Member of the Month for May 2014 - AllanP

And here’s the interview:

[font=calibri][color=green][i]Spring has sprung, summer is just around the corner (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and it’s time for me to announce SitePoint’s Member of the Month for May - AllanP. Allan has been making great contributions around the forums lately and upon winning this most prestigious of awards, I took the opportunity to catch up with him and ask him a few questions. Enjoy!

Congratulations on being awarded the MoTM badge for May, @AllanP ;. How do you feel?[/i][/color][/font]

It is a humbling experience. I am pleased that I have been able contribute something of my own way of thinking about problems to help others.

Normally, I start by asking people about their user name, but I’m guessing there’s not much of a story behind yours :slight_smile: Instead I’ll ask: do you look anything like your avatar?

Nothing like it :slight_smile: I chose it to project the studious but humorous persona that would give my answers a little pizzazz while providing maximum cut-through.

I see from your SP profile that you’re located in Australia. Is that your home country, or did something else take you there?

I live in Brisbane, an east coast sub tropical city to the north of Australia. I came to Australia with my parents from the UK when I was six years old. At the time people were coming here as assisted migrants – the so called “ten pound pom”. I have lived in various cities over the years. All of my education and work history have been here in Australia.

And what do you like most about life down under?

Australia is an egalitarian, secular society. The early settlers were mostly convicts sent here to clear English jails, so the concept of a “fair go” is deeply woven into Australian society. Everybody is prepared to be friendly, and class distinction does not exist. Where else would the Prime Minister be known as “Tony” or, to his enemies, “the mad monk”?

Is there anything you miss about the UK? (I’m sure it won’t be the weather)

Sad to say, I don’t really have any memories of the UK. I was too young to remember anything of value. I have been back on holiday, but it is just another place to me – although a very beautiful place. My one real link is that I still travel on an EU passport, although I also have an Australian one.

Moving on to more technical matters, how long have you been involved in computers and the web?

It is hard to believe, but I started getting involved in the 60’s. My first program was written on batches of punched cards in FORTRAN. Calculators were mechanical and computers filled entire air conditioned rooms and had a staff to look after them. In the 80’s I started working with personal computers programming in basic. In 2000 I retired and started experimenting with building websites. I am a self taught programmer and website builder. Over the years I have spent my time working with HTML and JavaScript.

What has changed most during this time / what have been the most remarkable inventions?

The most far reaching development has been the internet. No person born today can imagine how hard it is to communicate with others when the internet does not exist.

Documents must be physically copied and posted or, more recently, faxed. Images need to be hard copies, again posted or physically delivered. Looking for information on a subject requires a trip to the library and then a search through card indexes or the books themselves.

As an example, in a world without the internet there is no single central copy of maintenance manual for a large company. Each updated page must be physically copied and posted to the various branch offices. When received they must be inserted into the local copy of the manual by someone responsible for keeping it up to date.

What do you think the next big thing will be internet or technology-wise?

Without a doubt, it is personal identification. One of our biggest stumbling blocks is passwords and security. We are not far away from a device that we will all carry – maybe an implant, which will project our identity to all listening devices in our environment. When you enter a room with a computing presence it will immediately know your preferences, your cloud storage access details, your medical history and everything else about you. It is an idea with tremendous potential, but also great risk. We need to address the legal and ethical issues before such things arrive. We also need to think about what would happen to a society if this system was to collapse.

And how did you end up on the SitePoint forums? What made you stay?

I was looking for information to solve one of my many website development problems and liked the format. I also felt that I could contribute some of the things I had learnt to those that had problems of their own. One thing you learn while looking for answers is that you are not alone. Many others have the same or similar problems. We can all help each other to progress.

You’re mostly to be found in the JavaScript forum (a wise choice, by the way ;)). Is this where your skills or interests lie? If not what is your favourite part of building a site?

My background has been technical so I am always interested in technical matters. I also have a strong aesthetic instinct. It must be beautiful and it must work properly. I have tried to apply these principles to my developmental work. JavaScript satisfies my technical interests. I like the way a website becomes interactive when JavaScript is used. It can also enhance the aesthetic side of the design, so it is doubly effective for me.

Staying with JavaScript: it has been called “the world’s most ubiquitous runtime”. What is your take on the large amount of libraries, frameworks and server-side solutions that we are seeing nowadays?

There will always be a market for “higher level” programs. Not everyone wants to get down into the nitty gritty of programming to achieve an effect. Frameworks are more like “black box” programming, you can achieve an effect after supplying certain inputs. I tend to be something of a Luddite here. I want to know how to achieve the effect myself, rather than adopting a cut and paste approach. Well written JavaScript can be highly efficient. If your aim is to reduce load time, JavaScript may do it for you over a framework such as jQuery.

I’m presuming you’ve heard that SitePoint forums are moving to the Discourse platform. This will have a number of advantages, such as a better integration with the blogs. What are your thoughts on the move?

If there are to be advantages then I welcome the change.

And now a bit more about you. Do you have any hobbies away from the computer?

One of my long time hobbies has been theatre. I have acted in and directed many plays. I have also been deeply involved in theatrical set design and the building and decoration of sets. I have not done this now for a few years, but it still remains an interest.

What is your favourite film, book or sport?

I have subscribed to the New Scientist magazine for many years. I am interested in all things scientific. I also read widely in history. I am particularly interested in events and characters in the period between 1850 and 1950, covering the lead up to the world wars and the conduct of those wars.

One of the benefits of MOTM is the chance for shameless, unmoderated, self-promotion … Is there a website or a Twitter or Facebook profile that you’d like to draw our attention to? Or maybe an example of some of your work?

You can see examples of my work on

Thank you very much for some great answers, Allan! Now it’s over to the rest of you …

Did I already mention that I love the MotM interviews? :smiley:

Great job, and congratulations on a well deserved award, AllanP!

Great interview guys! I really enjoyed learning of your background Allan.

Congratulations Allan an interesting read.:slight_smile:

Yes they are often very insightful.

Congratulations, @AllanP. :slight_smile: Thanks for your helpful contributions to the forums.

Congratulations AllanP! It is always enjoyable to hear what others believe will be the next big trend in technology or across the internet. I agree the need for a user to be individually verified is needed. The recent large scale hacks indicate that passwords may no longer provide the security level that are really needed hopefully a new and solid solution will be found soon.

Congratulations Allan. A really interesting interview. Thanks for your input to the forums. It’s great to have you around here. :slight_smile:

Thank you all for your kind words. I am very pleased to be part of such a friendly group. :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :):lol: :slight_smile:

I enjoyed reading your interview Allan. Congratulations on the win.


I really enjoyed learning of your background Allan.
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quite long contribution. kudos to Allan P :slight_smile: