Category Archives: My Publications

My First Android App: Stash-It!

After a couple of months of busy early morning and late night programming, my first Android app has finally been released. Please meet Stash-It!

Stash-It! responds to an odd side-effect of the difference between the iOS and Android security models. On the iPad, there are a large number of applications which offer an “all in one” approach to managing a group of related content. These are a bit frustrating if you want to share files transparently and seamlessly between applications, but there are times when you want to manage a group of files securely, and then the iOS approach is great.

Android is the original way around. The more open file system and component model encourages the use of specialist applications which do one job well, but it can be a challenge to keep related files of different types together, and hide them if you don’t want private client files or the like turning up un-announced in your gallery of family photos!

Stash-It! tries to plug this gap, by providing an “all in one” private file manager, tabbed browser and downloader for Android. You can get all these functions independently in other apps, but Stash-It! is the only one which brings them together in one place. It’s the ideal place to keep content you want safe from prying eyes: financial and banking records, health research, client documents. I suspect a few will even use it for a porn stash, but that’s not its only use! 🙂

There are built in viewers for most common image and movie formats, plus PDF and web files, so you don’t have to move these outside the application to view them. However when you do need to use an external application Stash-It! has a full suite of import and export functions to move your files or open them with other applications.

It took a while to design the security model. Stash-It! encrypts the names of files so that they can’t be read, and won’t be visible to the tablet’s gallery and similar applications, but the content of your files is untouched, so there’s little risk of losing data. Hopefully this strikes a sensible balance between privacy and risk.

Even if you’re not too worried about privacy Stash-It! is a great place to collect material related to as particular project, with all your different file types and web research in one place. You can bookmark web links, but also positions in video files or PDF documents. Web pages can be saved intact for reference or offline reading. Again you can do a lot of these things in separate apps, but I believe Stash-It! is the first one to bring all these functions together where you might want them.

I’ve got a lot of ideas in the pipeline to improve it further, but its now time to test the market and see whether I’ve spotted a gap which needed plugging or not.

Take a look and let me know what you think!


Here’s the Google Play Page. You can also read the helpfile.

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Practical Enterprise Integration

I’m speaking at the IRM Enterprise Architecture Conference 2011, in London next week. My topic is “Practical Enterprise Integration: Realising the Benefits of a Strong Canonical Architecture”. In the paper I discuss the evolution of an EAI environment at National Grid, and how over time some key decisions on the underlying architecture have delivered significant benefits.

I’ve just uploaded the slides to my website. You can download them here.

Unfortunately, I’ve been put into a real “graveyard slot”, right at the end of business on the Friday afternoon. And I thought Sally, the conference chair, was my friend! If you are attending, I would very much appreciate your support. If not, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this topic, as always.

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Some Good News

I’ve just had a bit of excellent news – my submission for the 2011 Enterprise Architecture Conference in London has been accepted. The provisional title is “Practical Enterprise Integration – Realising the Benefits of a Strong Canonical Architecture” and I’m going to tell the story of the evolution and benefits of a strong Enterprise Integration Architecture at National Grid with which I’ve been closely involved over several years.

Interestingly, a very similar submission last year didn’t make the cut. Whether the change is due to an increase in the quality of my submission, or a decrease in that of the competition, only time will tell… 🙂

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First Bibble Plugin Published

I’ve just published my first plugin for the popular image processing suite, Bibble. CAQuest manages chromatic aberration correction, so if you find yourself always having to apply correction for “purple fringes”, this is the tool you need.

To find out more, visit

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Posted in Code & Development, My Publications, Photography | 2 Comments

Integrating External Content with WordPress

I’ve been developing for about 15 years, and although I’m not that prolific I’ve built up quite a lot of content.

I recently converted my blog from an old bespoke (= “custom”, for my American friends) solution to one based on WordPress. However, this created a problem, in that the WordPress model is to hold all content in the database, and that wasn’t the right model for me.

Firstly, I have a number of articles which are very long for a blog post, and I had no interest in restructuring them. I also didn’t want to break external links to the existing articles.

Next, I decided that I wanted the freedom to continue to write in that style. Some of my writing takes several weeks, and it works for me to draft it as separate HTML pages. I also sometimes want to include active content or multiple images, and I don’t want to create a large and unwieldy WordPress database full of such stuff.

Finally, my online photo galleries are managed and generated using Jalbum, and I wanted to find a way of neatly integrating single images into my blog, complete with the watermarks and metadata extraction which Jalbum manages so well, without duplicating that functionality in WordPress.

This is probably typical of many older web sites, but WordPress doesn’t really embrace the integration of external content. This article describes how I solved this problem, and a WordPress plugin I have developed to make my solution reusable.

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Lots of News

Quite a lot of news…

Migration of our web sites and email to the new hosting server is almost complete. See previous article/rant for some of my findings. After some initial frustration with my hosting provider (WebFusion) when I discovered the
limitations of their new Linux shared hosting services compared with the old one, I have to say a big “Thank You” for their efficiency in finding a better solution for me, and providing me with effective technical support to get it up and running.

If you do have any problems with our sites or email, let me know…

I’m currently developing a new blog, based on WordPress. This will make it easier to post “on the fly” than with the current solution, hand-carved from XML and ASP (now PHP).

When the new blog is running, I’m going to have a regular post for fans of my photography, so you can see what I’ve been working on. In the meantime, I’ve updated my gallery pages so they are a bit easier to navigate, bookmark and search.

And talking about my photography, I’ve recently been accepted by the Alamy stock agency. So please all rush at once and spend lots of money licensing my pictures for all those uses you’ve dreamed of but were too polite to mention 🙂

See you soon,


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My Grand Circle Tour

I’ve just added a new section to my photo gallery, and an article describing my recent “Grand Circle” tour of the Southwestern USA: what worked, what didn’t, and how to avoid sleep deprivation and scurvy!

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Posted in My Publications, Personal News, Photography | Tagged | 4 Comments

Enterprise Architecture Conference 2006 – My Paper

I’ve just spent three enjoyable days at the 2006 Enterprise Architecture Conference in London. IRM did their usual excellent job of making it run like clockwork, and my good friend Sally Bean helped them develop an interesting and varied programme. To my mind the best speakers were Jeff Scott, and Chris Wilson of BP. Another encouraging sign was the presence of a great many International delegates.

I presented a paper on Agile Architecture. If you regularly read my work you’ll recognise many of the ideas, but I’ve managed to bring them all together for the first time. You can download my slides and script here.

What was very interesting was how the thrust of the material has changed from a few years ago. No-one was claiming that a given framework, process or toolset can solve EA problems. At the risk of being uncharitable I thought John Zachman’s ideas sounded very tired, and there was almost no mention of alternative frameworks such as TOGAF. I may have self-selected by not attending any vendor sessions, but there was also no promotion of tools or technology. A common view was that EA, SOA and many supporting concepts are currently entering the trough of the hype cycle.

Instead the focus was largely on people-related problems and approaches. The labels varied, but several speakers introduced ideas familiar to agile architects. Maybe we’re doing something right after all.

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A Fast Diff Algorithm

This recent posting to The Code Project is an implementation of a Diff
algorithm in VB.NET, with various techniques to improve performance, while
keeping the code simple.

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Modelling an Enterprise Data Architecture

Unlike the simplistic models in books and training courses, a real enterprise has a very complicated data architecture. Most of the data will be held in large legacy or package systems, for which the details of data structure may be unknown. Other data will be held in spreadsheets and personal databases (such as
Microsoft Access), and may be invisible to the IT department or senior business data administrators. Some key data may reside in external systems maintained by service providers or business partners. To manage this you need powerful, simple, but effective models of the data structure from an enterprise viewpoint
— a set of models known as the “Enterprise Data Architecture.”

This article, co-written by Richard Wiggins and originally published in the Rational Edge in February 2003 describes a new approach, based on UML, which meets the real requirements of modelling the Enterprise Data Architecture.

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Strategies for Flexibility

Organisations need to protect and maximise the value of their IT assets. To protect against threats from business and technological change systems need to be flexible: able to change to support new functions, new workloads and new working environments. Flexibility does not happen by accident – it is usually the result of planning, forward thinking and adopting strategies known to enhance and encourage it.

This paper (in Adobe Acrobat Format), originally published by the CBDi Forum, presents some of those strategies.

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