Editorial 23rd November 2000
Hello there once again.
Welcome to another update of ex-CAPers own web-site. From the emails that we have received lately it is apparent that the word is beginning to spread to ever wider reaches of the net and we now have 'clickers' from Europe to Asia and Australia to the US, and that ex-CAPers are as diverse in their occupations and life styles, as they are dispersed in their locations.
While there are still many of you doing your IT things, there are also many others earning (possibly thinner!) crusts in a plethora of pursuits totally unconnected with what Messrs. Dell and Gates and their ilk have to offer! We even had one email from one 'ex' last week who now lives in France and commercially produces his own wine, while another is into hypnotherapy - how diverse from baud rates and software can you get!
Actually it is not until you see some of the quite appalling pictures that have recently been across our television screens of the dreadful flooding that has hit the UK in the past few weeks, that you realise how ineffectual some of this high-tech stuff really is - when nature wants to show who's boss, nobody even comes a close second! Certainly for all our technology it seems we still can neither accurately predict when, or where, disasters are going to hit us, nor prevent the elements taking their toll when they do. For those of you caught up in the flooding it must be pretty desperate stuff - may you soon be able to get your homes and lives back into some semblance of order.
Those of you living abroad have, I suspect, been having the better of it recently - in the UK, if the floods haven't got you then the railways most assuredly will have. There is hardly any part of the UK train network where there have not been massive disruptions - indeed, in some regions trains have been virtually at a standstill for days at a time. It has been a toss-up whether its' best to have no trains at all, rather than some, which run hours late. Is it better to go nowhere, rather than to set off, but never to know just when (or even if!) you're actually going to arrive!
The problem is either lines breaking down (cracks may be hairline, but sufficient it appears to have a train off the track!) or being undermined and distorted by the flooding. Whatever the cause, the result is the same - with the gloomy predictions that things are unlikely to get much better this side of Christmas! So if you're thinking of a visit home, best leave it until the Spring! In fact if the farmers and truckers decide to carry out their threats to begin yet another fuel blockade, in protest against the price of petrol, then we could all be coming over to you - so get the spare rooms aired and the 'barbie' stoked up, the Brits could be on the move! Incidentally I wish someone could tell me - better still tell the demonstrators - what the difference will be if the Government were to cut duty on petrol (and there's no way that they are going to do it anyway, so why all the fuss!) - the lost tax will just have to go on to something else, so the end result will not make a tads' difference!
As for this month's NEWS you will see that there are a couple of changes - aesthetic (like we have got rid of the revolving wheels on the key page) as well as contents (we have yet another page - for articles). Hopefully it will make it more interesting for you.
Incidentally, thank you to those who have written to us or have sent us material - be assured it is all very much appreciated. We can always do with more mind, so don't forget, if you have an interesting story to tell, why not drop us a line, so we can share it around.
Previous News 23/11/2000
Keith Clark and Martin Myers
Two of our ex-CAPers have recently been into hospital, but CAPnews is pleased to be able to report that both members are now well on the way to recovery.
We understand that, Keith Clark, who only a few weeks ago had to undergo major, emergency, heart surgery is now convalescing back at home and progressing so well that he is already making plans for returning to work and travelling.
He did have one 'blip' a couple of weeks ago, while visiting the surgeon who wielded the blade! - when for reasons which are not altogether clear, he actually passed out and stopped breathing for a while! Keith though was never one to let such things dampen his enthusiasm for long, and within minutes was up and about again. It practically scared everybody else half to death but he appears to have taken it in his stride.
Although his heart is still having to be monitored, he is very much back to his old self, charming all around him - particularly the nurses! So I guess he can't be too bad.
Martin Myers, who was in a road accident a couple of months back, while working in Germany, is also now back at home. He appears to be still strapped up with various lengths of, what he best describes as, scaffolding around his leg and can only hobble around on crutches, but from his own report seems to be in bright enough spirits.
His main disappointment is that he now has to inject himself with some anti-thrombosis drugs, rather than have the job done by some nice little nurse! Of the accident itself and its aftermath, one of the main things that sticks in Martin's mind is that after he came out of the operating theatre, he spent the next six hours looking at a clock which said 'DIE 29 AUG', which was a little disconcerting - he thought that he might have shot his mortal coil and be in some waiting room in the hereafter, awaiting further dispatch, until it was explained to him that the 'DIE' stood for 'diensdag' (Tuesday) the day on which he and the motorbike had had their coming together!
Should anyone wish to contact either Keith or Martin, their respective email addresses are:
for Keith : either - firstname.lastname@example.org
or - email@example.com (Sharon Lynn)
for Martin : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sema OPEN
This was the event that was being organised by Martin when he had his RTA!!
Despite the atrocious weather of late the event was held - and apart from a couple of slight showers was completed in relatively dry conditions.
Apart from the winner (Ben McCafferty with a total for the day of 74) the scores were nothing to get overly excited about, although everyone enjoyed themselves.
Regretfully only one of the trophies - for which CAP/Sema golf has always been renowned - showed up, and that (for the Par 3 competition) was only found after the event! However all winners went home with some trophy to display, and various bottles of quality 'plonk' (of dubious Eastern European origin!) which they can donate to the next church fete they go to! Indeed even the losers were obliged to take at least one bottle - it was the only way that it could be got rid of!
Actually, most of the other prizes (for Par 3 Champion, Open Runner-up, Nearest the Pin, and Longest Drive etc.) would have been won by the same chap (Chris McEwan) but as is traditional with CAP/Sema golf nobody can walk away with two of the main prizes, so some of the results were 'adjusted' so that others could share in the satisfaction of 'winning' something!
Other 'winners' were: -
Martin Proudlove, awarded second, after Chris McEwans' score was discounted!;
Chris McEwan, Par 3 Champion, plus Longest Dr. - pm., and Nearest the Pin - am;
Clive Walker, runner-up for the Par 3 competition;
Dominic Smith, Longest Drive - am. and
Rod Bungey, Nearest the Pin - pm.
Everyone else took home a bottle of something, and along with everyone else, agreed to re-assemble at Harewood Downs on Friday, Sept. 28th. next year, to once again renew the challenge.
A good day was had by all!
Previous Letters 23/11/2000
By e-mail from Judith King
I think the web site is very good, I especially like the colours and the music!
I believe you were planning a 'retired' list, though I cannot now find where I read that.
Well, I have been lucky to drift into retirement at the beginning of this year. I say 'drift' as it was unplanned. I was made redundant (again, i.e. for the 3rd time). I had a meeting with my financial advisor and he mentioned the word 'retirement'. There was no way after that I could consider working.
So its now October and I have got used to this major change. I am enjoying it immensely. I have more time, though it seems still not enough, for all my hobbies, and some new ones.
Currently quite a few hours are taken up going to the gym and I have both lost weight and am fitter for it (though so far my blood pressure has not gone down). This means I enjoy walking much more, though the current 'project' is the Thames Path which is not that demanding as it is pretty flat.
I am continuing my Chinese Brush painting but now I actually get some homework done. I have started a sculpture course this term, its very messy! I fit in visits to exhibitions and galleries without the old panic that the end date is approaching and still I have not managed to get there.
I am, so far, not taking any extra holidays as my partner still works so I just go with him for the holiday periods he is allowed. I have travelled quite widely, anyhow, for a number of years, so travelling round the world is not a priority.
I really count myself very lucky. I thoroughly recommend the retired life to any one who is able to take it up.
Best wishes Judith
Ed - interesting that you have joined a gym - me too. I work out about three times a week, and feel great for it. Lost about two stones, and have joints that actually do things without creaking again!
By e-mail from Frank Docherty
You may remember me vaguely from my days at CAP London as the Scottish part of the same group as Brian Morris, Jane Thomas and Chas Sutton. I believe that my employee number was either 476 or 478 FJD but the tattoo is too worn to be sure. I also played football with you on some of the CAP teams and I vaguely remember scoring an own goal against a somewhat bearded, badly positioned and slow goalie in a CAP vs. Phoenix game in Bristol. I did however spare your blushes by scoring at the other end later in the game.
I left Britain in 1974, a bit bored with coding under gas lamps because of the Thatcher vs. Scargill fight and spent the rest of 1974 through 1977 working in Zambia for the copper mines and travelling that (what was wonderful at the time) continent.
In 1978 I moved to the States - Minneapolis, Minnesota, worked for a small consulting company that was gobbled up by Keane (a US CAP look-a-like), did a five year tour of duty in the Management Consulting arm of KPMG Peat Marwick in Minneapolis, and in 1991 started a company with another couple of KPMG rejects. Historically, this major three man firm spends its time fully billable as a cheap alternative to the nationals. I spend my time managing projects in the latest technical environments (mainly Web applications now) where I understand less and less and hopefully bill more and more.
I have remained in touch with some of the CAP chaps. I saw Chas Sutton when I was in San Francisco last year, Brian Morris when I was in London last year, and Jane Thomas when I agreed to be her "local representative" when her daughter began her college career as an ice hockey player at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
I'm glad you have put this site together - the days at CAP were enjoyable for me at least - I had a blast and learned a bunch of stuff (though I did meet some real bozos, hopefully not your clientele)!
Best wishes and good luck
CAP - 1972-1974
Ed - saw both Brian and Chas at this years' CAP2000 'do' and they both looked in great shape
By e-mail from Kevin Harris
Reading & London offices, 1971 - 74.
My wife volunteered me a few weeks ago to create a web site for a local education organisation. Since I had never been a webmaster before, this has been an interesting experience; strong on sleep-deprivation! (It coincided with a near breakdown of the Tripod web-hosting service that I foolishly chose!)
Anyway, that was just to let you know that I realise this webmastering stuff is not as easy as it seems, (or as easy as it should be), and I truly appreciate the work you are putting into the site; thanks!
By the way, you might want to check into Files.jpg which is referred to from the home page, but appears not to exist.
Kevin R. D. Harris
Ed - Files.jpg was just the awful picture above archive now a filing cabinet and link. Incidentally if any old mates of Kevin want to contact him, he is on Kevin.Harris@USA.net
By e-mail from Mike Spring
Hello Mike - I've heard about this site from Brian Easteal and Ian Bays - perhaps you might add my name etc to the register in case any old colleagues want to contact - or are down my way.
I worked for CAP Reading from 1977 until 1994 when I was fortunate (or clever!) enough to extract a voluntary redundancy.
I now live in France and own a small estate making wine - Cahors red, white and rose. It's much more satisfying than working for Sema (but perhaps no more so than working for CAP!), but about n times harder work than either.
Sorry I missed the last reunion - it's rather difficult getting away from this business most times of the year. Congratulations on getting the web site up - I look forward to getting more news of old friends. A tiny niggle - it may be my machine or my aging eyesight, but I find the hideous purple that you use for your editor's comments on the letters almost unreadable! Any chance of a more reader-friendly shade?
Ed - as you can see (joke!) my webmaster and your ex staff manager feels black is better for aging eyes
Yesterday in CAP 23/11/2000
The year was BG6 (6 years before Bill Gates?)
The following is an extract from a 1979 Branchline
with apologies to Alistair
(do you remember the blessed rag?)
Microsoft Press Conference(Ed - No! - not that Microsoft! )
"CAP-CPP is beginning to reap the benefit of its substantial investment in Microcobol...." This is how Computer Weekly greeted the news that 20 vendors had been signed up by Alistair Jacks' team as announced at a Press Conference on 30th May in the new Lambs Conduit Street building.
Journalists from ten computer papers heard Alistair Jacks and David Blandford (Ed - anybody know where he is now!) announce the major marketing drive on micro-based system vendor and end-user markets which is currently being undertaken by the CAP Micro Products Division.
Jacks described the fast growing international network of OEM vendors that has been established. Autoclerk and Autoindex have been added to the product range (Ed - anybody remember what precisely they used to do - prerunners of Word and Excel perchance!!?) , a wide variety of machines are supported (15 to date) and 50 different installations exist using MicroCobol software.
"Microsoft is now in a position to start supporting the vendors' own sales drives. The reception of this software by the agents shows that CAP are marketing software that is wanted," said Jacks.
But also from the same Branchline in the Sales Roundup!
Note the name at the top of this section: we cannot live any longer with the name Microsoft because of our competitor's insistence on using the same name."
So that's how it is that we in CAP Microsoft didn't come to rule the world and young Bill did! - If only - then we could have all retired millionaires!)
Where Are They Now? 23.11.2000
Once upon a time (well over 20 years ago in fact) in a far off northeastern town called Redcar a project ran for many years providing lots of CAP people with the opportunity to earn vast amounts of expenses, experience the exciting cultural delights of chip butties and vindaloo supreme and even acquire some odd new programming skills.
The job ran for something like seven or eight years - from when the site was 'just a hole in the ground' to when it became one of the biggest plants in Europe. Following some extensive research, CAPnews has come up with a list of the staff that at some time or another served on the project. Some people initially only went up there for a few weeks, but enjoyed it so much they ended up seeking asylum, learning the language and getting naturalised - whether it was the bracing weather, the work, the beautiful people, the Friday night to Sunday morning parties, or just that they liked wearing those hard hats! who knows, but the question is "where are they now?" - or rather where are the one's we don't know about shown in red below?
We estimate that there were well over eighty people on the project at one time or another, but we only know the whereabouts of less than half of them, so if you are in contact with anybody who did a stint at Redcar why not tell them about CAPnews and get them to get in touch - we'll spread the word around in subsequent issues.
And surely there must be heaps of stories that could do with an airing - why not let us know, we promise not to repeat anything incriminating!
The names are:-
Sand, Cacti and Snakes
Ex-CAP chaps aren't the sort of people to let the recent bout of bad weather in the UK get them down - they just fly off to places like Phoenix in Arizona, where the weather is generally wonderful, the people are more than just warm and friendly, the food is definitely waist expanding, and there is a great deal to see and do.
It does help of course if there is already someone in the neighbourhood to organise it, and that is exactly how it was for seven ex-CAPers who got together last month, with a few other friends, to search out the sun, relax and play a little the golf, over indulge their appetites and take in a bit of the local scenery and culture.
Ian Grimwade, who along with two of the others in the party, Tony Lynch and Jonny Hounslow, lives in Atlanta, did all of the organisation, was joined by Andy Buchan, Mark Tellyn, Les Wilson and Mike West.
He arranged for accommodation in two superb 'condos' which were far superior to, not to say much cheaper than, any hotel - as well as allowed for the odd bit of laddish behaviour, which such trips are at times prone to bring out, without upsetting too many guests! Qualification for the trip was simply on the basis of 'pay up and turn up' and not dependent on golfing powess, of which there was no shortage - at least three of the company (ex-CAPers, Grimwade, Tellyn and Wilson) all playing off single figures!
All the golf was pre-booked, on courses that made your mouth water. There wasn't one where the tees and fairways were not equal to the greens on most of our British courses, and the views were invariable stunning. True to say that getting off the fairway did present certain difficulties - if it wasn't the cacti that got you - and there was one particularly nasty specimen, locally called the 'jumping cactus' which did serious damage to an unwary Tellyn - 'once they catch yo' boy, they sticks!' - then the rattle snakes well might!
All the locals said that the rattlers are really very nervous creatures and have rarely been known to attack humans, but if that is the case, why then all the notices everywhere warning the wayward golfers to beware! And besides, even if the conservationists insist that the rattlers are beautiful creatures and wouldn't dream of hurting anyone, how do they know that the rattlers know that too!
Fortunately no-one actually ever saw one - although some claimed to have heard the odd strange 'shaking' noise emanating from the various cactus bushes strewn all around the place. What made it particularly unnerving was that at this time of the year, rattlers are apparently on the move returning to their place of birth, in preparation for their winter hibernation - now I bet not many you knew that! - and who knows how they might react if they felt that their passage was being impeded by some misdirected golf ball. Also, as their eggs look remarkably like a golf ball, imagine how irate they might get if they thought that some oaf was reaping havoc with one of their off-spring. The consequences don't bare contemplation!
While golf was indeed the primary reason for the trip, the intention was to also include some culture - of which there is, possibly surprising to many, a significant amount in Arizona - so one day was put aside for a trip up to the Grand Canyon. If there is one place on earth that everyone should visit, then it has to be 'the Canyon'. Whatever anyone may have heard about it and whatever their expectations might be, the reality will be ten times better! Words like, awesome, breathtaking, panoramic splendour, do not begin to describe the beauty of the place! You can only be urged to go see it for yourself - and take plenty film for your camera!
From Phoenix it is no more than an hours flight, to where you can pick up a helicopter, which flies you right down under the rim of the Canyon. The Canyon is claimed to be one of the worlds' 'Seven Natural Wonders' and it stands up to that rating, in spades! Although visits down to the base of the Canyon are now very controlled - and limited - flying over, and into the top, provides a tremendous view of this natural experience, which has already been there - so the publicity brochures would have us believe - for over two billion years! Although how they work that out, Lord only knows.
In addition to the helicopter flight, the package also includes an IMAX film show, of how the first shooting of the rapids of the Colorado river running through the Canyon, must have been. No film can truly relive such an experience but if you don't actually get wet during the show, it's the next best thing too it. If you do go to see it, be prepared to hold on to your seat, very tightly! It's not that it actually moves - it just seems that way!
Next to the Canyon trip, it's also worth taking time out for a tour into the desert. Apparently, the Arizonian desert is the only 'living desert' in the world. Although it's not altogether clear what defines 'living' certainly there is a great deal growing, with in particular the great 'Y' shaped cacti, that many may well remember from the old 'Tombstone' movies, in profusion everywhere - some according to the (colt '45 pistol hip packing) guide that we had as old as 350 years!
Actually given all the warning 'rattler' notices alongside the golf courses, there was some apprehension among our party about where to put your feet, so it gave the saying 'following in the footsteps of' a whole new meaning! The guide definitely led way and we all followed gingerly behind until he told us to fan out, when he would then go on to explain some other aspect of the desert. Our apprehension wasn't exactly eased when at the end of the tour, he suddenly threw down his hat, only to lift it up with a tarantula - to say that it was at least two and a half inches across, and very hairy! is no exaggeration - nestling coyly inside! He also claimed that the tarantula was another greatly decried creature, and that really they were very gently and nervous beings - however it was very noticeable that he didn't exactly let it crawl over his hand!
The trip ends up at a desert chow camp, at which you can feast on very large cactus grilled steaks and beans, washed down with copious amounts of the local beer, while being entertained real 'hoe-down' fashion. It couldn't be better. If you ever go to Phoenix, be sure not to miss it!
Over the last couple of days a few of us had planned on giving the golf a miss to do a sky-dive (from 14,000feet!!!) but regretfully that had to be called off because the weather turned a tad wet - like it rained about six inches in 24 hours! It didn't do a lot for those wanting to play golf either, but there again nearly everyone was just about 'golfed out' by then anyway. You can only take so much of a good thing.
Apart from the golf - there's apparently over 180 golf course around Phoenix alone! - the desert tours and sky-diving, there is plenty more on offer from ballooning to riding the trails of such famous early wild western towns as Tucson, Tombstone and Cottonwood Creek, to taking the railroad through the soaring red rocks of Sedona and the Verde Valley, or reliving the rich native American cultures of the Apache and Navahos Indians. There's something for all tastes - even Las Vegas is only a couple of hours away, for anyone who can't resist a flutter! So there is just no way that anyone is likely to get bored.
I don't know if I will ever get back to Phoenix, but if I don't, then I'm going to have plenty of fond memories to tell the grandchildren.