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Lord Peter views the logfile

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'I'm sorry, chief inspector,' said this formidable lady, 'but I am not convinced this is sensible. I am sure Lord Peter is very good in his way, but is he an MCPS?'

'MCPS?' repeated  Parker, stupidly.

'Microsoft Certified Peer's Son.'

To look at the bland expression of polite interest on Wimsey's face, one would have garnered no clue that he belonged to one of England's great Unix families, who had never so much as knowingly used Internet Explorer, much less installed Windows.

'Perhaps this dear lady has a point, Parker. I don't see how I can help here. Besides, this isn't bringing the cause of justice forrader. Wasn't something said about a murderer?'

'Geoffrey "the gnasher" Peterson,' said Parker promptly. 'I entered him into MOBS last week, and now he's vanished entirely. Miss Kimberly tells me that that this is quite impossible.'

It was Wimsey's turn to query the acronym.

'Murderer hOlistic Behaviour Simulation,' explained Parker. 'Experimental new system. Just a fancy name for a criminal database, if you ask me. That's what all this is about.' He gestured vaguely at Miss Kimberly and her toiling team of Visual Studio jocks.

'Oh, I see,' said Wimsey, whose attention inexplicably seemed to have been caught by a scrawl in one corner of the white board. 'Funny sort of word, "holistic". Not in itself a bad word, but its presence in a sentence is a pretty good hint that all is not well, and should give you pause for thought. To ignore it is like choosing not to notice, while down a deep mine, that your pet canary is indulging in forty winks on its back.'

Miss Kimberly had been visibly losing her patience during this speech. 'I'm sorry chief inspector, but if that is all, I do need to get on. We've got a stand up meeting in five minutes...'

'Just one moment,' said Wimsey mildly. 'Would I be correct in supposin' that this here diagram represents the current state of the system, as you have implemented it so far?'

Miss Kimberly assented to this suggestion.

'And this bit here, this bit in the corner, is the singleton that controls the record numbering?'

Miss Kimberly assented once more.

'And the whole thing is, I take it, written in multi-threaded Visual C++?'

Miss Kimberly agreed for the third time.

'Well, really Miss Kimberly! I do think you might have laid off the singletons in a multi-threaded design. No wonder friend Parker here is losing all his murderers.'

Miss Kimberly flushed. 'That is a quite a preposterous suggestion. That singleton is protected by a double checked locking mechanism. It is impossible that more than one thread could...'

'Well, yes, provided you aren't runnin' it on these vulgar multi-core processors. Because if you are, you are going to need some sort of memory barrier to stop them interfering with each others' what nots. Aren't you?'

Miss Kimberly's complexion veered alarmingly from pink to white, and then back to pink again. Then, abruptly, she turned on her heel and rushed out, her footsteps disappearing down the corridor.

Thus deserted, embarrassment closed in on the two men like a pea-souper.

'Look, I'm terribly sorry about that, trampling all over Miss Kimberly's feelings in my seven league boots. He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases.'

'Lord, don't be a juggins, Peter, she'll be right as rain in five minutes. What is the cure, by the way? Whack a volatile qualifier on all the resource pointers?'

'That's the ticket. Listen, Charles, I think it would be a good plan if I made a noise like a hoop and rolled away before she comes back. Besides, I've got a lot on, today. I'm meeting Freddie Arbuthnot for a spot of luncheon so he can discuss some optimisation his quants want, and this afternoon  I am supposed to be helping Lady Mary with the SEO on her new microsite.'  Wimsey paused, heavily. 'You know, Charles, I'll tell you what.'

'What, then?'

'Sleuthin' used to be so much more fun in the old days,' said Lord Peter Wimsey, sadly.®

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