Almost all my working life has been spent with IT systems, but it's really the wider environment to which I am drawn. That's why I like working in the fields of education and culture and how cities like Oxford hold many attractions for me.
I arrived for an interview in Oxford in 2000 for the post of HCDT Project Officer, which involved developing bespoke systems for academics at the University, particularly database-driven Web sites. My previous job was mainly to look after all the technical side of a project called MultiFaithNet, in which I was employed as a Web [page] developer, but after a month or two I was asked to procure a new server on a rather modest budget and then set it up and maintain it. Hence I learnt quite quickly the rudiments of Linux, Apache, Perl etc. One thing I did do early on was document what I was learning and this proved useful later on - I got the job with HCDT and have been here since. After a little over 8 years at OUCS I decided I needed a change, so I became a Master's student at the university, completing the M.St. in the Study of Religion in October 2009.
That left a big hole in my pocket, so almost immediately I was back on the keyboard - joining the Museum of the History of Science as Web Officer, a post I held until June 2012. This was again a varied role; fundamentally I overhauled the hosting provision and system administration, making it easier to maintain and more secure. The Web development itself was oriented around WordPress, especially development of the custom theme, including integration of the collections database using the KE EMu PHP5 API.
I am conscious that sitting in front of the screen all day is not so healthy and have a natural tendency to slouch. At OUCS from 2001 until I left I used continually a 'Posture Chair' as illustrated. It helped me to keep my back straight. A physiotherapist told me it was very popular a few years ago, but now it is only recommended for light use because of the pressure on the knees. Oops! However, I would tend to hang in balance on it, with very little of my weight going through the knees - I've already given them a knock when doing the triple jump at school!
My main harmonising activity is silent meditation - I set up a group in OUCS which met once a week during lunchtime. I'd recommend it for everyone!
I've spent a long time studying, mainly in Mathematics and Computer Science, but later on decided to undertake studies in the Humanities. In 2009 I completed a M.St. in the Study of Religion(s).
I have a natural inclination to research, but after I received the Ph.D. I didn't find avenues to pursue this to the extent I would like. The degrees I gained were not really qualifications for my subsequently computer-related job roles; indeed if you look at the backgrounds of OUCS staff, many have come from fields that have little to do with IT. We should ask what did programmers, analysts, IT support staff etc do before the advent of computers...?
M.St. Study of Religion, 2009, Oxford University. For the course I submitted several essays and one dissertation:
- Essay: Religion and Healing: Miracles and the Shrine of St. Frideswide in the late Twelfth Century
- Essay: Visions Within: Spiritual Development and the Evolution of Imagery in Teresa of Àvila'sThe Interior Castle
- Essay: The Catholic Church and Inter-religious Marriages: Reflections on Pastoral Theology and Practice after Vatican II
- Dissertation: Avoiding pamāda: An analysis of the Fifth Precept as Social Protection in Contemporary Contexts with reference to the early Buddhist teachings
- Ph.D. Computer Science, Use of Formal Methods for Safety-critical systems, 1997, Kingston University. My supervisor was Dr Kate Norrie. It should be available from the British Library's Electronic Thesis Online Service..
- M.Sc. Mathematics (Number Theory), Norms of Ideals in direct sums of number fields and applications to the circulants problem of Olga Taussky-Todd, 1992, Glasgow University. Supervisor: the late Prof Robert Odoni - a truly dedicated mathematician.
- B.Sc. Mathematics, 1990, Southampton University - where I explored for a while the actuarial profession, before becoming more interested in research