I design and maintain websites for several clients including:

The Radio Independents Group

Studio Tristram

The RIGtrain project

The Radio Production Awards (soon to become the 'Audio Production Awards')

Square Dog Radio

The UK Freelance Network

plus of course this site, for myself.

what do I know about the web, the internet and computing in general?

It started before the web, or the internet come to that.  In the mid-70s I became fascinated with the possibilities of microprocessors.  I was already a digital electronics engineer in the Flight Test Instrumentation Dept at British Aerospace, so I naturally bought one of the first CPUs, a National Semiconductor SC/MP or 'Scamp' and following a series of articles in Elektor magazine made up a simple microcomputer.  It had 8 bytes of RAM, a couple of dozen LEDs and a row of toggle switches and a couple of push-buttons, plus some de-bounce circuitry etc.  So it was programming one bit at a time!  Set the toggle switches for address and data, press the push-button to write the data.  When program complete press the 'run' button.  With 8 bytes I could do a simple red-green traffic light sequence.  When I upgraded the RAM from 8 to 16 bytes  I could add an amber light ...

That got me into mpu system development on the coat-tails of my brilliant colleague Dave Wright, who was far ahead of me.  On the other hand no-one else in the dept was much interested.  Most of my engineering colleagues thought the whole stuff about microprocessors one day being inside everyday objects was science-fiction - or science-fantasy.  Then one day our old shop-floor hot drinks machines where you pushed big blue buttons to activate the relays that dispensed your white-coffee-no-sugar or whatever, were replaced by swish new ones with keyboards to choose your drinks, and of course mpu's inside

JANET & GreenNet

Fast forward a few years and I'm doing some research with friends at Lancaster University and they introduce me to global electronic messaging o the Joint Academic Network.  Gob-smacking.  By the mid-80s I have my own Amstrad PCW, using it as a CP/M computer not just a word-processor, with dial-up modem, exchanging messages with people in Australia, South America etc, using GreenNet.

the coming of the web

Another few years on and its the early 90s, email's beginning to spread beyond academics and other nerds, and bingo the Web appears.  My first site used MS Word and Publisher to create the pages - I know, but it was early days.  Eventually of course I graduated to Dreamweaver, and stuck it for a long time.  Pretty good for overall layout, and still easy enough to delve into the html when necessary (or just to clean it up).  Once I learnt to manipulate databases, and do whole database-driven sites, it really felt powerful.


Then I discovered Joomla! (don't forget the exclamation mark) and haven't looked back.  Content Management Systems drastically speed up the design, implementation and maintenance of sites, and often the real donkey-work can be handed to others - "look, with this login and password you can update your own pages!!"

computer languages

It started with Fortran at college around 1968.  Microprocessor systems got me programming in machine code (bit-by-bit, see above), then assembler language.  Inevitably BASIC reared its ugly head when I acquired a Sinclair Spectrum.  Back on my microprocessor systems I moved on from assembler to FORTH - brilliant for process control, especially as it was easy to integrate with machine code, which proved essential when I was designing a millimetric-wave radar control test unit, where a lot of processing had to packed into a few milliseconds for some sub-routines.

Later dabbled with C, then fell in love with Borland Delphi, a visual C language.  Great for doing nice graphical contact databases for radio produciton teams - late 90s and early 2000s.  Not done much proper programming for years, although I'm happy to delve into javascript routines when they don't work properly in my Joomla! applications.

broadcasting & writing computer history

I also made a series for BBC Radio 4 called 'Electronic Brains', about the early computer pioneers.  It wasn't particularly technical as intended for a general audience and that led on to a book of the same name, published by Granta in 2005 -- see another website, now rather dated.

building and fixing computers

I built my own desktop PC, and repeatedly took it apart, updated it etc.  I also got a Mac clone, from the Powermac era, to run Pro Tools 5 on, for audio editing.  Still have that somewhere, but also gone through a series of Macbooks, first 2 Pros, now an Air - running Pro Tools 11.  I also take apart MacBooks and fix them, whether it's an antenna failure, swapping out the CD drive for an SSD, screen repair, whatever.