Tag name:biography

Early photographs

19th June 2022

While I'm not a keen photographer like Zygmunt, I do take photographs and use them on this website. Some of my earliest photographs come from the pre-digital era but I have scanned some them in and present them here. You might also find quite a few of the others indirectly via the Image Tag Cloud for my images and photos.

Wargaming Book

21st December 2021

Wargaming Book

While I was still at comprehensive school (i.e. 1979), I wrote at least two editions of Wargaming Book. As you can see it might go some way to explain why in French I attained the giddy heights of CSE grade 2 (equivalent to grade D for O levels and (according to wikipedia) grade 3 in the modern GCSE system.

The rules were based on my reading up to that point and so was based on both the SPI hex war games of the time plus a hardback copy of (I believe the first edition) of Setting up a Wargames Campaign by Tony Bath that was available from my local library.

The book includes a small campaign (using the map on the front cover) and I do remember then creating a huge map attempting to use a large hexagonal nut to draw the hexagons on a 6 foot by 4 foot board which had also been used for my model railway.

The second edition (written, according to the writing history, in November 1979) was more of an attempt to clean up the layout of the first edition though it did reveal some of my interest in electoral systems by having a section on different ways of ruling a country, two of which focused on the difference between first-past-the-post and proprtional representation!

I have created a pdf of the first version of the book (the version whose cover is shown in the image). This pdf does NOT include pages 40 to 47 as those pages are covered by the copyright for Setting up a Wargames Campaign to which I do not have the rights.

Play-by-mail Games

21st December 2021

Over time I've actually run several play by mail games of one sort or another. These include:

Circa 1979
Not actually a game that I actually ran as a play-by-mail game, but Wargaming Book was the first game I wrote, or at least the first one for which I still have the material.
I ran a game based on the Wargaming Book at my college.
After university I ran my largest game based (loosely) on the strategic side of Chivalry and Sorcery.
1980s (ish)
Liftoff! (first run)
1991 (ish)
Liftoff! 2 (second run). This one only lasted a few turns
Possibly the most successful of my bigger games was Domain of the Ancients 2.
Liftoff! (third run). This was an complete run of the game and was documented entirely on this website.
En Garde (Moribund)

Alexis' Biography

10th March 2017

This is very much a work in progress with lots of "TODO" sections, but the functionality I want is here.

Marriage of Princess Eleanor

The story of Her Highness Princess Alexis starts with the her mother's Birthday Ball. On the 23rd day of Menderal 139, a Ball was held to celebrate Princess Eleanor's 18th Birthday. The Ball was held in the Archimandrite's Hall of Munificent Hospitality in the Temple of Hahn in Linrodeth. The Hall had been newly redecorated in white and gold and echoed to the sound of the Royal Court and the music of the Master Bards. Attending the ball were several potential suitors for her hand in marriage.

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Princess Eleanor had instructed her lady-in-waiting, Lady Caroline, to discover the most biddable and/or desperate of her suitors, so that the Princess could intervene with her father to ensure that the right man was selected as her official suitor. Laedy Caroline did this by embarassing all the suitors, pointing out, for example, Duke Alexander Calverin of Cascorach's boorish manners and ridiculing Prince Pharos of Kerun's Gift as inappropriate. However with many of the attendees being more interested in trade, rather than the affairs of the Royal Court, it soon became obvious that the Princess would have been struggling to assert her power and authority anywhere other than in the kingdom of Athion and she soon settled on Duke Alexander as being the one best placed to give her own power base to rival those of her siblings and, in particular, that of Prince Edward (her elder brother) who already had established a power base in the City of Salvoyn. She married the Duke at Midsummer 140.

Of those attending, three were Princes of foreign lands unused to the political ways of the Kingdom of Athion. Princes Konrad (of Garth), Pharos (of Kerun) and Khalid (of Orissa) were all outplayed by Duke Alexander Calverin of Cascorach. Indeed, such was the politcal activities that Prince Konrad was considering risking a war with Athion by kidnapping the Princess, while Pharos and Khalid did end up at war (albeit with each other rather than with Athion). Despite the murder of a Linrodeth Councillor, Thomas Castlemaine (who, by powers unknown, ended up being an official suitor for the Princess's hand), the Duke married Princess Eleanor at Midsummer 140.

The events at that ball are somewhat confused. Several events point to the actions of nefarious powers to manipulate the affair. The lapdog of Princess Eleanor's lady-in-waiting, Lady Caroline, suffered a strange illness and, some suggest, was never seen again after a strange parchment was found on its sickbed accompanied by what can only be described as a strange ritual from behind the locked door of the sickroom that was overheard by several observers. Later on during the ball Lady Caroline and Jan Ostern has to act to prevent another strange ritual in the gardens of the Temple of Hahn itself from taking place. The ritual had advanced far enough though to cause Princess Eleanor to retire early to her rooms.

The plots and schemes continued after the Birthday Ball and even caused the death of a prominent Linrodeth Councillor, Thomas Castlemaine, who had been also courting the Princess. As a result, Princess Eleanor married Duke Alexander Calverin at Midsummer 140.

The Ball was also the first opportunity for many of the attendees to meet for many years, the Birthday Ball devolved in a farce as politics and trade ended up taking priority over the celebrations and courting of the Princess' Hand. It is said that the Temple of Hahn did best out of the event from all the contracts that needed to be finalised during the event. Despite (or, perhaps, because of) the politicing the Princes of two of the attendees, Kerun and Orissa, ended up at war over the event. In fact, the most promising of the Princess' suitors turned out to be someone who didn't even attend the ball - Councillor Thomas Castlemaine of Linrodeth. Sadly, though, the brave councillor was out of his league and was murdered within the year. All others having left the field, the remaining suitor, Duke Alexander Calverin, married Princess Eleanor at Midsummer 140.

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Birth of Alexis

Following her Marriage, Princess Eleanor and Duke Alexander travelled to Cascorach where the Princess immediately started to make an impact on governance of the Duchy, for example by recalling the Guild Charters then in operation in Cascorach and replacing the guild structures by a trio of new, more biddable, guilds. The City Watch was then replaced by a new formation of the army, the First Cascorach Infantry Regiment. The resulting confusion was then exploited by the neighbouring City State of Adaqua, which lies to the south of Cascorach over the Gelt Mountains.

All this preceeded the announcement that the Princess was now expecting her first child. The Temple of Hahn then announced that Edward de Belleme was to be appointed as Plenipotentairy of Cascorach and he was dispatched to Cascorach complete with a full company of Knights Templar. This addition to the Duchy's military forces, combined with a lessening of attacks by Gelt raiding parties resulted in a rout of the attacking Adaquan forces. Combined with excellent summer and autumn weather, the resulting gathering of the harvest was superb. With potents this good, it was entirely unsurprising that the birth of Princess Alexis Emma was an easy one and was the cause of yet another major celebration in Cascorach.

At the same time it was announced that Princess Eleanor was expecting her child. In a desperate attempt to change the portents, the Temple of Hahn sent out a new plentipotentairy to the City of Cascorach. However this merely resulted in even worse prophesy: 'Ware the comming of the empty one for he brings tidings of terror to the Red Man. Princess Eleanor then arranged a truce with the Gelt Barbarians (presuming involving promises of future behaviour), resulting in many sacrificies in the pass in between Cascorach and Adaqua in return for the life of Sir Gawain Carleon. Princess Alexis was then born in the new year.

Despite all this confusion, Princess Alexis Emma was born in Cascorach on Eighthday Thirdweek of Skelern 142.

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Alexis' Education

Princess Eleanor undertook to give her daughter the best possible education. Taking advantage of the many learned people around her (including the Astrologer Royal), and the presence of many senior priests of the major religions, Princess Eleanor ensured that her daughter received a very broad appreciation of the world and its inhabitants.

Alexis' Education

Princess Eleanor immediately set about giving her daughter an education about the darker aspects of the world, including a substantial contribution from Goodgulf, the Astrologer Royal who Princess Eleanor had woven into her entourage. Goodgulf took full advantage of the possibilities this presented, binding Alexis into many of his rituals, including an exploration, exploitation and reactivation of magical locations in the Kingdom of Athion.

Substitution of an Imposter

However, one curious incident soon after the birth leads to the conclusion that the girl now posing as Princess Alexis is an imposter. Early on in her education while her family were visiting Linrodeth, Princess Alexis went missing. Subsequently the Astrologer claimed that Princess Alexis had climbed into his caravan while he was conducting a mapping expedition outside of the city. A young girl resembling Alexis returned to the City, but no definitive proof that it was the young Princess was ever presented. Thus, one is forced to conclude that a substitution was made and the girl who now poses as the Princess is not who she claims to be. It is even possible that there is a whole suite of imposters being used by nefarious powers.

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Murder of King Edmund Carlingas

The basic facts of the murder of King Edmund are not disputed. Following the appointment of Prince Kieran as Prince of Task, a ceremony to formalise the appointment was organised in the great Hall of Nyskilde. Prince Kieran entered the hall surrounded by a bodyguard of knights. As King Edmund rose to greet his son, archers positioned in the balcony of the Hall, fatally shot the King and landed several other arrows in the King's entourage, felling Queen Emma, Lords Dubhainn, Grenville and Niceilin. Arnor Samhach, Plenipotentairy of Cascorach and Princess Kira Karabaek of the Noord along with many others were all slain.

This act of Regicide was clearly conducted to save the Kingdom of Athion from the fate that was awaiting it. By assassinating the King and his important cronies and by implicating Prince Kieran in the affair; the plotters acted to protect Athion from the activities of the northern lords which were threatening to overwhelm the Kingdom. With Crown Prince Edward being unable to attend the ceremony due to his duties in the south (and, in particular, continuing to subdue the Gelt tribes in the mountains), he was the legimate heir to the Throne and it was only the separate rebellion of Prince Kieran and Princess Eleanor that plunged Athion into civil war.

Starting with this act of Regicide, the kingdom of Athion was plunged into a vicious civil war. The plotters then ensured that Crown Prince Edward was seduced by those wanting the return of the dark powers of Resh into trying to intervene in the dispute between Prince Kieran and the remains of his father's Court. Without a central unifying power, the civil war spiralled out of anyone's control; sweeping up the various Temples into its conflict and even setting City against City.

The archers had been placed and controlled by the dark powers led by the hidden temple of Resh. These not only organised the murder but ensured that the events were presented in such a way so that Crown Prince Edward immediately assumed that his brother, Prince Kieran, was behind the regicide and, presumably, was attempting to take over the Kingdom. As a result Crown Prince Edward was forced to intervene and the Kingdom of Athion dissolved into Civil War.

The reason behind the Regicide is much more complicated that one might imagine. The King and his entourage had concluded that the Kingdom needed to be broken up in order to save it from the crushing order that was being steadily imposed by the Hahnite hierarchy and, in a desperate bid to stop this, his Majesty concluded that the best way to save the Kingdom was to, in effect, destroy it. He ensured that a Civil War would break out by providing a different narative to each of his children, but he also ensured that the story each believed would exclude the Hanhites from any resulting settlement. Although this plan largely succeeded, the Hanhnites did manage to introduce the concept of a evil Heresy into the politics of the War, encouraging the partcipipants to rely on the Temple for guidance and support.

The death of King Edmund is the most tragic part of the whole civil war, albeit the trigger for it. The King's own bodyguard force and his chief spymaster, Lord D'Saarn, had discovered that a cult of necromancers and devil worshippers had established a plot to overthrow both the King and the those religious forces responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of the general good of the Kingdom of Athion. As a result, a force of King's Rangers and loyal Knights, including those surrounding Crown Prince Edward and Kieran had long suspected that the investiture of Prince Kieran would be the focus of the Reshites to disrupt the Kingdom. Tragically the attempt to force the issue backfired and resulted in many of the troops in the chamber succumbing to the Reshite plot and turning the event into a massacre. The resulting confusion, aided and abetted by deliberate misinterpretations by the Reshites, led to the once friendly Brotherhood between Kieran and Edward devolving to the civil war.

Why and to where did Alexis disappear during most of the civil war?

The Civil War

Over the following years, the civil war grew to encompass the entire Kingdom and providing opportunities for foreign powers to intervene. In the north, Nyskilde was invaded and sacked by the Norse of the Western Isles. In the eastern city of Eresan, Prince Kieran established a power base and made it his home city. In the south, Princess Eleanor was able to keep the City intact and defended from both Gelt barbarians and from the City States of Adaqua and Laurea while Crown Prince Edward held Salvoyn. However a worse fate befell Linrodeth, with no royal faction to help defend it, Princess Selina of the City State of Kerun invaded and conquered the city.

During this period Princess Alexis remained with her Mother in Cascorach gaining educatioon and training from that Household and its entourage, including further time with the Astrologer Royal and time with the temples based in the area including the main Brynette Temple.

Why was Alexis betrothed to Prince Sikander Edmund Caralingas?

Betrothal to Prince Sikander Edmund Caralingas

What was the major betrayal?


Is the future

The future

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DJV's Web pages

28th November 2013

Work History

I used to work on projects related to the WebSphere Application Server, most recently the Liberty profile and before that on supporting IBM workload deployer and on the OSGi applications support. Even earlier (but still as part of WebSphere) I worked on the System Integration Bus support of the application server. I used to work on the Compensation component of WebSphere, on the Business Process Beans project, and on Component Broker as well as the Internet Interaction Manager. Before that I worked on LANDP, MQSeries, AConnS and GDDM. All of this was while I worked for IBM at Hursley in the UK.

Domain of the Ancients

Back in the mid 1990s I ran a play by mail game called Domain of the Ancients 2. This year I copied my write up of that campaign onto this website and have been working on a web browser single player version of the game.

Romsey Signal Box Simulation

The main project I did during 2020 was a simulation of the Signal Box at the Romsey Signal Box Project. The simulation has been written as one of my wordpress plugins and was an enjoyable journey into the higher capabilities of CSS in particular (through there is plenty of JavaScript too!).

Erdős Number

I can claim an Erdős Number of 5, though I do have to use the IBM Systems Journal to do so:

  1. Saharon Shelah co-authored with Paul Erdős on Separability properties of almost-disjoint families of sets.
  2. Daniel J. Lehmann co-authored with Saharon Shelah on Reasoning with time and chance.
  3. C. A. R. Tony Hoare co-authored with Daniel J. Lehmann on Semantics of nondeterminism, concurrency, and communication.
  4. Carla Ferreira co-authored with C. A. R. Tony Hoare on Comparing two approaches to compensable flow composition.
  5. I co-authored with Carla Ferreira on Extending the concept of transaction compensation.

Operating Systems

I mainly use Windows 10, but have used Windows 7 and XP. I've also used Windows Vista (only because it came preloaded with the drivers for that laptop - but that one is now running Ubuntu (actually to be fair all my running laptops are now running Ubuntu!)), IBM VM and Linux (using Ubuntu in the main, but puppy Linux can be very useful).

Library Systems

A library system is critical when developing software. I have used Rational Team Concert which I recommend when you want a full enterprise level library system. For my own use, I now use fossil which is a nice simple distributed version control system that also provides a wiki and ticket management system. For backup purposes I use Oops! backup.

Web Site Programming

I now code in JavaScript and PHP and use WordPress as my content management system (even if the internet facing version of the site is actually a statically generated version of the WordPress site). I have coded several WordPress plugins which are available from this very site.

Enterprise Programming

I used to code in Java. There are several Java Idioms that are useful, as is the Junit framework for unit testing Java code. There is good advice on how to evolve Java-based APIs. Before Java my code was in C and even earlier PL/X.

I try to make my code usable and not too unreadable and try to avoid obfuscated code whenever possible! (I did, however, once have to write some self-modifying code - though I did try both to avoid doing so and to attempt to explain what and why in the relevant code. Pragmatic programming is a collection of useful tips for program development.

Hobby Programming

Although most of my current programming is for this website, I do sometimes write some code for the Arduino. In addition my early programming days were (going backwards in time) for the Acorn Archimedes, BBC Micro and the Commodore Pet. I still have a couple of cassette tapes (and 5 inch floppies) with my Commodore Pet programs on them - however since it's around forty years since those programs were written (and only slightly longer since they were last read), the odds of those programs even being recoverable must be close to zero. One program I have been able to recover though is Snazzy Snake.


I regularly use Eclipse (not to be confused with Eclipse who I use as my ISP!)


I've done some work with HTML and hence in CSS as well. The W3C consortium has more info on HTML, HTTP etc. When writing HTML (or indeed anything else!), a thesaurus and an anagram server is handy.


I had an interest in the IBM Stock price, both now and in the recent past. I also keep an eye on UK shares, including the Top 350 Stocks and other FTSE indices both now and in the past. I also keep an eye on the UK Consumer Price Index.

Game playing

In my spare time, I'll play role playing games, often with Zyg, Rhodri, Bob, Chris, Chris, Tina and John in the Linrodeth universe (I've created a view of the night sky there). I've an backburner intent to create a martian game probably using a hex map of mars. I also play board and computer games. That means I have an interest in Game Programming.

Other people

I keep in contact from my (now) ex-colleagues and friends from work, including tracking Sue & Matthew's Sailing Voyages and those of Brian too.


I will admit to watching TV, mainly cult show or documentaries (or news).


I use Eclipse as my Internet service provider. They also provide a Web page to access e-mail across the web. I sometimes act on spam and scam emails, reporting email that references gmail to google.

Other Interests

I read plenty of books and, in particular, I'm looking forward to Rosemary Kirstein's next book, whenever that turns out to be finished! As that might imply I've a big interest in science fiction and fantasy. though my non-fiction collection is quite large too. I've attended the 1990, 2005, 2014 and 2019 Worldcons and had planned to attend the 2020 one as well (the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to those plans). Hopefully Glasgow will win its 2024 Worldcon bid and if so I'll plan to go that one.

I am interested in Artifical Life as well. I am interested in space, in particular JPL's Deep Space Network and the Shuttle. This assumes that I'm not watching Babylon 5 or drinking coffee. I use GPS receivers. I have a passing interest in elections, more particularly in election predictions. Another (literally in this case) passing interest in Steam trains which, very occasionally, pass on the railway line near my home. Finally, I must admit to keeping an eye on Airplane accidents in the UK, together with rail and marine accidents.

Interesting authors and other sites

James Gleick is the author of books on chaos theory. Long bets has a set of predictions and arguments for and against those predictions.

Weather, Tides and Time

BBC Weather forecasts can be of interest, as can Tide tables. Another source is Metcheck.com with Rain today? looking very good. I often get time and timezones wrong, but I like to see how long since retirement! You can convert between UNIX epoch and dates.

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