Ray Harper
Ray Harper - Other Stuff
I grew up on a smallholding. I helped take care of chickens we kept for the eggs. My uncle rented our field to graze some heifers. I have fond memories of walking amongst the cows scratching their heads - a bit dangerous when they decide to toss their head or two of them give you a squeeze as you're passing through. I identified the birds that nested around the fields. I watched ants doing ant things. I have always had an interest in natural history, particularly animals (including humans) and their environment.

I learnt to ride a bicycle when I was about seven. I used a bicycle to ride to school and generally get around until I went to university in London. Initially I used the tube system to get around but eventually I got a motorbike. I needed cheap transport to get around to places the tube system did not reach or when it did not run. I tend to impatience and don't like being stuck in traffic so I prefer riding a bike to driving a car, a bike almost always enables you to keep going. I have always used bikes to commute to work and also for a few holidays. Eventually I got fed-up with oiling and adjusting chains and mostly restricted myself to shaft drives.

I am not sure why I got interested in computing. Maybe because I was always quite good at maths and my interest in science fiction. I started with an Acorn Electron with a tape recorder later adding the Plus 3 disk drive unit. I wrote some simple games software for my children to play with, then more - see Acorn/BBC section. At work, a university lecturer in biochemistry, we used IBM PC's so eventually I had to move on to a PC. Mostly I have built my own PC's and currently use Ubuntu as my operating system with a second system running Windows for some utilities I need for my retro PC's.

At work I developed an interest in Computer-Based Learning and wrote a CBL system using a commercial Hypertext package. With the advent of the World Wide Web I developed a web-based system called Web Open Learning (WebOL) using Visual Basic, javascript, html, xml and css techniques. The software to construct the learning or formative assessment projects runs on 'Windows' machines but the projects consist of web-pages that run in any browser under any PC operating system. I obtained a grant from the Learning Technology Support Network (LTSN), now The Higher Education Academy, to develop a version for the Education Sector but it was never widely used.