About DelphiDabbler

   

DelphiDabbler.com

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Who owns it?

That'll be me, Peter Johnson. I'm an intermediate level, amateur programmer.

I live with my wife near the beautiful little coastal town of Aberaeron in Ceredigion, Wales, UK.

Why the name?

My programming language of choice is Delphi Pascal.

I "dabble" in computer programming purely as a hobby. And one who dabbles is a "Dabbler"!

How long has the site been around?

The site in its DelphiDabbler.com incarnation has been up since the autumn of 2002.

Previously I had a site named Peter Johnson's Programming Pages located on free web space, at first on Tesco.net and then, from early 2000, on ContactBox. I branded the site and my software as PJSoft. It was finding that there was another PJSoft out there that eventually motivated me to register my own domain name. You may still see references to PJSoft in my source code and out on the web. The ContactBox host, and hence the old site, are no more.

See the old site
You can look at various incomplete versions of the old PJSoft site on the Wayback machine

My Programming Background

  • Started in 1977/8 programming in BASIC on an early micro belonging to my employer – probably a CP/M machine.
  • Bought a Tandy TRS-80 and wrote horrible spaghetti code in a truly basic BASIC. You've got to start somewhere!
  • Traded up to a Sinclair QL, writing programs using its SuperBASIC interpreter. Started to learn Pascal on the QL and, much later, C (using a Public Domain port of the C68 compiler). I now no longer use C and have forgotten a lot of it. I loved that old QL. It had the potential to be so much better than its competitors if Sinclair had bothered to finish it properly! There's a small gallery of screenshots of some of my old QL programs here.
  • Went to college in Leeds and did a BTEC National course in Computer Science, using Pascal and COBOL. The course left a lot to be desired, but at least I developed a much improved programming style.
  • Took programming theory as a subsidiary to a pure maths degree with the UK's Open University. We used Pascal and Prolog. I really want to avoid Prolog for evermore! The pure maths was great and endowed me with a complete understanding of recursion, which had always bothered me before.
  • Further developed my skills using Pascal on the UCSD P-system, running on my first PC – a 512Kb PC XT. I truly hated that PC and avoided the PC family as a result for as long as I could. MS-DOS seemed so primitive after the multi-tasking QL. I still think MS-DOS was a triumph of marketing over content.
  • Created a few simple programs using Turbo Pascal. A couple of these live on as Windows™ programs: much modified versions of my Game Of Life and 8 Queens programs are still available on this site.
  • Found nirvana when Borland Delphi version 1 was released and I've stuck with Delphi ever since. Object Pascal is by far my favourite language.
  • Have dabbled in Java and have read up on Oberon and Eiffel.
  • In 2002 started to learn Perl when I launched DelphiDabbler.com but then gave up on it when I discovered PHP. I love it, particularly the improved OOP support that came with PHP 5. I objectified this site using that OOP support in late 2008.
  • Never having been too hot on databases, I had to learn some of the basics quickly when I decided to make some parts of the site database driven. Taught myself the rudiments of MySQL in 2004.
  • In 2005 I discovered the Free Pascal compiler and experimented with it. All of the code in the Code Snippets Database has been tested under Free Pascal and a lot of it works. The CodeSnip offline viewer supports Free Pascal as a test compiler. Having said that I returned to Delphi as my main language / compiler.
  • In the middle of 2005 my learning was centred round improving my XHTML, CSS and JavaScript skills rather than working with Delphi.
  • Toward the end of 2005 I changed my focus back to Delphi. In early 2006 I began moving over to Delphi 2006 from Delphi 7. I've played around with .NET and really don't like it much. Consequently you won't find any .NET code on this site.
  • In 2006 I managed to wreck my development laptop. I borrowed another, less powerful, machine and reverted to Delphi 7 as a result. It was only in 2008 that I replaced the borrowed machine with a much more powerful shiny new laptop.
  • Having finally got a Vista machine my main effort in 2008 was to make sure my code runs on it. It didn't prove to be easy. I also reverted to Delphi 2006 from Delphi 7, but still used Delphi 7 frequently, mainly for writing demos.
  • In 2010 I finally upgraded to Delphi 2010, which remains my favourite Delphi ever, even replacing the marvellous Delphi 7 in my affections. The downside was having to convert a lot of code to be Unicode compatible. The upside has being that I've learned a lot about Unicode and have been forced to really think about string handling for the first time. At the time of writing (June 2012) Delphi 2010 remains my latest Delphi and the work of conversion continues.
  • In 2012 I learned more about JavaScript and jQuery so that I could create a couple of web applications for the site.
  • Late in 2012 and early 2013 I updated Delphi to XE3 and the XE4 (without the iOS stuff). Big mistake because neither of the IDEs can handle my CodeSnip program. I've had a good old rant about this on my blog.
  • And so we arrive in 2015 and I've reluctantly taken the decision not to upgrade my Delphi compiler's any more. The cost is escalating and doesn't seem worth the return any longer for an amateur open-source hack like me. I've just acquired a new laptop and on it I've only installed Delphi XE and XE4. Once they get so old as to be useless I'll be off to pastures new.

My Other Interests

Music, that's one … rock, reggae, jazz and classical. I used to play the acoustic guitar semi-professionally in my youth. After a 25 year lay-off I've started re-learning the guitar all over again along with my recently acquired ukuleles. The collection is growing…

Dogs. I love big soppy dogs. In April 2014 we adopted Sophie, a 10½ month old Golden Retriever bitch with the most wonderful temperament. Before Sophie we had two other Goldens, and a real pair of criminals named Bonnie & Clyde. Our lovely Bonnie died in 2011 followed by dear little Clyde in 2012. And before Bonnie & Clyde there was Goldie, one of the sweetest dogs I've known. Bonne & Clyde have been immortalised in the Easter Egg of my CodeSnip program!

A cause of some worry to my wife and my bank manager was the fact that I'm rather a petrol-head! British sports cars of the hairy chested variety are my particular favourites: Triumph, Morgan, Austin Healey, Marcos and TVR being just some. And Jaguar is my favourite marque of the lot.

Nowadays the bank manager is a happier chap now I no longer have my two modern classics. My brutal 4 litre TVR Chimaera and refined and glorious 4.2 litre Jaguar XK8 fixed head coupé have now both gone to new homes. Now I just attend classic car shows and dream and drive about in our oh-so-dull-but-practical Audi estate (yawn)!

Finally, I have an interest in vintage and antique ceramics, metal-ware and glass. I'm hopelessly addicted to auctions (the real ones, not the Internet ones), because I love the buzz, but have backed off buying stuff now that I'm feeding the guitar collecting habit. At present I have a small collection of 18th and 19thcentury wine, ale and cordial glasses.