Category Archives: history

Practical Coding

Recently, in a meeting, someone stated that I had never been a professional programmer. At the time I agreed, however after some thinking (aka: L’esprit_de_l'escalier) disagreed with that assesment. So, time to write some of the projects I have completed during many years in this industry.

To note: many of these systems lasted months through to years, and used tools at hand. The essence of Practical Programming. All of these are written by myself, based on toolkits, SDKs and IDEs. Many no longer exist.

School sports day scoring system 1985. Mid 1985, written in Microsoft Basic for the Mac; this system recorded the winners and score for the annual sports day. I recall spending about a week of after-school hours until 3am or so writing this. I remember this as the first production system I wrote, that if it failed, I would look really silly. It worked on the day, and generated the correct printed results.

Bespoke locked down museum display system: written in late 1986, written in Microsoft Basic 2.0 on the Macintosh using floppy disk/text data files as source. Was locked down environment permitting users to select a country they originated from, and detailed the history of migration from that country to South Australia. Was still operational in the South Australian Migration Museum 3 years later.

Bespoke, locked down competition system: written in early 1987, written in C on the Macintosh using a B-tree engine. Was locked down environment permitting competition entrants to type in their name and phone number. The data was stored to disk. Competition winner picked randomly.

Chauffeur: written during late 1987, using Hypercard and C-written external functions for serial port access: a visual front-end to CompuServe email and forums. Written for “Tricks of the HyperTalk Masters” (Waite Group, 1988). I cannot recall the total number of lines of code; it was essentially a clever state-based system that screen-scraped data from a serial connection. Data was presented visually in Hypercard’s UI. I miss HyperTalk (Hypercard’s language)

Various Proof of Concepts: in 1990−1992, Apple promoted HyperCard as a visual front end for complex data. Using Apple’s DAL (Data Access Language) to Tandem, DEC and other SQL data sources. These PoC’s assisted Apple in winning enterprise customers in Australia. I installed an alpha of Apple’s A/UX DAL connecting to an Ingres database. This base system was used to demonstrate data-querying from a data-warehouse along with Mike Seyfang. This is the birth of the Munge Brothers.

Unix-based, SNMP AppleTalk monitor: in 1992: based on a collection of complex bsh scripts, cron tasks and open source commandline IETF SNMP tools. Does Anyone remember ASN.1? At one stage I was sure I was the only one in South Australia who actually read and used ASN.1 as SNMP was a reasonably new protocol. Executing on a SunOS workstation, this system was used to monitor AppleTalk routers at a large customer, as a part of a migration of their infrastructure. Also monitored via TFTP booting/reboots for uptime management. Email of outages and reports for network management.

Sherlock: in late 1993: Unix-based, 3-tier, Front-end to an Oracle ERP. I was the primary person managing a single user to SunOS/Oracle/multi-user ERP. Using VICOM Pro, I created a front-end that communicated via Telnet protocols to SQL-Plus scripts on the server. Displayed invoices, orders, pricing and other details. Create “alerts” on stock orders/shipments, plus permitted barcode scanning of inventory. Cron tasks for the management of management reporting. SQL-Plus Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet generation (the inbuilt tools sucked, so I wrote my own). Used in production for at least 2 years. At the same time, Adam Steinhardt wrote Bedrock in FileMaker: quoting and contact management system that was the basis for NextByte. Created export tools for integration. I miss VICOM’s language and development tools. Hello Brian Morris and Darko Roje!

Network Monitoring Tools: in 1994, various customers were wanting to measure end-user network performance of terminal based systems. Wrote a front end in VICOM Pro to measure screen-refresh times. Application was distributed around the network and reported back to a central server response times. Was used to contract compliance in large tenders, and to track down application performance bottlenecks. Also created front ends for login systems for customers such as Comcare in Canberra using VICOM Pro.

Web Publishing System: in 1996, for Fairfax@Atlanta web site. Userland Frontier based, with FileMaker backend. Running on MacOS, getting data via FTP from Fairfax’s editorial system. Frontier created static pages from dynamic content. Data editing multiple user in FileMaker. Static pages FTP’d to web server. 300,000 pages views a day in 1996.

sidenote: During 1998, I trained as a WebObjects developer in Cupertino under the former NeXT trainers. This involved formally learning Java; and an introduction to the Enterprise Objects Framework. EOF is an early example of a relational-object mapper. Beauty before its time.

Adobe/Scripting Proof of Concepts: from 1999 to 2004, using a variety of tools from Visual Basic, to AppleScript and Adobe InDesign and XMP toolkits to generate content management and automation scenarios. Used in selling “concepts” and ultimately selling products. Scripting improvements in InDesign 1.5 and later from customer and my input direct to product team. Still love InDesign. PoC’s are tough as they have to work a handful of times but in a critical demonstration.

A part of this bundle of code Included a database to SVG rendering system deployed in 2001 to demonstrate SVG. Before it was HTML5/Web cool. Adobe and the W3C really dropped the SVG ball in an attempt to out-run Macromedia’s Flash on mobile devices. What a waste of good resources and talent.

Mungenetengine: 2000−2006: PHP, MySQL content management system; about 3000 lines of code. Written/Tested on Windows and deployed on Linux. Based on the Fairfax@Atlanta experience, but using open source tools and public deployment. Created various connection points (XML-RPC and SOAP) with visual interfaces in Python amongst others. Whilst the backend was for personal use and not published, the code executed at least 3 million times whilst live. Parts of this engine still exist to redirect queries from old search engine results into WordPress. Also created a small WordPress plugin that assisted in transition.

The unerlying framework was used as the basis of 3 internal systems created for Adobe. One of which was the basis of an MBA paper.

During the family’s trip to Europe in 2004, I used a WxPython — SOAP based application to upload text and images to the mungenetengine.

Random Neil Finn Lyric Server: 2002-now, based on PHP, MySQL and SOAP. A very early, non-stock quote SOAP service on the internet and therefore used in many places. Image manipulation, and twitter-bots feed of the underlying system

Adobe-Internal Sales Reporting/CRM: 2004−2005: during my days as a Sales Manager, I could not resist the temptation to cut some code. Two systems were generated: one in Microsoft Excel, SAP Business Warehouse and Macros to create a one-page KPI sheet. Used daily as management tool for 3 years. Added to this a CRM system that detailed partner revenue, contacts and email list/communication. This system was written in Python; specifically TurboGears framework connected to FileMaker, with some later additions coded in Coldfusion. This latter system used a web front end.

In summary, this account at least 13 systems that ran in production coded and tested by me. Now I have documented them, I am ready armed for the next meeting where experience is called out. You have been warned.

I think it’s time for more, right?

My Relative from 18th Century: George Hodge


This is page 2 of a contract between Charles and Robert Fall of Dunbar, Scotland and the fishermen of Crail, Fife, Scotland.

Charles and Robert Fall held many interests in Dunbar in the 18th Century. They also had family connections in Fife. In an agreement signed by them on the 9th November 1745, the fishermen of Crail agreed to deliver their catch of white fish to them for a period of 6 years. This shows the final part of the contract made between the Falls and the fishermen of Crail. Here, agreement is made for the carriage of fish, notably saithe, to the Fall’s cellars, to be paid by them. At the end are the signatures or 'marks' of the fishermen of Crail. The most easterly of Fife’s fishing ports, Crail Harbour dates back to the 16th century. At one time the village was an important herring station. The few fishermen left today fish inshore, mainly for shellfish.

On the left hand side, just below the fold, there is the follow text: “George GH Hodge mark.” In this instance, George Hodge could not sign his name, and therefore marked with a “GH”. I am related to this George Hodge.

George Hodge was born in 1717 to George Hodge (himself born in 1686) and mother Katherin Moncrief in Crail/Fife, Scotland. He was 32 when he marked this document. His younger brother was a James Hodge, where my paternal line descends.

crail harbour 1850s

Crail Harbour: The harbour was 'new foundit' in 1610, destroyed in 1707, and what is shown here dates from the rebuild of 1728.

The fish stocks in this area started to drop in the later part of the 18th Century, and therefore there was not enough room in the family business. As the younger brother, James Hodge left the family business and slowly drifted north to St Andrews in the latter half of the 18th Century. From 1764 in Crail, 1766 in Kingsbarns (3.5km north of Crail) and 1771 in Brown Hills (just south of St Andrews). This George Hodge is also the witness to the birth of James Hodge’s first and second children: Andrew and Mary. The third child of James Hodge is a John Hodge; again from where my paternal line descends. This John’s son, Melville, emigrated to South Australia in 1853.

In the 1841 census, Mary Hodge (daughter of James Hodge, born in Kingsbarns in 1766) is listed as living in Thorgate, Crail. Based on the position in the census, it is likey she was living with the Scotts of Crail at this time.

I suspect that James travelled north either as a farm labourer, or as a hand loom linen weaver; as was his son. Kingsbarns has a noted history of both. And golfing, but I doubt my family was of the correct glass for golfing.

Note: This information was found using the system. Scran is:

Scran — part of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland — aims to provide educational access to digital materials representing our material culture and history. This is provided through the wholly owned trading arm Scran Ltd. We are one of the largest educational online services in the UK supporting over 4,000 schools, libraries, colleges and universities.

This Holiday’s TV Obsession

On previous holidays I have immersed myself in old TV Shows: Red Dwarf, The Office (two name but a few)


This year, it is two old TV Shows from the 1960s: 12 O’Clock High and Combat!

As a young’un, my parents kindly let me watch these shows in the 1970s. These shows left me with an enduring interest in WW2 history.

12 O’Clock High depicts the 918th Bomb group in Europe during WW2 and stars Robert Lansing. The first episode follows a similar story thread of the 1949 Acadamy Ward winning movie of the same name starring Gregory Peck. Combat! shows US soldiers in the European theatre of operations, post Normandy.

A sobering sight in our 2004 trip to the US where these two monuments: (note, the panels shown is only a small selection)


Outside the American Air Museum, inside the Imperial War Museum, Duxford there are many panels etched with a mini picture depicting each of the 7,032 American aircraft lost during WW2.

In the lower levels of the museum, a series of American building is a list of over 30,000 Americans lost during WW2: (note, the panels shown is only a small part of the total panels)

US Airmen Lost in World War II, ETO

The reality is nothing like the TV show. Then again, what would I know.

Private Angus Hodge


In the recent research of my paternal family history, I found reference to David Melville Hodge signing the papers for an Angus Hodge. These papers were permission given by David for Angus to join the Australian Infantry in 1916 for service abroad. He was only 18 years and 2 months old.

Private Angus Hodge was my Great-Grand Uncle.

Based on my recent research into a Private Albert Lock, I knew I could find Private Angus Hodge’s service records at the National Archives. A few personal notes where an injured right leg from a horsing accident in 1912, and many teeth missing. He was also noted as “stocky” at only 5 and a half feet tall. His denomination was listed as Methodist.

Private Angus Hodge became a part of the 6th reinforcements for the South Australian 43rd Battalion, AIF. The 43rd Battalion made up the 11th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division of the AIF. Landed in the UK during the early part of 1917. (note: This Order of Battle is extremely useful and the War Diaries of the 43rd Battalion are insightful)

At this stage, Private Hodge started to have a bout of Measles and Mumps and finally arrived in France 30th July 1917. He joined the front line on 24th August 1917. Just in time for the 3rd Battle of Ypres. (also known to Australians as Passchendaele)

From this time, there were many times in hosipital listed as «NYD» and «PUO»: not yet determined and pyrexia unknown origin (ie: fever)

Then there is a note from 18th August 1918 «admitted old wounded leg, slight» back in the UK; fracture from tibia, based on the fall from a horse some 6 years earlier. Repatriated back to the UK, Private Hodge spent time getting better at the end of the first world war.

On the 23rd November 1918, exactly 90 years ago today, the Medical Board in the UK awarded Private Angus Hodge a 20% permanent disability due to service; fit for home service. He would have limped for the rest of his life.

Discharged from the AIF on 19th March 1919 in Adelaide. Merely a year after returning to Australia, Angus was dead.

Nearly 3 years away from home, Private Hodge served his country. The records fail to detail the mental and other injuries suffered whilst in France.

Angus Hodge died ages 22 and is buried 23rd March 1920. The gravestone states «Son of DM and FJ.» Last residence is recorded as Gulnare South Australia. Where David Melville Hodge was farming at the time.

Lest We Forget.

Hodge Family History Update

As previously blogged, my ancestors hailed from the eastern shores of Fife, Scotland. Exactly where golf was invented.

NB: this page will be updated as more info is found. Dots will join back to here

Inspired by recent family events, I decided to revisit my June 2006 research and go further back. The previous searches had stopped at David Melville’s grandfather: John Hodge

Thanks to Scotlands People, the official government source of births, deaths, marriages, census data and other bits and pieces: searching is easy and relatively cheap. Certainly saves travelling to Scotland and spending days in a library or archive.

My ancestors were not catholic but rather «free kirk» Presbyters, they freely recorded their details in the Old Parish Records kept since 1553 in Scotland. I am 100% of my ancestors to 1734; The movements prior to Crail in 1662 is a little more tenuous, although this was a time of much upheavel in Scotland.

Using, I have created a visual map collection that details the movements of these people in Scotland.

So, this is where we are in reverse chronological order; the left hand column has the male line and birth year, with the following row their respective father. The number is the generation from Liam back (ie: Liam is zero, and I am number 1)

Name Notes
5. David Melville Hodge (1860−1937) First Australian-born Hodge.
Born 1860, Angaston, South Australia
More details from 12th June 2008
His mother, Mary Milne Mary’s older brother was named David Milne.
Mary Milne travelled on the same Boat as David Melville’s father: Melville Hodge. Melville’s first wife died on this voyage.
6. Melville Hodge (1803−1860) Born: 27th Nov 1803 to John (a weaver in Grange, an area of Saint Andrews) and Elspeth Clark in Saint Andrews
Married Janet Crombie (born Leslie/Fife, 22nd May 1796)
Listed in 1841 census in Cupar as an Agricultural Labourer
Listed in 1851 census at «Cowbaikie Cothouse» Leuchars, Fife as an Agricultural Labourer. (A cothouse is a cotter’s house)(Leuchars added to rail line in 1853, the year Melville emigrated) Emigrated to Australia on Joseph Rowan in 1854 via Liverpool, England
Lost first wife, Janet (nee Crombie) on voyage to Australia, 7 days out of Liverpool.
Remarried to Mary Milne, also a passenger on the Joseph Rowan. Mary was 22 years old, and from Forfarshire. Mary was travelling with her older brother (David), and younger sister (Jane).
7. John Hodge (1771-[between 1841−1851]) Born 28th March 1771 in Brown Hills, Saint Andrews
Married 29th March 1793 to Elspeth Clark
(other children: Cecilia 1794, Elspeth 1796, James 1797, Margaret 1799 all in Saint Andrews)
1841 Census: Listed as Hand Loom Linen Weaver (H.L.W.L.) of Saint Andrews, Fife living at “Shore Bridge”. Margaret listed as living with them at age 40.
Linen weaving in 1834−45s Saint Andrews: Pg 46: «Small spinning mullin the town, the machinery which is moved by steam power. A number of weavers too are engaged in the weaving of linen, but they are employed solely by the manufacturers of Dundee, and from the establishment at Kirkland near Leven."John Hodge has no 1851 listing. Death information in Scotland was not systematically recorded until 1855Elspeth was still alive at the 1861 census (along with Margaret) at the same address, Shore Bridge

Margaret Hodge died in 1896 aged 96 in Saint Andrews of old age, still residing at Shore Bridge. Her grand-nephew William Watt reported the death.

8. James Hodge (1734) Born 26th March 1734 to George Hodge and Helen Fowler of Crail/ FifeNoted that birth notices contained a George Hodge as a George Hodge listed as witness at baptisms of this James children: Andrew 1764 in Crail/Fife and Mary 1766 Kingsbarns/Fife. A James Hodge and George Hodge were children of a George Hodge; therefore highly likely James moved from Crail to Kingsbarns. At the same time, the fishing stock at Crail was failing.James Hodge married Mary Scot in Crail/Fife in November 1763. James Hodge is moving north from Crail to Kingsbarns in 1766 and finally Brown Hills in 1771. This is a slow move towards St Andrews from Crail; most likely James was a farm labourer or linen weaver as there was no room left in the family business of fishing.

As there are other Hodge’s in the Kingsbarns parish, it is possible that he joined a relative’s business.

Interestingly, John’s brother and sister returned to Crail in their dotage.

Mary Hodge, the unmarried middle child of James Hodge and Mary Scot is found in the 1841 census as living with the Scotts in Shoregate, Crail.

9. George Hodge (1686) Born 20th November 1686 Crail/Fife to Patrik Hodge and Kathrin Moncrief
Married Helen Fowler 16th October 1728. The surname Moncrief is well known in the Crail area during this time as Bailiie’s (mayors/judges) [source:]As there are no old parish records of births for Crail prior to 1684; it is possible that this is the last recorded Hodge I will be able to find. This record, and the Patricks following are 50% sure of being ancestors at the time of writing.
10. Patrik Hodge (1662) Other sources of information are held by Saint Andrews University; especially the Kirk (Church) Minutes for Crail from 1604 which may contain more details. Due to the intense religious and political wars in Scotland from the mid 16th through mid 17th century, it may never be possible to be certain beyond Patrik Hodge, the father of George Hodge any certainty beyond 1686. Crail/Fife was one of the initial places where John Knox started his Scottish Reformation. There is a Patrik Hodge marrying a Elspitt Wilsone listed in Crail from 1655. No connected birth records for a Patrick in Crail.

There are a selection of Patrik Hodges in Scotland at this time matching a father;s age range. A Patrik Hodge and Kathrin Moncreiff married in 21st January 1686 in Crail/Fife making Patrik 24 years of age. No births of Hodges prior to 1685 in Crail/Fife; other two Hodges are John Hodge and Thomas Hodge in Crail as fathers.

Witness to baptism of George Hodge is a Pat Hodge. I think this is Patriks father, witnessing the baptism of his grandson.

This Patrik Hodge: Born 2nd March 1662, to a Patrik Hodge and Margrat Mastertown in Linlithgow/East Lothian (I think a witness to this baptism is a Thomas Hodge). There are no Patrik Hodges born in Crail, so we have to search elsewhere.

11. Patreik Hoge (1631) Duns (father listed as Patrik)
12. Patrike Hoge (1606) Prestonpans (father unreadable)

Meet David Melville Hodge. My Great-Great-Grandfather

After publishing details on my family history two years ago: the connections continue to increase.

Firstly, a connection to my Great-Great-Great Grandmother, Mary Milne was made in October 2007. Mary Milne is David Melville Hodge’s mother.

Now, a relative in South Australia forwarded me this picture of my Great- Great- Grandfather: Mr David Melville Hodge.

More interestingly, a series of biographical stories appeared. He seems quite the pioneering character.

I think if here were around today, he would probably be a blogger. And mercurial, too.

My Great-Great Grandfather: David Melville Hodge

Short Biography from the Encyclopedia of South Australia

Mr David Melville Hodge, Chaff and grain merchant, Alexander Port Pirie, is a native of South Australia, having been born at Angaston in I860. He is a son of the late Mr. Melville Hodge, who settled in the Angaston district in the early days of the Province.

At the conclusion of his education, which was received at Saddleworth, while still quite a boy he came to Laura at the opening up of the Northern areas for settlement, and engaged in farming pursuits and outdoor life generally, roughing it in the manner well known to many of the young Australians of that pe­riod.

He visited the Kimberley «rush» in the north of Western Aus­tralia, Mount Brown, in Queensland, and has made himself acquainted with all the gold-mining centres in the Northern Territory and through­out the Commonwealth.

At a later period Mr. Hodge engaged in farming and teamstering in the northern parts of South Australia, and in 1901 established himself in his pre­sent business, that of a chaff and grain merchant, in Port Pirie. He has since worked up a satisfactory connection, and enjoys his full share of the trade of the district.

Mr. Hodge is a member of the Caledonian Society. In 1885 he married Julia Florence, daughter of Mr. John Pilgrim of Gawler, latterly of Laura, and has a family of six sons and two daughters.

Golden Wedding Anniversary (1936) Newspaper Clipping

Mr Hodge, Senr, of Lock, recenly celebrated the anniversary of his Golden Wedding. Mr Hodge was a successful farmer in the Gulnare district some years ago, and at one time was shearing for Mr Niel McGilp, who was widely known in pastoral areas. At Lock, Mr Hodge is one of the most interested workers in the Methodist Church, and to attend the services he drives his car 12 miles pracically (sic) every Sunday. Mr Hodge still drives a team of bullocks when clearing scrub on his farm, and this proves that he is a true son of the soil. A few years ago Mr Hodge gave up retired life, and returned to farming. On his Golden Wedding day, Mr Hodge composed the following poem.

Australia: A Poem by Mr. D. M. Hodge


Australia, I love thee,
The land that gave me birth,
And reared me up to manhood,
From the products of the earth.

Thou has let me roam in freedom,
From mountain top to plain,
And always gave sufficient,
To relieve my hunger pain.

I have seen thy silver mines,
And gold and copper, too,
Deep down into your bowels,
All shining bright and new.

Your wheat and wool I’ve carted,
From far inland to the sea,
To feed and clothe the hungry
In England or where’r it may be:

I’ve seen your men and women
Leave here to go and fight
And join up with dear old England
For justice, honor, and right.

I’ve seen your towns and cities
Grow up about your land,
And helped the pioneers to clear
Mallee and stones on every land.

And now I’m growing old and grey,
On this, my Golden Wedding Day;
Great Master wilt Thou hear me say,
'Tis here in Australia I wish to stay.


Mr. David Melville Hodge, 76, died at the home of his son-in-law (Inspec­tor M. M. Bishop), of Fourth street, Port Pirie West, on September 5. His earliest juvenile experiences included the sight of mobs of wild natives at North Rhine surrounding the home of his father. The latter died there when David Hodge was a small boy and he moved with his mother to Coghill’s Creek. At 11 years of age he became a farmer’s boy with a wage of 2/6 a week, but he soon afterwards obtained employment with Mr. Hugh Aitken, a famous coltbreaker of his day, and from him learned the art of handling horses.

After a brief spell at home he left, on a horse he had purchased for £4 10/, finding his way to Kapunda and thence to Adelaide, where he obtained employment with a farmer at Balaklava. At Port Wakefield later he obtained a passage by ketch to Port Adelaide, but soon trekked north again.

His next job was that of woolpicker on Paratoo Run. then jointly held by Sir Thomas Elder and Mr. Peter Waite. Later, purchas­ing a team of bullocks, he engaged in carting sleepers from Wirrabara and took loads to the Silverton silver fields. He claimed to have carted the first consignment of silver-lead ore from Thackaringa to Terowie to be sent from there by train to Port Adelaide.

In 1886 he and two mates, W. Duck and F. Lindsay, set off for what was reported to be a rich gold find in the Kimberleys. Mr. Hodge returned to South Australia and started a chaff store, sawmill, and woodyard at Port Pine.

Seven years later he moved to Pirie Springs, near Laura, and from there to Gulnare. Five years' retirement in Adelaide followed, but 10 years ago he took up land at Lock, on the West Coast, returning from there to Port Pirie. At Laura he married Miss Florence Julia Pilgrim, who survives. Mr. and Mrs. Hodge celebrated their gol­den wedding in 1935. Four sons and two daughters are left Messrs. Frank. Hector, Kenneth (West Coast), and William Hodge (Iron Knob). Mrs. J. N. O’Brien (West Australia), and Mrs. M. M. Bishop (Port Pirie).

First Australian PM at Hiroshima? For Shame.

Atomic Dome, Hiroshima, Japan

From the ABC: “Rudd lays wreath for Hiroshima victims”

Mr Rudd is the first Australian prime minister to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park and Memorial.

How embarrassing for Australia. Why has no other Prime Minister visited Hiroshima? Incredulous.

On the other hand, I wonder if a Japanese Prime Minister will visit the Thailand-Burma Railway and apologize.

One day, maybe.