I was born in Durham, North East England where I grew up, spending a lot of time climbing trees, cycling and generally messing round like most kids do. Got dirty, suffered cuts, bruises and grazes – and probably worried my parents to death half the time.
I had all of my early education – primary and secondary – within County Durham, but decided to venture out of the North East for my further education so I could get some independence and see what life away from home is really like.
I’m currently living close to the border between County Durham and North Yorkshire, and spend my days working for a hosted software company in Richmond.
My school life all started where I went to primary school and spent the first few years of secondary school close to where I was born. That all changed when I was 14 and my mother got a job which meant we all needed to move to a different part of the county.
Leaving my friends behind was always going to be difficult, and moving to a new place always has its challenges, but I was fortunate enough to be representing my school at chess in a tri-country tournament involving France and Hungary where different participants from schools there played a variety of games. I’m not all that good at chess, I just enjoy playing. Whilst there I met some people from the school I was going to be moving to, which made the whole transition easier
After settling in and dealing with the challenges that presented, I realised that I wanted to go to University, and have the challenges that presented too. At that point I put more effort into my education that I previously had and was fixated on on the path of further education.
The conclusion of my compulsory education saw me attain 10 GCSEs with A – C grades.
Following the conclusion of my GCSEs and the grades they brought, and knowing that I was going to go to university to pursue either business or computing, I decided to embark on A-Levels in Business, Computing, Maths and Physics, though I stopped physics as AS-Level with a grade C.
My A-Level results didn’t pan out as I intended, and I attained C, D and E grades in Business, Computing and Mathematics respectively. Despite this, I managed to get a place at Aberystwyth University – very far from home and a lot of challenges posed in such a move.
I chose to persue computing at university, and took a degree in Software Engineering. I always enjoyed creating things on a computer and seeing a finished product come together always gave, and still gives, me a great sense of satisfaction.
My degree was a sandwich course, where I would have a year in industry between the second year and the final year. The course was a great challenge, more so in some areas than others, and that helped determine the course I would take after university.
I graduated Aberystwyth University in 2008, having had to defer some exams, and therefore my graduation, due to a sports injury which left me unable to write over an exam period. I left Aberystwyth with a 2:2 in Software Engineering.
As mentioned in the “Further Education” section, my degree required me to take a year in industry. This required applying for different jobs and passing the recruitment process with employers. After some initial setbacks I was delighted to be taken on by Nissan UK (yes, the car manufacturer) as it meant I would be working for a massive company, but also able to move home for the year, and save money on rent.
During this placement I was part of a team working on a live project to help the different Nissan offices in Europe register vehicles with their respective vehicle licensing authorities. My main responsibility during this time was getting the system we were working on to produce the legally required vehicle registration documentation for the different authorities.
This often involved liaising with different departments in different countries, usually via phone or e-mail, though there were times when visits to the offices were required.
When the project was going live, I was posted in Spain to help manage the roll-out of the system there for the week. Other members of my team – and full time Nissan employees – were posted in other offices around Europe.
At the end of the contracted period, I was asked to stay and continue working with Nissan for the 6 weeks up until I went back to University, which I was more than happy to do.
Getting in to Computing
When I was young, I had a number of different games consoles: Sega Master System, Sega Mega-Drive, Sony Playstation; but didn’t spend all my free time on them like kids today seem to do. Back then (just to make me sound old), home computers were still in a relative infancy so it came as a great shock way back in 1996 when Santa brought us a PC for home. It was the coolest thing ever – well I thought so at the time – despite only have a 1GB hard drive, 16MB RAM, a blistering 28.8k modem and a colossal 120Mhz Intel processor.
Into the middle of 1997 we got the internet. Dial-up courtesy of free AOL and Compuserve CDs which were always in Currys and other electrical retailers. At this point I got interested in the internet, web pages and how they were created and set out to create my own. Nothing much really came of that until 2000 – 2001 when free hosting was all over the place and I actually created my own website which wasn’t part of geocites or similar providers. It was awful!
I remeber the background – a completely blue (#0000FF) background – with various awfully colours blocks in red, green, yellow, fuscia and probably other nasty colours, with equally dodgy coloured text on them. All because I was ahead of the general curve of kids my age and had my own website. That and I am quite geeky. All this was long before MySpace, Bebo and Facebook.
Whilst my web development skills have certainly improved, my design skills aren’t better at all. I’m not artistic – hence the “developer not designer” tag line on this site – and can’t get the visuals I see in my head onto the screen, or into Photoshop, but I can take designs others come up with and translate them to the web. I get great satisfaction out ot that.
I think my early years in computing really formed the path into web development for me. I based my finally year project at University around web technologies, and I really enjoy and embrace the idea that some web-based software can be easily accessible to millions of people around the globe, where as regular desktop software rarely has that market depth. I guess in relative terms, only the biggest players out there reach the millions of users, the likes of Google, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo.
The other main reason I went down the path of web development is that my first post-university job is a hosted CRM solution, so web technology all the way there. If I had got a job developing software, I would probably have a different viewpoint. Both are with their challenges, and from start to finish, there is no reason why any one of them should be longer than the other to see the results of something working.
Having gone into web development, there are technologies you use regularly, depending on the application you are working on, and a natural affinity to those technologies takes hold. Here are the technologies I personally enjoy using (Note: I am used to using more tech than this, I only actually enjoy working with the following):
- Windows (desktop)
As controversial as some people may find it, me saying that I enjoy working with windows, I have to admit that I do. I might slag it off, give it a bit of a bashing and sigh at its use sometimes, but credit where it is due, Microsoft generally make is quite easy to do most things. It can be an absolute pain trying to do some more complex things on it, and more annoying when they change where something is from one version to the next, but it’s generally easy and good enough to use for both personal and professional use.
When I’m not sat in front of a computer I do enjoy to take part in sports. Mainly hockey and badminton for me, but I do enjoy a good bike ride too.
I got into hockey when I was about 13, as part of P.E. at school. I was part of the school team for both my year group and the year above, when I was invited down to the local club, Durham City for training where I gained and held a regular place in their ranks as a defender.
When I went to university I decided to try out for a different position and go for a midfield slot, but due to an abundance of midfielders, and my ability to hit the ball reasonably hard, I was put up front and finished the season as top scorer for the men’s 3rd team, and second top scorer for the men’s second team. I continued with hockey throughout my time at university, where I also captained a team and was, in my final year, awarded the highest award the club can hand out, “Clubman of the Year”.
When I left university I returned to Durham City and fit straight back into the club there, playing for a couple of seasons until injury struck. I’m currently not affiliated with a club, but am looking to return to the sport in August 2012 for the new season, injury free and full of energy.
I’ve taken my passion for hockey further than just playing the sport. I also have a level 1 coaching qualification, as well as a level 1 umpring qualification. This means that when I am not playing, and am not injured, I can pass on my knowledge of the sport to others, or help teams out by officiating their matches.
I got into badminton late in 2008 as a way to help improve my explosive pace, improve my fitness and as a way to build me into a competitive weekend of hockey. Throughout my time out of hockey I have continued with badminton to keep me active and have played for Newton Aycliffe mixed B team, and Men’s B team when needed.
My mother has worked for Blockbuster for a number of years, and so I naturally grew an affinity to movies and the escape from reality they offered. When I turned 18 I got a job in Blockbuster myself, which only served to enhance my love of films. I am currently a Cineworld Unlimited member, where I can see any screening of any film as many times as I like, and only pay a flat rate each month. This leads to weekly cinema visits with my cousin, who also loves films.
My favorite film of all time is Pulp Fiction, though many people find it confusing as the story line is not linear. I love the way it jumps about to different events in the story so, just as you are settling in to the part you are watching, and the way that pans out, it forces you to wake up and think a little more about this whole different set of events either before or after the ones you have just seen.