Dan Welchman Productions

Projects, Interests & Research (both work and play!)

Dan's Home
CONTENTS
· Programming
· Web Applications
· Online Database
· Book Publishing
· Artwork
· Beer Brewing
· Judo

MouseTrial
The Database
My Brewery
Littleport Judo
Contact

Software Engineering

I love programming!
I've been writing software for the Cambridge GIS and CAD industry for over 20 years, both as core developer and on applications in the electricity, gas and telecoms sectors. I'm also a keen process improver and builder of tools for both development and testing.

Test Automation has become a major passion of mine over the past couple of years. In 2010 I wrote a record / playback tool, MATT, which is a bit like Selenium but for GIS applications rather than web applications. MATT features "precision assertions" to detect subtle engineering-specific error states while avoiding false alarms. It has been used to replace bulk manual testing, and to replace some brittle older legacy automated tests. It's fast enough to be deployed on code check-in by the Agile teams who use it, alongside their unit tests. We also use it for defect description, as a fast and unambiguous way of re-creating the circumstances of a bug.

Looking forward, I reckon record/playback technology is also going to be productive for things like training, demos and documentation production/localisation. These sequences could still function as tests of course, giving extra coverage and checking that materials are up to date and not broken. Of course, the trick to achieving multi-use like this is to ensure that the recorded sequences are very robust and portable. Not easy! -but it can be done!

If you're working on similar ideas (whether commercially or in research) then do get in touch for a chat!

Web Applications

I wrote MouseTrial for my son Kit, who has autism. It's a system of exercises using animations to reward the player when they click on the correct item from an array. MouseTrial is now in use by hundreds of Families round the world. It can be played directly online or downloaded and played offline. License keys are sold round the clock from my online shop. Although extremely easy to get started with, MouseTrial is highly adjustable to cope with the enormously varied abilities and needs of children on the Autistic Spectrum. The MouseTrial web site is one of the top-ranking resources for autism, and there's an Android App version of it currently in development.

WARNING!: Do NOT have a go with the MouseTrial games if you've got any serious work to get done! The animations are rather addictive!

On-line Database Applications

My autism software database is a free resource for parents and professionals listing all kinds of software for autism treatment. It's a PHP / mySQL application which publishers can log in to and update their own blurbs, add new products, and so on. The database continues to expand as I get a steady stream of suggestions for new entries from the public. I also have a special purpose web-crawler (written in Java) which unearths many more interesting autism-related sites.

Book Publishing

I publish the occasional book.

I wrote, illustrated and published "The Power" to explain the glories of exponentiation. It was fun. My books are set in the fictional Captain Astounding's Nightclub in Fulchester. An odd venue, but one that provides many useful examples. The Power is currently out of print but you can still get it in pdf form (see below) and it's FREE! Note: it's simply a pdf file of the print version, not a true e-book, so it may be easier to print off and read rather than use on-screen. It doesn't have an interactive table of contents, references etc. Also, it's about 30MB so allow a little time for it to download

Captain Astounding's Nightclub "The Power" download... the_power.pdf

A second volume in the series (on probability and combinatorics) is roughly half written and about three-quarters illustrated. Other projects have taken precendence but I hope to get back to it and finish it one day!

Animation and Artwork

I like to do my own illustrations, cartoons, and animations for my works, both online and off. I get the same pleasure from producing a new animation as I do from writing a new piece of software. Besides, the prices are so reasonable! The animation opposite is "spider" from the animals module in MouseTrial. My other son, Harry, helps me to come up with ideas for the animations.

Beer Brewing

I have been brewing beer since the 1970s. I brew "from the grain", ie starting out with a big sack of malt rather than a kit or can of extract. These days I nearly always use the ancient "Parti-Gyle" system. This is where you use the same batch of malt to produce several different beers of diminishing strengths rather than watering it down (sparging) to produce a single large brew. It's an efficient technique and allows production of two (or more) contrasting beers in a single session. I'm also experimenting with making my own hop-extracts so that I can separate out the wonderful flowery and spicy components of the hop flavour and smell and add these to beers independently of their bitterness. Until recently I simply brewed up in the kitchen, typically making a right mess and causing extensive domestic dis-harmony. But all that has changed with the completion of my purpose-built Dream Brewery which is a marvel of sophistication. Do take a quick look if you're into brewing!

Judo

In 2005 we discovered that there was a Judo club in Littleport. My son Harry and I went along to have a go, absolutely loved it, and have been doing it ever since! Now I'm 1st Kyu (brown belt) and fighting for my black belt. I've passed the euphemistically named "theory" exam and I've built up 60 points in gradings and contests. I "just" need another 40 points (4 good fight wins) to make the grade. I'm also the club welfare officer and webmaster.