In this section, you will have the chance to learn more about me, what my personal goals are, and what motivates me to provide the services I do.
Over the years, I have been involved with many aspects of the computer industry and have always tried to retain my core values in how I work, how I learn and how I help others.
I have always believed in helping others, sharing information, and keeping things simple.
I grew up before the computer age really took off, with my first experience on computers being the BBC model B classroom computer. I learned some BBC basic programming, and even at this earliest point, a bit of hacking. Well, I wrote a program to re-code the keys on the computer so when you pressed Q for example it put F on the screen etc. I also learned to block out the CTRL / BREAK so the user could not break out of the program or reset the machine. These were a great bit of fun.
(BBC model B, 32kb Ram, Acorn DFS, 640×256 8 Colours)
Once I left school in 1987, I enrolled in the Youth Training Scheme (Y.T.S) where I trained in computing using the original Apple Mac.
(Apple Mac 1mb Ram, Floppy Disc, Mono Display)
I completed my two years on Y.T.S with a placement at a local engineering company called Froude Consine. Here I started as an accounts clerk on the purchase ledger, processing invoices.
I soon discovered that a life in accounts was not for me, and was keen to understand what was going on behind the screen, so I spoke to my placement officer, and asked to be transferred to the computer department. This was my first leap into the computer industry.
I worked the remaining part of my placement in the computer department, operating and maintaining an IBM 4381 Model 21 Main Frame computer system.
The computer room was the the size of an average homes ground floor. We had the main processor itself (the IBM 4381), with 16 Megabytes of RAM, 6 washing machine sized hard drives, a single tape drive unit, a huge line printer, and some network control units. Everything was programmed with 8″ floppy discs and took forever to do anything.
Compared to today, this would be like being miniaturised down and being able to walk along your motherboard, visiting each component in life size. I truly felt like I was walking inside the computer.
Anyway, while I continued by Y.T.S here I became a computer operator, and also enrolled on a course at Computeach as a Cobol programmer. Little did I know at this stage of my career, but funding my own training would be a recurrent theme in my life, and at the beginning, it cost me around £2,500, which was a fortune in the late 80’s.
My computer operations duties included scheduling the overnight work operating a shift pattern of 7am until 2pm, and 12.30pm to 7.30pm on alternate weeks. Other duties included cleaning the massive line printer and the heads on the tape drive along with transferring the backup tapes off-site every night.
I had a great opportunity to work with the programming team, gaining valuable experience in Cobol programming, but my colleague set me a project to work on, which I completed and when the results were reviewed, she re-wrote my program in only 4 lines. This took the wind out of my sails at an early stage, but I already had an idea that coding would not be the most interesting career.
I mixed with other workmates in the team and discovered another programming language called REXX (Restructured Extended Executor). Bearing in mind the graphical user interface had not been invented yet, this was a text only output language, so I used it to create menus and interfaces that would automate tasks in a kind of batch file. This was more interesting as the feedback was quicker. Instead of the cold Cobol world, where you could write complex data processing routines that no one ever saw or even knew existed, this was a quick feedback, trial and error system that I really enjoyed.
Once again, at this stage of my career, I didn’t realise that fast feedback, user interfaces were an area I wanted to be in.
To be continued…