Men admire Herald pony

Who, me?

I run Herald Information Systems, which helps smaller and medium-sized firms establish a presence on the 'Net.

In my Copious Spare Time I role-play (mostly Call of Cthulhu ), I play Magic: The Gathering, Mythos and occasionally Illuminati, I read far too much (not as much as I used to, though; time, it always comes down to time), I cook -- also time permitting -- and I fiddle around on the Internet. I like to sing, and I used to play the viola. I live with one husband, one cat, and somewhere in the general region of 3000 books (if you think this has gone up a lot since the last incarnation of my page, you're right. We buy far too many of these things, especially when we visit Hay-on-Wye). Oh, and if you think weddings are necessarily desperately dull affairs, let me reassure you that we tried quite hard -- and, I think, succeeded -- in making sure that ours was not. (Here's one reason why. (80k GIF))

Things Online

I have a whole bunch of ways to waste time online. Well, perhaps not waste, precisely ...

The Mercedes Lackey mailing list
I have the honour of being this list's Listmistress; a combined role including host, list admin, and person who attempts to keep some semblance of order. (Often I fail, but at least I try.)

I used to be a lot more active here; these days Annilith and her daughter Anndora are less of a presence around the Weyr than they once were. Talith, Annilith's sister who lived on SouCon, is now inactive.

... it's a place, it's a theme, it's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping. I can be found here most days, and conversations on Yak have also been the catalyst for such useful Web creations as the Alien Limerick Generator.

Times Past

Once upon a time, I was born. Sometime after that, I attended Ricards Lodge High School. (Back in the days when it had a sixth-form, as well. If you left in 1986, drop me a line. If you taught me while I was there, thanks.) Then I spent three years at Pembroke College, Oxford, followed by a further three years at what is now Royal Holloway - University of London (a name-change from Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London. I can't imagine why).

After that I worked for Lloyd's Register of Shipping for a couple of years (using the RAISE tools, mainly), and then I started this.

People Online

It is rapidly getting to the stage where more of my friends have Net access than do not -- even if it's only email. Not, you understand, that this is a bad thing; I am one of the world's worst procrastinators when it comes to writing letters, and many of the aforementioned friends are abroad. Email is the faster, cheaper and easier alternative to words on paper.

These folks fall into three categories. People I met at Oxford, people I met at Royal Holloway, and the rest; many of the last bunch are people I've met online.

There was this chap called Graham who was on the same course as me at Oxford. Despite my best efforts to cause him physical injury on a number of occasions, he still talks to me. I think it's because he doesn't want to have to do the cooking.

Andrew Martin was my tutorial partner; he seems to have survived the experience, although he has fled to Australia to escape me.

Mo Holkar is a great friend and also an outstanding GM -- these days he has followed me into the wonderful world of self-employment and is running Undying King Games, your first choice for intelligent play-by-mail games. (End of plug.)

John Bray -- the architect of the Alien Planet Designer. John is probably best-known for the parties involving more strange and interesting beers than you can shake a stick at.

Many of those listed above were also members of RPGsoc, or of OUSFG, or both. (RPGsoc is, as its name implies, the Oxford role-playing games society, OUSFG is the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group.)

Royal Holloway
Keith Martin and I shared an office for two years. He, too, fled to Australia, but has now dared to come back as close as Belgium. Brave lad.

Matt Robshaw has eschewed Australia and instead headed for America, to work for RSA.

Jessica Perry Hekman has a bunch of useful links from her homepage. We share a mutual passion for Babylon 5.

Liz and Kynn Bartlett run Idyll Mountain Internet in California. Liz was one of my MUSH friends when she lived in the UK ... then she moved to the US. (Anyone reading this page must think by now that I smell bad, or something...)

I see David Ramsden, Shelly Houghton and Marietta Schwartz fairly frequently on PernMUSH.


The written word deserves a whole section to itself.

Anyone who has spent longer than five minutes with me will have figured out that I am a complete bibliophile. Any sort of books, really; all the way from the utterly gorgeous illuminated manuscripts at the British Library or the recesses of the Bodleian Library, to hunting around Blackwell's for the latest from Terry Pratchett. Graham and I collect books about Oxford, and we also have a growing pile of books about obscure languages. (For those of you who wanted to know, the Swahili for "You are a spy!" is, allegedly, Mpelezi wee.)

One author I'll single out for special mention is Michael Marshall Smith. I can't really sum up how I feel about his writing, because I both love it and hate it; love it because, well, it's just good, hate it because it's so much the way I think, speak and write that if I ever do get around to writing anything substantial myself, and if it's any good, it'll probably be described as 'just like Michael Marshall Smith'. Which is moderately depressing, really, but since neither of the conditions in the last sentence are ever likely to happen, I suppose I shouldn't worry about it too much. Worse, having met the chap at an OUSFG meeting in November '97, I can now add to this his other cardinal sin, that of being a thoroughly pleasant guy. Gah. :)

NB: if there's anyone out there with a copy of the little MMS collection "When God Lived In Kentish Town and other stories", who might like to sell it to me, drop me a line.

Other Things

Live Aid
The biggest charity concert to date was held 13 years ago, now; I had the pleasure of attending the Wembley side of it. The link is to a Live Aid page I put together to commemorate the tenth anniversary in 1995.

Dawnsisters MUSH
Dawnsisters was an unusual Pern-themed MUSH, in that it took All the Weyrs of Pern as part of its canon. It's more or less dead now, which is a shame. I played Weyrwoman Koora.

I adore trivia, and the Web is of course the best place to find answers to all those niggling little questions like "What is the body temperature of the Arctic codfish?"

There are plenty of lists of search engines out there; I used to recommend Lycos as the best, these days I tend to prefer Alta Vista for size of index and speed of retrieval. Yahoo still comes out top for hierarchical listings. Either way, the Web's growing faster than anyone can hope to keep up.

For those of you that care (I'm sure you're in the minority), the aforementioned fish's body temperature is -2 degrees Centigrade.

There are only a few sorts of music I will turn off if they're on the radio; Country and Western, most rap, and reggae music. For whatever reason, they just don't appeal -- other than that I have fairly broad listening habits. Currently Pulp and Oasis spend a lot of time in the CD player; U2 are an abiding addiction (I guess it's nine years since I first went to one of their concerts). The Sisters Of Mercy get turned up loudly when I'm in the car. I used to listen to a lot of Howard Jones, and also Dream Academy. Throw in the Brandenburg Concertos, Ed Alleyne-Johnson and Carmina Burana from the classical side, stir in a dash of Nine Inch Nails, season liberally with the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, and you have a clashing mess that's completely unlistenable ... I prefer listening to one thing at a time :)

My Other Stuff

I've put some other odds and ends up online. You may wish to see:

An article I wrote a couple of years ago about the joys of job-hunting outside academia with a PhD. If you've done a postgraduate course and now find that interviewers assume you have your head in the clouds, are overqualified, or are just workshy, you may want to read it.

I've been interested in cryptography and data security for a long time; as such, I was pleased to be able to donate some cycles to the European group working on the RSA Data Security Secret-Key Challenges. Okay, the server on its own only helped a little bit, but I also worked on some press releases for the UK about the project and its progress. If you're interested you can find one which announced the project and one which announced our success online. (The prize for the 48-bit challenge, which the group took 13 days to break, has been donated to Project Gutenberg). The DES key has also since been cracked, and Herald's machines spent some time throwing their weight behind the effort to break 56-bit RC5; see for details. The 56-bit key has also now fallen to the massed hordes of computers working on it; the announcement was made on 22nd October 1997.

Why, yes, Matt Robshaw does work for RSA. And indeed he picked the texts that were hidden in the challenges -- the 48-bit one read "The unknown message is: The magic words are Security Dynamics and RSA.". Still, the fact that Matt and I know each other was no help whatsoever, I assure you.

The aforementioned Alien Limerick Generator.

A recipe for Chicken in Mango Sauce. Look, it's more useful than at least 80% of the other content on the Web...

My list of other Dymonds (rather out of date at the moment; update on its way)

I mentioned Babylon 5 already; those of you who share my interest in this series might be interested in my B5 archives. At the moment they contain a bunch of photos I've taken at various conventions, and some reports from those conventions. There may well be more to come.

Something I wrote in one of my more pretentious moments. Still, it's less awful (IMHO) than much of the stuff inhumed in boxes at home, so you can read and laugh, enjoy, whatever...

Random Weirdness

These are my personal favourites among the out-and-out strange stuff on the Web -- those odd things which I didn't put there myself, anyhow.

Helen, Sweetheart Of The Internet. She even likes Babylon 5, she must be a sound woman.

The Dr Fun archives.

Now you think Mitzi's page has some useless stuff on it. Have you visited Socks' page yet?

The Dhemonh'ka vocabulary list.

The BOFH. My role-model. Also see The Life of a Systems Administrator and The Unofficial Tank Girl Guide to Sysadmining; for the days when that server just refuses to work, you might want to call in the Macho Women With Guns!.

Have you ever watched a film and winced at all the clichés? Yes, me too.

Read about the campaign to ban that noxious chemical, Dihydrogen Monoxide. Why haven't They warned us about this?

The home page for Kevin Wilson, champion of the CDA.

They're crunchy! They're chewy! Some tasty recipes involving insects.

Oh, I wish.

And "Men admire Herald pony"? Run my name through the WWW Anagram Generator, and that's one of the outputs you'll get. Appropriate, really.

Last update (not a very large one): 25th February 1999 Contact me at