About Me

Here you will find information about the real me.


My name is Paul Saunders and I was born in August 1978 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. I have one older brother and have never owned a pet.

I lived in Ipswich most of my life, attending St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Ipswich Preparatory School and St Joseph’s College (Secondary School). In the summer of 1997 I was accepted onto a BSc Physics course at the University of York. However, after two years there, I felt that Pure Physics didn’t suit me very well, so I transferred onto a BSc Physics with Computing course at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

I lived in Acocks Green, Birmingham for about six years, working as a Software Engineer for Goodrich Engine Control Systems, and am now in Aldershot, Hampshire, working at Logica doing much the same thing.


I’ve been fascinated by, some would say addicted to, computers for several years. The first computer my family had was an IBM XT (complete with Green Screen monitor, dual 5.25″ floppy drives etc.). It was fairly limited, even for the early nineties but that didn’t stop me fiddling around with it and writing various silly concept programs. After a year or so we switched to a Packard Bell 486SX25. I spent most of my evenings on this and often had to be kicked off if Dad wanted to use it for something important. In fact we still have that computer at home. It has 130Mb of Hard Disk, 6Mb of RAM (upgraded from the 2 that were soldered onto the motherboard) and runs Windows 3.1, but for what my parents use it for it’s a great machine.

I got my first laptop in my Second year at York Uni. It was a Sony VAIO1 (one of the early ones), P233MMX, 32Mb RAM, 2Gb Hard Disk. Quite an impressive laptop for its day, it was a definite ‘Desktop Replacement’. I had my first real taste of the internet with the VAIO (other than occasional times at the university). I signed up with a small ISP called Tollon and usually sat in the living room of the house I was sharing at the time. Again, I had to be kicked off if people wanted the phone.

However, after about a year, the VAIO’s lid hinges began to work loose, so I returned it to Sony for repair. I won’t go into all the hassle I had trying to get them to fix it, but suffice to say it took them a good three or four months to return it in a barely fixed state (I gave up in the end and said “Just let me have it back, I don’t care what state it’s in”). Fortunately though, PCWorld, where I bought the VAIO, had a clause in their guarantee that said if a computer was unrepairable or took longer than six weeks to repair, they’d replace it. The guy who’d sold us this warranty has suggested that it would be one of similar value (“Which, in five years time, will probably be a 986 with holographic display…”) but it turned out that it was actually one of similar spec. I managed to convince the sales people at PCWorld Preston, that I really needed the TV out on the VAIO so the nearest spec laptop wasn’t the £700 laptop of similar speed, but the £1500 laptop with TV out. So my current laptop is a Packard Bell 600MHz PIII with 192Mb and a 10Gb Hard Disk.

A few months ago, though, even that 10Gb was starting to fill up, so I decided to splash out on my first ever full-size machine (that I owned myself). I decided to build it myself, and ended up with an AMD Athlon XP2000+ with 512Mb RAM and two 60Gb drives connected via RAID0 into a single 120Gb array.

As my compters needed names for the network, they are called:

Computer Name Reason
Sony VAIO Paperweight Due to a faulty power supply when it returned, this was about as useful as it was.
Packard Bell Laptop Vixen It’s an Easynote VX+, so I took the VX and made it into a word. ViXen, Vixen.
Fetcher The new name for Vixen. When I built the new compter I decided to theme the names. I chose characters from the film “Chicken Run”. Fetcher, the rat, is the small one that moves around a lot.
The Mini-Tower Goanna Fleeting name before the themeing. Chosen because of the twin drives… If you don’t know, don’t ask.
Fowler I put the computer in a nice Lian-Li aluminium Case. So, following the Chicken Run theme, Fowler is the big gray one that runs things.


I have always been quick at learning programming languages. When we had the Packard Bell at home, my brother had to learn C for college. However, I picked some of it up off him and was, in fact, able to point out some errors that he made. I followed up on that first taste and was soon programming small programs and using the Borland graphics engine.

The next language I learnt was Fortran. While at York, we had a six month course on the the language and, while I never really enjoyed the language, I can see its benefits in scientific programs.

When I moved to Preston, due to the nature of the course, I had to join First year Computing courses while continuing with second year Physics courses. One of the lectures was PDI, Program Design and Implementation. This was effectively How To Program in C. With my background in the language I was soon outstripping the rest of the class, even choosing to write one of the assignments in the raw Win32 API (no Visual languages, I had to actually learn about Message Queues, reverse Hungarian and those bizarre Infinite loops).

The next year there was a course in Java and I found that quite an interesting language. Some of the assignments there were even that bit more challenging. Whereas in C++ (which we also did a bit of at Preston) if you want to interact with the user, you can simply say:

cout << "Please enter your name:";
cin >> name;
cout << "Hello " << name;

It is a little harder in Java due to it’s more graphical nature. You can either print fonts to the window, which involves working out the size of the string if you don’t want it falling off the edge, or using the Abstract Windows Toolkit (AWT) to display text boxes etc. Our end of year assignment was a real stretch; at the least we needed to display photos of animals and get details from the user if they wanted to sponsor one of them, at the most we could go as far as playing sounds or videos of the animals and printing out a certificate, both quite challenging in Java.

The most recent language I’ve learnt is PHP. This language, designed for CGI and HTML pages (PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is quite similar to C or Java and so was quite easy to pick up. I have used it as the back end to these pages. It’s so powerful that the pages are written in static HTML, then parsed by PHP which adds the borders and the dynamically-generated menu.


I’ve had a few passing hobbies. I’ve tried sailing (a great thing to be able to in Games Lessons at school) and I’ve been in a few of St Joseph’s annual Musicals. However, my waistline is a testament to the fact that I’m not really very sporting.

One of my consistent passions, though (other than computers) is Science Fiction (Yes, I’m a self confessed Geek). I’ve read quite a few books, mainly borrowed from the library during school holidays; reading when I should have been out getting all rosy-cheeked and worldly-wise. I generally dislike writing (I prefer typing!) but I’m writing a Science-Fiction novel in my spare time. Click on Novel (under Darac) for more information.

I also like Classical music, and have been to several BBC Proms. Unfortunately, Birmingham’s a bit far from London so I wasn’t able to make it in 2002. Actually, my music tastes are quite eclectic. In September 2002, my brother and I went to the the classic rock band Deep Purple play live at the NEC. In my playlist I have such widely varying music as John Williams, The Beatles, They Might Be Giants, Jethro Tull, Abba, Les Miserables, Kirsty MacColl and Meatloaf.

When I was at York University, I came across an interesting sub-culture on the internet. Furries are interested in Anthropomorphic animals (you can find out more in the “Darac” section of the menu). Initially I was attracted by the artwork that I found; cartoon animals, photo-realistic anthros etc. As most of the furs had alter egos I chose Darac, a character from my Novel. Now Darac has become my main online character (hence the domain name).


1: Not a Vaio. VAIO is an acronym for “Video Audio Integration Object” so should always be in capitals.