Friday, March 24, 2017

IBM Announcement Letters

Marcus and Agata are still in the process of changing their lives. Today I'll talk about Marcus' long association with 

The IBM Announcement Letter 

A Confession
I have been a regular subscriber to and reader of the IBM Announcement Letter feed since 1985.   Yes that is over 30 years people !

What is the Announcement Letter?
As a young IBM Systems Engineer the explanation was:

When any IBM product is announced, upgraded or withdrawn it will have an accompanying text based announcement letter

Back in the day it was part of my many duties to print the ones that were relevant to my customer, in those days IBM Mainframes; in order to keep them abreast of new technology.  In those days there was no customer based Internet, though there began to be the ability to directly link to a public version of IBM Internal Databases.

So inside IBM there was a database called ULET and that was accessed using the VM operating system based service called HONE or UMIS.

IBM Customers, and I mean big IBM customers could dial into a companion IBM database called PLET

This was the position in about 1985 - 1990.

In those days IBM was well ahead of the game, but in 2017 other manufacturers have basically caught up.

Some Changes but basically the same

- Today the whole database is available on the Web

- You can search it just like you could 30 years ago!

- Announcements are normally on a Tuesday and the Summary letter is published the same day

- There is usually one letter a week.   So in the last 30 years that is some 1500 plus summaries, and assuming I follow up 5 articles per summary, it is over 7000 announcement letters read and committed to memory.

- Announcement letters may include tables but are generally just text, i.e. no pictures.

- The Sections are still pretty much the same as 30 years ago

- There is still a summary Announcement letter, I am email subscribed to that

- Inside the summary email are a one line title and a link to click thru to the individual detail

- The short code for the announcement letter is still

AANN-NNNN   example   AG17-0024

- Every Announcement letter can be downloaded in PDF format

- This is the search Page Screen

So Why the WriteUp?

After 30+ years of always reading the Announcement Summary and then following  up every interesting individual Announcement letter by reading it in full.

Well, it is time to stop :-(

Some of the letters still interest me but the majority do not.  The move from Real Hardware and Systems level software to the majority of service related, partnership related,  and waffle related announcements makes me shed a tear.  And besides, it's no longer my job to know, and my interaction with IBMers who might ask me some question which I can amaze them by replying to are gone.  I mean, these days they can simply just Google it, as can any end user.

I will miss just a little the Announcement Summary,  but I must learn to change my perception &  look forward to all the time that I will save.  Time that can now be spent on very probably Athletic and non Computer related activity.

Bon voyage IBM Announcement Letter.

Rodgers and Hammerstein: Goodbye

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Attack in Westminster

Any act of terrorism is no joking matter,  so to first state the facts of the attack on Westminster Bridge, London on Wednesday March 22, 2017

- A car drove into a crowd
- Over 20 people injured
- The attacker then got out of the car and fatally stabbed a Police Officer
- The attacker was shot dead
- Subsequently 2 of the injured people are pronounced dead from their injuries

The problem with this type of terrorism is that the implements of  the terror were physically just a knife and a car, items that are available to most every family living in the UK.

I re-iterate the problem, the issue.  It is this:  when even the smallest segment of your resident population or those you allow to enter have a world view that is so alien to that of the 'the man in the street'  these attacks cannot be entirely prevented.

Such views include:

- The end justifies the violent means
- That violent acts carried out indiscriminately against random inhabitants are justified  ' in support of the greater cause'

I don't feel people should joke about this kind of terrorism, nor speculate as to whether this is a Religiously motivated crime until further evidence is available.

In the context of a peaceful and multi-cultural and open society that the UK and London is particularly proud this kind of terrorism is particularly despicable.

Free speech is acceptable but when the motivations of this attack are finally known, those who have supported; and continue to support this kind of action, via either social media or any sort of public forum should be marked and tagged as the sick and depraved.  Such people are not welcome and should be permanently removed from UK society be they UK citizens or not.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Geneva Motorshow 2017, The Fugly

It time for day #3 of our review of the 2017 Geneva Motorshow.  Today the task is to talk about the biggest disappointments or horrors.  And what better way to start than with: 

For 2017 Honda have made some minor tweaks to their existing Hot hatch.  Overall I did not think they could possibly have made the car any worse than the 2016 issue, but sometimes Honda is just full of surprises.

Okay the wheels look good, but look at the amateurishly attached body kit around the wheel-arches.  Unfortunately we are just getting started.

Perhaps the most ridiculous design aspect is the gaudy and rather unnecessarily large rear spoiler.  I think the rear light clusters have been changed to make the back look even more stupid.  And then there are the uneven exhausts.

Any prospective owner should perhaps Google the 2 effects of a rear car spoiler   (laminar flow and downforce) and understand the size of the benefit they have at the legal speed limit in your country.

In order to guarantee the car is slow to accelerate, more difficult to drive in traffic, and slower around a track only a manual gearbox is available.   Brilliant Honda.  Not.  Do I have to buy a NSX to get a Dual Clutch gearbox from this company?  Well, yes, apparently so

The 2017 Honda Civic Type R is a travesty compared to the original compact and functional Type R.  Over the years the styling has not just got clumsy but is not fit for purpose, well if we define purpose as a nimble sportscar.

The car is now elephant sized and with 5 doors.  

They never thought to develop 4 wheel drive, only a large spoiler.

Please don't buy this car, because then Honda may change its design to something that Honda sportscar owners really want and not this fat ugly blob.

A prototype produced literally just down the road from our home in Lausanne.   But technical details at the show and on the web are so scarce I thought it might actually be a wind up.  But Swiss, so surely not!   The specs above don't seem to add up,  1000Km range and a 500W solar roof.  Send me one to test!  

Zenvo TS1 GT

Apart from this Clarkson video  I have no evidence that the production car actually exists.   There is a website to describe this Danish, 1000BHP plus hypercar but no test reports or owner stories I can find on Google.    So I think though I have seen it for some years at each yearly Geneva show, I suspect it is not yet ready for actual production.   Hmm.

Most years at Geneva they turn up with some bonkers prototypes. This year the Exhibitor told me this was made in only 17 weeks.  We knew of an acquaintance with a Prowler in Swtizerland and the car did not have Swiss legal headlights so could not [legally] be driven in the dark, I wonder about the above.

And Spoilers

Points can be awarded to yourself if you can instinctively identify these cars without looking.

Inspired by Fashion?

Dawn: Inspired by Fashion.

First I principally object to any design that is 'Inspired by Fashion'. Inspired by what is right, what is good, what is clean, what is best Engineered might be alternative design points I would be comfortable with.

As such I was amused to see the calibre of people that I observed at the stand

Perhaps these Gentleman could spent less money on their phones and more on their trousers.

For all the photographs that we took at the Geneva Motorshow, at higher resolution please check this link

So that is it for another year.  We still rate Geneva as the best Motor Show in the world based on Manufacturer attendance,  Stand layout and number of Premieres.   Please consider attending with us next year :-)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Geneva Motorshow 2017 , Exotica

Welcome to day #2 of Marcus and Agata's Geneva Motorshow 2017 coverage.

Today we'll look back to Exotica that we saw, that was notable.

Including cars that we would buy and enter into our automotive stable if we had the ca$h, the garage space and the time.  Currently however, we feel we only have one of those commodities.

Just past the cloakroom at the entrance to the accessory hall at Geneva Motor Show is a shop selling memorabilia constructed from metal objects welded together.  This is the third year I remember it being there.  Fantastic stuff.

As you walk into the Exhibitor halls you must first pass thru the 'Trade like' accessories hall with oil from Motorex and machinery and tools.

Tata Tamo

Ever since Tata bought UK Jaguar Cars in 2008 it became an International player on the automotive stage.  Hopefully sports cars like the Tamo can make it into production.   Maybe an Indian manufacturer can appreciate the value of a small light and inexpensive sports car.


To us, the monster powered 850 HP cars typically based on Mercedes donor cars are just ridiculous, but the more modest Smart Brabus,  although possibly the gateway drug car to your Brabus addiction almost makes sense.

Morgan continues to produce its retro contrarian cars and we recall our extended tour of the Morgan factory in 2016 


Much time spent at the McLaren stand gawping at the beauty of the 720S.  Recently released, if we had the finances then it would surely be a buy.

And McLaren if you are reading this, you could even considering handing one over.  After all, we are very careful owners, supportive of the Brand, and we'd reduce the average age of your customers which as I watched potential buyers at Geneva seems to be at the Geriatric level :-)

Aston Martin

I did not pay much attention to the Valkeyrie until I watched Harry's most recent video.   So it's going to be a production car for thin compact people.   Hello Aston!  Call us.

Ford GT

Apart from the obvious flaw to an American Supercar: We forgot to install a V8 engine,  this car is I'm afraid unacceptable for a second reason:

In true American tradition this is a Huge, Huge car, with little usable space.   It makes the Nissan GT-R look compact!  4.76 metres long.

Still you can have fun with the configurator
And rest assured that with all the hype; all cars are sold until eternity to a mix of speculators, chancers, collectors, and a few actual drivers.

Ford Focus RS

A genuinely great car, with all the things we like Hatchback, 4WD, Dual Clutch and even a low-ish price.  If you can believe that the car won't fall apart soon after ownership and you can stand being pestered by young boys asking 'how fast does it go mister' every time you park in public, this could be a great daily driver.


A much smaller stand than in 2016 and unfortunately for us full of cars without roofs.  We no like!  Who would have thought the Zonda would still be around in 2017 but as the pictures show: it is.

Definitely a Supercar worth owning, though I think it's as delicate as a China vase.


Extremely impressive stand but with a Turbine and Electric power I was very confused.   I read the press release but what exactly is powering that turbine.   Many unanswered questions!  My advice to Chinese manufacturing would instead be: produce an elegant simple light electric supercar for the masses, like well, your native population. I am pretty sure your Chinese Elites will go for more traditional European branding and not you.


At one point Marcus shared garage in the UK with  not one but 2 Noble car owners.  I always liked the brand.  But over the years the cars got more powerful and less practical.  Discounting the even more stupid roadster the above hard top is massive yet when I looked in the boot there was an enormous exhaust and engine and no luggage.  Really Noble, really?

David Brown Automotive
The Speedback GT is a remake in spirit and enhancement of a classic Aston Martin design.   The car is indeed beautiful but the exhibitors seems intent on chatting to each other rather than showing potential customers the car!

The price is about 600K GBP if you are interested after reading this


Perhaps my favourite Porsche tuner.  If you are a Porsche enthusiast with a little more money to spend then I suggest you call them immediately

They had these great bar stools and table which they would sell me for about 12K Euros.  We are in need of same but this is outside of our budget even our dream budget

What you see is the 2007 CTT and this to Marcus is almost perfection.  Today I would point you towards the 2017 CTR


For those sensible enough not to take their expensive road car / Supercar onto the track, where disaster often occurs, and you may find your insurance does not cover it, the sensible answer is to buy a Radical.

This year Radical displayed only its Race cars but more conventionally you can buy your own road illegal i.e. track only car.  


Montiverdi is a famous  (well to me) brand of Swiss manufactured Sports car.  Founder was Peter Montiverdi.  Since the brand died in 1980 or something I was astonished to see a Montiverdi sign in the Geneva Motorshow 2017.

I had a long talk with the exhibitors.  And if you only remember one thing it should be that the collection is moving to  Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne   (please don't confuse this with our home town of Lausanne!)

So remember:  Collection moves to Lucerne.   The old museum in Berne is now closed but not everybody seems to know this. Tut tut.  I think these Geneva exhibits are actually en route post show.


To Marcus, Gemballa  (not to be confused with Gambela)  is like an upmarket RUF.

The attention to presentation is just superb 
At Geneva they had a Gemballa Avalanche which starts off life as a mere Porsche 911 Turbo

As with any 911 conversion the base practicality of the original car helps the mad upgrade converted car to some degree driveable on real roads and in real town centres.

A wonderful time viewing the exotics.   The folks at the RUF stand were the most helpful and accommodating.