Software, Programming and Systems Analysis

My introduction into personal computing was at the start of the information era. I bought and used the following original micro computers; 1979 – Compukit UK101, 1980 – Acorn Atom, 1980 – BBC Computer, 1994 and on Personal Computer. I was very reclusive and introvert during the early years and getting lost in computers and writing software was great for me then.

Programming Languages

BBC Basic with some experience in pascal, cobol, 6502 assembler. I wrote software professionally for 5-6 years. I registered as self empoyed while working at the university to sell what I wrote. The following are past and current projects involving systems analysis as well as me writing all of the software involved.

Web site design

Experience in web design has been on going since early 2001 working mostly with Microsoft Frontpage until I recently started using WordPress 2.0.2 for the presentation of my web sites as this is more flexible and it seems more reliable than using Frontpage. For writing web sites and hosting I have some basic experience with html, java, css & perl.

Programming and Software writing 

1) Software Package; The acquisition, analysis & collation of sample data from 6 continuous flow fluorimeters.
I wrote software between June 1982 and february 1983 to automate the data acquisition and analysis from six continuous flow fluorimeters simultaneously measuring metabilites such as pyruvate, glucose, alanine and others. I was employed to do this by Prof. George Alberti in the department of Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine at Newcastle University. I worked on my own to analyse the requirements and eventually wrote a modular software package that did the following;

  • Collecting and analysing the data; Detecting standards, Q.C.s and samples, calculate the quantities of each metabolite based on the standards, performed statistical analysis on the quality controls to give a value of accuracy for that analysis.
  • An editor; To edit the raw data to adjust when the continuous flow system experienced blockages and or air intake to disrupt data integrity.
  • Presentation and distribution; Collating the results with patient details then delivering printouts for distribution.

This package was one of the first of it’s kind set up within a research department. This software was written in Apple basic on an Apple IIe.

2) Software Package; Bio-Statistical Analysis
Between the summers of 83 and 87, continuous with my full time employment, I spent time writing a bio-statistical analysis package that ran on the BBC Microcomputer. The statistical analysis included ANOVA, multiple regression and polynomial analysis, as well as having powerful graphical facilities. I registered as a small business, and successfully sold the package and related software for a number of years internationally. The BBC Microcomputer had 32k of memory and the software was written in modules; with different software loading as required. The full software was 140k in size and was written to be as fast as possible; with abbreviated variable names; multiple lines of code all crammed together on one line. It was illegible and yet I seemed to have the full 140 pages of information in my head as I could recall which program and lines to edit when making changes. I spent time simulating it’s use in my head – watching how users would use it. I also spent time actually watching real people using it and making changes accordingly so that it was as easy to use as possible – something that todays software writers often seem to forget to do – actually make it usable to ordinary people. It was well recieved and I recall when I left the University that some there were still running their BBC Microcomputers just to run this software in the mid 1990’s and I had many asking me to rewrite it to make it run on a PC – sacrelige; you could not step down from a BBC computer to make it work as well on a PC. I was inspired to write this when trying to run data through some statistical analysis software written for an Apple IIe to do some students t-tests. With just 10 pairs of values – it took 15 minutes to generate the result. My software could analysis 800 pairs and give you the result between pressing return and returning your eyes to the screen. There was nothing faster than a BBC Computer and it’s Pascal like BBC Basic. Those were the days.