About me – a heavily abridged life story
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After many years of computers.. too many but sadly at the same time not enough, I now sit like many, glued to my desk, and not because of careless use of adhesives, but because of the attractive power of the internet. That I earn my living like many others by sitting down and clicking and tapping switches, making lights change on a piece of techno glass would be unheard of 50 years ago.. that I do it without a computer science degree would have been unheard of 30 years ago, and that the world faces job uncertainty as value shifts online, well, still unheard of to many.
I grew up with computers, which at the time wasn’t anywhere near as common as it is today, although I wasn’t one of those kids who spend their summers hanging out in the server rooms of MIT and subsequently finding myself writing a world changing operating system.. I had big ideas but none that big at the time.
I have memories of black and green monitors at home, a VIC20, a Sinclair Spectrum 48k, a ludicrously large “portable” machine with a couple of 5 1/4 inch drives and a CRT display the size of my phone. I liked to take things apart, and sometimes successfully put them back together. I was a child of the A-Team, thinking that anything was possible, if I could take a toy robot and somehow will a brain into it then maybe The Terminator would come true. We had a binatone, some archaic tv based device to push 10 giant pixels at a time around the screen, a classic game that really didn’t resemble tennis or squash in any sense other than if you break those sports down to their absolute basic concepts, or if you managed to play them in braille. Still we had fun.
I remember playing wolf3D, later Doom, then the best of them all, networked Doom! This was before mouse view was introduced so it was a very keyboard heavy experience, and a frustrating one. Another frustrating experience for a young teenage boy, was chat rooms. I did spend endless hours talking to random strangers well into the early hours, they may or may not have been the similar aged females that they claimed to be (maybe there were lots of teenage girls in chatrooms back in 1994, but I’m sceptical now how many of them weren’t just bored dudes) which also led me to chippie, the name of all kinds of things in my life. You could call it a nick, or a handle, or just a plane stupid word that stuck. Nobody calls me chippie, there’s a certain group of people that call me chipster, although it’s more likely about 3 individuals from London 2600.
Also in the mid to late 90’s I was introduced to the idea that the internet was actually made, that there was a fairly simple language that could be used to construct documents in a different sense to the kind we were familiar with on paper. I still have a book that my ISP friend passed on to me about how to build a web page. It covered image optimisation, structure.. I’ll dig it out, it was quite an influence.
I’d always liked art at school, drawing since I was small, and not being half bad at it. There was a time when at primary school I had a female friend who once came over so I could teach her how to draw, I think it was one of my first businesses.. of course we drew for a while, World War II aeroplanes from a book I used to love drawing from, then played something or other.. Thanks to the power of facebook I can see that she didn’t become an artist, so I guess in that I was a bit of a failure, still, for 8 years old or thereabouts, it was pretty forward thinking.
I washed cars and mowed the lawn for pocket money, something which I think gave me the feeling that money is never far away, just a bit of work and it will come. It was a good lesson that if you want something you work for it. Once my lovely ex-cat Nelson (poor Nelson) was locked in the house when we all went out. He left a surprise behind the toilet in the upstairs bathroom.. being my dad’s fault I refused to clean it, and in the end negotiated £50 for the service. This was actually a lesson that I’m still learning.. if someone really needs something and they really want you to do it, they have to pay.
I’m writing this on the 1st of January 2011, and as such it’s a bit of a new years resolution. I’m aiming to change the way I work, maintain my clients but push harder for something new. I have spent much of my life helping others get what they want technically, more on that will be covered later, but this is for me to take what I’ve learned, things I’ve thought that I want to put down somewhere and do it.