*be sceptical - take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2019

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With the extraordinary revelations coming out of England’s regarding ‘The News of the World’, personal privacy had suddenly hit the headlines; at least in the non-Murdock papers.  

But of more concern than having one’s telephone tapped, is the risk of having one’s computer tapped.  Private papers, photographs and other files as well as your bank accounts and other ecommerce connections are particularly vulnerable to anyone with direct or remote access to our computers and/or personal devices.           

How might we prevent a ‘private investigator’, ‘investigative journalist’, ‘hacker’ or other criminal getting access to our files and invading our privacy?    

And how secure is the Internet that most of us use everyday?

 

 

 

 

Over the years I have written many small applications and utilities.

 

In order of sophistication these include:

  • Simple HTML web pages
  • Command line scripted utilities and batch (BAT) files
  • Embedded Java code in web pages
  • Word and Excel macros typically written in Visual Basic for Applications VBA
  • Simple databases with VBA or Visual Basic (VB) VB frontends
  • Database related SQL queries batch data manipulators, templates and structures
  • Simple stand-alone utilities in in VB
  • Windows utilities written in plain C++ or using the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)
  • Fully featured relational databases using SQL Server and VB
  • Complex applications written in C++

 

Some examples include:

  • Automatic footers and metadata updater code for Word and Excel; optionally to bring up a dialog to ensure file naming conforms to a standard.
  • A utility to process business financial data to reveal a variety of comparable ratios indicative of business health.
  • An applications to change registry settings and to install and run files on desktops and servers across a network.
  • A library (DLL) of simple encryption routines that add no overhead (don't change the file size) that can be used on any file; or encrypt in URL friendly characters to secure URL strings sent to web pages.
  • Several applications based around this library that can easily be called by applications written in languages other than C (VB, VBA, Java, C# etc).
  • File manipulation software for archiving, file moving and general file management; providing scripted batch processing archiving and reporting.

 

I'm happy to provide more information on any of these on applications or tools.  Use the contact facility on this website.


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Travel

Denmark

 

 

  

 

 

In the seventies I spent some time travelling around Denmark visiting geographically diverse relatives but in a couple of days there was no time to repeat that, so this was to be a quick trip to two places that I remembered as standing out in 1970's: Copenhagen and Roskilde.

An increasing number of Danes are my progressively distant cousins by virtue of my great aunt marrying a Dane, thus contributing my mother's grandparent's DNA to the extended family in Denmark.  As a result, these Danes are my children's cousins too.

Denmark is a relatively small but wealthy country in which people share a common language and thus similar values, like an enthusiasm for subsidising wind power and shunning nuclear energy, except as an import from Germany, Sweden and France. 

They also like all things cultural and historical and to judge by the museums and cultural activities many take pride in the Danish Vikings who were amongst those who contributed to my aforementioned DNA, way back.  My Danish great uncle liked to listen to Geordies on the buses in Newcastle speaking Tyneside, as he discovered many words in common with Danish thanks to those Danes who had settled in the Tyne valley.

Nevertheless, compared to Australia or the US or even many other European countries, Denmark is remarkably monocultural. A social scientist I listened to last year made the point that the sense of community, that a single language and culture confers, creates a sense of extended family.  This allows the Scandinavian countries to maintain very generous social welfare, supported by some of the highest tax rates in the world, yet to be sufficiently productive and hence consumptive per capita, to maintain among the highest material standards of living in the world. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

A Twisted Pigs Tale

 

This is a little exercise in creative writing.  The brief was to reimagine the Three Pigs from a different perspective.   The original is a parable about the virtues of forward thinking, providence and hard work, so that only the most abstemious pig survives the metaphorical wolf.  I thought it was a bit tough on the middle pig who is just trying to find a balance between work and play.   So here is my version:

 


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Opinions and Philosophy

The Meaning of Life

 

 

 

This essay is most of all about understanding; what we can know and what we think we do know. It is an outline originally written for my children and I have tried to avoid jargon or to assume the reader's in-depth familiarity with any of the subjects I touch on. I began it in 1997 when my youngest was still a small child and parts are still written in language I used with her then. I hope this makes it clear and easy to understand for my children and anyone else.

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