created: 19 January 2009


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John Barrs





125 Forest Road,




Hants, GU33 7BP



01730 892676


Date of Birth: 7 January 1944.
Nationality: British citizen.
  UK driving licence since 1979.
Educational Qualifications: BSc.(Hons Botany), MDiv.(cum laude)
  I can read French, but speak it poorly
Marital Status: Married with three sons born 1980,82 and 85.
NI Number YE 67 61 22 D

Career Summary:

For several years I was Senior Software Support Engineer for 1Superbase®© and became recognized as the leading authority world-wide on its use. I have created a wide range of in-house and commercial applications on several platforms and have skills in various programming environments. The breadth of my experience also includes degrees in Botany and Theology, academic research, lecturing and teaching. Using my ability to pick things up quickly and 'think on my feet' is a common theme throughout my career, and I see this as my strongest asset. However, my current disability has to be taken into account. Please see notes at the end about this recent limitation.

Career Achievements:

§ Achieved Status Of 'Mr Superbase' World Wide. Superbase is a powerful, programmable PC Windows® Relational Database with Multi-Media capability voted 'Best UK Product 1993' by Ziff Davis. I have worked with this product since 1985 and it is now in its fourth generation and still being developed.

·    Controlled and built up the Support Organisation for Superbase in the International environment as the product sales increased from 8% to 25% in the UK-Europe markets.

     · Selected staff and trained them to ensure high standards internationally.

     · Produced  'Helps' Software (IOTA, International On-line Technical Answerbook, Call-Tracking, etc.).

     · Controlled the escalation of problems from third-party support organisations and from internal SPC departments.

     · Integrated the United States Customer Service Organisation and the International Support Organisation to share skills and resources (I received the only peer award to cross the Atlantic as a result of this work.)

·    Prepared alpha and beta program testing programs for future products, including maintenance releases of current products.

     · Assigned as sole technical interface to the Superbase R&D department.

     · Produced the Defect Tracking System (integrated world-wide)

·    I was one of the team of two who tuned an early version of the product to joint first place in the PC-User database competition in June 1988.


§  Documentation produced

·    Support Plan for future Superbase products. (This included control of testing programs, budgets and projections for future requirements.)

·    Training Manuals for training Support personnel.

     · Manuals designed to be used by others

     · Received a special award from SPC for the quality of these manuals.

     · These manuals were used as the basis of Customer training manuals produced in the USA.

·    Produced and controlled the technical content of Superbase Journals internationally.

     · Technical Tips for SPC Marketing magazines

     · SBL - developer's newsletter

     · Prepared and read technical papers at International developer conferences.

·    Provided the technical content for the original 'Superbase Personal' manual.

·    As a consultant, all applications were provided with system, functional and user specifications.

·    Provided User and System documentation for other externally written applications.

     · Telephone Costing and Tracking system for local Councils

· Video ‘Speed-Trap’ for Police systems


§ Training and Teaching

· SB Ltd and SPC in-house training of Support personnel.

· Lecturing in University: Created the Statistics and Basic Chemistry courses required by all undergraduates in the department; but also lectured on other specialised research interests.

· Taught USA High School: Biology to Sixth-form equivalent and Life Sciences to GCE 'O' level equivalent

· Taught GCE 'O' level Computing to day-release students at College of Further Education

· Lecturer in Statistics, Ecology and other subjects in Department of Botany, Southampton University, UK



Career Appointments:

1997 – present: I have been too ill to work

1996 – 1997 : Superbase Developers plc., Cambridge

Support Manager working from home, responsible for email and top-level telephone support outside USA and Pacific Rim countries, for Client Consultancy programs and for the control of Alpha-Beta testing of new product

1994 – 1996 : Superbase Ltd. And Computer Concepts (Europe) Ltd., London

Support Manager working partially from home, responsible for top-level support outside USA and Pacific Rim countries including the training of the Support Centres used for first-line support. Also responsible for control of Alpha-Beta testing of new product.

1988 – 1994 :Software Publishing Corporation, Bracknell, Berks.

Senior Software Engineer (Support), Technical Marketing Specialist:

I was initially employed by Precision Software Ltd. who were purchased by Software Publishing Corporation in 1991. Software Publishing Corporation had a world-wide Turnover of $120M per annum.

1985–1988: Self-employed Superbase Software Consultant

Also had (contracted to Precision Software Ltd) sole responsibility for the support of Superbase on 8-bit platforms (Commodore, Apple II) as well as the new 16/32 bit product running on the Amiga, Atari FT, Amstrad and PC platforms

1984–1985: Precision Software Ltd, Worcester Park, Surrey

Analyst Programmer and Support Engineer

Commercial computing on Data General Minis using DG Business Basic.

1979–1983: Hamlet Computer Group, Alton, Hampshire

Analyst Programmer and Support Engineer

Commercial computing on Data General Minis using DG Business Basic. I gained considerable experience in commercial systems software—Sales, Sales-Orders, Stock-Control, Purchasing, Purchases, Nominal-Ledger, Works-Orders, Item-Lists, Manufacture-Control, etc. Responsible for the systems design, programming, installation and maintenance of software on all the DG sites, and wrote the Database Technology used by Hamlet.

1977–1979: L'Abri Fellowship, Greatham, Hampshire


A residential Christian study-centre where my wife and I were on the staff. Our responsibilities included lecturing and pastoral counselling.

1977: Westminster Academy (St Louis, Mo) Part-time Teacher - Biology and Earth Sciences

1966–1974: University of Southampton, Botany Department

1972: Lecturer

1966: Research Statistician/Programmer


Education and Training:

1991 SQL Primer course from Q&A

1981 RDOS Internals course from DG

1981 BBASIC Internals course from DG

1974–1977: Covenant Theological Seminary, St Louis, Missouri, USA

Graduated with Master of Divinity (cum laude) specialising in Biblical Theology.

1966 PLAN Training course from ICL

1964–1966: University of Southampton, Botany Department - Research

Research, in computational methodology in Taxonomy using data from the Gramineae. Early stages were using a Ferranti Pegasus machine and writing in JCL and Autocode. Later stages were using ICL 1903 machine (later upgraded to a 1907). I used FORTRAN for proto-typing and research, but wrote end-user packages in PLAN (ICL 1900 series machine code mnemonic language).

1962–1964: University of Southampton, Botany Department

Graduated with an Upper Class II Honours BSc, specialising in Taxonomy and Biochemistry in my final year.

1954–1962: Brockenhurst County Grammar School - Hampshire LEA

I achieved 11 GCE 'O' Levels and '4' GCE 'A' levels (Pure Maths, Applied Maths, Physics and Chemistry). On the non-academic side I became captain of cross-country and represented both school and Hampshire at athletics. I was also Head of School and Head of Boarding-house in my final year.

PC Skills:

Operating Systems:



DOS and Windows   Expert SBL (Superbase's superset of Basic) – includes OOP programming (Object Oriented Programming – like VB)
Network experience using Novell, 3com-plus and Work-Groups for Windows   Some experience in VB3 and Pascal
DG RDOS   DG Business-Basic
ICL 1900 Operating systems and executive   FORTRAN and PLAN (ICL 1900 series machine code mnemonic)




Expert in Superbase, particularly in application programming using Object code.   Presentation Graphics; Harvard Graphics, Microsoft PowerPoint
Some experience of SQL   Word-Processors; WinWord for Windows
General Theory of Databases Some experience with Access   Spreadsheets; Excel,

HTML :Editors: HAP_Edit, Microsoft FrontPage


Leisure Interests:

My love of plants survived my early training as a botanist and I am a keen gardener and as an amateur botanist enjoy the countryside and the walking that this involves. Actively involved in my local church, I enjoy teaching especially in a more informal setting. My sedentary pursuits include reading and for total escape, Science Fiction (of the science kind) is my preference, but any printed material may be devoured. Since becoming more ill I am enjoying cooking and baking and, for instance, I make all our bread.

One other consideration – Recent limitations:

I have an illness. I have had it since January 1985. I gave been formally diagnosed as having ME (Myelagic or Myalgic Encephalitis) This is now often called CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). It means that I suffer from permanent headaches and can have times of profound lassitude. Up until 1997, as you can see from my career details above, this did not prevent me from achieving the skills and a position of world-wide authority and responsibility. I did have to be careful not to overdo things, and there were some occasions when I was unable to adhere to a strict schedule but my employers obviously thought the risk worthwhile.. The main trick is to accept the reduced lifestyle that CFS brings and have lower expectations of physical capability. Many people have described one of the symptoms as a reduced ability to think; ‘brain like porage’ but I did not feel that this aspect impacted on my ability to any great degree.

However, in 1997 I had a further attack of whatever causes CFS and my whole lifestyle had to be re-evaluated again. The particular impact this time includes the fact that the headaches not only continued as a permanent feature of my life but became very much more intense and painful and are noise sensitive. They now have effectively reduced my ability to think critically for periods long enough to continue as a professional programmer – or even to enjoy reading as I used to. I still read a lot but not books that demand as great a level of concentration as before. This later attack also increased the frequency and duration of the periods of lassitude with which I am afflicted. I can no longer guarantee any particular date and time up ahead in the future. My friends have got used to agreeing to meeting me with a ‘ring up first and check if it is still OK’ clause in their diaries.

I have not been gainfully employed since March 1997: In addition to the diagnosis of ME in 1985, in 1999 I was classified as 'Incapacitated' by DHSS medical staff.

This does not mean that I am completely incapable. I have typed up material for other people and acted as an editor on papers (extended essays) that have been privately published and was involved in copy editing part of a major work on systematic theology. For some years I have supported the an address-system application at L’Abri-UK which I wrote for them. I have recently ‘sorted out’ (i.e. rewritten) a small accounts system for a local church and I have created and maintain my own web-page. The common factor in all these activities is that I can work at my own pace from home and if I have to take a couple of days or even a week off through tiredness or incapacity it does not impact the results which have not been time critical to that kind of degree. The ‘Accounts System’ is a recent example. I would estimate that ‘in the old days’ it would have cost two, maybe three days of my time. (I used to be charged out at £600.00 per diem, not that I got that myself! and when self-employed I used to charge myself out at £250.00 for single day of consultancy) This recent ‘sorting out’ took about six months of lapsed time working by email with one the church officers concerned.

To be entirely honest, I think I no longer have the capability to learn something like a ‘new computer language’ – Superbase’s next incarnation will be a platform independent product using a language called SMPOL; but despite my love of Superbase I have made no attempt to be involved in the testing of this next generation because of the new language, even though it is clearly very similar to languages I have used in the past like Pascal.

Assuming there are no vacancies for Superbase work at the kind of speed and dedication that I am capable of I see more that my abilities could be used in an editorial way, maybe in documentation and in the typing up of specialist papers.