10th anniversary of full time employment


I can’t quite believe that it’s been 10 years already since I started my very first full time job, and probably one of the best jobs I could have ever started with back in January 2005.  This post is one my usual annual reflection posts on a particular past event/time period, this time (with it being 10 years this month) on my very first proper job and the challenges involved…

I had just graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University in July 2004 with a 1st in my Computer Science degree, still not entirely sure how – as this was all done whilst bringing up our daughter and not getting a huge amount of sleep for about 2-3 years.  Since late 2000, I had been working at my local Co-Op, and gradually increased the hours after I moved out and set up home with my future wife and child.   For a small period after graduation, I was offered the chance to begin teaching part-time on the very same Computer Science degree I had just graduated from, as well as running a multi-media class on the HND Multimedia course being ran at the time.  The hourly rates were very good, and it seemed ideal to teach something I had just been freshly taught myself.

Before that I had been applying to quite a few jobs over the summer without much luck – many jobs wanted the experience part, which I just did not have.  It was a pretty stupid situation, but I was gathering experience at least in CV design and interview skills.  I did almost get a software development job in Chatham for a company that specialized in Rail timetables, but with a lack of experience – I was initially only offered a tester job – which wasn’t quite enough to cover the travel costs and leave much left over, so I had to turn it down.

I was doing OK after a month or so into the lecturing, though I felt completely out of my depth to be fair in the new role.  As it was just part time, I was still doing my student job at the local Co-Op every Saturday and Sunday.  My lecturer and friend Dr David Bennett kept telling me that I shouldn’t just stick to doing teaching, and should get out there and do a real IT job to get the experience under my belt.  He then one day dug out an advert for a new job in the Web Team at Christ Church University, which looked great and right up my street.

Although I hadn’t no work experience in the field, I was a graduate from the University and had done a fair chunk of web work for myself and as part of the course, as well databases and general programming.  The team were now looking to expand.   Stupidly, and I don’t know why – I didn’t get my CV in straight away – and it took a kick up the backside from David for me to see sense and go for it.  I got my submission in (after a little help from David), and to my surprise I was granted an interview!

The date of the interview was the 5th November.   There were two complications for me at the time – firstly the date was my birthday, meaning if I really fucked it up – then that would put a bit of a downer on the rest of the day.  Secondly, just two days before the interview – I learnt that the Co-op store was closing down, making all staff redundant on (of all days) Christmas Eve 2004.

The second complication was the one of biggest impact, as without that revenue of income – things were looking a bit bleak with regards to paying rent and bills (teaching not covering all of what I needed).  Now all of a sudden it felt that everything was riding on this interview.   I had to give this my all and had to nail it, especially with a young family to support and not wanting to let either of them down.   The weeks leading up to the interview were spent intensely on reading up on web technologies and various terminologies, trying to make sure I was ready as I could ever be.  But also preparing a presentation that I had to give too.

Day of the interview – and “shitting a few bricks”

The big day came, and I was a bag of nerves as usual with such events.  There were about 5 candidates in total, and we were all brought together in a waiting area with coffee, tea and biscuits,  A bit strange I thought, as it meant we would inevitably get talking to each other and be able to “size up the competition”.  Already I felt completely out of place – the other candidates all looked far more comfortable in their suits and as if they had been doing this kind of thing for years.

One candidate kept however saying that they were not going to get the job and saying we would instead and was very vocal about it – I kept mostly quiet.  Interestingly though, and something I had completely missed, I was informed by one of the candidates that the job advert was for two roles and not one!  The odds were suddenly a lot better, though I still wasn’t relaxed…

Over the next course of an hour, each of us were called in to do a presentation on the Dichotomy of Accessibility and Dynamism (which David had been a great help with his advice).  I had already started chatting to one of the candidates called Chris Stankovich, and got talking about football and seemed to get on pretty well considering we were battling against each other for a job!  As each of us went in, we wished each other good luck and hoped that we’d both be seeing each other starting soon in the job.

The presentation from what I can remember went pretty well – I think the recent teaching experience had been a god send overall and very good timing.  The presentation was given to the members of the panel, as well as current members of the web team.   After I had finished, there was a questions session where the team would ask me questions to get a feel about my knowledge of the web.

I think I managed to answer all of what was thrown at me, apart from the question from Andy – who for some reason I just couldn’t hear what he was saying.  He repeated his question when I mentioned this, but I sort of mumbled my way through and didn’t really answer it, as I still didn’t quite hear what he said!  I thought I had blown it because of that moment!

I came out, a little disappointed.   Once all the presentations were complete, then we had the opportunity to have lunch all together with all the candidates and members of the panel and web team.  This was a really nice touch and helped to relax things a lot, getting to know the team a bit better, ask questions and have a more informal conversation.   I still felt a little out of place, as the other candidates’ previous experience was made clear in conversation.  I had merely just come fresh out of graduation, so I had nothing really to talk about apart from my own personal web projects and talking about my retro gaming interests.

It was then gradually onto the final phase, and full interview with the panel.  I think at this stage one of the more senior members of the University joined in, Dr Keith Gwilym (Thanks Michael!).   I recognized him as one of the guys who introduced the HND Multimedia Course at South Kent College back in 1999 to a bunch of us in our final year of our GNVQ Advanced IT course.  The interview (and presentations) took place in a large glamorous hall with old fashioned wooden panelling on the walls (and I think a large fireplace?).   There was a massive desk with a long row of chairs.  I was seated at the very end, with the panel a bit further down from me.

It was very daunting, though the panel were friendly and did their best to make me feel relaxed.  I can’t remember many of the questions, though I was asked about what I thought were good web technologies, how I would find solutions, how I would break down a large project and knowledge about VLE’s.  I answered everything as best as I could – though it was clear I had no previous work experience, which I was honest about and I sounded out as my weakness.  The senior guy mentioned that this didn’t really matter, as I could be a “mouldable” person for the team.  I came out of the interview, feeling like I had done everything I could have.  Afterwards, I was given a quick tour of the offices by Ian Williams – all of which looked amazing, and was based in a old vicarage building living room.  It was a teasing glimpse of what could be … almost like “Look at what you could have won!” from Bullseye, but before knowing the result.

The outcome…

Now for the rest of my birthday, I just hoped that the potential rejection would not happen that evening – but maybe a few days later so I could switch off and enjoy some of the day.  Luckily I didn’t hear anything that night.  A few weeks later and still asleep at the time, the phone rings and Tasha throws it at me quickly to answer.  It is Dr Keith Gwilym from the interview, who offers me the job!!  My phone battery is about to cut out, so I frantically accept and apologize if my phone cuts out – Keith laughs and tells me to expect details in the post over the next few days.

I couldn’t quite believe it for a few days and it took time to sink in.  Finally I had got my foot in the door and into full time employment, which would begin on the 4th January 2005.  I admit, there was a MASSIVE sense of relief at the time – as I was really worried about not being able to support my family properly.

The timing just felt like fate. Luckily others from Co-Op had a similar fate and managed to get other jobs too. Trying to get your first role after graduating isn’t easy (even more so these days), as so many places almost demand the experience first.  But how can you get the experience if you are not given a chance to gain it?  Unfortunately it seems to be about luck and being in the right place at the right time.   I certainly was lucky, and it was literally just because they decided to give a Christ Church graduate their first break.

Sometime in early December,  I get a phone call from Michael Wilcox – who was on the panel as a Graphic Designer at the University.  At the time, there was also an advertisement (unknown at the time) for the web team manager role – which Michael had just been awarded!   Michael was to be my new boss, and he was arranging for us all to meet up for a Christmas meal and a pint or two at the Simple Simons pub (now The Parrot) in Canterbury before we all got started in January.  I was pretty nervous at first about meeting everyone again, but was soon relaxed and made to feel welcome by everyone in the team, as well as one of the admin staff (Lorraine?).  I also got to learn who my other new colleague would be, which was the extra added bonus of being Chris!

I’ll never forget it, but almost the very first thing i’m asked (by Werner), was if I was a fan of Unreal Tournament.  One of my favourite games of all time, and i’m now being asked if I would be up for joining in their lunchtime sessions that they have against other departments in the building!  The job just kept getting better and better at this stage.  After enjoying one too many pints near a nice heated fireplace for most of the afternoon/evening – I headed off to get my last bus later that evening, whilst Chris carried on a hefty drinking session with new colleague Andy (which was one of many messy nights to come for the two!)

A new start

webteam_photoFirst day start was nerve wrecking, but interesting – I got a desk by the window and was given a series of things to start looking up and reading about, mostly our servers and where everything was at.   I was now a part of a newly expanded web team with Ian Williams, Andy Dorman, Chris Stankovich, Werner Erasmus, John Bennett and Michael Wilcox (the boss).   A few weeks in, and we had a photo taken (right) which was printed in the staff magazine to introduce the new team which would be “redeveloping the University’s web pages” over the next few months.

I would be doing a lot of HTML and CSS work to start off with, and I hadn’t done a huge amount of CSS before – so this was first on the agenda (and off my own back) to start building my own template with CSS used to get up to speed fully.  Next few days then had ourselves looking to design a brand new template/design for the entire Christ Church University website.

Each of us would be asked to create 2-3 designs, which were then stuck onto the wall and critiqued to pull out the best ideas for Chris (who was primarily employed for his design background) to knock up a new look and feel.  I’d been doing a lot of photoshop work recently for my final year project, so I was comfortable knocking some designs out.   Already everyone in the team was being involved with everything going on. So far after a few weeks, I was settling in and not feeling so nervous.

About a few months into the job, Werner created a 360 MOV file of the office that you can rotate around – which was a test run for potentially creating 360’s of around the campus (which sadly we didn’t get to do).  I found the file recently, so here it is (you may need Quicktime installed to see it)…

http://www.gtw64.co.uk/extras/office.mov

Next to me by the window was a Mac, which was purchased before I arrived to do some intensive graphical work.  As the machine took so long to arrive, the graphical work was complete – so the guys had set it up and turned it into a glorified juke box with everyone’s playlists included on ITunes to go through.  Here I would get to listen over the year or so music by Queens of Stoneage, Killers, Foo Fighters,  White Stripes,  The Cure,  Kasabian,  Jonny Cash and many others.  Music pretty much played all day in the office, unless there was a meeting.

Unreal Tournament at lunch

About to score for team FBS!
About to score for team FBS!

Lunchtimes were of course a lot of fun.  At 1pm, the office door would close and we’d all boot up Unreal Tournament (1999 Game of the Year edition) and shoot seven barrels of crap out of each other.  We’d mostly play on teams and do Capture the Flag maps.

It was here that I was mostly first introduced to others from around the University – including the Web Systems team and Database Admin team, who all joined in the lunchtime sessions – making it often about 4-5 vs 4-5 every lunch for a period.  We were often the “F**king Blue Scum” (FBS Rules!), and the Web Systems and Database Admins were the “Red b**tard scum”.  In many ways, I think the gaming session was a really good ice breaker for the teams – especially for myself, who isn’t the most sociable person in the world.

The group of us would often joke about how it would be cool to have a level map based around our offices and the buildings we worked in.  After previously messing around with Quake’s map editor and designing a few basic maps, I volunteered to have a go and see if I could create something.   I began on replicating our environment in a crude way, mostly from home (but with sneaky bits here and there at work when things were quiet – sorry Michael!).  Then I found I had completely cocked up in the way I was creating the map, making it not particularly scalable.  As a result it was ditched, but the exercise inspired a few of us to go on and create a few maps between us for fighting against – most of which you can see on my YouTube page here …

https://www.youtube.com/user/fgasking/videos

Probably my own favourite created level was Joust, which was very simple – but had a large hidden tunnel and sections with pictures of the team and insults to the other teams 🙂   Werner had created an excellent Mines of Moria level as well, and Andrew Chenery developed a cool base level called “Suck it up!”.

At some stage I started kicking off a feature in Unreal Tournament, which was just amazing.  You could tell it to record a networked game, and it recorded everyone’s movements, shots and everything for the match which you could then play back and flick between players.  I’ve had about 10-12 demos for years, and recently I captured them as well – which you can find also on the YouTube page.  It’s been nice being able to play back some of the lunchtimes that we had.

You can download the maps and demos from here:

https://fgasking.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/unreal-maps-demos-and-quake-demos/

Kicking back and “Oddjob”

The team as a whole worked very hard and got things done and done well, but we did let off a bit of steam fairly often which did us a lot of good – such as throwing hard objects at each other (usually kicked off by Ian and a plastic lid hitting my head).  Occasionally some of the team members might create some “alternative” website banner designs which would never get through approval 😉  There was shit loads of tea drinking and the occasional pub lunch on a Friday to celebrate the end of the week.  Even a bit of Funky Pool and Tardis Tennis from time to time!

Outside of work, we’d occasionally all meet up for events like quiz nights and have extended drinking sessions.  I often ended up getting dragged out for long drinking sessions and clubbing with Chris and Andy, and also Michael on a few occasions!  I remember that myself, Chris and Michael all ended up going drinking in a place called the Orange Street Music Club, and just getting completely drunk – the next day Michael comes into work wearing shades and doesn’t take them off for the entire day (which Michael doesn’t recall, so I may have over embellished!)…  Chris and his mum would also always very kindly let me kip on their sofa, though Chris would always like to make sure I felt as uncomfortable as possible by suggesting that I fancied his mum, in front of her 🙂

I think letting off steam is very important, and creates a good team spirit overall in a team – which then filters through to the work outputted.  Of course, it can go too far – but as long as it is managed, then it can actually work.  Look at how the likes of Google/Facebook work for instance.   Certainly we didn’t have grass carpets, unlimited ice-cream and fuss-ball tables to play on, but plenty of banter was present which made a difference to the work produced.

Back to the work itself … It wasn’t too long until the new University design was up and running – I can’t recall what jobs I had been doing leading up to that point, but I wasn’t really involved in the development of it at this stage.  I was pretty much the junior, and most of my work to start was basic HTML, content work and image work.   We also had a role called “Odd Job”, which was batted round the team each week – and that person would literally have to do all the small and awkward “odd jobs”, to free up the other team members working on their projects.  It worked brilliantly, and either Chris or Werner created a special badge (of shame?) for the person undertaking the role that week.  Chris also created a nice pose of all of us as the “Odd Jobs” out of a series of photos which were taken of each of us for a write up in the Staff magazine after we first started…

oddjobs

Chris also took the effort to impose us in different team situations too.  My favourite being the “Magnificent seven”, and “Frankie and Johnny” was the more dodgy of the set 😉 …

7d

7r

frank-jonnie

magseven

Content and re-skinning work

The new University design had already been fully approved, and it was now being first rolled out on the key front line pages.  At this stage I began helping to re-skin the old content, and as we did – the praise began to come in from all areas about how great things were looking.  One thing I liked was that if you did a good job, then you were told just that – which did little to dampen any enthusiasm for the job – often taking small bits of work home to do as a result.  As many sites got re-skinned, we felt pretty much like the “Golden boys” for a bit – which was a nice feeling and that we were really transforming the outer face of the University for good.

dept-artFocus was moved onto department re-skinning at some stage – first on the list, and my first assignment was the Art department – where I would have my first client meeting.  Thinking back, I think I was actually assigned to the departmental work before the main site re-skinning was complete to give me something to get on with and make Art the first department to use the template.

The department was very friendly as a whole, and I discussed the needs for the new website, the structure and then made any recommendations to them for additional content which could help promote them. At the same time, I had arranged with the department to go and take some pictures to use for the website.  We could have easily used stock photography, but there was a specific requirement to just cover photos from around the department to get a real feel for what they offered.  I was keen to make a good impression at this stage, as this would be my first proper piece of work i’d be judged on.

I had a feeling the impression wouldn’t be too great, as during taking some of the photos – one of the art teachers rather enthusiastically gets permission for me to take pictures of the nude model posing at the time (who was just a young woman in her 20’s, rather than some 90 year old like I used to get in my art classes!).  So when I went back to the office and the team were asking to see how I got on with the photos, I had a bit of explaining to do! 🙂 …. Luckily, I managed to find a tasteful image where an artist’s arm was conveniently covering certain parts of the anatomy – and which made it into the main site banner image.

After a few weeks, the re-skinned pages were complete – and feedback was very positive.  With only a few suggested tweaks to make, I had completed my first departmental website with a bit of my own CSS and re-worked content.  The department was very happy, and I felt a bit more confident about myself in the role.  I had also designed the new prospectus pages, which took elements from the printed version (including colour coded campuses) – which had data populated via a database set up by Werner.

My first coding assignment

I still was feeling a little lacklustre though and not really feeling like I was making a good contribution for the team (apart from a couple of head shots maybe in Unreal Tournament).  It was then one afternoon when Michael popped in the office and got talking to me.  Our website template had a left sided menu, which could indent up to 3 levels – and Michael had a brainwave that we were constructing pretty much an entire website structure when creating a menu.

Wouldn’t be great if that menu could be used to generate an entire website in the University template automatically?   We had a quick chat about how it could be that you have a web tool which allows you to add menu items and build up a menu structure, then click a button to generate all the pages.  Still feeling I needed to step up and prove myself in the role, I volunteered to try and build this “magical” tool.

pbI then spent a few weeks on and off building up a simple prototype.  This was my first proper venture into real web programming, where I would very quickly learn about the differences between client-side and server-side programming.  My decision was to use ASP (which was the main language used at the time) with HTML forms, but I got stuck pretty quickly when I needed to “keep state” when adding a menu item and needing to continue with the rest of the site build.

I wasn’t using Javascript, so didn’t have any access to client side data objects to use as storage, and I wasn’t using a database either.  A quick chat with Andy, and I came up with a (in hindsight!) very very ugly solution, where when the form was submitted and a particular function (such as “Add menu item”) was clicked, the ASP would take the submission data and store it in masses of hidden fields.

The submission would contain all of the menu data and any other information, such as page title and content.  The hidden fields were then generated on the fly and bolted onto the end as more data was added.  It worked though, as clunky as it was – I got it creating menu items, indenting them, allowing for a page title and file name.  You clicked a button and suddenly all the relevant menu file, folders and page files were created in a timestamped folder – which you could browse to and see the site in full.

The pages were just created by taking a copy of the page template and replacing key areas with the properties set.  It worked, and the team began using the tool from that point on.  It meant that a site which could have taken half a day to set up originally by hand, could take now about 5-10 minutes if you knew your menu structure.  This allowed us to re-skin all of the departments a lot quicker than originally anticipated.

Over the months – feature requests would be suggested, and i’d build them in and get them working.  It started to become a full on site builder tool, with the ability of even writing the content in if you wished or filling with automatic Lorem Ipsum (bypassing the DTP tool we were using at the time) within a little TinyMCE window.  It was fun getting ideas bounced around and then quickly implementing them for the team to use.

An added bonus was that you could also save the entire site constructed via the browser to your desktop, and run the saved file again to resume your work!  By doing the hidden field method of data storage, I had unwittingly created a save/resume mechanism by pure accident – which oddly meant that we could have entire wireframe websites stored in 500-700k HTML files!  Over time some departments would use the tool to generate their own sub sites.  Although looking back at how the tool was written makes me cringe – it was at this stage when I felt more relaxed and that actually “fitted” in the team.  I recently dug out the rather naff manual that I produced for it, so here it is..

pb-instructions (PDF)

From that point on, I began to get a few more coding/development tasks and never looked back.  There was an aborted attempt to create a “Formbuilder” tool, which would have a similar interface to “Pagebuilder” and allowed you to create a complex form that would also generate email send/thank you pages and even generate the validation too.  I was still in my early days of server side coding, so I hadn’t fully learnt from my mistakes with Pagebuilder.  It was too complicatedly written and became very hard to expand – though I did get it creating basic forms for sending emails off, it was taking too long and there was other work to complete.

Digital archive work

salomonsSometime in 2006, I was thrown into the deep end with a digital archive project on Salomons Museum, where an archivist was hired to record data on the collection there within a rather crappy archival piece of software called Modes (but not as bad as another one called Calm!).  It was purchased long before I was involved, along with a licence to use its web package to browse created archives online – however the server guys were not consulted before the purchase was made and our infrastructure could not support the tool when it was asked to put the software online.

All of a sudden, there was an offline Modes archive which couldn’t be shared online as planned, and there was an impending launch date coming up fast which couldn’t be moved and which the VC would be attending.  As a result, I was brought in and had to do an XML export of the entire dataset and create a database to power an archive site.  It wasn’t easy, as it was a stupidly short deadline leading up to a launch evening event and the XML output was in a huge mess.

In the end I wrote a parser script to take the XML and translate into SQL statements.  One crap thing with Modes was that there was no relational representation of the data, so everything was completely flat!   It could have been normalized a little, but there wasn’t time – so horribly everything was put into a flat table (which was against everything I was taught about Database design back on my degree).  But there was no choice.

Interestingly, looking back now – it wasn’t a terrible thing to have done.  Although we are taught in Computer Science to create highly normalized database tables, it doesn’t always mean its best solution when it comes to web development.  There is a balance to be had when designing databases for the web, where it needs to be sensibly structured, with sensible indexes – but not to a point where having to join several tables to get all the data in one place can heavily slow down a system to a crawl if there are thousands upon thousands of rows!

One major problem with having everything in a big flat table, is that although retrieving data is often very fast (as there are no joins required), there are problems with data redundancy and null values, and returning 1000 rows each with say 100 columns takes up memory.  Luckily with the Salomons Museum database, there were only about 500 records anyway!

The rest of the development progressed well – I had to create my own search engine, advanced search form and canned searches – as well as result pages, pagination for results (which I wrote from scratch) and record pages with the metadata.  Although no doubt I did things in a scary way, it worked and it was a massively beneficial learning experience for me, which would prove extremely valuable when working on the JISC funded BCAD project just over a year later – at a different role though which was about to emerge…

Rats leaving a pretty sturdy and watertight ship…

As I have come to learn as I grow older – good things don’t always last forever, and the perfect first role at Christ Church University was about to show cracks.

Andy decided around late 2005/early 2006 that it was time to seek pastures new and fresh challenges.  I think it had been coming with Andy for a little while, so it wasn’t a massive shock for everyone – but it was still sad to see the team changing.   A month or so later, we employed a new team member called Josef Lapka, who fit in straight away and who we all got on well with right away.  He was great to work with, just like Andy was.

Not so long after Jo had joined, Chris had decided it was time to go on an adventure to South America and see the world for a bit.  It meant having to resign from his role.  Chris had always wanted to travel, so he was loaded up with bits and pieces to take with him, and Michael encouraged him to keep a blog (which he did about 2 posts – none of which were when he was abroad!).

Then around the same time and all of a sudden, it seemed that the University of Kent had taken notice of Christ Church having a celebrated new design and movement was afoot up there in sorting out a full web team to do the same to their archaic website and services.  Michael was pretty much head hunted and came into the office one day, closed the door behind him and confirmed that he was going “up the hill” in a few months.  Michael later in 2015 suggests that he wasn’t head hunted as such, but it was due to changes that we were all unaware of which prompted his decision to move on.

When I was younger, I didn’t really like change that much compared to now.  As a result, it was sad when anyone left and moved on to pastures new – and now all of a sudden most of our team was moving on, and I was feeling pretty low about it.  Considering I didn’t like change, it seems ironic that Chris and Michael moving on got me thinking about my own situation as well.  For a start, I liked working for Michael and respected him a lot, and where he was moving to, was to have some new roles created.  Secondly, I had just got a mortgage, and although I was covering things fine – it was a little tight financially.  I asked Michael to let me know if/when any suitable jobs were advertised, and sure enough after about a month into his new role – I had an email with a job advert for a Web Developer and Support Officer role.  I applied, got an interview and then got the job on the same day – though I decided to sleep on making a decision whether to accept or not.

Just before this, we had employed a new replacement for Michael, called Catherine Gater, who I felt a bit guilty about having to tell what I was up to only a few days with her starting her job.   A few months earlier, Adrian Harris was employed to fill the void that Chris had left.  Ironically, Adrian was someone I had been teaching software development during my lecturing days – which is why I heavily recommended him, as he was one of the strongest developers in that course and would be good in the team.

The job offer decision was very hard to make, as I loved working where I did and wasn’t dissatisfied with the job at all, though I think in the end I had to think about our financial situation and put that ahead of the enjoyment of the job.  The pay for the role was quite a bit more than what I was getting at the time.  I had a good chat with Ian in the garden grounds about it, then made a decision to go for it and open up a new chapter in full time work.   After some sad farewells, drinks and a final game of Unreal Tournament, I left the Web team in July 2006 and started pretty much a week later in my second job.

It took time to adjust and it was very tough at first, as UKC’s work environment was very very different and it was the early days of a new team – starting off working on a Laptop for 2 weeks and sitting on a standard office chair whilst I waited for my PC/computer chair to arrive.  At first I had wondered if I had made a mistake – but I persevered and have now i’ve been there for over 8 years now, moving recently to the School of Psychology’s development team for a new challenge developing Psychology experiments as well as web development work.  In the end the move to UKC was good in terms of taking on different challenges, and as a result i’ve learnt a heck of a lot since.

Ironically not long after I had moved up the hill, Chris came back from his travelling and got his old job back pretty much right away!  But there was change still following my departure, with the team moved to temporary space above a local supermarket at one point and various restructuring took place over the years that followed.  Ian, Chris and Werner are still there today however, and recently re-developed the pages again – this time an impressive responsive design which has no doubt probably put the wind up UKC a little, like they did first time back in 2005 🙂

To finish, I have dug out a photo which Werner sent that was printed in the staff newsletter and which he sent me a few months after I had left.  It was at the staff garden party event, just a day or so before I finished.

fountain

Overall I look back at my first job with very fond memories, and I recall just how lucky I was at the time to have got the job in the first place.  It taught me a lot, and set me on my way to where I am now and it paid for a lot of things over the years.  I also made good friends too with the guys, and continue to keep in touch occasionally when we can.  I’ve always said I will probably end up back there some day, so who knows?  Maybe in the old vicarage building again guys?

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5 thoughts on “10th anniversary of full time employment

  1. Werner January 16, 2015 / 9:18 am

    A National treasure! Nice one Frank.

  2. Ian J Williams January 16, 2015 / 2:35 pm

    That’s a beautifully written summary of your time at CCCU, Frank – I feel quite nostalgic thinking back to our glory days, the golden age of the Web Team. We’re all old campaigners now and those days are long behind us but, as you say, it shaped the people that we’ve become.

    I think there are a few more grey hairs for some of us, and a few less hairs for others, but at heart we’re still the same bunch of guys who used to make tea in our little kitchen, sweep the cobwebs out of that dusty toilet and kick Chenery’s ass every lunchtime!

    Memories to treasure – it sure was fun while it lasted. One day, I hope, we’ll be able to reunite back down the hill and recapture a bit of our youth 🙂

    Oh yeah, sitebuilder was a truimph!!!

  3. fgasking January 16, 2015 / 2:38 pm

    Cheers guys, it was fun times and no doubt we will some day! 🙂

  4. michael wilcox (@mikeywil) January 17, 2015 / 6:59 pm

    Frank – what a great bit of writing!

    The Keith you mentioned was Dr Keith Gwilym – Dean of Faculty of Business & Sciences. Once I got the manager’s job he was my boss. It was unusual for a team like ours to report directly to such a senior person, but it was because the Web Development Unit was a new team without a more obvious home at the time. The reporting line was changed shortly before I left – which was a bit of factor in my decision to leave. (I wasn’t actually head-hunted by Kent, but it did feel like a job that was custom-made for me!)

    Your article is a lovely reflection of the time we spent working with such a great team. It really doesn’t seem like ten years ago! I do recall much of what we did – apart from the sunglasses 😉

    We should definitely try and have a reunion… it would be lovely to catch up with everyone.

  5. fgasking January 17, 2015 / 9:57 pm

    Thanks Michael! Keith Gwilym!! That’s it!

    Yeah, the 10 years bit is what gets me – as a lot does only seem like yesterday. UKC has been a bit of a blur afterwards.

    The sunglasses incident was after probably one of the heaviest nights. Chris was trying to convince you to sleep on his sofa round his mum’s house at the end of it, and you almost did! Next morning, you were in a bit late in and wearing dark shades – that may have been co-incidence! 🙂

    Will let the others know and see if they are up for catching up sometime. Should certainly do that.

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