I thought I’d avoided this meme, but since Darren Gosbell tagged me and since Mosha (who was also tagged) has already joined in, here are my five things:
- Like a lot of Brits of my generation my first contact with computers was a BBC Model B that my father bought in the early 80s. Once he’d got bored of typing in programs from BEEBUG magazine that did things like play the Star Wars theme tune I got my hands on it, and in between long sessions playing ’Elite‘ decided it would be cool if I too could write games. Unfortunately my coding skills have not progressed much since those days.
- I won the Computer Studies prize at school (I had moved onto Turbo Pascal 5.5 by then, on Sanyo machines which had <gasp> a floppy disk drive and <double gasp> 256Kb of RAM) when I was 16 but only because the two other guys in the class who were better than me told the teacher that they were too cool to accept it. I, however, had no such scruples and spent the £20 book token on a French/English dictionary.
- My first degree was in Modern History, although later on I picked up one of those two-year part-time conversion course Computer Science degrees. After winning the Computer Studies prize I didn’t go near a computer for several years; I was much better at arts subjects and so I concentrated on that side of things. However a year after leaving university, after having spent a few months for a guy who wanted to reform the UK’s National Lottery, I decided to find a proper job. I didn’t fancy law, accountancy or any of the other things that History graduates seemed to end up doing so I thought I’d try to get on an IT graduate training scheme instead. I got a job at IMS Health in London where one of my first projects was evaluating a beta version of the new OLAP server from Microsoft that had been recommended by Nigel Pendse…
- While in that job I met my wife, Helen. She was headhunted to work for a large pharmaceuticals company in Switzerland and we decided to move out there together. I started looking for jobs out there and after one of my colleagues suggested sending my CV on spec to Microsoft I got a job in Microsoft Consulting in Zurich, where I stayed for three years. After the birth of our first daughter Natasha (joined last summer by Amelia), Helen and I moved back to the UK and I went back to IMS because they were doing some cool stuff with Yukon.
- After the project I was working on got canned, I decided to leave and set up on my own as a consultant. But you knew that already… so what I shall I write for my fifth point? How about that I’m incredibly absent-minded about everything except (as my wife pointed out when she was telling me off recently because I’d taken out buildings insurance on our house twice) work. My worst experience was at Copenhagen airport when I went through security, sat down and started reading and didn’t notice that everyone else had got on the flight. By the time I did notice the plane was already on the runway about to take off, but had to turn back because my bags were on board. It couldn’t go back to the same gate though and had to go to a different one which was at the wrong height, so I had to climb halfway up the side of it to get on before walking the full length of the plane to my seat while the captain was very rude about me over the intercom.