I was born in South London, UK, and have spent most of my life in the South of England, leaving school to go to the nearby Surrey University (although my parents moved north at the same time). I later started my first job in Teddington, which is in South-West London. When I moved in, I rented a room in a shared house, thinking that as it was quite expensive (compared to my salary then) I would use it as a staging post while I found somewhere else... Over two years later, when my company moved us away from the area, I was still there!
Some of the photos in my Photo Gallery were taken in Bushy park, on my way to work in Teddington. For a while after that I lived in Weymouth, which is between Poole and Exeter on the south coast next to the island of Portland. I enjoyed living there very much - it has a lovely climate and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. On one occasion, I left my house in Weymouth in warm, bright sunshine, and drove up the steep escarpment a couple of miles to just to the north straight into a world shrouded in fog and frost! I have a picture of the house I lived in then, with my car (a VW Polo GL) in front of it here. The house was an unusual design; it was built as 4, one bed, two storey houses, splitting the building into quarters like a hot cross bun! I liked it though, and at one point was thinking of buying one myself (I rented that one). One other unusual aspects (for the time) was that it's heating system was fan-assisted warm air through ducts from the boiler; rather noisy but very quick to heat up.
When I left Weymouth, I moved up to High Wycombe, just outside the M25 on the West side of London and joined Insignia Solutions. Again I lived in a shared house for quite a while, as the houses there were much more expensive to rent or buy than in Weymouth. However, it was an interesting time, and I learnt a lot, both in and out of work. The company created a program that emulated a Windows PC on non-Windows computers, such as Unix Workstations and Apple Macs. One of the perks was getting to use as my own computer an HP 9000/735 with several bells and whistles, and costing (then) over £40K. It was I think the nicest computer I used in that era. The team structure was split into an explicit Research group, a Development and Productisation group, and a Support group, which I found worked fairly well they way they did it, with very specific handover requirements from one to the other.
Eventually, I was able to buy a house in Marlow, although it was ex-council and not as posh as the address might suggest. Nevertheless it was my first and I was proud of it, set back from the road on an access pathway, and with a front lawn and view over a green space. It needed a lot of TLC, not least the back fence was completely missing and open to a communal pathway. The front lawn had been used by the previous owner as a parking spot, and so the ground was very very hard. Having given up with a garden fork, I hired a large rotavator, but that just skittered over the top while lightly scratching it. I eventually figured out that if I pulled the rotavator backwards while it was in forward gear useful things happened. With this technique I got the top 3 or 4 inches of soil tilled and decided that would have to do. Who says automation is easy!
When I later stopped working for Insignia, and joined TCAM in London, the journey in to work meant leaving at between 7 and 7.30am, and rarely arriving home before 8pm; a very long day for me and one reason I eventually left. TCAM worked on software for the banking sector and was a subdividion of Stratus, a large American company. We worked mostly on the new (at the time) CREST trading platform, creating systems to transfer trade requests and responses as quickly as possible. The "highlight" was an on-site delivery of the first system to Glasgow, catching the early morning flight from Heathrow. It was an interesting experience.
After leaving TCAM I also left the house in Marlow. For a while I stayed with friends in Suffolk, where I took the picture of the sky you can see in my Gallery - it can be so incredibly beautiful there. However, I was already looking for another post, and went to work for ARM in Cambridge, helping the software development team there. The house I found wass very convenient; it took all of 5 minutes to get to work. Bliss! ARM was very interesting, and I did embedded firmware development, windows programming and some project management. Later I switched to writing user manuals, which went quite well too.
Outside work, I joined the local baptist church, helped along by next-door neighbors who went there first. This has been a great help to me and I have found spiritual and practical help as a result. About 6 years after joining ARM, in 2002, the time came to move on. It seemed not only a good time to change jobs, but a good time to have a good think about my future, and in the end I took a year out to do the stuff I couldn't mix with work: I did quite a bit of traveling, I started researching a book and contributing lots of time to friends and the Church. I even thought about VSO, but the commitment they wanted was a minimum of about two years and I wasn't ready for that.
That period did come to an end, almost exactly a year later when I started working for CBS, a computer consultancy business working in the financial management field. Very soon after I started there I was helping to write a proposal for the BBC, and got to enter those hallowed halls at White City! While at CBS, I worked on a variety of projects, ranging from XML based Inland Revenue forms submission software to employee tracking databases, but the thing I derived the most fun from was training QlikView, a program that enables you to stuff data from all sorts of sources into the same melting pot and pull out amazing charts, graphs and tables showing relationships between them. I did a couple of training sessions, but things weren't really working and I concluded CBS wasn't right for me.
During this time, I had started doing much more with my local Church and with Pendon museum as sometime helper and photographer. I also had a very pleasant side-trip to the PDPTA conference in Las Vegas. Since then I have had other jobs working on double glazing manufacturing machines, and interfacing to inkjet printers. I have a younger sister but no brothers, and many of my close relatives are spread out across the world; I have one Uncle in Australia and several others in Canada. One cousin even lives in Korea, teaching English to very appreciative children. My father was born in Wales, my mother in Yorkshire, and I've always had a special liking for both regions.