Castles

Blackness Castle

I was born in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland and lived there until I was 10 years old. Then we moved about 25 miles north east to a small village called Blackness. Blackness is a magical place for a kid as it is on the River Forth and it has a Castle. It is also very close to some other historical landmarks like Hopetoun House and The Binns.

 

There we many farms and market gardens so when we were not at the beach or lurking around the dungeons of Blackness Castle, we were helping the farmers stack the Hay or picking Strawberries, Raspberries or Blackcurrants. And if we werent doing that then you might have found us sneaking into the orchards stealing apples. Well we were just kids :)

Anyway I stopped that when I was 35... just kidding.

Although Blackness was great at that time, it is quite far from the big cities and unless you are old enough to drive, it can be a bit quiet in the winter months. That didnt affect me too much because at 15 I applied to join the Royal Navy and was accepted to join just 3 weeks after my 16th Birthday. Goodbye Blackness... Hello World.

 

Kings

Mick & Duke of Edinburgh

I joined as a Radio Operator and over 14 years served on various ships and shore establishments. Needless to say I visited every continent of the world. My goal in the Navy was to become a Radio Supervisor and be incharge of my own department, but on top of that I had hoped that I could serve on HMS Edinburgh. Alas when I joined the Navy, there was no ship called Edinburgh. However, in 1982 the good old Royal Navy built the Type 42 Destroyer called HMS Edinburgh and it was at that time that I achieved my goal of becoming a Radio Supervisor. The next thing I did was to apply to join HMS Edinburgh. I was accepted and my dream had come true.

Queens

Mick  gets his oscar

I realised I needed another goal and had become very interested in computers. After all, at the age of 16 I learned to touch type in the Navy, so a keyboard was very familiar to me. When the first consoles like the commodore 64 and Spectrum and Atari appeared on the scene I was in my element. I left the navy and set up a computer shop selling mainly Commodore computers and the Amiga computer to be more precise. Within a few months of starting the shop I sold over 100 Amigas and I won a place for a trip to Los Angeles with some other top distributors in UK. That was a landmark time especially when in the Beverly Hilton Hotel we were given our Oscars by Her Majesty The Queen. My old Navy training took charge and I was just stood bolt to attention until a kind girl gave me a nudge and told me to walk down the red carpet to collect my trophy as she was really an actress.

Back to Reality

With my background in communications and computer skills I became very interested in connecting these things to the telephone system and as far back as 1989 I had developed a system that could be controlled by a touchpad in a shop window and updated by a central computer via a modem. There were similar systems costing 10 times the price of mine but I couldnt get anyone to buy as it was such an inovative thing and I dont think people could grasp the concept. At that time I had no marketing experience and even my Bank Manager had said I was about 5 years too early. I also had dreams of a shop with lots of computers where people could pay to connect and play games with each other in different cities. The Internet and World Wide Web were not around at that time... but you must admit... I was on to something :)

Needless to say I persevered (I do that you know). A few years later I developed a system with a touchscreen in a public kiosk and installed it in a shopping centre of my then home town of Chippenham in Wiltshire. Apart from allowing people to search for properties for sale, it also advertised restaurants, bars, taxi firms or anything you would normally find in a directory. The only drawback was that I had to go the shopping centre every Friday and update the adverts with a floppy disk. That went on for a couple of years and the small amount of money it made just fueled my desire to find a better way to update it and how to make more money. Now.. along came Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web and my savour.

Very soon the kiosk in the shopping centre developed into an Internet Kiosk which at first was free to use so I needed to find a way to charge people some coins for surfing. After many months and nearly a nervous breakdown I had developed a system which we called CoinSurf. This system took coins for time to access the Internet and were Installed it in the first shopping centre in UK. Some other systems had been used to allow people access to reading information in libraries, but nothing as sophisticated as Coinsurf. Now I dont take all the credit for this. I knew an electronics company who already worked with casinos and gaming machines and I approached them with the idea. They developed the hardware part and with the help of my friend who was learning to program at the time but living 400 miles away, we developed the software part. Miraculously it worked and the system developed into PaySurf and worked with coins, bills and credit cards. We sold it into over 40 countries and it was a great achievement. By the time the technology became popular the money was pouring into the development by oil companies, telephone companies, banks and they were all developing in-house because of the nature of dealing with cash or credit cards.

What do I do now?

I now work developing and supporting Online Shops and Cloud Based Database Applications. I also repair and upgrade computers in my local community.

None of this would be possible if I didn't have my daily juices though. I am passionate about natural health and using alternatives to today's ever increasing pharmaceutical drug bombardment. See the Health Videos section to get where I am coming from.