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“Monty Hall Problem” simulation in ZX Spectrum BASIC

Something completely different this week! I’ve been a bit of computer spod for most of my life, and it all started with a 48K ZX Spectrum home computer. My dad bought it in the early 80s and I took to writing games and keying in code listings from the likes of Your Computer and Your Sinclair. As a big fan of emulation and retro-computing, I’ve obviously acquired a Speccy simulator to relive the good old days.

Now, last week I was discussing the “Monty Hall Problem” with my missus. For the uninitiated, this is a probability problem that is often described in the context of a US game-show, where a contestant picks one of three doors. Behind one of these doors is the star prize, a car, with the other doors concealing a pair of undesirable goats. In the game, once the contestant has chosen a door, the host, the titular Monty Hall, reveals, at random, one of the goat doors and asks the contestant: “Do want to stick with your original choice or choose the other door?”. The Monty Hall problem suggests that the contestant has a 1 in 3 (33%) chance of winning with their original choice yet a 2 in 3 (66%) chance if they choose to swap. As such, the contestant should always choose to swap to have the best chance of winning the car. The problem can be proven mathematically, using Bayes Theorem, but is a fascinating problem to simulate using a simple computer program.

Combining these two interests, then, I’ve written a simulation of the Monty Hall Problem in BASIC on my simulated ZX Spectrum.

The solution is also available as .tap and .z80 files, which are available at the bottom of the listing. Next steps? To implement as a Siebel Workflow of course! 🙂

Download .tap file
Download .tzx file

Siebel 17 – Useful Links

I’ve just seen a load of excellent posts on John Bedford’s “Oracle Siebel CRM” blog, answering many of the frequently asked questions related to the upcoming release of Siebel IP 2017:
There are also a number of Web Casts available from the Oracle University site, including some demonstrations and discussions around the new Siebel Composer functionality:

Some really interesting reading in there and I cannot wait for the GA release! I’ve some VMs prep’d and ready… must be coming soon!

Stay tuned for more information and hopefully and in depth review!

I’m back, baby!

Having spent the last month away from Siebel, I’ve missed posting about the cool software that I work with day to day. I’ve moved on with a very different focus, mainly around Business Intelligence and Cloud Computing. I’m having a lot of fun with Birst at the moment (check it out – the company was founded by ex-Siebel Analytics leaders) and also developing Enterprise orchestration tools in Python.


Over the coming months and years, I’ll be posting some tips, tricks and reviews of some of the amazing products that are out there. To me, Siebel was a cornerstone in the history of Sales Force Automation and the automation of business processes the world over, across every industry imaginable. My experience with it, and the processes that feed it, will stay with me for the rest of my career and continue to help me focus on delivering excellent solutions to customers.

So, I can officially confirm that there is… Life After Siebel!

Farewell and Good Luck!

As they say in Scotland, “tattie bye!”


Siebel Tools has finally driven me to the point of no return and I have said farewell to the world of Siebel. It’s been fun and I really hope Oracle make something of the product – it would be such a shame to waste a couple of decades of blood, sweat, love and toil.

Wishing you all the very best of luck in the future!


Siebel IP 2016

Siebel Innovation Pack 16 (AKA Siebel IP16 or just Siebel 16) has hit Oracle eDelivery! I kicked off a download of the installation media over the weekend and have been chipping away with the installation over the last couple of days.


Nothing exciting to report at the moment, as I’ve successfully patched up my Siebel 15 installation across the Server, SWE, Tools and Web Client. A couple of quick notes, until I get around to testing out the new functionality:

  1. Downloads from Oracle Software Delivery Cloud (AKA Oracle eDelivery) have been greatly improved, thanks to the use of Akamai Download Manager. Akamai lets you queue large downloads (Siebel 16 is 75GB in total!) and resume any that have failed. I left Siebel downloading over-night to be met with a full set of ZIP files in the morning
  2. You are now, very directly, asked to accept Oracle’s ‘Oracle Standard Terms and Restrictions’ agreement. Make careful note of the text here, if you’re setting up and using a ‘trial’ environment such as I am. Oracle have provided guidance on the use of it’s software outside of licensed customer environments.

The installation wizards offer nothing new but, progress bar insanity aside, everything has installed smoothly.

My next challenge is to install Siebel Tools on XE and enable the new Siebel Composer functionality. XE is proving to be an interesting challenge, as my base Siebel Server box already uses Oracle XE as the Siebel Server database. When I attempt to enable XE on the Tools instance installed there, I get an error: presumably because XE is already installed. I guess I’ll have to set up a separate Windows 8/10 WM to get a local Siebel Tools instance installed.

As soon as I have the process of installing Tools with XE and enabled the new funky functionality, I’ll post up a new article.

Watch this space!

Farewell, Siebel Support UK

It is with a heavy heart that I learned recently that the Oracle UK Siebel Support centre is to close. I cut my teeth on Siebel (and my IT career) at the Siebel UK support center in Egham (well, Staines when I started before Tom opened the short lived ‘Siebel Center’). I’ve known, and still know, some amazing Siebel professionals and pals who have helped Siebel customers far and wide to create amazing implementations within their organisations. Their skills and professionalism will be sorely missed. I don’t see how Oracle can hope to replace 15 years worth of industry and product knowledge and skill, but I for one am even more nervous about raising SRs than ever. I really hope the experience, knowledge and communications remain in place to support this worthy product into the future. I really do hope.

I offer my heartfelt thanks to the guys and girls who have helped to make Siebel a successful product and wish them all the very best of luck in their careers in the future. I leave you with an anecdote or two that I recall (or may have made up) from my years at Siebel Center:

Siebel Center, Egham, UK

Siebel Center, Egham, UK

When I started with Siebel, I worked at their UK office in Staines, Middlesex. The office was next to Anderson Consulting who were soon to make the world headlines of their own. I started with the Tech Support department, which meant I was issued with a desktop, rather than a laptop. Everyone laughed when I started Bootcamp and I had to lug this great big PC and monitor into the training room at ICL Beaumont – all the Professional Services guys were issued with laptops. I completed Bootcamp and made some great friends; we spent a lot of time playing MAME on the company equipment when we were meant to be learning EIM; we had a challenge to get a random phrase into our final week case study presentation. Ours was ‘Chinese Fish Liquor’. No idea why and no idea how we each managed to bring it into the presentation, but we did. One of the girls on my course managed to delete ‘SADMIN’. Her name was Nav and she was a tremendous laugh

Returning to the real world in earnest, I found that I had time to complete some online training. Dozens of courses, to be honest, earning me thousands of ‘Siebel Dollars’. Tom had authorised a ‘Siebel Store’ against which such spoils could be redeemed. As a new starter, I went mental – dozens of courses, thousands of dollars. I redeemed them in earnest: I bought my first DVD player, my first Sony Digital Camera, a 22″ flat screen TV, 2 cork screws (that I still have and use) and numerous DVD holders and Siebel branded crap. It was awesome – free stuff for learning about the most amazing tech! Then I got my wage slip – all the stuff was taxable and I OWED Tom Siebel money! I almost choked on my Siebel branded fountain pen!

Then Tom announced the creation of the monstrosity known as ‘Siebel Center’. This building still holds fort on the junction of the M25 and A30 and is a behemoth of a building of glass and concrete. We never did manage to fill that building but it was a great place to work. Tom opened the building in person, descending in a glass elevator like a tiny CRM deity, to address the gathering throng of Siebelite followers. But when the lift stopped on the first floor, confounding the man as the US have no concept of 1st and ground, and the chuckles erupted. I liked Tom though – he was a visionary and a leader and he meant well by the company and its employees.

Someone in a suit walked in to the building and stole a load of laptops from the server room. The police came, arrested them but they did a runner across the car park and got away.

The share price went from $147 to $7 after I’d invested in the Employee Stock Purchase scheme.

Someone set up a Napster client on the office network.

9/11 happened while we were in the office and we looked on in horror as events unfolded live from steaming sites.

They were good days in the main, though – great days! I met some of the most technically minded and professional people that I’d ever met (and would meet) in my career. Focused, skilful, knowledgeable – Tom said it was all about ‘customer satisfaction’ and we believed it and achieved it. We were an excellent team and committed to making Siebel the platform it deserved to be.

And then Oracle bought Siebel, I left to do something different and now everyone has left because there are cheaper ways to do things….

Okay, I have an emotional attachment and a bias to the ‘heady days’ but I think it’s a loss – a great loss of skills, commitment and loyalty to something that we all believed in. A great product that, really, is feeling a bit unloved these days.

Good luck lads and lasses – see you on the other side! 🙂