ICL Slough

1 Aug 1985


The Report looms ever larger: initial complete draft is due -for next meeting (one month), typesetting should take up most of September and the publication date is October 4th. Quite a lot of it is already on 8801 floppies so we might even make the deadline.

Actions from the previous meeting of interest: QM250 wont be able to write to ISAM files. The response to my other paper (on IDMS/CAFS integration.) was slightly more encouraging: it was agreed that IDMS could be enhanced to use CAFS far physical scans of a database, and revealed that the fact that QM didn't want to see them was the historical reason why the CAFS view of IDMS records excludes pointers, now described by an ICL spokesperson as "daft".

VLSI developments: amongst the (internal ICL) register of about 20 candidates for inclusion in the next generation of CAFS engines are : key channel enhancements for context sensitive searching and variable length embedded dont cares, more key channels, improved performance from the retrieval unit, more flexible record handling by the format unit and integration with the file correlation unit, (tho the latter is subject to a marketing decision). Which of these get in before the design is fixed in silicon remains to be seen. Target speed of the new device will be at least 10 Mb/sec, just as a result of vlsi. At least two years before the prototype appears, of course.

The new CAFS microcode, with bugs cleared and a 2OX speed up, is still only in use on series 39 machines. It ought to work on a 2966 too, but no-one seems to have tried yet.

Hugh Devonald floated some ideas about the future structure of the working party, its affiliation etc. There was a general feeling that its work would continue under the umbrella of LSUG, perhaps as one of the new technical committees to be set up. He also incautiousaly let slip the fact that the CAFS SIG has £1700 in the bank, even allowing for the estimated costs of the new publication, which led to much speculation about what wine would best accompany the launch of same.

The December CAFS lunch at Cafe Royal will feature one C. Cheetham as ICL speaker and D. Fairbairn, (currently head of NCC, about to join James Martin Associates) as guru. Also (of course) OUCS, BCC, CEGB.

Before lunch we had a quick demo of the BCC library enquiry system, via a conveniently placed OPD. This was moderately impressive: the idea is nice but the use of Bulletin is fairly unimaginative, and the absence of any keyword searching makes the system less than usefulYou can only retrieve books by specifying one or two words in the title; no other fields are CAFS searchableIt also takes a noticeable minute or two to get any response while it searches its paltry half million titlesPoor response time was attributed to the fact that it was school hols as well as lunch time.

Most of the day was spent going through more draft sections (about three).