If you've only come from the menu, then you've missed out on the material on the about us page which gives you a very early introduction to who I am.
You may have already noticed the varied range of material on this website. This reflects my main interests, the two main ones being programming and Chemistry - these can be seen by selecting the appropriate menu.
Of course, there is material that I've not covered, such as my involvement with a charity organisation called RISC OS Charity Projects (which I ran with my wife) as well as a couple of animal rescue charities (and not just the RSPCA) as well as commercial website work. I'll cover these here.
RISC OS Charity Projects
Since it's inception, I've been involved with just about every Comic Relief fund raiser. Nothing too amazing, basically, I charged for practicals (when I worked at Knowsley College) and sold Red Noses. I even did a sponsored Silly Walk from Prescot to Huyton as fund raiser (that one didn't raise much, but it was fun!).
For the 1999 Comic Relief, I decided to do something big. Towards the end of 1998, Acorn Computers decided to call it day, cancelled their new machine, shut down their desktop division and basically kill off everything. The whole platform was in the dumps. Come 1999, things were looking up, so I decided to hold a big online auction of a massive amount of Acorn software and hardware donated by companies (some of whom were no longer involved with the platform!).
The basic premise was it cost a pound for the initial bid (it meant that even taking part meant Comic Relief got something), it was free thereafter. To ensure fairplay, I published online nightly the highest bids and also a spreadsheet detailing who had done what. No cash was asked for until the night of Comic Relief
By the end of it, around £ 1800 had been raised.
The Kosovo CD
In 2000, the former Yugoslavia was being torn apart and a massive attrocity was taking place in a little part of it called Kosovo. At that time, Richard was 3 and much as had happened when Bob Geldof saw the reports from Ethiopia, I saw a child who couldn't have been much older than Richard. He was dirty, thirsty, malnourished and the only thing I could think of was to help. But what could I do?
Spurred on by the Comic Relief auction and having spoken with Dave Clare (who is a really nice chap who used to own Clares Micro Supplies - a company no longer around), I decided to put together a compilation CD which had on it all of the cover discs from Archimedes World (they had produced one CD and had intended making a second, but died before they could) as well as a pile of the very best PD, freeware and other such things as well as some commercial software (just to give it some extra value).
All was going well, until it was reported that one of the files contained some material that shouldn't be on there. This was all I needed. A recall was put out and all of the remaining discs made unplayable by chemical means (I poured a mix of nail varnish remover and turps on them). I still had hundreds of orders, so made a fresh pressing of 1000 discs. Okay, it ate into the money, but the orders were coming in faster than anything I'd ever seen. I did toy with making the dead discs into clocks and selling them on as new line (I think it would have cost about 30p to buy the mechanisms), but decided to just destroy them instead.
Around £ 3000 was cleared by that event.
The China CDs
In 2001, I was asked by the former editor of Acorn User, Steve Turnbull, if I wouldn't mind producing a CD to raise money for his Mencap ride across China. Not a problem. I already had a plan for the next venture of a double disc set of ALL of the current Acorn ftp sites (remember, in 2001 dial up was all that there was).
A pressing of 1000 (2000 in total) was made of the discs and they were sold off through a network of RISC OS companies - most notably CTA Direct and APDL. At this time, I also decided to tidy things up and create RISC OS Charity Projects as an umberella name for the activities - the plan was to do other such fund raisers.
Disappointingly, the China CDs didn't sell as well as they should and from memory, only about £ 1800 was raised. Still, better than nothing.
I've always loved animals. I'm not bothered if they scaley, slimey, furry, try to bite you to death or if they sit on your lap and go meow. They're all good.
While I was still at school, I used to raise money for the PDSA by selling posters. They were rather nice, though the other merchandising they used to sell was a bit shoddy and never sold well.
After that, I started helping my mum who was involved with an animal rescue called "Animals in Need" - which was run by a lovely woman called Fran. Though it was based in Maghull (I think!) and was miles from home, it was a nice place to help out at. I used to help with the dogs, running the jumble sales and plenty of other stuff.
The only "offical" animal charity I ever worked for was the RSPCA in Halewood. I loved the place. The people were friendly, the inspectors were great (they still are!) and it was a very jolly place to work. Okay, it was heart renching to see a procession of animals everyday being taken around the corner (the room where they were put to sleep), but you become philosophical about such things: would it be better for the animal to be given a chance and if nothing happens, to be quietly disposed of or have it running around, producing pups every 6 months (for the bitches), constantly looking for food, causing accidents and probably dying a sad a lonely death? It's not a pleasant conundrum to think about, but then neither is the reality of strays.
While I was CD editor of Acorn User, I produced a fantastic disc full of games and not just PD, but also just about the full back catalogue from Krisalis (a big games company in the Acorn world). RCI (the games branch of R-Comp) asked about a year later if I could use my contacts at Krysalis (and the other companies who wrote the games) to see if a commercial disc could be made from the back catalogue.
It took about 5 months to get the permissions - the disc sold like hot cakes!
I wrote a number of pieces of software for RiscStation Ltd
- MouseConf - an updated mouse configuration utility for the trackball mice
- AudioConf - a sophisticated audio configuration utility for the audio subsystem on the RiscStation range of machines
- ShutOff - A wake-on-lan/sleep utility
- RSControl - A temperature cut off and reporting utility which monitored the internal temperature and fan speeds inside the machine
I am currently working on their new website as well as websites for their sister companies.