Farewell to Sharone Neuhoff, 2017

Farewell to Sharone Neuhoff, 26th January 2017

If anyone can send me photos taken on the day, and give me permission to publish them, I'll put them here.

Stranger on the net

First, I want to tell you a story called "Strangers on the net".

Long, long time ago, there was an optician who lived in New Mexico State in the United States of America. Her name was Sharone. Sharone was fascinated with computers (it was the DOS era -- not that I want to disclose Sharone's age). Being young and innocent, she did not know how dangerous the Internet was. She didn't know that she is not supposed to talk to strangers! She met a stranger on the net, who flew all the way over from Germany to "help her with her computer problems"! That was Juergen.

Little did they know, love was just a text away, a warm embracing telnet away. Out of their cyber space, they got married in the real world!

How did Sharone and Juergen move to Colchester?

It started with a CCTV camera.

Sharone and Juergen had to solve a constraint satisfaction problem:
Sharone was in USA and Juergen was in Germany. Sharone and her daughter Allie didn’t speak German, so living in Germany would be difficult. So they heuristically explored England as an option.
But how?

They found a CCTV camera online. It was in a town called Colchester. It showed the streets and the library. This camera had a relatively high refresh rate, so it was as good as live streaming. The town looked nice, So they decided to come and see it. (To be fair, when you are in love, any town that helps you stay together would have looked superb.) Eventually, they decided to settle in Colchester!

Sharone is world famous!

Sharone decided to reward the CCTV camera and the folks running it by writing a praising article for the local Chamber of Commerce in New Mexico. They asked for an interview, which Sharone accepted. A man came to interview her. Only this man turned out to be a press agent. The following day when Sharone returned home, Juergen said “Where have you been? The phone hasn’t stopped ringing! It’s all the news stations!” And sure enough, the phone rang and it was Sky News! They wanted to know all about how Sharone and Juergen “found Colchester on the internet”.

The phone rang all day… and the next day the newspapers showed up! It didn’t stop there. TV stations from across the world phoned up. When Princess Di was killed the BBC phoned and asked Sharone what America thought of it. France’s channel 5 asked Sharone to explain CCTV cameras in the high street. It went on, and on, ... for 5 years.

Sharone’s experience was a wonderful story. It showed how the Internet changes lives! In fact, some suggested that it was the first Internet marriage ever!

How is it like working with Sharone?

Sharone serves with enthusiasm. This is because she cares! She cares about the University, and she cares about the people she works with! Sharone always serves with a smile (except when she is angry).

Sharone is multi-talented

Sharone taught me how to use Photoshop. She taught me how to put a hint of a smile on Sam Steel’s photo (which looked serious) when Sam was the Head of Department :) (I didn't realize that Sam knew nothing about that. Now he does!)

Perhaps not everyone here knows that Sharone is gifted in language too. She speaks the perfect Chinese greeting. She could fool anyone on the phone (this was verified by our Chinese colleagues).


Retirement is a wonderful idea! You start drawing money from your pension instead of paying into it. The risk is that you may run out of money before you die. But that is okay, because you are at least compensated by a life longer than you expected. The alternative is worse: you pay into your pension until you die, and get nothing out of it!

I’m sure Sharone will enjoy her retirement. I know many of us here will miss her. We wish you, Sharone, all the best!