Well where to start?… Career wise i’m a web developer for a local university – overseeing various projects, managing some of them, developing on a few and doing a little bit of design (though its not fully my expertise). I’ve recently come off a rather strenuous 2 year project, and am now returning a bit to normality in terms of working 9-5 and not 8:30-2am most days. The work is good fun (most of the time) and an enjoyable career path – taking on all the constant challenges that crop up. What with the web ever evolving on a daily basis – things always remain fresh, and now back in my old role i’m faced with a broad range of projects to oversee covering a wide range of problems.
My interests in the web are quite broad, with a keen obvious interest in development and various development practices and standards (With particular new piqued interest in Agile development, which i’m hoping to learn more about soon). The evolvement of online applications (Such as the Google suite of tools) and cloud based computing/servers are fascinating, and it seems we are ever more returning back to the days of dumb terminals, which is a rather bizzare turn around back to something very popular in the 70s/80s (Anyone remember VAX?).
Another interest (though I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, because of the broadness of the subject) is in the world of SEO and facing the challenges of pushing pages to the top of search results. Trying to work out how the search engines are indexing our pages and best practices to make our pages known is a particular challenge what with the ever changing algorithms being produced that determines why a page should come top compared to another page.
In my freetime, a big part of my life (As well as my family) is classic gaming and old computers, pigeon holing me I guess as a “Retro gamer”. I started out with an Atari 2600 way back in 1988 Christmas. Before then the first machine I ever played on was a Commodore 64 over my sister’s house. This was what really ignited things for me and computing in general. Following the Atari VCS a year on, in came a Vic 20 in 1989…. my first proper computer, which I started programming on via its BASIC user guide. Yet another year on, and a brand new Commodore 64 was finally mine, and this was when things really took off and I became hooked.
For many years i’ve kept up my interest in gaming, and always kept my old machines and games (Whereas many others sold off and upgraded constantly) – I follow in my mother’s footsteps as being a bit of a hoarder (Which only my partner has recently managed to curb to a degree!). I have a particular soft spot for the Commodore 64 due to its links back to my childhood, and continue to do the odd bit of graphic work for new games on the machine (Check out my recent effort – Sub Hunter). In the past I have programmed a few games of my own, and also developed games in a game editor called SEUCK. Nothing special, but nowadays I focus solely on game graphics when i’m in the mood (Though I have been looking a bit at C64 ASM). The main appeal to me of old machines is the minimalism and the ability to see effects, games and the like squeezed out of technology which is over 20 years old – which is why I follow the demo scene for the likes of the C64 and Vic 20 on a regular basis to see what crazy things people have managed.
I occasionally write for Retro Gamer magazine, where I used to write an article called “Games That Weren’t”, based on the web site project I run for lost C64 games, but in a multi-format flavour. These days (under the new publisher) I occasionally contribute a “Whatever happened to…” themed article – though its been a while since I last put in a submission (Which I need to do at some point soon now things have quietened down a bit).
So from above, my biggest project and free-time hogger is the Games That Werent project. This is a digital preservation archive of games which never saw the light of day, or were never completed. There are sister sites dedicated to specific machines, with an overall site that reports on news from around the world of unreleased games. I personally concentrate on the (now rather out of date designed) C64 specific site, which was the first and now the largest of the archives – getting in touch with ex-C64 developers, getting them to dig out their old C64 disks and digitally preserving them. Whilst doing this, I also contribute to other preservation projects such as Gamebase 64 and HVSC.
As well as old classic gaming, I enjoy playing modern games too (With a bit of an addiction to the Fifa series on the 360 of late). However, due to amount of things I maintain and do, i’m more of a casual gamer and unfortunately don’t have the time to throw myself into submersive games such as GTA4. It kind of works well though, as classic games tend to mostly be pick up and go, and nowadays its being recognised that “casual gamer” is a box that many people fit into (With Xbox Live having a wide range of pick up and play titles as DLC).
Although that sounds like a lot of gaming, I prefer spending more time with my partner and daughter (trying not to drive them round the bend as I go) and also trying not to harm them with my cooking… and thats it!