User talk:Allan McInnes/Archive4

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Archive of User talk:Allan McInnes covering 2007-02-17 through 2007-06-30


Your edit to Carl Hewitt[edit]

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I am thinking hard about computer security incident response and will make some minor edits to Incident Management. I am planning on donating some original material on a computer security incident response process this week. This is my first real contribution to wikipedia ... So I am a little hesitant w.r.t. to my competency in how one contributes a new article.

Where's the right place for getting all the computer science articles listed/indexed?

Thank you. -- Tanjstaffl 19:42, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure I fully understand your question about indexing. If you're looking for an index of existing articles, you could start by looking at Category:Computer science, and working your way down the categories until you find the subset of articles you're interested in. If you're asking about how to add a CS article, simply create the article and add the appropriate Category links at the bottom of the page. You might also want to take a look at Wikipedia:Your first article, and Help:Starting a new page.
I would also caution you on the subject of "original" material. It' not clear to me exactly what you mean by that. But please be aware that completely original work is not permitted in Wikipedia (See WP:NOR). Any material you add should reference existing literature on the subject.
Hope all of that helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions. --Allan McInnes (talk) 22:54, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Your clean-up edit to Pattern language[edit]

You are absolutely right about the need for a clean-up. However, you chose the least constructive solution - deldeldel... I agree I left many unfinished notes in my own edit, that are probably inappropriate to a wp article. However, the messy notes collection was a lot more meaningful than the current emptyness. Moreover, it could have served as a starting point and structural skeleton for further edits.
Razor alone might improve style and form, but doesn't necessarily help quality.
A more constructive solution would have been to keep parts of the key structure, and turn some notes into sentences. Especially the section "Application domains" was thought as an attempt to establish a meaningful structure.
I might take care of the article myself again some time, but I'm quite busy in the moment..
Bye, -- Lhead 23:55, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Unfinished notes in an article are unhelpful. Especially notes which include meta-commentary (see WP:ASR). If you feel that there is some value in your notes, then please consider placing them in the talk page for the article, instead of the article itself. Thanks. --Allan McInnes (talk) 01:34, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


Thanks for making an improvement to the Template:Invite User SYS. As not-native speaker it's very difficult to find the right things to say. I also heard that the Dutch people are rather notorious in English for coming to the point much to soon. I guess that was the case with my first draft? Greetings - Mdd 00:46, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Your first draft was fairly good, and certainly got your intentions across. The sentence construction just seemed a little odd in places - at least from the perspective of a native English speaker. --Allan McInnes (talk) 01:01, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for this feed back: Sentence construction, you say: It makes me wonder..!? With the design of the template, I worked from a example. Hereby I was under the impression, that I could spare a few words to make the message a bit shorter... but I was obvious mistaken.
I've seen you've put quiet some effort in the systems engineering article and the talk about it. Nice work. I wrote the Dutch article about SE, with is unfortunately still only about SE in the field of business economics. Your article has strong points and has potential. Maybe we could exhange some ideas about that sometimes. Greetings - Mdd 00:27, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

I'd definitely be interested in exchanging ideas about SE articles. Although I've put some effort into the current English-language SE article, I'm not particularly happy with it. I feel it's somewhat disorganized, almost totally devoid of references, and cluttered with a bit of POV-pushing. I just haven't had the energy to really tackle reworking the article yet. --Allan McInnes (talk) 00:31, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Maybe working together can provide the energy needed not only to rework the article... but to improve it. Let me get back to you. - Mdd 00:57, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Sorry to have kept you waiting. I've been trying to get the WikiProject Systems on the run, with takes quiet some time. But in the mean time I have tried to get a better view of the systems engineering article and it's surroundings. This wasn't easy:

  1. It seems the article has over 400 edits in the past 6.5 years
  2. Main contributions seems to be made by users als Cask05, RJBurkhart and Normxxx, but please correct me if I'm wrong.
  3. You've started at the article first 9 dec 2005 and mainly guarded the edits, again please correct me.
  4. When you started 1.5 years ago, the article had mainly the same structure as it has today. It only expended.

I've also done some research on you and I was the most fascinated by you Concurrency project initiative. It's a pity you didn't get it started. It seems very (or too) specialized. On the other end working on system engineering seems rather (or too) general (again please correct me). This is not ment personal, but more in general about systems engineering. This subject is multidisciplinal and therefore hard to handle.

Now I have got some ideas for improvement. The thing I like to do first is start some kind of initiative, lets say a WikiProject group Systems engineering, to study this some more and first come up with a vision to alter the article and it's surrounding. Maybe you can tell if this is something you also had in mind? - Mdd 22:54, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

I believe you have made a pretty fair assessment of the SE article, and my contributions to it. As you say, I have not made any substantial changes to the article. There are several reasons for that, including:
  1. Much of my "free time" in the past year or so has been spent on finishing up a PhD, so my contributions to WP in general have been somewhat diminished.
  2. Rewriting the SE article would be a large task, and to the extent that I've been making any contributions to WP, I have been occupied with work on other articles.
  3. The definition and practice of systems engineering are very controversial. My experience as a contributor to INCOSE's Discuss email list has taught me that protracted debates and arguments over semantics are almost inevitable. I have so far avoided opening that particular Pandora's box with the SE article.
Having said all of that, I would certainly be interested in discussing ideas for improvement. I'd suggest that it's probably easiest to do so within the Systems Wikiproject (which I must get around to joining), since that's likely to attract a wider group of editors.
Regarding the Concurrency Wikiproject, it didn't so much fail to start, as it got absorbed into WikiProject Computer science (where it is a good fit). You're certainly correct that concurrency is a somewhat specialized topic - at the time I was working to start that particular project, I'd just ceased working as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry, and started a PhD focused on concurrency theory (although with an eye to its applications to SE). So I have my feet in both the specialist and generalist camps. Although I mostly consider myself a generalist, and a systems person.
--Allan McInnes (talk) 18:10, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Systems[edit]

Thanks again, now for joining the WikiProject Systems. Now I get acquainted with the current state of systems articles I see, that lots can be done. Reading your last words made me thinking in an other direction. It made me wonder if I consider myselve a systems person? And that this problably is the main reason to join all wikipedia activity around systems. One problem in Holland is, that we don't have a word for systems people... or at least non I can think of. But I think I now the feeling. It's the feeling of pride (do I say this correct) of beeing an engineer. That's the feeling I want to bring into the systems articles in general, and in the systems engineering article in particular. And that's also a main element that's still missing... And you can't get it in, just by rewriting the article. Maybe that's also a thing that still stopped you from rewriting?

Towards the project maybe we can start by exchaning some ideas about the path and content to go on. I'm wondering a few things. Do you have a particulair example article in the Wikipedia, of how you would like the systems enginieering article to become? And are you also a member of INCOSE? And last but not least: nice to hear that your specialty has found a home? Oh, by the way. I never questioned beeing a generalist... but now I think of it, I myselve would have ended with ... I consider myself a generalist, but even more an artist and a scientist. - Mdd 00:40, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure I'd characterize being "a systems person" as "pride in being an engineer". Although I think that characterization could certainly apply to engineers who are also "systems people", since it implies a certain desire to consider the whole problem for which they are designing a solution. But there are plenty of "systems people" who work outside the scope of engineering - one example would be Peter Senge's work on applying systems thinking to organizations. I guess I'd characterize "systems people" in general as people who try to think in terms of systems and their interactions, rather than in reductionist terms. Or, to quote Ludwig von Bertalanffy: “It is necessary to study not only parts and processes in isolation, but also to solve the decisive problems found in organization and order unifying them...”
In answer to your specific questions:
  1. I have no particular example article in mind. Most of the Wikipedia articles that I've looked at which cover professions seem to be poorly structured and rife with uncited opinion. The Science and Mathematics articles are probably about the best I've seen, and even they are somewhat flawed.
  2. I was a member of INCOSE for a number of years, but let my membership lapse about a year ago.
Regarding specific ideas for how to develop the systems engineering article, here are a few:
  1. One thing that I'm keen on doing is incorporating some information from Hitchins' writings. Unlike many writers of system engineering textbooks, Hitchins tends to be good about placing the ideas he presents within a historical context, and relating them to other developments in the systems field.
  2. In a similar vein, I feel that the systems engineering article should do more to establish the context of systems engineering relative to things like systems thinking and general systems theory. Some of that context-setting could probably take place in an expanded history section.
  3. The "Successes and failures" section can probably be condensed, and moved into the history section.
  4. The article (like INCOSE) seems to focus mostly on "big" systems engineering for government and military projects. It ignores interesting applications of SE concepts in areas like enterprise design, or earth-systems engineering. It also ignores systems engineering "in the small" - for example the systems engineering of a consumer electronic device.
  5. Some discussion of the tools and practices used by systems engineers might help readers gain a more concrete understanding of what it is that systems engineers do. I'm thinking here of things like functional flow block diagrams, state diagrams, interface diagrams, N2 charts, dynamic system simulations, etc.
Do you have any thoughts on these suggestions? --Allan McInnes (talk) 02:25, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

To start with your last question, I think your suggestions are so specific, that we should discust them on another level. I've copied them to the WikiProject Systems talk page for further discussion. Like you already said, it will be easier there to involve other people. Maybe I'll inform some people about this, and you can do the same. One thing I would like to achieve, beside the content of the article, is to create some more cooperation around systems engineering. This is a thing, we can start with right now... So, these are some of my first suggestions (and action (I hope you don't mind)).

What you discribe as a systems person, in Holland we would call that translated a systems thinker. But as far as I know, that's only a term insiders know about. In Holland we maybe short cut in discussions... we try to keep a low profile in expressions. A holistic term like system people is something knowbody in Holland would be proud of to be called, I think. Even a generalist has no good name. The Dutch people see him as the one who, tries to look's at the bigger, but forgets the details. As a student I was a good example of that.

Since you layed your cards at the table it's only fair I'll show mine. My first idea's where:

  1. The article itselve should be more an introduction article to the hole field of systems engineering articles in het Wikipedia. Even more then it is right now.
  2. The article is poor on history. It kind of suggests it all began in 1990 if you don't read the first quote thoroughly.
  3. I've read some of the basic works from Wiener, Shannon and Weaver, Bertalanffy, Asby, Miller & the first General Systems Yearbooks and some of the beginnings op SE with Churchmann and Harold Chestnut, trying to figger out the relation between the philosophies and the engineering theory. Here is some specialistic knowledge I can bring forward.
  4. I see systems engineering as a collection of specialties in different fields of science (and society), with lot's of part trying to develop their own foundations. For a good article we could need input from some more of these fields.
  5. Examples can be found among the featured articles in the Wikipedia. I even put 5 of them in the WikiProject Assessments's system. Alltough those articels are no direct plans to follow, they tell something about the ideal article form (in Wikipedia).

These where some of the thoughts I had before I read yours. Now I'm going to respond further on the WikiProject Systems talk page and try to bend the discussion first in a more global direction. - Mdd 21:41, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Systems engineering more personal[edit]

Hi, I made a start tonight with a Category:Systems engineer and I made some reconstruction in the List of systems engineers. Initiating this personal site of systems engineering seems like a good thing to do. Maybe you van also take a look at it, and I'll ask Truthanado to do the same.

I'm very glad with the first steps we made, but now I don't how to proceed, what we should do. Should we ask some more people to give us their impression of the article, or should we proceed and do all the work ourselve. What do you think? You've been working the article the last year? Do you know people we should involve? - Mdd 23:54, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

I've gone through the List of systems engineers, and pruned out anyone who didn't seem particularly notable. If I've inadvertently cut anyone who you think should be in there, please feel free to add them back in. I've also gone ahead and created IEEE Simon Ramo Medal, since I noticed that there were a number of Ramo award winners on the list, but no article describing the award.
As for how to proceed on the systems engineering article, I suggest that it's probably best to just dive in and make changes. We should be bold. If others object, or have other suggestions, I'm sure they'll jump on in. In fact, they may be spurred to help out as a result of seeing some real action on the SE article again. I do think it'd be helpful if we could nail down the basic sructure of the article before we start making big changes though.
By the way, I was interested to see that you've done some editing on the Wayne Wymore article. Not many people seem to be familiar with his work, but I'm personally a big fan of it (I've read or skimmed several of his books, and own Model-based Systems Engineering). --Allan McInnes (talk) 03:21, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

I got some help from Truthanado see [1] and went through the list one's more. And I raised some detailled questions on the talk page. The IEEE Simon Ramo Medal article is a very good initiative. It gives a direction of which new articles to write on Systems engineers.

As to the question of how to proceed... I allready had a direction in my mind (in the line Truthanado suggested) and overnight this idea has become more clear. In short the plan allready was, to do anything but to just dive in and make changes. Because:

  1. This has not only been done allready for the past 6.5 years and brought allready more then 400 changes...
  2. It's much easier to start off line first with some new drafts. We have done this with the category:systems see [2], and we can do this again.
  3. Now there is an unique opportunity to get other experts to give their perception on SE... without being influenced with our (not yet) incoperated ideas about SE. This stage is in my opinion probably the only time people still will respond. Later there will be to much going on.
  4. With asking people we can involve them some more with SE, and this involvement can later grow to more Wikipedia organisation and support around SE.
  5. Truthanado gave us a good plan in four steps, with a requirements analysis as first step. There is also now an unique opportunity not only to write about Systems Engineering but to act as Systems engineers. This I can explain to you later.

So I have been bold and brought these suggested into action at the WikiProject Systems talk page. If you don't agree, we can also change this. But there is more...

There are more different people I'm going to ask: The other three persons of the WikiProject Systems, some of the editors of the SE article, and some of the editors on systems engineers, and maybe some more.
I also need some time to study some of my sourches again. Contacting those people and waiting for their response will take a while, and that's why I suggested a week. After that I want to proceed with some more requirements analysis. In the meantime there is lot's to be done... Maybe I'm going to give some more expamples. I hope you don't mind - Mdd 10:03, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

(PS. I didn't know Wayne Wymore. I just Wikified his article.)

Hmmmm... something of a misunderstanding there I think. I was not suggesting "diving in" with no planning at all (indeed, I specifically said that it would a good idea to nail down an "architecture" for the article before making any changes). The "dive in" phrase was aimed more at the approach to editing once a plan has been formulated. Getting stakeholder involvement is always good. The question is how best to motivate the stakeholders in question to actually get involved. My experience in editing WP articles has been that people are much more likely to get involved in something if they see editing taking place. You can think of it as a kind of iterative development cycle. Draft articles rarely seem to garner any attention. Iterating on the real article seems to produce much more involvement from other editors. Perhaps your experiences on Wikipedia have been different.
Regarding Truthanado's plan, I agree it's a good one. In fact, I've already posted a preliminary discussion of what I see as the high-level requirements on the WikiProject Systems talk page, and asked for feedback. So far (it's been several days now) I've seen no responses.
Having said all of that: I have no problem with waiting a week or so before taking any further steps on the SE article.
--Allan McInnes (talk) 02:00, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Getting persons and others involvement[edit]

Getting people and others more involved with the SE article on the Wikipedia is maybe even important as modifying the SE article. And in the meantime we can make even adjustments to the SE article.

  1. I made one yesterday and one this evening which puts SE now in about 100 other articles...
  2. I also uploaded as you may have seen in the Category:Systems engineering and Category:Systems engineer about 100 images...
  3. These images we can put in SE articles but also in other Engineering articles which also creates a link.
  4. Systems Engineering is in one way an interdiscipline, which support other disciplines... This is something we can maybe explore...
  5. Now about the discussion at the WikiProject Systems talkpage. Things can go slow in such surrounding. And very little people will step in there on their own. I think we (or I) should ask people directly to respond. There is now a timespan we can do this... and we can create another timespan(s) later...
  6. Now I haven't asked anybody yet because I wanted to get your respons first... It will take me also some time to select the people to ask...
  7. Do you know editors we should ask?
  8. The main idea with those drafts is, that we get two or more versions where other people (we want to involve) make a choice again ... but more important, they can give more detailled feedback.

Please a sort respons on all of these point, thanks - Mdd 01:22, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Certainly, I think there's scope for including SE-related information in other articles about areas that SE supports. Some care is required in making such edits though, to avoid the appearance of undue promotion of SE. Within the SE article itself, a discussion of its links would be useful and appropriate.
I understand that things can be sometimes slow on talk pages. My point was rather that I have attempted to start the process which you and Truthanado are interested in using, although so far there's been no progress beyond that initial post.
As for people to involve, I guess the obvious candidates are the other members of the Systems WikiProject. We might also consider looking through the edit history of the SE article, and inviting some of the more prolific editors there to contribute as well. User:Cask05 and User:Normxxx are the first that leap to mind, but there may well be others.
I'm quite happy to proceed with the draft process. I'm simply somewhat skeptical about how effective its going to be. But I guess there's one way to find out...
--Allan McInnes (talk) 03:08, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Making all these remarks didn't seem all all right to me. I've realized it takes months (or even years) to develope the systems engineering article and category into a featured item. Truthanado's plan is a good guideline, but it will take thousends of edits to bring systems engineering in the Wikipedia more alive. I wonder if we should initiate an WikiProject Systems Engineering to make this happen... For an own identity, for coordination, for an own place to meet and to initiate & organize..? Before taking any further steps I would like to talk this over first. - Mdd 12:23, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Probably the easiest way to gauge the potential usefulness of an SE WikiProject is to look at the level of activity in the SE article and related articles. If there are lots of people actively making edits to the article on a regular basis, it might be worthwhile to coordinate their efforts through a project. If there are just one or two editors making small changes here and there, it's probably easier to just directly coordinate things on the relevant article talk pages. --Allan McInnes (talk) 03:08, 13 May 2007 (UTC)

Things reorganized[edit]

Hi, it took me some time to get things reoganized. I have brought together the two discussions on the WikiProject Systems Engineering Initiative talk page and tried to begin a list of things to been done on the projectpage itselve. Here I also copied your last comments. I'll like to invite you continue our discusion over there.

In the next three weeks I have to slow my things down because I'll have (a kind of unexpected) two weeks WikiBreak starting next weeks. I would like to ask you look after the SE Initiative a little for that period. Thanks allready - Mdd 14:29, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Some conclusions on the Talk:Systems engineering[edit]

Hi Alan, I hope everything went well with your ph.D since you don't mention it anymore on your userpage. Sorry to have kept your waiting at our initiatives. I've now proposed five endings on the Talk:Systems engineering, to make room for new initiative. I would appreciate it, if you would take a last look at these point and add any comments you like. Thank you. - Mdd 22:52, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, thank you, things are fine with my PhD. It is (at long last) complete. Thanks also for the note about the SE page - I'll take a look at it. --Allan McInnes (talk) 03:13, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

That's great news, congratulations. I hope ending this project will give you new perspectives and new beginnings. I'll look forward to you comments on the SE talk page. By the way I read the autobiographal article of A. Wayne Wymore from the International Journal of General Systems from 2004. (I just right now found out that article is online also). It's a good thing you mentioned him before. That article really brings alive part of the history of Systems Engineering. Greetings - Mdd 14:59, 25 June 2007 (UTC)


Hi Allan,

You recently asked for a citation for the "From the Global Positioning System to electric power generation..." sentence in the electrical engineering article. If you follow the citation at the end of the paragraph you will find a reference to this page, which begins "From the global positioning system that can continuously provide the location of a vehicle to giant electric power generators, electrical and electronics engineers are responsible for a wide range of technologies." If you think you can improve the paragraph further, feel free to.

Cedars 04:59, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Primary sources tag in John Paul Morrison article[edit]

Hi Allan. There is a "primary sources" tag in John Paul Morrison, put there in December, which I would really like to get rid of. Quite a large number of independent references were placed in the article on Flow-Based Programming, which I would think should answer this criticism. Would it help if they were copied into this article? Obviously I can't do it, but I wondered if you could, or at least tell me how to go about getting the tag removed. BTW We did add a link to these references at the end of John Paul Morrison (although I see it doesn't stand out very well) - would this be sufficient? TIA. Jpaulm 14:55, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

The problem you are likely to run into is that the many independent refs in the FBP article are about FBP. They aren't references which provide support for the biographical information contained in the John Paul Morrison article. You will need to find references which give bio information about you. I'm afraid I can't help you there, because I have no idea where biographical info on you is likely to have been published. --Allan McInnes (talk) 02:53, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying that - your answer didn't show up on my watch list for some reason. You're probably right in your explanation - so that tag has to stay there until someone writes a biography of me, which will contain exactly the same information as is in the article, and of course may not happen for a few decades, by which time I will have forgotten a lot of stuff. That's pretty bizarre thinking IMO... unless they suspect that I made it all up! Maybe we should start to give authors a credibility level. Thanks anyway, Allan. <sigh> Jpaulm 00:46, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Me again! I have found the following:
Are any of them worth adding? Sorry to keep bothering you! Jpaulm 01:24, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
The bio of your father contains some useful info, and I've added it as a ref. I'm not really sure what the IBM journal excerpt indicates. The King's College link seems (to me at least) a little too much like a primary source, which means it's flirting with original research. You might consider putting all of these links on the JPM talk page though, since some other editor may have different opinions.
I can understand your frustration regarding this article, and the need for sources which may not exist. About the only help I can really offer there is to take a look at this policy: Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons#Using the subject as a self-published source. If I'm reading it correctly, it implies that (in the absence of third-party sources), the biographical info you have placed here is permissible as a reference. I don't have the time to go through and add the relevant citations to the JPM article right now, but you could try posting the links (and rationale for its use) to the talk page, or even take stab at adding the citations yourself (I know editing of articles by their subjects is discouraged, but I fail to see how they could object to edits that consist solely of providing citations for text that's already there). Hope that helps.
--Allan McInnes (talk) 04:15, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your very complete answer, Allan. That makes sense! The link to my web site was already there under External Links - should it be moved to References? So I guess I don't have to make any changes. However is there any way we could get rid of that tag at the top - it makes the JPM article look a bit suspect... It also seems to clash with the sentence you pointed out (if I am reading this right): Self-published material may never be used in BLPs unless written by the subject him or herself." I assume I can't/shouldn't remove the tag myself...? Thanks in advance. Jpaulm 17:26, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
Sorry to keep bothering you - I know you are busy - but can you remove the offending tag, or do you feel it has to stay for some reason? Thanks in advance. Jpaulm 14:49, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
I haven't removed the tag because I haven't had time to go through and add inline cites to your personal website for those facts that are presently uncited. If you wish to make those changes then, as I said before, I can't see how anyone would object to the addition of references, even by you. --Allan McInnes (talk) 01:39, 28 May 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, Allan, that helps, but maybe my problem is that I can't figure out which facts need citations :-) i.e. the fact that I worked for Big Blue for 33 years, the fact that I wired plugboards (check my ruined finger-tips), the fact that I worked on the Y2K bug, or possibly the very last sentence (I was told that verbally). I am not being deliberately obtuse - I just don't know which facts are considered to need citations. Please help and I will stop bothering you! Thanks. Jpaulm 16:53, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
Please have a read of Wikipedia's policy on verifiability. Ideally, all facts should be traceable to a cited reference. That doesn't necessarily mean each sentence should have a citation - for example if there's a whole paragraph dealing with your career, a single citation which supports everything in that paragraph is probably sufficient. But yes, everything you've mentioned above needs a citation. --Allan McInnes (talk) 18:46, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
I have added a couple of refs I found, and removed the unverifiable stuff (except for where I live!). If you feel this article is now OK, could you remove the tag - it would look better if you did it... If not OK, suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks for the time you have spent on this. Jpaulm 01:47, 5 June 2007 (UTC)
Many, many thanks, Allan! Jpaulm 01:08, 6 June 2007 (UTC)