Preston, Weymouth, Dorset
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John Palmer, BA MBCS CITP
- Current availability
- Work history
- Specific skills
- Formal qualifications
- Memberships and special interests
Born November 27, 1938. British citizen. I live with my wife on the
coast in Dorset; we have four children, all left home.
June 2002: I am retired as a programmer but still do
some unpaid computing consultancy work for Dorset County Museum.
I am also engaged on my own research project in Romano-British
specialise mainly in Linux operating
system, Perl programming
language, and TeX typesetting
My home computing installation runs Linux and connects to the
internet by courtesy of
I am happy to advise people who are considering moving to
Linux, either from Microsoft Windows, or from other Unix systems.
If you have a project you think I can help with, please
use the enquiry form on my home-page.
- January 2000--March 2002: Self-employed programmer. Clients
include John Wiley & Sons Ltd
and Dorset County
- February 1998--January 2000: project developer in the
journals division of John Wiley & Sons, scientific publishers,
Chichester: mainly Perl programming on Linux and Sun Unix hosts.
Currently developing a graphical user-interface to TeX using Tcl and
Tk. I gave a presentation to the UK TeX Users' Group in September 1998,
on SGML to TeX translation, and for 2 years was Secretary of
- developing systems in object-oriented Perl (Perl 5);
- CGI programming of automatically-generated Web pages;
- converting SGML to HTML;
- converting SGML text to suit a revised DTD (document type
- consultancy on TeX and LaTeX typesetting systems
- automated processing of TeX sections in SGML documents
- programming in Tcl and Tk, including the Tcl plugin for Netscape
- January 1997--February 1998: mathematical typesetting for
Gordon & Breach, scientific and specialist publishers, Reading.
Using TeX, SGML, perl, awk, sed, and related text-conversion
tools, SGML tools nsgmls and jade, and graphical
interface tools Tcl and Tk, on a Linux host.
Principal projects:  converting mathematical material (expressed in
TeX or SGML) to images for Web-publishing;  verifying and improving
the TeX code, feeding back advice on TeX to distant data-capture
companies;  inserting TeX material into the publisher's text
archive;  converting SGML material to TeX for proofing purposes; 
documenting the whole package in LaTeX and HTML form;  upgrading the
Linux installation from Red Hat 3 to Red Hat 5.
- March 1996--January 1997: After retiring from the posts
listed below I continued part-time as Network and Unix administrator,
Wessex Institute of Public Health Medicine (which by then had become
part of the University of Southampton). Ethernet, TCP/IP, e-mail
including POP and Eudora, World Wide Web, HTML with CGI, Lynx,
Netscape, CERN httpd. Administering NFS (network file system), linking
Dos/Windows and Unix systems.
- From 1982 to 1996 I held a sucession of posts under the
Wessex Regional Health Authority which followed on one from another and
had connected duties:
- 1991--1996: Computer network manager, Wessex Institute of
Public Health Medicine, and computing consultant, Cancer Intelligence
Chair of CRIT, the computing specialists' group of the United Kingdom
Association of Cancer Registries, 1993--1995.
April 1994: completed 4-day Learning Tree International course on
object-oriented analysis and design;
Feb 1992: completed 4-day Learning Tree International course on data
communications and networks.
- 1987--1991: Computer manager, Cancer Intelligence
During 1985--1996 I developed the Wessex cancer register system. This
evolved from a Vax machine to PC hardware (twice), and then to a Sun
(Solaris-2.4). The basic technology of the system was throughout Unix,
Pascal, C, and a relational database ( Informix ), with much shell,
sed, awk etc. programming used for handling diverse input
Administered Informix (v.4 and 5) database management system (including
embedded SQL in C), and Oracle versions 6 and 7.
Used TeX (LaTeX) 1986--1997 for preparing Cancer Registry reports
(including large statistical volumes) and computer documentation.
Author of the following parts of the registry system:
- browser, the data-validation program used 1985--1994;
- Easyprints, preprocessors for relational database enquiry
- camm, a semi-interactive program for cancer registration,
developed and used over 1987--1994 (latterly with Simon Brown), and
described in a paper cited under Publications,
- Markup programs which adapt data from outside sources, in various
formats, for input to camm; mainly in the common Unix utilities
sed, awk, etc.
- Redesign of the cancer register system 1994, moving from
tumour-based to person-based organisation, and introducing cammv, the
new improved camm which includes the functions of browser.
- Statistical analysis and typesetting of annual reports of the
Cancer Intelligence Unit, using fct (see below) and TeX.
- Other data-conversion programs using common Unix tools ( sed, awk
etc.) and consultancy on such problems.
- Programs (in sed, awk, sh) etc. for analysing statistical
data and generating output for eventual typesetting with TeX or
- About 1990: I acted as occasional data-conversion consultant
to courses run by the National Casemix Office (National Health Service
- 1984--1987: Statistics department computer manager and
mental handicap register manager, Wessex Regional Health
During this period I wrote
- Graf, an interactive statistical graphics system for
- Capta, a general data-entry package.
- iclview package for reading and writing ICL George tapes
on Unix (in C);
- ugcp, a Unix-to-ICL data-transfer package using an
asynchronous link (in C);
- extract program for reading foreign magnetic tapes on Unix
systems (in C);
- fct frequency counter (basic tabulator) in awk, sed,
- 1982--1984: Temporary computing officer, WRHA.
In 1983 I became part of a team creating a new computer system for both
thr mental handicap and cancer registers; took a major part in drawing
up statement of requirements, going to tender, selecting soft- and
hardware; prototyped parts of the new system on Commodore Pet using the
UCSD p-system and Pascal.
The mental handicap register (below) continued till 1987 under my
management till it was considered superfluous by WRHA.
- In 1982--7 I was an occasional lecturer on British Computer
Society courses, Southampton Institute of Higher Education, especially
on Pascal programming.)
- During 1980--1982 I was a part-time student at Southampton
Institute of Higher Education: British Computer Society
examinations parts 1 and 2, Ferranti Prize for part 2 in
- 1973--1982: Research officer in epidemiology, Health Care
Evaluation Research Team, (University of Southampton and Wessex
Regional Health Authority). Managed register of mentally handicapped
Managed computer system developments from the user standpoint, briefing
our successive programmers to provide suitable tools for myself and the
register staff, and wrote ad-hoc enquiry programs. IBM 370, later 4341;
OS/VS, PL/I, much locally developed filehandling and report-writing
software (Hampshire County Council installation); SAM macroprocessor,
TAP survey analysis package. Learned Pascal.
- 1969--1973: Research executive, Research Services Ltd
(market and social research), London. Used, installed, and adapted a
multivariate statistics package for analysis of repertory grids
(psychological interview data). Ported it from CDC machines to IBM 1130
and later to IBM 370; wrote other statistical programs for use in
Research Services; language mainly Fortran with a little assembler.
Subsequently wrote a more advanced version of the repertory grid
programs in modular, standard-conformant Fortran.
- 1967--1969: Research assistant, housing development, London
Borough of Camden. Wrote simple system for forecasting population
consequences of urban redevelopment programmes: Fortran, ICL 1900.
- 1965--1967: Research Fellow in Sociology, Department of
Clinical Epidemiology and Social Medicine, St Thomas's Hospital Medical
- 1962--1965: Member of scientific staff, Medical Research
Council Epidemiological Research Unit, Cardiff.
- 1962: Diploma in Public and Social Administration, with
- 1961: BA Oxford, Classics (II final, I Moderations)
- Perl programmer since 1997, up to Perl 5 and object-oriented
programs. SGML, HTML and CGI programming.
- Shell programmer since 1983, mainly with Unix shells (including
ksh and bash), interpreted languages sed, awk,
- User of TeX typesetting system since 1987, mainly on Unix systems,
also on Ms-Dos. Secretary of UK TeX Users' Group since 1998. Used TeX
to produce annual reports for Cancer Intelligence Unit, and
mathematical text for Gordon & Breach and John Wiley. Use TeX for
all my printed work including program documentation. A typeset version
of this document was prepared with teTeX and LaTeX2e on my own Linux
- Currently developing a graphical user-interface to TeX using Tcl
- Unix systems administrator since 1983, with experience of Berkeley
and System V versions, on Vax, Sun and PC hardware, including SCO,
Solaris and Linux; my home computer installation is
- Continuous Pascal programming experience from 1983--1996,
supplemented by C for those parts that can not be conveniently
expressed in Pascal (mainly interfaces to operating-system and
- Mail administrator ( postmaster ) since 1983; have used both
sendmail and MMDF transfer-agents; also administered POP (Post Office
Protocol) servers, Nupop and Eudora POP-clients, and
Lotus Cc:mail with interface to SMTP Internet mail.
- UUCP network administrator since 1985, both `original' and
- TCP/IP (Internet Protocol) network administrator since 1990,
including NFS (Network Filesystem), using a mixture of Unix and
Dos/Windows computers, and various Dos/Windows versions of IP ( FTP
Software Inc., PC-NFS, Wollongong, Novell Lan Workplace, Trumpet
- PPP (dialup IP) networking since 1995, administering SCO and Sun
PPP servers, Lan Workplace and Trumpet clients.
- Worldwide Web server administrator since 1995. The Institute of
Public Health used its Web-server to provide local computer
documentation, mostly written by myself in HTML. CGI protramming for
Institute of Public Health, John Wiley and Sons, Gordon and Breach.
Prepared GIF graphics of mathematical equations for Gordon &
Breach. Experience of CERN httpd and Apache web-servers.
- Special interest in data-protection issues since 1984;
data-protection officer for Cancer Intelligence Unit 1987--1991, for
Institute of Public Health 1995--7.
- Data-capture and -conversion specialist since 1984. Experienced
user and programmer of Unix text-conversion utilities sed, awk, etc. in
original and Dos implementations, and more recently perl.
- BA, Latin and Greek classics, Oxford 1961, 1st class in
Moderations, 2nd class final.
- Diploma in Public and Social Administration, Oxford 1962,
- Member of British Computer Society, 1986.
- Advanced Certificate in Archaeology, King Alfred's College,
- Member of TeX Users' Group, of UK TeX Users' Group, and sometime
Secretary of the latter.
- Member of Hampshire and Dorset archaeological societies. Advanced
Certificate in British Archaeology, December 1997; research interest in
Roman quarry industries.
- Member of Dorset Geologists' Association Group.
- 1966: `Staff-patient communications in a chest hospital',
British Journal of Preventive and Social Medicine.
- 1967: `Smoking, caning, etc. in a secondary modern school',
British Journal of Preventive and Social Medicine.
- 1967: `Punishment, a field for experiment', British Journal of
- 1968: `The use of hospitals by a defined population', British
Journal of Preventive and Social Medicine.
- 1973: `Thinking geometrically', European Research. (On
presenting multivariate statistics to non-statisticians, especially in
- 1974: `Of attitudes and latitudes', Journal of the Market
Research Society; reprinted 1976 in Explorations in
Intrapersonal Space, ed. Patrick Slater, Chichester: Wiley. (A
case-study in multivariate analysis of consumer preferences).
- 1982: `The Wessex ability rating scale', British Journal of
- 1989: `Problems in automatic matching of cancer data', paper to
annual meeting of International Association of Cancer Registries,
- 2000: `Survey of UKTUG members',
Baskerville, 9, no.3, 8-18.
- 2002: `Roman Purbeck stone: a new
database', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and
Archaeological Society, 123, 104-109.
- 2005: `Catalogue of Roman Purbeck
mortars', Lucerna, the Roman Finds Group newsletter,
- 2005: `Database of the Roman Purbeck
stone industry, a progress report', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and
Archaeological Society, 126, 170-171.
- 2007: `An old road at Bare Cross,
Church Knowle', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and
Archaeological Society, 128, 95-100.
- 2009: `The sources and distribution of
Roman Purbeck Limestone roofing slabs', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and
Archaeological Society, 130, 155-166.
- 2014: `Roman Purbeck stone mortars',, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and
Archaeological Society, 135, 222-234.
- 2015: `Response to the commentaries on J. W. Palmer:
Smoking, caning and delinquency in a secondary modern school',
International Journal of Epidemiology, 44, 26-27.