James Miller


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Artemis Outsourced


Got a Christmas card from Jim Sheppard, one of the old Metier/Artemis people and he said that the software was now all being developed in India.


I bet it's not as good as the stuff our tight team used to turn out twenty years ago.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Protecting Lady Cricketers


Drive on the BBC last night had an article about an eco-friendly box for cricketers.

I'm always reminded of a story I heard many years ago in the 1960s.

Dave Stringer was a cricketer, who I worked with at Enfield Rolling Mills, for a vac job, whilst still at school. He used to play for Edmonton in London and one week their umpire had officiated at the women's Test Match the previous week.

Over a few drinks after the match, someone asked the umpire whether women wore any protection down there. The umpire said he'd been curious too and had asked one of the women that question. She said yes and had then asked him what he thought they called them.

The umpire had no idea.

He was then told they were called "Man Hole Covers".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Withholding Benefit


I recently passed a Job Centre around ten in the morning. There were a group of scruffy men outside standing around drinking beer from cans.

Who would employ anybody like that?

Stop their benefit and I dread to think what else would happen!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

An Emotional Day


I went to the Ipswich Leeds match today.

Because of the five murders in the last week or so, the Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich said a prayer and a minute's silence was scrupulously observed.

I do hope it makes a difference in the apprehending of the murderer.

But I suspect that we are dealing with someone, who may have decided that enough is enough and he may have hidden his trace sufficiently to avoid being detected.

I hope not!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

This Turgid Diana Business


Princess Diana was a very distant cousin of mine.

My paternal grandmother was a Spencer from Peterborough, whose father, a builder, came from Woodnewton in Northamptonshire. There were always tales in the family about payment for work at the big house not being made, so various pieces of furniture and glass were taken instead. Recently, I've met someone, who is related to the brother of my great-grandfather and he has similar stories.

So perhaps the link to the family, is not as tenuous as you think.

But then my mother's family always claimed they were descended from Lord Byron, as he married a Millbanke. But that is pure wishful thinking as I've traced the Millbanks past the dates of Lord Byron.

It's about time that poor Diana was allowed to rest in peace.

Right thinking people, without any axes to grind or publications to sell, have always known that she died along with Dodie Fayad and Henri Paul, in an accident caused by a drunken driver travelling too fast. But try telling that simple tale to the Daily Express or Mohammed Fayad.

Plobs at Minchenden


Adolescent boys have awful habits and we were no better all of those years ago at Minchenden Grammar School in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The presence of girls didn't make us that much better until perhaps we got into the Sixth Form.

One thing we did was to chew the ends of Bic pens and the little plug in the end. Plug is the official Bic word for it.

Now I was having a coffee with someone and I asked them what they called that plug. They didn't have a particular name.

But at Minchenden I said that we called it a plob. I was not believed so I sent a text message to David Dell and asked him. He confirmed that we did in fact call it a plob.

Plob of itself is an interesting word, as it is short and memorable, but does not appear in the Oxford Dictionary. There is a game about The Plobs, but that is all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Childbirth Trivia


Our son was born on the 16th July, 1969, three days before they landed on the moon.

In that period, virtually no babies were born in London, but when they successfully landed, all hell broke loose.



Years ago, I met a very-respected accountant, who was asked by someone to try to help a prostitute. The outcome was that he got her business legal as "Office Services", she started paying tax and was able to buy a small house from where to work discretely. She wasn't the only one he helped.

His approach is right for many who work the streets, as it removes them from pimps and violence, and gets them into the mainstream system, where they contribute to society. Several of the ladies he helped ended up in responsible jobs.

The real problem is prostitutes who are abusing drugs, alcohol and other substances. But are these any less in need of help of any other person with this problem. Cutting the drug menace is something that will benefit everyone.

Monday, December 11, 2006



I went to the very good Minchenden Grammar school in North London.

What is remarkable about our year, is that of the hundred or so we are still roughly in contact with, the divorce rate is very much lower than average. I've said this to others of my age (59) and some have noted the same thing and others have said that at their school most had got divorced, even though the mix of children was probably about the same for all schools.

It just seems to me that perhaps how children are educated has a lot bigger effect than we think. We were a mixed school and in the last two years or so, there was a lot of platonic friendships across the sexes. Perhaps this was very valuable experience for when we got married.

Christmas Post


I've recently been sending several parcels First Class and every one has got there the next day using the Royal Mail system of on-line stamps. These include the full correct address, a barcode in addition to a rather boring computer generated stamp.

The other advantage is that I live in a rural area and this means I give the parcels to the postman, who puts them directly in his van, rather than drive two miles there and back to the Post Office.

It is an excellent service and one that will also contribute to the death of the rural Post Office.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Colonels and Above


Over the years, I've known a lot of high-ranking officers of all three services, including a former Fifth Sea Lord and two generals!

Every one of them talked sense, so when Mike Jackson attacks the Government we should all listen. After all you probably get to the top in the Services through excellence, which can't be said for many of our politicians.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Four Wheel Drive Vehicles


My wife and I own a stud quite deep in the Suffolk countryside.

We don't have a 4x4 as we find no need for them. I run a medium sized diesel estate car, which has almost as much capacity as the bigger Land-Rovers. My estate is also a lot faster, more fuel efficient, handles better and is more comfortable, than the average Discovery.

For work on the stud, we use small garden tractors and trailers, as they are much more suited to jobs with horses and keeping fences sound. Obviously, for heavy work we have an proper tractor.

This shows that the average Chelsea tractor is not bought for anything real, but just for ego. For nearly every job they do, they can be replaced by something better.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saudi Arabia


So what's new about paying bribes to the Saudis.

The rule has always been No Bribes then No Business. Seems it's true judging by what's happening.

But I would argue it's a good thing, as we have too few good engineers and too many of them are tied up in defence contracts, rather than working on real jobs, that will create new long term industries in computing, medicine, science and engineering.

Food Allergies


Don't knock it, as it's not funny if you get hit.

I'm a coeliac, which means I'm allergic to wheat, barley and rye, like one in a hundred of people in the UK. (Note that not all are diagnosed, but many of the undiagnosed are on drugs for depression and arthritis!) Eating out at functions and some restaurants can be nightmare, as chefs chop and change ingredients, so one week the meal is fine and the next week, it causes me to spend a night on the toilet.

I moderate a list for coeliacs on the Internet and you'd be surprised how many are dreading Christmas, as they will get offered all this food like mince pies, Christmas pudding, stuffing, Christmas cake, that will make them ill. If it wasn't for one famous High Street chain, we'd all have a really rotten Christmas.

MPs, Nuclear Weapons, Secret Votes etc.


The real problem is that we don't have a powerful parliament, so we have third rate MPs, who don't want to stand up to Government when it makes bad decisions.

I should say I that I worked on Chevaline, which was the ultra secret updating of Polaris by the Callaghan Government in the late 70s. At least what Tony Blair is proposing seems to be open and above board. Your speaker indicated we should wait and I agree with him. I also feel that the longer we wait the better solution would be found. This may well be a lower cost system, which would only be used for retaliation against rogue states.

To return to the gutless MPs.

We need to double their salary, halve their number and allow them only to take on jobs that involve their constituencies for small sums only. They also need fixed non-party library/offices in the constituency, which will help people to get involved in National politics. You would always know where to go to contact your MP.

British politics would be much improved if all MPs had a secret vote in Parliament. That way, they would have no fear of voting against the party and Blair and others like him, who go against the will of Parliament would be kept under control.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Road Pricing


It won't work, as any government that tries to introduce it will be voted out. As a computer expert, I know that they won't get that to work either.

The biggest problem will be those who live on the margins of cash flow. How would such a person or family pay say a £100 bill for road use, when they have only just about budgeted for the month?

We must do other things to ease congestion.

1. Encourage people to work at home over the Internet.
2. Provide much more parking on rail routes, so you don't have to drive all the way.
3. Subsidise taxis to provide flexible public transport. Singapore did that and it works.
4. Put larger taxes on fuel and air fares.
5. Selectively look for bottlenecks on road and rail and fix them quickly.

So it will carry on as normal.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Smoking Whilst Driving


I'm happy to go along with a complete mobile phone ban whilst driving, but it is just as dangerous to smoke whilst driving.

That should be banned as well!