Friday, July 11, 2014

Changes coming

I have nothing else to do and so I'm going on an adventure. I'm packing up for a walking tour of Europe and will do that for as long as I can hold out.

I'll begin posting information as I go.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today is my last day...

Life has dealt me some strange cards recently. The girl I fell in love with so long ago has taken herself out of my life and decided to do things her way. Understandably for a while this drove me a tiny bit bonkers. I still love her but we are unable to share that together for the moment.

Chrissy's departure and all the stress that it has caused has allowed me to take a step back from my life and to wonder what it was that I was doing. As you might know, I've been involved in technology and programming for as long as I was married to my Chrissy. It was she that encouraged me to think outside of my own limitations and persuaded me that to go for a job that was apparently beyond my skills was a viable possibility.

So, for thirty two years I have struggled with the world to try and provide a living for a growing family. The path that I walked was one of constantly growing stress with a need for more money, more stuff, cars, clothes and shoes, shopping trolleys full of groceries and bottles of wine and cans of beer.

Chrissy has gone to live with a past that she seems unable to reconcile as being over and forgotten. I intend to go and live in the undiscovered country of the future.

Today is my last day as a technology freak and hunter of cash or chaser of other people's problems. Today is the final effort that I will make on the path of my "career" because I no longer have a reason for struggling along that path with the rain and sleet beating against my face. Today I turn my back to the winds of fate and will allow them to push me along rather than fight against them all the way.

This is my  last day of the past and the first day of my future. Maybe you'll find that this blog becomes more interesting in the next little while. It is unlikely to be about computers or anything based on technology but you might find it interesting.

Have a good day today and remember that tomorrow hasn't happened yet.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some progress anyway.

Yesterday, after walking about holding my trousers up all day long I went to the store and bought new jeans. Not long ago I found 44 inch jeans tight. Yesterday I bought 38 waist trousers and they are a tiny bit too large. A drop of 4 sizes is pretty good and I am winning the weight loss challenge at work.

Down by 3 stones now.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New dimensions

Being a fat bastard sucks!
It eats away at your life, your energy and your mood.
Being a programmer with a sedentary job doesn't help either. My blood pressure has been consistently in the 170/110 range for many years and my weight far to high.
Making an effort of late has gone a long way to rectify that. I have dropped 15 kilos, 33 lbs in old units. That is more than 2 stones for the English readers.
My blood pressure this morning was 150/87!
Still, I have a long way to go. I need to lose yet another 32 kilos to get to my goal weight.
Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

More ones and zeros

I have long held the belief that ones and zeros are all you need t know when dealing with computing of all styles. The almost religious zeal with which some programmers defend their chosen platforms is of little or no consequence when we find ourselves in a  world where there is an android phone in your pocket, an iPad beside the bed, a PC in the office and a Mac in the living room we don't have any excuse for digital bigotry any longer.

The cries of dyed-in-the-wool Java programmers that detest Microsoft systems and the Linux zealots that think open source is the one true way must be silenced when we realise that the refrigerator runs on a PIC 16 and the microwave has an Atmel controller and the TV is equipped with an ARM system-on-a-chip and if we're really lucky and creative we could actually make a TV that serves popcorn ice-cream that you can order from the car on the way home.

This week so far I have programmed in earnest using C#, Arduino C, Processing java, Python, Visual Basic, PIC microcontroller assembly language and have used Windows, Mac-OS, Ubuntu Linux, Android and iOS and its only Wednesday!

Bollocks to digital bigotry. The more I broaden my horizons the more fun life is!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


This is so bizarre, I was a staunch supporter of all things Microsoft for many years. Since 1992 when I first got an MSDN subscription. Now, through no particular effort on my part, Microsoft, the Windows platform, the whole ecosystem is becoming less and less important to me.

Why is this? Well, I think to be honest that I am an early adopter and I tend to chase what is around other people's corners well in advance. I realised a little while back that I have not watched main-stream channel based TV for more than ten years. All my watching and home entertainment is delivered via the internet.

For more than two years I have not had an internet connection at my house! I have perfectly capable unlimited mobile internet and can do all the normal internet stuff such as stream Netflix, watch YouTube, download, browse and do mail to such an extent that I feel no other need. Yep.. Over my phone!

For computing I have not had a functioning Windows system in the house for more than eight months. I have a Mac mini as a media centre, a Macbook Air as a portable but most of my day to day needs are serviced by an iPad and a Chromebook with Ubuntu installed on it or an Android phone.

I have not entirely given up on Windows. In my work I am writing the coolest application I have ever been involved with. It is a totally modular application using Prism and MEF. It interfaces with hardware AND has a full Python scripting system built in so that users can write scripts that modify the behaviour of the application. Seriously, I go to work in the morning with this huge stupid grin on my face and create cool cool stuff!

I write kick-ass multi-threaded hardware enabled WPF all day long and I'm just plain LOVING IT!.

Evenings and weekends are techno-centric too. My daughter wants to design a robot so we're learning Scratch, Arduino, programming Raspberry Pi, hacking into Minecraft and building circuits on prototype breadboards.

Oddly, I have introduced Windows and WPF to the work because they were all C, GTK, MINGW and Linux before but I think i have convinced them that WPF makes a kick-ass GUI for their systems. Apart from that however, my programming interests have moved well away from Microsoft centrism.

Is this a sign of the times to come? Will the Windows platform take a step to the side and allow other operating systems to take over some of the load? I think that the answer is a resounding YES! but this isn't a bad thing. Diversity is competition and so if Microsoft is falling behind then it is a wake-up call to get better or die.

I've been a great fan of Microsoft for a long time, just as I was a fan of Mohammed Ali and Richard Burton and Lilian Gish. For some of those, the time is gone. Over forever. Can Microsoft remake its business? Can it answer the needs of the mobile masses?

For me I am convinced that competition is not only there but has real alternatives and real values that overshadow the solid and sometimes immutable Windows. Its all about evolution. All about the fittest.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


My apologies to the folks who have used my site and found the binary downloads missing.
Last time I updated the site these got missed out for some reason. They are back up again:

Why the lack of posts Bob?

Well, wow, what can I say? I have radically changed my life and have become so involved in coolness that I have had zero time to do do other stuff. I am currently working in the coolest job I have had in years in the automotive industry. I am writing hardware test software which if you think isn't technologically challenging or inspiring then think again.
I have become a Raspberry Pi fan in a big way. I have two of them for various reasons and my kids have one each. We have been programming Python and driving the Minecraft-PI edition in interesting ways.
I am pursuing an idea connected with BitCoin that is taking up some of my spare time and I have become a mentor at a CoderDojo mentoring kids in electronics and Arduino programming.

WPF Toolkit Chart Line Color

After struggling for some time with the problem of being unable to select a colour (yes, I know I spelled it differently in the title, people are more likely to search for the programming term than the concept) for the line chart I discovered that one should select the BACKGROUND colour of the LineSeries in order to change the stroke colour of the line. Nicely logical eh?