Early Days


Yesterday was the first day (officially) of my retirement. However, it was not totally disassociated from work, as there was to be an official luncheon. The IBM Hursley clubhouse had put on a beautiful spread for the buffet and I thank them for that. There weren’t as many attendees as might have been, had I retired a few years earlier. During last week I had already had a number folks say that they wouldn’t be able to make it due to work commitments or vacation. On the way out to Hursley I received a couple of texts from folks who would not be attending for a variety of reasons.

The main reason though, I think, is that due to the companies “restructuring” over the last few years I have out lasted many of my colleagues. Although the department in which I worked numbers over 150 folks, I have to say that I don’t know many of them and I’m guessing most of them would say the same of me.

During my thirty eight year career I have worked with many people spread across the whole company both in the UK and globally. While company restructuring (redundancies) will have seen off many of my UK colleagues, the recent shenanigans with the company pension scheme saw quite a few more leave or lose their benefits. More recently my working from home will have removed me from my local UK colleagues memory banks. And so latterly, but for a small core of UK-based folks, most of my work has been with people based in the US and Mexico.

I always find these kind of events to be a bit odd.  Some folks find it awkward speaking to colleagues about to leave. Perhaps some are a little jealous that the retiree has found a way out. For some it may be that their workload has increased as a direct result of the retirement.

Still, it was nice to exchange memories with those that did turn to. For some of them, I was already an “old hand” when they began as new hires. For at least one a black cloud settled in when he realised that after eighteen years he still had another twenty to go based on my time served, the realisation that he hadn’t even reached half way.

I have experienced many things during those 38 years. Been part of the explosion of computer technology. When I started there was no such thing as a personal computer. My career started working with display products where we saw the introduction of colour “dumb terminals”, the introduction of terminals with a microprocessor which allowed for “multiple partitions and scrolling”. Think windows before Bill G got started with Microsoft. Later I moved onto storage products where disk drives were huge and driven by washing machine motors. The first product that I worked on was a 850Mb drive which was around the size of a large suitcase, was a two-man lift and mounted in a rack. Back in the day, during a presentation on disk drive technology I remember someone stating that the target was to get costs down to $1 per megabyte. That was the target and recently I saw that the current costs are around $0.0000317 Now there are solid state drives and mechanical disk drives that you can put in your shirt pocket. Storage was where I finished last Friday.

Just one other point regarding my 38 years. I started at Hursley in 1977 and my first office was on the second floor of C Block. After having offices in just about every building on site, as well as two assignment stints down at the Havant manufacturing site, I have ended up back in C Block. One floor down. So 38 years and just a change in altitude.

From a technological standpoint I wonder if the next 38 years will be as dramatic for the folks that come behind me. I don’t understand the media excitement generated by the next iPhone or iPad and it  just leaves me cold. I guess it is not so physically obvious now, as technology marches onwards.

For me, retirement is both the end of an era and also the beginning of a new one.

Headteacher in Forest of Dean vows to shop parents over pupils web use, including social networking


Paul Woodward is to be applauded. His is a voice in the wilderness.

A primary school head has threatened to shop parents to social services if they allow his pupils to use Facebook and other networking sites.

Paul Woodward is concerned that youngsters who use the sites risk being exposed to porn and online grooming.

He has warned parents that persistently letting children flout Facebook’s 13-plus age rule could warrant investigation by child protection teams.

He estimates that at least 60 per cent of the 270-plus children at his school in the Forest of Dean have access to social networking sites.

Reporting parents to social services is, on the face of it, a bit extreme. However, where the parents have been informed and they take no action then I think he is justified.

Mr Woodward, a branch secretary for the National Association of Head Teachers, the country’s biggest heads’ union, yesterday demanded a ban on children setting up social media accounts – because of the risk of accessing inappropriate material.

Unfortunately a ban would be a waste of time. How on earth could this be policed. The only way to stop the underaged from gaining access is to enforce some kind of  control based round a credit card or some other kind of ID that can be validated on line.I believe that Facebook themselves would not want to do this unless they could actually charge a nominal fee for the  for the privilege.
Of course there will always be the kid that steals, sorry, borrows his parents card to bypass these controls.Just take a look at how six-year-old  Jake Sadler ran up a bill totalling nearly £1,000 while playing a game on his parents’ iPad.
Then there are the parents who are either too stupid to recognise the risks or choose to give in to their kids pestering for a quiet life.
Mr Woodward should also be a tad cautious before tagging parents as persistent offenders.
There are many kids out there who routinely create more than one facebook account. There is the one they keep for parents and family access. Strange that they don’t seem to access this account from one week to the next and they only have a few “friends”. Strange that their mobile is constantly pinging and buzzing as they chat with their “friends”. I have first hand experience of this having stumbled on my granddaughters facebook presence on which she has over 2500 “friends”. This is despite the fact that she has been on the receiving end of the dark side of Facebook and claimed to have ditched her Facebook account. Her public, to the family, Facebook account only has a few hundred “friends”.

Many parents lack awareness of the potential dangers to children from the variety of links and ‘apps’ that can be accessed through Facebook and other sites, he warned.

As soon as his school becomes aware a child has a Facebook account it contacts the company to get the profile blocked.

Now this is an action which I think deserves more support. I wonder how quickly the likes of Facebook are at shutting down these accounts. In the past they have been somewhat reticent.
Many of the comments received for this article on the MailOnline website have derided Woodward’s stance.

This is too far. He is a head teacher and should stick to teaching not snooping. I thought we wanted an end to big government and its snooping or is only when it serves us that we agree with it.

This is not snooping. This is trying to protect our children.
When I was a pupil my parents had an expectation that the school, to which they had entrusted me  for five days of the week, would provide me with the same protection that they did for the rest of the week. Nowadays there is an apparent expectation that teachers are only there to teach the subject matter.

Maybe he should concentrate on teaching rather than parenting! Interesting how DM have two opposing articles written from the same perspective.. Anyway, if he cares about children being exposed to the horrors of Facebook why not do that old-fashioned thing and TEACH about the dangers rather than sit in some sort of arrogant pious judgement of others.

Teach them about the dangers, that’s a laugh. Our schools are doing such a grand job of teaching about the dangers of drugs, getting pregnant and so forth lets put the responsibility on them to teach about the dangers of the Facebook and the internet.
I’m not criticizing the schools. I think they have an impossible task and they don’t get the support of the parents.
No I think that Mr Woodward has the right approach. Keep on shopping the underage kids to Facebook. Keep on warning the parents.
Ultimately it’s the parents responsibility but when they don’t step up to the mark then thank god for people like Paul Woodward.

Headteacher in Forest of Dean vows to shop parents over pupils¿ web use, including social networking | Mail Online.

Why ???


A short while ago I received a call from BT. Not too surprising when you consider that they provide me with my telephony service and my broadband connection.

What is surprising is the reason for the call.

It was a courtesy call.

To inform me that the monthly payment, that I make by standing order, has been paid !!!

I go to all the trouble to get rid of my 2nd, public line. Retain my other, ex-directory, line so that I can cut down on all those unwanted calls.

And BT decides that the very thing I need is an unsolicited call.

Arrggghh !!!!