Alistair Maclean's Web Site

Computing Articles

Opinions on past computer shows

Linux World Expo NYC Jan/Feb 2001.

Linux World Expo NYC Jan/Feb 2002.

TechXNY/PCXpo NYC June 2001.

TechXNY/PCXpo NYC June 2002.

In the beginning was the electron...

My father showed me my first computer in 1967. It was a large machine that eat paper tape. He went on a course to do Assembly Language programming in Salisbury, England. Quite why he did this I never found out, he was after all the Managing Director of the firm and in no way needed this sort of geek training. He also died the following year before he could do anything in the way of showing me how computers worked.

The next contact I had with a computer was playing naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) with the Kingston Polytechnic's system in about 1972. Subsequently I wrote my first program, to square all the numbers between 2 and 50, in BASIC, that was submitted on coding sheets and run remotely. Most people in the class got back printout that just said Syntax Error. I got back a list of 48 numbers. Somewhere this sparked something. I was chronically bad at math, but I could programme.

I went to Tech College and did 4 years of various courses, but three of the courses were:

  • The Royal Society of Arts Computer Appreciation course
  • An 'A'-level in Computer Science
  • A City And Guilds in Computer Programming

The City And Guilds course was probably the hardest exam I ever too. 5 hours of analysis, design and Cobol coding. Yuck!

I went on to Portsmouth Polytechnic to do a Computer Science Degree. This course was quite out of date by the time I took it and I can't say I enjoyed the experience

I came into the work force in 1981, in the middle of one of the worst depressions in British Industrial history. Oh Boy, winner yet again!

Just before the IBM PC had hit British shores I found work at a small 'Business Computer Center,' called ZR Computers. They are now long dead. I did strange stuff, like networking Commodore PET's, and doing any contract work that the company saw fit. But this beginning set me in good stead for my coming life in the Computer Industry.

I consider myself a PC Pioneer, rightly or wrongly.

I am now involved with three other activities all in the realm of software and product development, these include some Filemaker Pro products, and support of a wireless/mobile computing product range.

Scant Regard For Authority...

Over the years I have seen significant evolution in the computer industry and have gone through several changes myself:

  • Enthusiastic
  • Patient
  • Moan a bit
  • Moan a lot
  • Jaded
  • Frustrated beyond belief
  • Resigned
  • Absently accepting
  • Change into Management

Hacking through a TLA jungle...

Computer languages and Operating Systems have been one of my escapes in life - no one said I was sane - and I still get a lot of enjoyment out of tinkering (this web site is an example). I dabble in Delphi ( & Kylix), Java, C, ColdFusion, PHP (and a good few other languages), Linux and Windows2000.

I even created a small Roman Numeral calculator to save me from boredom one evening.

I have written on a number of experiences related to what I have been doing:


Basic Apache Install and Operation Course Notes

In addition to the compilation of Apache I worked at creating a set of notes intended for a training course in Apache. Never got far with actually implementing the course, but I have put the notes here if you are interested. The notes should be considered an overview and reviewed in conjuction with the various Apache HOW-TO's, the Apache website documentation, documentation on the sites of the providers of the various add-ons, and any other sources.

Windows Stuff

Having been a long time user of MS products, I still try to keep current with what is going on in Redmond. There are days it is not easy, there are times I swear in a westerly direction: profanities, loudly. But I have made a lot of money following Mr. Gates.

Recently I decided to try out the new C# language. Find out about my Adventures in Betaland or how to uninstall a Beta release when the uninstall advice is to reformat the hard drive.


Updated Jan 2009
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