xsltpro.co.uk

Introduction

I have been playing around with programming computers since the mid 1990s when our parents bought us an Amiga 500. It was already quite out of date by then and I remember getting mocked in the playground at secondary school for using an Amiga, however, it sparked a love of technology that has been with me ever since. Now my two main hobbies are programming and writing fiction (I was doing that even before I had a computer on an old typewriter...and then aftwards on the amazing Wordworth program for the Amiga).

Strangely it took a long time for me to realize that I would also enjoy programming for a living and I spent most of my 20s doing other things that ranged from driving a bus to working in a nuclear laboratory. I even managed to get a couple of degrees along the way (although I have no idea how!) and then landed what I thought would be my dream job as a Technical Writer. It was good actually, and I stayed with that company for more years than any other job before or since but eventually I got sick of the way I was treated by the other engineers, who aside from a couple that I still keep in touch with were generally sneering and derisory. Using the fact that I had basically created a document database for processing XML into HTMLHelp, PDF and some other whacky formats I re-modelled myself as a Software Engineer and moved on to a similar company down the road (both companies were making sonar equipment for divers and ROVs).

After this I had a bumpy ride going around numerous small firms, first as a Software Engineer, then Lead Programmer, Software and Stylesheet Developer, Firmware Developer and finally I landed a job with a much bigger company as an Information Systems Engineer. All using different languages, systems and technologies but pretty much all the same process: write code, test code, fix code, re-write code, test code, ...

Throughout all this time I have used pretty much every computer operating system that I can think of off the top of my head (though there are numerous others that I would like to have a go at). My favourite machine remains the Sun UltraSparc 5 which I bought off eBay when it was already years out of date but used it for a while to write with and do some of my student work while I was living in a caravan up on the West Cumbrian coast. It was an amazing machine and I think its a shame that Sun Microsystems lost out in the end.

Around 2015 I got hold of a Raspberry Pi and became frustrated with how slow Debian was on it (since then I have used several Pis with versions of Linux as HTPCs and they work really well for that...just not perhaps for a desktop system). On a whim I tried RISC OS and at that time I didn't really know anything about it but immediately found it to be astonishingly quick. Later I found out that it is also astonishingly small. These two factors alone were enough to endear it to me but there is something else too which I am unable to exactly express coherently which makes me love the OS in a way that I haven't felt since using Solaris on my old UltraSparc.

I still have use a couple of Debian servers at home and Pi-based HTPCs for watching TV (running some kind of Linux), and there are times that I have to use a MacBook to do some things that RISC OS cannot do but for the most part, all of my personal computing activities are done from within the OS. The only thing that it lacks for me is a good web browser so sometimes I have to connect to one of the Debian servers over VNC and do my browsing that way. Now I am doing all my writing and spare-time programming on the OS I have decided to put my efforts into helping the NetSurf project to hopefully address the major problem with the system.

I know its 30 years since RISC OS was first developed and most of the world would likely think I am daft to use it for my main OS but you know, it just works for me and works in a way that I find makes me happy, so hopefully it will continue to be developed and used for the next 30 years as well! This site is devoted to my projects that work on RISC OS, originally I wanted to create a text-processing system (or port one) to the platform—hence the domain name—but I realize that my time is limited and better spent on other things.

Glen Walker, July 2018