Let the Devil Wear Black - Memoirs of an analyst

James F. Linden - Writer ...
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Resources - SOPS

Sale Order Processing System and other programs.

Chapter 11

Much was made of my Sale Order Processing System (SOPS).

When I asked Deryck if I could write the program, I gave him the original specification which had band member and customer records as well as enquiries, actual bookings and invoices. He specified in return that the data in it should be secured by encrypting it.

The encryption algorithm that I used was, as far as the computer was concerned, quite involved and really, more suited to a different environment so, as the program evolved — with a limited amount of my lunch-breaks that I was prepared to dedicate to solving any particular problem in it — I found out that I could do some of the things I needed on a spreadsheet and others already existed on my paperwork system.

The band it was written for was the 1930s band but I decided that I could write it so that, using configuration files, I could make it apply to any band - I just ran the program with a different working directory.

So, the program, without the invoices - thus making a liar out of Roland Bosworth - and originally written for the 1930s band became a reality for the modern jazz sextet.

Having control over the data, not only could I do all of the usual things but I could get it to show graphs with useful data interpretations on them such as rolling averages and so on.

These were all useful for keeping an eye out on any trends that might be happening and also on improving things continually - something that I had already been doing with other things in the art world in my years out of the chemical industry in the mid-1980s.

Being adaptable, I could apply the program to any new band project, applying all of these tools, just by creating a new configuration file.

There were, of course, other things that I did in my lunch breaks — all with permission from Deryck, of course.

I wrote a Fourier transform program that could be used to analyse plant data and modelling data, producing various types of plots that had different uses, including making sure that a computer model behaved in a sufficiently similar way to the real plant so as to be useful.

I also experimented with 3-Dimensional display as a way of increasing the amount of data that could be displayed at one time of these transforms, shown nicely in the Nyquist plot for which you will need red-green or red-cyan glasses.

It was such a 3D display that I experimented with a bouncing ball game that I saved as 'BALLS'.

This had a 3D cuboid similar to this one but it had some simple physics to make several balls bounce around the screen, bouncing off the walls and each other.

It was the 'BALLS.EXE' file that was copied to 'BOLLOCKS.EXE', presumably in an attempt to inflate the amount of work apparently done to a level that would get me the sack without too much investigation.

Disturbingly, it was one of the pieces that Snaith had an unsubstantiated level of confidence about and pointing out to Snaith that not only was this fraud but also taking the mickey out of him, soon led to an embarrassed silence around the table.

Unfortunately, the 3D bouncy balls program was lost to Snaith's eagerness to destroy all of the evidence but this screen-shot illustrates the principle of what it looked like.

That changed things, we might not know when the company was going to have a disciplinary hearing but we already knew the result.

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