This was the second meeting of a small (about 10) working party set up to produce a second report on the exploitation of CAPS-ISP. The first one was circulated in April this year, since when some new bits of software have been "productized" and several more eager guinea pigs appeared. Membership of the group is predominantly from the public sector (N Thames Gas, N.WGas, Southern Water, OEGB, Northampton Borough Council) except for a pair of odd balls (Burton's Management Information Systems and OUCS)
In time honoured manner, membership gives access to early information about ICL thinking and an ICL elbow to twist (Guy Howarth) about our requirements, in return for a reasonable amount of flag waving on behalf of the company
CEGB reported on their recently completed trial of the GM/CAFS
combination using huge ISAM files and a test ICM5 database The former application concerns both routine and unanticipated maintenance of each of half a dozen power stations, each of which involves upwards of 100 MB of detailed information Ad hoc and rapid access to the information by (non-computing) engineers is clearly essential; it is also used by the Radiological Protection Board The IEM5 database was a mere 40 Mb development system Full details of the trial are
available in a report; broadly speaking, it entirely endorses ICL's confidence in the QM/CAFS product as an end-user system, while repeating several of our own minor usability niggles. They do not use output record types, and they define macros for their end users; CAFS
searchable text is not used because the file containing it is too large and volatile (about 40 Mb/site updated daily); but they planned to use it on a different system, which they were confident would fit onto only one FD6640 when completed They did use CM within a TP service, where it slowed things down, but not much (Southern Water here reported that use of TPMS and CAFS was causing them great mental anguish largely due to the infamous software notice QM43 which should not be applied)
After lunch, the Working Party's questionaire and the format of its
report were discussed in more detail About 30 replies had so far been received, mostly indicating that actual usage of CAFS is still very low, although once converted users never look back Several responses indicated dislike of CM and a need for better software
interfaces before CAFS would even be considered; one (the Inland
Revenue) opined that CAFS was "too slow". It was agreed that details
extracted from respondants who had expressed a willingness to co-operate would form a significant part of the new report, together with detailed accounts of the WP members' applications I therefore agreed to write up our own eccentric usage of the beast by the next
meeting, which will be held in Northampton at the end of this month.
I obtained (but subsequently lost) a copy of the draft specification
of QM 250 and a useful tip about getting diagnostics out of QM. I also travelled back with the lady from Northampton BC, who confirmed all our trepidation about PDS110 and added more. They have vast numbers of huge boring old EtE type files from old systems which they just put through ADRAM and into CM; while development of new systems seems to go on within user departments using PDS!