I'm a professional electrical engineer specialising in real-time embedded software development in the telecommunications industry. I live in Carshalton, south London with my wife Amanda, who is a history teacher at Putney High School.
The surname McKerracher apparently comes from the Gaelic name MacFhearchair or Farquharson, pronounced like this and meaning (son of) "very dear one". We pronounce it to rhyme approximately with "America".
My main hobby is playing the violin in amateur orchestras and chamber groups such as the Bromley Symphony Orchestra. I started learning when I was 8 and still have lessons occasionally. Not surprisingly, I also like listening to classical music. I also play the piano.
I'm also interested in theatre lighting and sound. I have recently designed and operated lighting for the Spring Park Dramatic Society, Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association, and The Barn Theatre, Oxted. My wife acts with some of these groups. I enjoyed operating cameras, mixers and other equipment at public access cable TV studios in Mountain View and Hayward, California, when I was working there a few years ago. They even had me hosting a half-hour show live because of my "posh English accent", which was strange considering that I still speak with a noticeable Australian accent!
Photography has always interested me, and you can find some of my most interesting pictures in the album here. Don't miss the ones of the Grand Canyon, Great Wall of China, Space Shuttle launch and the "Road Ruiner".
I have travelled quite a lot for business and pleasure, attending standards meetings, adapting products for different markets and on holiday. I travelled all around Europe by bus and campervan in 1984 and have enjoyed holidays in China, Southeast Asia, Poland and cruising around the South Pacific. I would still like to visit Africa, South America and Russia. I attended evening classes in German for several years, eventually gaining an Intermediate Diploma from the Institute of Linguists. I also speak some French.
For many years I have been interested in paranormal phenomena from a skeptical point of view. I share the fascination many psychologists and magicians have for the ways in which we can be deceived and the insight this gives into how we think and what we are. I look after the web site of The Skeptic (UK) magazine and was a committee member of the Australian Skeptics and Australian Humanists for a while. Prometheus Books publish many interesting books in this field, and good skeptical magazines are available in Australia and America.
I stay in touch with developments in my industry and in science generally by reading Spectrum (the journal of the IEEE) and Scientific American. The Register, Slashdot and Wired are my main online sources of industry gossip. I like the comic strips xkcd and Dilbert.
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and worked on radio navigation systems for the Department of Aviation there before seeking fame and fortune in Europe in 1984. I married my wife Amanda in 1997. She studied at Bristol University and is currently head of the history department at Putney High School. My parents and brother still live in Melbourne.
My main areas of expertise are in embedded real-time programming and communications systems, in particular ISDN signalling protocols, having been an active member of the various ETSI committees which developed the European standards and tests. The ISDN tutorial and Home Highway tutorial here are an attempt to pass on some of this knowledge. I also have considerable experience of designing modems to connect to analogue networks worldwide. My software was inside the network termination unit used by the BT Highway service.
There is a copy of my Curriculum Vitae (PDF) here with more details.
This site was created in April 1997. There is an archive of an early version.