About Phil McKerracher
I'm a professional electrical engineer with expertise in embedded software development, software management and technical support in the telecommunications and financial industries. I'm now an IT consultant. I live in Carshalton, south London with my wife Amanda, who is an historian and tour guide.
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".
About Ian McKerracher
Ian is Phil's brother and is a restaurant quality assessor in Australia, founder at Invisible Guest and a quality-obsessed foodie, sybarite and humanist who is fortunate enough to have turned a great passion into a wonderful business.
When not buying, consuming, selling or writing about food and wine, he tries to be a better dad, play violin in amateur chamber groups and orchestras and dream about all the screenplays he's been meaning to write.
Happiest when immersed in the aroma of white truffles, botrytised riesling, Tuscany, fine cigars and steamships, although not necessarily all at the same time.
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 technical work and have recently designed and operated lighting and sound for various productions at The Barn Theatre in Oxted, the Charles Cryer Studio Theatre in Carshalton and the Croydon Youth Theatre. 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!
I have travelled quite widely for business and pleasure, attending standards meetings, adapting products for different markets, delivering training and on holiday. I travelled all around Europe by bus and campervan in 1984 and have enjoyed holidays in China and 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 and I 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 understanding the many ways in which our senses can deceive us. I look after the web site of The Skeptic (UK) magazine and helped run Skeptics in the Pub 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, studied engineering at Monash University and worked on radio navigation systems for the Department of Aviation before seeking fame and fortune in Europe. I married my wife Amanda in 1997 and settled in London. 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.