1. Editorial

From time to time, people tell me about equipment they know is being thrown out. Some is so old as to be useless, but other bits of kit are being thrown away because they are being replaced with something glitzier. NOW in many parts of the World this equipment would be very much appreciated, so can you please tell IJVS whenever your institute plans to throw out equipment and we will see if someone can use it.

Infrared spectrometers are obvious pieces of equipment that come to mind, but many labs have drawers full of old cells, KBr dies and other accessories that will never, ever be used again. So please help.

We plan to run a page as part of the main website, with an Offered and Wanted section. Basically all you have to do is email us with details of whatever you are offering or possibly what you may be after. We will post details up for 3 months, including your email addresses so you can correspond with each other to sort out transportation etc.

A few ground rules are essential – the recipient must cover all packaging, insurance and transport costs. The donor cannot accept any responsibility for the state or safety of the equipment. And most important IJVS is ONLY offering the service by publicising your details, we will not be held responsibility for any condition of any of the items and will not take part in any liasing between parties – its totally up to you lot.

A sorry tale (Editor’s version)

As many of you will have suspected, your dear aged Editor gets by very well without a computer on his desk – to such an extent that Louise covers his tracks. When you email me at the office address, your correspondence is printed and sent on to me by FAX. Why, I hear you ask?

The REAL COMMERCIAL WORLD runs on phone and fax. Suppliers of all sorts, plumbers, builders, lawyers etc, etc rely on fax because (here in the UK) a fax is a legally enforceable document, the sender knows it has arrived and has the original! Perfect! Now this is my justification for using fax!!

However, – under the incessant pressure of our wonderful WEBMISTRESS backed by my ex-colleagues at the University of Southampton, I gave in several weeks ago – a computer entered Gable Cottage!

My colleagues at Southampton noted that in 2002, the University celebrates the 50th anniversary of its Royal Charter. When on the staff, I organised many “open days”, reunions and gatherings; so surprise-surprise I was duly asked in May to organise a great jamboree in July 2002. Needless to say muggins agreed. Then the blow – the organiser [i.e. me] would have to have an email address. Oh dear!

Five weeks later, a computer was installed at Gable Cottage [the idea was that with a broken leg I would have nothing to do but to learn to use it] and fitted with a modem, printer etc. I now report on its first 5 weeks of use –

E-mails received                             Zero

E-mails sent                                     Zero

Minutes used surfing the web       5½

Results therefrom                            Rubbish

Total value of computer system    not much

Space occupied by said system     2m2

It is therefore obvious that the system must go, particularly as to run the wretched thing costs 4p/minute (~$0.06) to surf the web or use e-mail. Need I explain more?

LONG LIVE THE FAX MACHINE – Oh yes and on 8th August the fax machine had sent 2517 messages and received 6616 in ~2 years!

A bad workman blames his tools or you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! (a weary webmistress’s tale!)

I knew when Patrick phoned me with the news that he had to have a computer it was a bad idea. I did try and talk him out of it [unlike his story of me encouraging it!]. He was going to have a very patient secretary working for him on this reunion project [the poor woman had worked with him before at the University and had learnt the technique of sighing at the ceiling whenever he started a ranting session!]. Jill could receive any emails and fax them to Patrick to deal with, just like I do with IJVS stuff. But, no my learned colleague was adamant, saying things like “broken leg”, “can’t do anything else”, and “will learn how to drive the computer”!

I do take the blame of actually supplying the computer, as I had an old spare one here at home, but I was nagged into bringing it up as soon as I could [just like I now have to take it away again as soon as I can!].

The major problem is, as most people know, the computer is an inanimate object and relies on the person driving it knowing what they are doing. When they do, it works like a dream. The unfortunate thing is that our Editor hasn’t had any driving instruction – my fault really, but I always seem to have this toddler in tow, who insists on switching the computer off when you’re trying to use it. His family has tried to help, but you need time and a patient tutee! In addition the University wheels are soooooooo slooooooooowwww that he still hasn’t been issued with an email account and so cannot get connected to the University server – that’s why he cannot send/receive emails!

Personally I don’t think our Editor should be bothered with a computer [basically for my own sanity I cannot take any more moans, complaints, questions etc about how good/bad the computer is!]. He should just stick with his fax machine and if anyone at the University wants to argue the point send them to me, I’m ready for them!

Editorial Comment

Very recently we have been asked to alter a paper published in the Journal earlier this year. The request was very reasonable – could we correct some of the English and tidy up one or two details/diagrams etc. The authors asked because being a web journal changing the paper is a relatively trivial and cost free exercise. However, my initial reaction was to refuse because

(a) if we agree to change one paper, authors could ask us to do the same for them, potentially making a huge amount of work in the future.

(b) Once a paper is published in a paper journal that is it, the authors and the readers have to live with it.

(c) If the paper turned out to be highly significant people may want to carefully analyse it and have to be really confident that what is published is the same as that ORIGINALLY published or IJVS will lack credibility.

The authors asked me to reconsider but I feel that in everyone’s interest we should not go down this path. In common with all traditional journals, once your manuscript appears that’s it [Note: prior to final on-line publication of each edition of IJVS, all authors are invited to view their paper in the IJVS style, thus having an opportunity to amend any errors – Louise].

There is, however, one unique thing we can do. Since publishing papers and holding them on archive costs very little, we are prepared to publish REVISED PAPERS with forward and backward links between the revised and original manuscripts. The revised version would, of course, carry a new submitted date#.

I’m sure people could see this as cluttering up the literature with repeats, but with the appropriate links, I suspect the original version will be ignored UNLESS the publication dates become important. And remember, to us there is almost no cost in duplicating the paper.

# The Editor will have to be convinced, of course, that the revisions are significant enough to warrant re-publication.