Curriculum Vitae
Status

I am currently unable to work full-time due to ongoing problems with my mental health that have severely affected my ability to work over the last decade. Recently things have started to improve. So, in order to get back on track, as well as putting this site together, I now have a part-time, voluntary job looking after an organisation's web site. A shorter version of my CV is available on request.

Voluntary Work

Because of the difficulties I have been facing over the last few years I have decided that going straight back to full-time work would be sub-optimal at this time. Here's what I've been doing recently:


WordPress developer - March 2016 onwards

A part-time, voluntary job working for an organisation called Keep Our NHS Public which aims to do just that really, stop the NHS from being picked apart and sold off to private companies. My duties / achievements include:

  • Helping with all the technical aspects of running their site
  • Organised and implemented a site migration to new hosting
  • Occasional analysis work for their campaigns
  • Implemented a complete overhaul of the site with a new structure and a new 'child' theme, adding custom CSS and PHP code including development of a plugin to add custom widgets

Skills & Knowledge

Since I have spent many years in IT related work and always had an interest in programming it seemed like a good idea to build on the knowledge I had instead of starting again. To that end, over the last few years, I have been advancing my knowledge of various web technologies including:

  • HTML / CSS (LESS)
  • JavaScript ( + some jQuery )
  • PHP
  • XML / XSLT

Tools etc:

  • IDE/Editors: Atom, Geany, NetBeans.
  • Environments: Apache 2 on Linux (Ubuntu), IIS 10 on Microsoft Windows 10.
  • Image processing: GIMP.
  • Other: I have gained a large amount of experience in common office software over the years, working with various spreadsheet, word processor and database applications - Microsoft's Office suite, LibreOffice, OpenOffice amongst others. I currently use MS Office.
Current and Recent Projects

I'm not really a classroom person (I learn better at my own pace) and, because of my situation, I have limited resources so I decided that the best way to get to grips with the new technology was to start a project to design and build a web site (or two) from the ground up.

Project: Lucid Spleen

My blog site, the one you are on right now. I needed somewhere to write stuff so, rather than use a pre-built blog site template, I decided to develop everything myself. The priority was to build something that was easy on the eyes but above all would be easy to maintain so that I could spend more time on writing the content instead of managing the site. Consequently, adding a new blog post is just editing one XML file on the server and running a script to remake the RSS feed file. Editing the static content is the same, just one file to edit.

Tech: JavaScript (for the comments section - when a user is logged in) and PHP for the guts of it. Data is in XML translated by various XSL transforms.

Project: cognisant

cognisant is an on-line RSS/ATOM feed reader (or will be) which I have been working on for some time. It came about because I got fed up with Google Reader. Functionality-wise Google's product was great but it was pretty slow and I felt it lacked something in the the way it presented it's data, so I decided to have a go at making my own version.

cognisant: a feed reader

The project is about 60% complete. There are some pretty major pieces of work to complete before I would let any one else near it - it needs a face-lift for a start. When I have finished development of my personal blog site I will be finishing it off, I might even publish it and see whether anyone else wants to use it.

Tech: Heavy use of JavaScript at the front-end and PHP for the back-end. Data is currently in XML translated by various XSL transforms but may be transferred to an SQL database at some point.

Hobbies & Interests

Playing video games (anything from epic role-playing to puzzles to adventure), reading (mostly sci-fi these days), writing (hence this site), music of all kinds and web design/development.

Education

I achieved 3 A Levels in 1978 [Mathematics, Physics and Art] and 8 O Levels in 1976 [Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, English (Language & Literature), French and History].

After my A levels I went on to study for a BSc in Computing and Statistics at what used to be North London Polytechnic on the Holloway Road, N7. I completed just over 3 years of the course including my year out working for the Balance of Payments Co-ordinator at HM Treasury but was, unfortunately, not able to finish my final year due to financial problems that necessitated finding full-time employment.

Curriculum Vitae - Prior to 2005

I suppose this is of somewhat less relevance now but before the interruption in my life due to ill health I worked as a professional IT systems analyst & programmer with over 10 years experience as a freelance consultant specialising in the design and production of desktop applications using Microsoft's' Visual Basic and SQL Server technologies. Towards the end of this period I was introduced to a variety of web technologies and started working with ASP.NET, VBScript & Javascript among other tools and languages (and, of course, HTML/CSS).

Skills

My duties often covered the entire life-cycle of a project from initial analysis through to testing/deployment and have included:

  • Desktop application design & development
  • Web application design & development
  • Systems analysis
  • Relational database design & implementation
  • Database report design & implementation
  • Project management
  • Documentation
  • Testing & Quality Assurance
Knowledge
  • Microsoft Visual Basic (up to .NET) - Good all round knowledge including object-oriented programming, GDI, ADO, control development. Also some knowledge of other .NET technologies including Active Server Pages (ASP) and C#.
  • Web Development Software - Including HTML, CSS, ASP, JavaScript and VBScript in a Visual InterDev V6 environment on IIS V4. Also some knowledge of Macromedia Dreamweaver V3, Jasc PaintShop Pro V7 and Adobe PhotoShop Elements V2.
  • Crystal Reports (up to V9 for .NET) - Including drill-down and sub-reports, advanced formulae, conditional formatting, graphs, embedded reports in VB applications, stand-alone/compiled reports. Used in conjunction with MS SQL Server and MS Access.
  • Microsoft SQL Server (up to Y2K version) - Including comprehensive use of Transact-SQL in stored procedures and triggers, DTS, BCP, database maintenance and the SQL-DMO model.
  • Microsoft Access (up to Y2K version) - Design and construction of various small-scale databases and database applications.
  • Microsoft Office (Access, Word, Excel, Outlook) automation - Using Visual Basic for Applications. Some knowledge of FrontPage.
Example projects
eGrants (The Wellcome Trust)

Tools/Technologies used: MS Visual Basic V6 Enterprise, COM+, MS SQL Server 2000, Crystal Reports V8, ASP, JavaScript, VBScript and IIS V4.

eGrants is a web based Project Grants Application system whereby universities and other organisations can apply on-line to The Wellcome Trust for research grants. The system comprises of a database to hold all application, applicant and application form data, a set of approximately 70 active server pages and plain HTML pages and a COM object (written in Visual Basic V6) for transfer of data between the database and the ASPs. Javascript is used for initial client-side (browser) validation). Most pages are dynamic utilising VBScript that uses the COM object routines to extract and incorporate data from the MS SQL Server database. The system is customisable and allows a certain level of user to edit, delete and design new application forms from scratch using a separate maintenance application.

I was involved with all stages and parts of this suite of programs except for the initial database design.

RADAR (National Westminster Bank)

Tools/Technologies used: MS Visual Basic V6 Enterprise, MS Access V7, MS SQL Server 7 & Informatica PowerCenter (enterprise level ETL software).

The RADAR project was the construction of a data warehouse that allowed the replacement of several older management information systems with a central data warehouse and several satellite data-marts serving different parts of the corporate structure. My involvement included design and development of the following systems:

  • A manual input/edit system for the warehouse using MS Visual Basic V6.
  • An MS Visual Basic V6 / C++ 4.2 / MS SQL Server V7 application (RADARControl)to perform initial validation and input of data files from other systems into the data warehouse. The application ran as a service on a Windows NT server and asynchronously kicked off Informatica Powercenter sessions to transfer data to the warehouse on arrival of valid files within pre-specified folders.
  • Informatica PowerCenter mappings to transfer data in and out of the data warehouse.
Contract History

These are all the major contracts I worked on as a freelance programmer.

Company Address Dates Software Summary
The Wellcome Trust Information Systems Department
210 Euston Road
London NW1
July 2001 to May 2005 VB, SQL Server, Crystal Reports, ASP, JavaScript/VBScript
National Westminster Bank Corporate Banking Services
Black Lion House
45 Whitechapel Road
London E1 1DU
July 1998 to February 2001 VB, SQL Server, C++, Informatica Powercenter
Lloyds Bank Securities Hays Lane House
1 Hays Lane
London SE1 2HA
May 1997 to May 1998 VB, Access, SQL Server, Crystal Reports
Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance 1 Cornhill
London EC1
April 1996 to January 1997 VB, Access, Crystal Reports
National Westminster Capital Markets 135 Bishopsgate
London EC2M 3UR
December 1995 to April 1996 VB, Access, Crystal Reports
Polygram Record Operations 1 Sussex Place
Hammersmith
London W6
June 1995 to October 1995 VB, Access, Crystal Reports
Portman Building Society Systems Development Dept.
314 Bournemouth Road
Poole
Dorset
November 1995 to May 1995 VB, SQL Server, Crystal Reports
National Westminster Bank IT Planning & Finance Dept.
1 Prescot Street
London E1
July 1993 to September 1994 VB, Access, Crystal Reports, Excel, Lotus 1-2-3
London Economics 91 New Cavendish Street
London W1
April 1993 to May 1993 Lotus 1-2-3
Baring Investment Services 155 Bishopsgate
London EC1
December 1992 to March 1993 Lotus 1-2-3
Other work

Prior to working as a freelance contractor I had several more traditional jobs starting off with working as a messenger at Salomans Investment Bank through to 5 years as a financial database administrator for advertising company, Lowe, Howard-Spink & Bell.