More personal stuff!

So who is this bloke who came up with tornado???

Well, my name is Niall Douglas, I am eighteen years old and am currently studying at Trinity College Dublin. My hobbies are computers (what else!), and err ... dunno what else - keeping fit? ;)

I have only bothered to put my computer history here really - it's all I intend a worldwide audience to know about. Forgive me if I'm not detailed enough.

My Computer history
I got my first computer (an Acorn Electron) when I was six as a Christmas present. I programmed on that until 1990 when I bought the A3000 which is my computer today.

Things were very different back in the eighties. A computer had 32k of RAM, of which 8k was free for programs at worst. Here's some of the things I did on my Electron:

The move to the A3000
So, realising after this refusal by (B)AU that the Electron's life-span was limited, I decided to buy a new computer. I saved and saved, and finally bought the A3000 I have today. Back then it was a 1Mb RO2 Arm2 DD floppy-only machine with a green-screen from the 70's that I had borrowed (which BTW was lethal on the eyes), but now it's a much bigger machine with 4Mb, 1Gb HD, 36Mhz screen display (allowing 1024x384x16x2x4) but still the Arm2, which is a right pain because it's so slow. Also, the machine occasionally crashes due to the 4Mb expansion which has the usual A3000 problem.

I have done a lot on the A3000, although almost all reading this page won't know of much of it as I haven't released much of it before now. I am what I would describe as a slow methodical programmer, who would only output around two applications and maybe fifteen decent programs a year. Nothing like Justin Fletcher (hi!), who hasn't been out of AU recently (so why do you have to get all the glory - just 'cos you're in college!). Or even Julian Robbins, who has managed to beat the total number of programs I've got into AU. And I won't mention Chris Davis who totally blew me over once when he wrote a demo of visual code linking in assembler in just one night!!! Man, I wish I could write in that volume!

But I can write in volume sometimes! Just prior to a competition final I had got into in 1991 (I was thirteen), I wrote a key logging module in assembler that trapped key presses and mouse movements during recording and then played them back later at the right speed. The idea was to have the computer run and use the program I had written itself. It also typed out what it was doing :)

Also, I stuck a graphics demo on the front and a scrolling credits list at the end, with music stolen from a game running right through. All this, music, demo, keypress module - all done in three days flat, plus the display posters for the stand. Incidentally, the program was a 95k Basic window template designer, which even more incidentally was the second wimp program I ever did with the PRM's to aid me. As you can see at 95k, I sorta took to it well!

Programs I have written:

So, what else have I done on my A3000 then: (Note that a lot of these will be uploaded somewhere at some stage when I get round to it. If you want them earlier, then email me).

If it seems to you that I've scraped the bottom of the barrel a bit - well, to be frank that's almost everything I've written that's of any interest to anyone but me. I do do a lot of patching, especially as I still have RO2 and many programs need altering to make them go eg; Webster. Also, as you can see above, my most productive year by far was 1992. It even beats some years on the Elk which spawned perhaps 12 good programs per year.

Since then, I started LegoCAD in the summer of 1993 and then stopped it to go to Germany for half a year in 1993, and while there I produced quite a few Psion apps, including:

So came the Young Scientist's 1995. I entered the project detailed above and had a good time. Then, as 1995 became fully here, I bought a modem due to money vanishing off to 'other' places.

Niall gets connected!

I have no doubt that most people on Acorn fidonet at that time will remember me appearing on the scene. The summer of 1995 was marked by the start of tornado. Tornado at that stage was quite different from its current incarnation, as you can see from reading some of the older documents. I made quite a storm in a teacup then, as for some reason my 'quest' captured the Acorn-owning people's imagination and loads of people started offering help and information and opinions and ideas. Few of them are around now :(.

By the end of that summer, the kernel's memory management routines were done. Not very much for three months of work I know, but I had severe difficulty focusing on my work most days, and simply left it and slept in. However, what became crucial to today's tornado was the exposure I got to alternative operating systems during that summer. I paid a visit to the UK, where I went to the Digibank meet, but also got a good look at Win95 which my cousin had 'borrowed'. I also got some work in a IP writing web pages, during which I saw a lot of Macs and Unix and X, all of which contributed to a vision. The people I talked to during the tornado furore also gave me useful tips, especially after the AU appearance.

And then a lapse appeared. With the weight of social and acedemic pressures coming to bear upon my free time, less and less was left over for tornado. However, this was reversed slightly on the run up to the Leaving Cert at the start of summer 1996 but alas, little more was done by the time my Leaving Cert was done.

And to work!

I had CVed around prior to the Leaving and had offers made to me by a few companies - of whom I chose Colton. I went to work for Colton in July 1996, where I upgraded (the famous) PipeDream from version 4.13 to 4.5 and learnt an awful lot about Acorns, Acorn and Acorn people. I also received the great pleasure of working with Stuart Swales, one of the Arthur/RO2 programmers, the Protechnic team and meeting many old Acorn "hacks".

University life begins

I got enough points for Computer Science in Trinity College Dublin and went there in October 1996. I still am there but possibly might transfer somewhere else next year.

During the Winter break of 1996/1997 I wrote the RISC-OS tornado II support module which provides preemptive multitasking facilites for RISC-OS along with 1ms accurate interrupt facilities.

To be considerably elaborated upon as soon as I get round to it ...

Oh - and here's a wee piccy!

© 1996, 1997 Niall Douglas (Last updated: 1st January 1997)