,000 page (or so) 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 always liked to retreat — they always took me back — whenever other fox-holes became intolerable. Or boring. Or, sometimes, both.


1  And still have the scars to prove it.