Brian D Steel

Brian D Steel - Music, Software, Design

What follows is based on the original homepage for "", prior to a major website redesign in June 2009; it is slightly less formal than the new home page, and tells you a little more about me and my activities, as well as why I've chosen to call this website "Solanum".

Who I Am and What I Do

I am the Technical Director of Logic Programming Associates (LPA), where I design and implement Prolog compilers for Windows and DOS. My programming is done mainly in 32-bit assembler, Prolog and C, and I have developed a library of some 250 or so utility programs in my spare time, many of which I have published as freeware.

As well as programming, I design and create the artwork for most of LPA's advertisements, brochures, stationery and Web pages, using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, CorelDRAW!, and a collection of my own utilities.

If Music be the Food of Love ...

In my other job I am a musician, mainly performing in the theatre as a Musical Director. In addition, I play synth/piano and drums/percussion in shows, as well in the occasional classical concert. My Trad Jazz band, "Woody and the Nightshades", plays at receptions, barbecues and pub gigs, and together with my wife Barbara on violin, I also perform solo in the more intimate surroundings of restaurants, clubs and private events.

Combining computers and music, I use Finale and Encore to arrange and compose music for many of my shows, and occasionally undertake music engraving work for third parties.

... Play On!

In the few moments that I grab between computing and music, I enjoy a number of other hobbies and interests, including food and wine, travel, photography, botany and boomerangs. I speak reasonable French, and combine most of these interests in my regular visits across the Channel and to the Caribbean.

Some Like it Hot!

Over numerous trips to the Caribbean, I have been exploring one of my pet loves: why not share it with me? Find out all about St Lucia's best known hot sensation, the wonderful Scotch Bonnet Pepper; and if you find all this a little too mild, then brace yourself for the discovery of something altogether more powerful: St Lucia's best kept secret, the devastating Piment Ma Jacques... yeah, hot!

Shock Horror! Well, Waves?

Could it have been the Gin and Virgin Tonic? Or perhaps the mingy glass of dodgy wine that came with Virgin's "award winning" cattle-class lunch? No, it was really there, plain to see: what a shock. It was hovering above the engine cowlings of a 747-400 at full cruising altitude and speed. Was this Twilight Zone? No, but it was a real Supersonic Shock Wave!

Why Solanum?

Many people have asked, "Why Solanum?", and there are quite a few possible answers. Firstly, my interest in Botany is especially focused on members of the Solanaceae, from hot peppers (Capsicum spp.), deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), to one of the largest and most diverse genera in the entire plant kingdom, Solanum.

Indeed, there are thousands of Solanum species growing across the globe, both under cultivation, such as potato (S. tuberosum) and aubergine (S. melongena), as weeds such as Woody Nightshade (S. dulcamara), Black Nightshade (S. nigrum) and Devil's Fig (S. torvum), and as ornamentals such as the Kangaroo Apple (S. aviculare). Some are edible, some are poisonnous, but all are fascinating, and it is always a thrill to discover a new species growing on some rocky cliff or tropical glade when travelling.

Of course, this explanation for "Solanum" is all too simple for some folks, especially my computer colleagues, but is easy to cook up others to order. For a start, given my long-term involvement with Prolog and Artificial Intelligence, how about the acronym, "SOftware, Logical And NUMerical"?

And if you think that's cheesy, what about this geeky, utterly contrived derivation from my first internet username, "solach35"?

      = SOLA + CH35     ; split the name in two parts
      = SOLA + "#"      ; ASCII character 35 is "#"
      = SOLA + NUM      ; in the USA, "#" means "number"
      = SOLANUM         ; et voila! Contrived, or what?!

Sorry, but I said it was geeky! And there are probably plenty of other ways that "Solanum" could be "explained", depending upon who is enquiring, but the truth lies in the first reason given, namely my lifelong fascination with the Solanaceae, and my love of collecting, growing and cooking with peppers and assorted (edible!) Solanum plants.