Yes, someone really did paint these trees blue.
No idea why, and my current theory is that people are crazy.
The thing people don't do often enough in cities...
I happened to notice this pleasing composition, which was gone moments later.
It's part of a new Flickr set called Cranes. It only has three photos in it today, but I get the feeling that London will provide plenty more...
In the beginning, Windows was remarkably flat.
Visually, that is.
It was hard to tell what could or couldn't be clicked on, as the screen lacked visual clues to help guide you. This was a particular problem for buttons, toolbars and other controls.
(I could insert a snarky comment here about repeating the mistakes of history...)
Then came CTL3DV2.DLL.
It changed everything.
Windows 3.0 was the first version to get some real 3D going, and Windows 3.1 continued the trend.
But there was a problem.
And that problem was that the library which produced many of the 3D controls - CTL3DV2.DLL - had gone through quite a few versions.
Everyone wanted 3D controls. So all programmers and companies used CTL3DV2.DLL. But in a time before the internet, a program was transferred by floppy disk - and that floppy disk could be two or three years out of date by the time someone installed the program.
And there were no real standard install programs back then - it was early days yet. Most installers simply copied mindlessly, rather than checking file versions and behaving themselves. This simply made the problem much worse...
So CTL3DV2.DLL was continually being overwritten with old versions. Which would usually be unnoticed until you ran a program that needed the later version. At which point that program would complain and fail to run (if you were lucky) or crash (if you were less lucky).
Funnily enough, this sucked.
And weirdly enough, despite being a huge problem for Windows 3.0 - released in 1990 - it wasn’t actually fixed until Windows Vista - released 2007.
And it was a problem. A big enough problem that I remember computer magazines putting CTL3DV2.DLL on their coverdisks regularly, so that you’d always have an up-to-date copy handy. And these were 720Kb/1.44Mb floppies, so space was precious back then - that’s how big a problem it was!
The worst of it was when you had two programs, both of which had diligent programmers - and both of which insisted on a specific, different version.
But sometimes you’d get lucky there - Windows had a specific search order for loading a DLL that didn’t specify a path, and that order was “the directory the application is in, followed by the Windows system directory, followed by the path”.
So you could, sometimes, copy the required DLL version into the application’s directory, and it would magically work.
(Until it found some other reason to break. And as this was Windows 3.x, that usually didn’t take long...)
This is an odd subject, because it touches on so many wasted neurons. The changes to GUIs over the years. The woefully inadequate protections to system files that earlier versions of Windows offered. The lack of forward planning in the Windows architecture. Early installers, some of which were shockingly bad...
DLL Hell was a real place. I’ve seen it. Lived there. Been damned there.
The sad part is... we got so used to it!
Whilst writing about Utilities last week, the fondest memory wasn't one of the best known.
Well, kind of.
4DOS was a replacement for COMMAND.COM. Distributed as shareware, an older version was also licensed to Symantec as NDOS, which might be more familiar for some people.
The reason I'm so fond of it is that it made MS-DOS usable on a daily basis.
Remember, this was before Windows. No GUI here. So COMMAND.COM was your interface with DOS, making 4DOS the equivalent of replacing Program Manager or Explorer in Windows.
So what did 4DOS do that was better?
All in all, 4DOS was one heck of a piece of software.
I remember the psuedo-long-file-names best of all, because I wrote a small program to interact with that.
Did you ever see a file called DESCRIPT.ION? Possibly not, as it was usually hidden. But if you did and you opened it, you'd see that it was just a list of filenames followed by descriptions.
WordPerfect allowed you to store long names within a document, which you could see in their own file manager. But you couldn't see them from the command prompt - just the good old 8.3 filename.
But I was using 4DOS, so if I could just synchronise the contents of the WordPerfect files with the DESCRIPT.ION file... So I did a bit of reverse engineering on my documents, and fired up my compiler and started writing BASIC code.
Soon wpname.exe existed, and I had long filenames. Kind of.
Why wait for Microsoft to deliver a feature, eh?
That was the thing about 4DOS - it was very open about how it did things, with all its configuration and data in text files. So people swapped aliases and tips and tricks through BBSes, and it had a real cult following behind it.
In many ways, 4DOS was one of the greatest utilities that you could get for MS-DOS.
I did eventually move on to 4NT, which was the Windows NT (and later) equivalent. But now I’m using Linux, and at work we have PowerShell on all our Windows servers.
4DOS actually holds up quite well compared with those technologies.
But I’m not running DOS anymore, so 4DOS is basically just so many wasted neurons...
A good list with plenty of competent whiskies on it. Very few sherry casks, but that seems to be the way these days...
G7.4 - Buttery waffles on polished wood
28 years old, distilled 28th May 1984, 58.4% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Toffee, apple, banana and crumble on the nose. The body is light, with a smorgasbord of flavours - flowers, cardboard, cinnamon, cloves. The finish has golden syrup and cashews.
After water, nose becomes drier and has more cereal notes - bran? The palate moves towards walnut and fondant centres.
A superb expression, which will not last long in any discriminating glass...
4.175 - Suspicious skulkers on the catwalk
13 years old, distilled 15th October 1999, 55.9% abv, first-fill ex-bourbon barrel
Ozone and brine dominate the nose, with musty cellars and a hint of lemon in there too. The body reminds me of a freshly opened packet of Opal Fruits, plenty of citrus flavours with hints of other sweetness. The finish is lightly smokey and brings a return of the brine.
After water, the nose is more like sherbet dip and tobacco leaves, the body has a slightly meatier taste - honey roasted ham, perhaps. The finish is sweeter, the smoke giving way to burnt oak notes.
A fantastic session dram.
121.59 - Vanilla candles on a polished table
14 years old, distilled 7th September 1998, 55.8% abv, refill ex-bourbon barrel
The nose has midget gems, polished wood and honey. The body is warm, but not overly so, with raisins and fruit salad on a camphor wood. The finish is big and full of toffee...
With water, the nose gains demerara sugar, vanilla and raspberry. The body has more tannin notes - with a hint of summer fruits.
An excellent dram for a summer's evening.
64.43 - Full, complex and reassuring
23 years old, distilled 5th February 1990, 55.5% abv, refill ex-bourbon barrel
Caramel and brine on the nose, with a hint of unpolished wood - perhaps teak? The body has ginger, chocolate, tobacco and more caramel. The finish is pleasingly big and goes back to the caramel and brine from the nose, with a little tobacco.
After water, the whisky becomes much sweeter - big vanilla notes, and a slightly perfumed note, maybe geraniums? The body has vanilla, ginger, and the chocolate is more dominant, leaving the tobacco behind. The finish is now ginger and caramel.
An interesting whisky, but I'm not sure it needed water.
59.43 - Caramel swirl ice-cream
29 years old, distilled 8th November 1983, 56.4% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Tooty fruities, flowers and a soft hint of tobacco on the nose, which is a full yet subtle experience. The body has geraniums, honeysuckle, vanilla, green apples, and pine wood. The finish is long and sweet, with a little cinnamon over pine needles.
Water makes the nose sweeter, bringing the pine needles and geraniums more to the fore. The body is a little thicker and more viscous, with soft tobacco notes now infusing the sweet fruity flavours. The finish is sweeter, with more vanilla and green apples.
77.32 - Salivating sweetness; savoury whispers
25 years old, distilled 13th August 1987, 58.2% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Golden syrup and honeycomb on the nose. The body has pineapple, ginger, orange peel, coffee and glacê cherries. The finish has toffee and oranges.
After water the nose has sherbet dip and slowly becomes more meaty. The body is honey roasted ham and slightly reminiscent of cola. The finish is still sweet and doesn't deviate from the toffee and oranges of the neat dram.
A very pleasant dram for a spring day.
1.171 - Orchids in an old wardrobe
28 years old, distilled 16th May 1984, 55.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Oak and greenhouses on the nose. The body is rich - raisins, rum, fudge, toffee. The finish has toffee and satsumas.
After water, more fruit sweetness arrives. The nose has tomato vines and plums. The body gains shortbread, and the finish is more toffee than fruits.
A fine, elegant dram for a cooler evening.
85.26 - Fragrant perfumes and deeper resonances
28 years old, distilled 2nd May 1985, 44.5% abv, first-fill ex-bourbon barrel
Toffee, vanilla, peanut brittle and mangoes on the nose. The body is full and viscous if held on the tongue and has oak, cinnamon, vanilla, green apples and pineapple. The finish is an interesting combination of sweet floral notes (honeysuckle?) and tannins - slightly leathery.
With water, the floral notes break through into the nose - it's now got a pleasant mix of toffee and honeysuckle. The body moves more towards oak and cinnamon, losing some of the fruit. The finish is light and sweet, having lost the tannins.
A great dram for a day in the garden.
7.83 - Fresh, airy and sherbety
19 years old, distilled 20th May 1993, 52.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A very light nose which reminds me of lemon scented and "grass fresh" washing powder. The body is similarly light and clean, with lots of lemon and vanilla. The finish unsurprisingly full of vanilla.
After water, the nose gains some slight cereal, perhaps oats. The body has hints of pineapple and vanilla, and the finish is a surprisingly full hit of vanilla and apple.
A superb dram for a summer's day whilst watching a game of cricket.
35.79 - Calming, warming and comforting
28 years old, distilled 22nd December 1983, 57.7% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
The nose betrays the cask immediately - sweet and full of citrus fruits, with a little bit of fudge and oak. The body is sumptuous, with nectarines and geraniums floating over stewed apples and slight oak spices. The finish is sweet, with a return to nectarines and wood spices.
With water the nose becomes woodier, camphor wood added to the sweet fruits. The body moves towards walnut but retains the previous flavours. The finish gains wood notes, but still holds together the sweet citrus notes with it.
An elegant and interesting dram that provokes lively conversation about its flavours. Drink it with friends.
3.198 - Smoker’s tooth powder and dentists’ chairs
14 years old, distilled 25th September 1997, 57.0% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
Tar, coal dust, lavender are on the nose. The body is as smoky as you’d expect, with hints of TCP and the sterilisation mouthwash from a dentists’ visit.
With water, the nose gains cola bottle sweets and the body gains oranges and honey roasted ham. The finish is much sweeter - gaining perhaps a touch liquorice.
A sweet dram to cheer you up on a miserable autumnal afternoon.
53.184 - Fairground on the beach
19 years old, distilled 12th July 1993, 60.4% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
The nose has cinder toffee and charcoal on the nose, along with a sweet note - lemon? The body has chocolate, cardamom, and of course smoke. The finish is, oddly enough, smoky.
After water the nose becomes fruitier, with green apples and pineapple. There is also some caramel. The body is smooth and sweet, with tobacco and ginger alongside lemon-scented clothing conditioner and buckets of smoke. The finish is smoke and hints of lemon.
A pleasing and unexpectedly sweet Islay, perhaps for a summer’s evening.
29.130 - A chimney sweep smoking a cigar
19 years old, distilled 4th May 1993, 52.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A classic Islay nose - smoke and TCP. The body has vanilla, smoke, and germoline. The finish is a massive sweet smoke hit.
After water, the vanilla comes into the nose. The body has gains a little sweetie fizziness, like refreshers. The finish is a nice balance of smoke and vanilla.
A superb traditional Islay.
R3.5 - Marmite XO
11 years old, distilled 1st January 2002, 74.8% abv, refill ex-butt
A huge nose, full of coastal notes and burnt sugar. The body is much less aggressive than you’d expect at this strength - salted caramels. The finish is a hot jet of sweetness erupting through the esophagus.
After water, the nose gets a little duller - it reminds me of cardboard! The body is still caramel, but has lost the coastal notes. The finish remains rather like jet backwash that has somehow been sweetened...
I might not be the greatest rum drinker, but this one is far more approachable than I’d first suspected - very pleasant.