22 June 2019


When I was 11 years old Father Christmas 😉 delivered a brand new Commodore 64 Hollywood Edition. I had the shiny new, and what turned out to be the last revision of the iconic machine. My parents made one edict - you must learn how to program and in between games of Sid Meier’s Pirates and anything by Accolade, I did. I wrote a program spread across 6 5¼ disks that tabulated and tracked a Ten Pin Bowling league. I heard that it was still being used some 9 years later and I was paid the princely sum of 1000 Deutsche Marks for the code which started the thread that has woven my life.

Much of my career had been contracting SQL and C services to organisations such as Defence, Publishing and Government until 2004 when I was fortunate enough to become aware of Cerner Corp. They were just getting involved in the UK health care market and beginning to show what was possible with a unified architecture crossing all patient care settings, commonly referred to as the EHR (Electronic Health Record). I am with Cerner to this day and enjoying having my hobby be my means of income more than ever as an Associate Principal Engineer spanning several strands of global development, from fledgling open source projects to large closed source Java/Scala enterprise architecture and proprietary languages. The founder of Cerner passed in 2018, spoke my language - he promoted responsibility in production. Like Charles Babbage before him, a hero of mine, he believed that humanity could improve when it could compute itself. Numbers, they matter and with numbers we host for the clinical practitioners save lives. Getting out of bed in the morning is really easy with a goal that important.

I started using NetBeans in about 2012 with 7.1, 7.2 perhaps. Until the beginning of the transition to Apache it was just a tool, but as that process began and I found time in my expanded roles to start questioning what I could do to make things better - initially for me and then the engineers working with me. I was using Scala heavily and relying upon the excellent nbscala from Caoyuan Deng when he began to focus on other things, so I took a fork and began to move it forward based on the Apache NetBeans branches. I now have a little suite of plugins for Apache NetBeans that I use within Cerner on a daily basis but sadly closed source. One project I have however, that I would like to open source is a plugin that logs and aggregates statistics for applications running on the local machine. We might be lucky and I will be able to share a preview at the upcoming Apache NetBeans Day in London. I have also been getting excited by the opportunities of bare bones iOS/Android with AdoptOpenJDK, OpenJFX and Apache NetBeans.

Most of what I do is on a Mac these days, both at home and at work, I drank the juice. I have been desperate to use Haiku-OS, the excellent follow up to BeOS but at the moment it only exists inside a VM. I am shopping for something with which to do a bare metal install. I particularly like the idea of a couple of older multi-core Xeons. BeOS had a beautifully simple GUI and a super fast filesystem. Now, in a very stable x64 beta, HaikuOS is becoming a viable home development platform just in need of a good O365 extension.

You can reach me on Twitter and read my coalesced thoughts on Dzone.