Get in touch ...


This is my home page which contains, well, not very much apart from a sporadic blog.

My work interests are on separate websites:

  • My Microsoft Excel Library, Business Functions, is at
    This also currently the home base for my business modelling consulting.
  • My website design stuff is at
  • The guitar ensemble I am in is the Epping Forest Guitar Group

    Various family bits and bobs are on yet more websites:

  • These are the things I am working on at the moment:
    • Business Functions, the business modelling libbary for Microsoft Excel is now in its 11th year and is available for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Excel.
    • jControl is a parental control program to limit kids use of computer games to specific times of the day. As of February 2014, it is in beta testing mode.
    • StudyGate is a diariser, to-do list and online memo system for helping high school students with learning that requires no log-in.
    • Excel Business Models a site that sells spreadsheets to solve specific problems.
    06 feb 14
    Online Spreadsheets
    Are the future. I have spent a lot of my life working in Lotus -1-2-3 and Excel and I am always sending models back and forth to clients. For simpler scenarios online is great because you be sure its going to work for the client, and you can even watch as he uses it. The new online Excel Web App 2013 is a marvel although it can be a bit slow to load up initially. Word is similarly awesome. I see now that Google have raised their game and actually I will use theirs for my current client. Exciting times, the first major shift for 20 years is afoot!
    18 may 12
    Fedex - Probably not the worlds best courier!
    Here are the facts:

    1. Attempted delivery. Left card asking to rebook. Rebooked.

    2. Attempted delivery at the same next day (doh). Left card asking to rebook. Rebooked.

    3. Didn't delivery. Phone call to Harlow is met with "we don't deliver 3 times, irrespective of the calling card we leave you".

    OK, so they don't deliver even though they say on the calling card that they will. There is NO mention on the calling card of the 2 delivery maximum.

    So they SAID you would redeliver (on the calling card), and ACKNOWLEDGED the redelivery request. There is NO MEANS of knowing that they will not redeliver.

    I have an improved wording to put on Fedex's calling cards:

    Sorry we missed you

    What would you like us to do?
    To arrange redelivery please visit or call us.
    We will then do absolutely nothing in the reassuring knowledge that you are patiently waiting for your parcel which we will quietly never send .

    25 apr 12
    Back to Glory Days of Programming Part 2
    Update May 7: Spent many days now with C++ Builder. There are bugs in the IDE - no doubt about that, and the compiler is actually surprisingly fussy. But it's the ONLY way to do forms based RAD in C++. Yay for that! For many years I have been looking for something that would recreate the feeling of excitement I got when I developed an economics program in Turbo Pascal back in the 1980's.

    I think that Borland's succesor, Embarcadero, may finally have hit on something with RAD Studio XE2. This comes in 2 flavours - Delphi (ie Turbo Pascal), and C++. Their pricing has returned to sanity with their Starter Editions aimed at "Indie" developers and students.

    They have a new GUI library that comes with it called Firemonkey - you use it to make all your dialog boxes and windows etc. Whats exciting about it is that it is not tied to Windows. These are vector drawn controls that work just as well on the Apple Mac and maybe, in the future Linux. This could be true platform independence which has been elusive for so long and has for me always been less than satisfactorily addressed by Mono and Real Basic.

    Another thing is that this compiler, system, RAD environment, or whatever you like to call it, enables you to do rapid application development with C++. Thats very exciting for me - I love the speed and flexibility of C++.

    Finally, of course, its all native code, so its fast. No frameworks, virtual machines or runtimes.

    RAD Studio XE2 ought to meet with a wave of success. Let's hope its gets a decent market share.

    02 feb 12
    Parentmail the answer? Probably not.
    Parentmail's published email addresses 'info', 'support' and 'enquire' don't work - they all bounce.

    The phone line doesn't get through to a real person and instead you are eventualy given a premium rate number (77p per minute). They don't even answer the premium rate number.

    So that's it then - uncontactable.

    Does this sound like a company that’s good with communications?

    16 jan 12
    New website for Romford Figure Skaters
    I have just started up a site for patch ice users at It’s pretty simple, but it should be a good noticeboard for the latest information for patch ice users at the rink.
    19 jul 10
    Bad Day on the Push Scooter
    I was just scooting up the back of the car when I went down the kerb, fell over and decided to break my fall in a novel way: point your fingers directly at the ground and attempt a hand stand using only the middle two digits.

    From a prone position I saw some schoolgirls who shouted out "are you alright" and I happily waived my contorted hand at them "fine!", I said.

    The sister in A&E licked her lips "ah, not one, but two perfect dislocations, please lie down, I like my men that way". I obeyed.

    The tone of the radiologist's voice lowered as he urgently asked for his boss to come in to see my hand.

    Sister said "They are going to have to be put back" she said "I know", I sighed, gently screaming internally. "And who's going to do that?" "Me" she replied. "Oh that's just great then", I exclaimed, trying to get in her good books.

    A total of 4 jabs directly into the nerves (ouch). Then the sister called another nurse in and said "stand over there", whilst she shut the door. She was ready. She took the first finger and pulled. All the elastic of the few remaining ligament fibres pulled as the finger end moved first out, then she released - crack!. Ah perfect. Did that for the second one and suddenly I felt great. The anaesthetic finally kicking in, oh well, better late than never.

    Then she said "make a fist" and lo and behold I could. X rays confirmed that my fingers were back in place!

    Anyway, nearly a week later, my fingers can type but then don't bend too good. Hence the naissance of Fatbelly Gutbucket, Slide guitarist. Cats should wear ear defenders.

    01 jun 10
    Guitar Pro Tabs June 2010
    08 mar 10
    John's Magnificent Brain in action.......

    Me helping my 9 year old with his homework...

    01 feb 10
    I survived PHP 5.3
    I am going to crow a bit here. Look, I'm a bit of a duff programmer. This doesn't normally hold me in good stead, but with the upgrade to PHP 5.3 it certainly did.

    PHP 5.3 has broken nearly ALL PHP shopping carts (eg OSCommerce, Zen-Cart). They have released patches but these may or may not work. Several weeks after the release of 5.3 the shopping cart builders have not caught up, the changes are numerous, and if your server has recently upgraded you have a bit of a disaster on your hands.

    I've always built my own shopping carts, which is why they are so rubbish-looking, don't have log-ins and are a pain to build in new features. But all I want to say is: without any changes, they work under PHP 5.3. I know I'm weird, but I'm actually very proud of that!

    01 dec 09
    Back to the Glory Days of Programming
    Everyone should check out Microsofts Small Basic. I was looking for a computer language to teach my kids, and Small Basic is like Basic used to be in the early days - anyone can write a program. Here is a program I wrote to test him on his guitar. Simply paste it into Small Basic and run it:
    TextWindow.WriteLine("John's Fretboard Test")
    TextWindow.WriteLine("What's the name of the note at fret "+FretNumber+" string "+stringnumber+" ("+stringname[Stringnumber]+")?")
    response = text.ConvertToUpperCase(TextWindow.Read())
    If response="BB" then 
    If response="DB" then 
    If response="GB" then 
    If response="EB" then 
    If response="AB" then 
    If response=mynote then
      TextWindow.Write("Genius!   ")
      TextWindow.Write("Bozo!     ")
    TextWindow.WriteLine("The note was a "+mynote)
    TextWindow.WriteLine("Try again ....")
    Goto start
    Sub NoteName
      If NoteNo>11 Then 
    Well I liked it, anyway!
    The professional bit . . .
    2001+Director Business Functions, Business Software Developers and Modellers
    1991-2001Canary Wharf Group plc, property developers, Head of Business Planning and Appraisal
    1989-19913i plc venture capitalists, Investment Excecutive
    1987-1989MBA London Business School , full time
    1982-1987BHP Billiton, Petroleum Division, Engineer/Economist
    1981-1982MSc Petroleum Engineering, Heriot Watt Univ.


    December 09 Upload

    Family Tree