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.
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:
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 have included:
- 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
- Currently putting together a specification for a re-design of the site with a new theme [ to be implemented as a child theme with several modifications ]
- Development of a plugin to add custom widgets to the re-designed site
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)
- XML / XSLT
- 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 LibreOffice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Testing & Quality Assurance
- 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#.
- 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.
I was involved with all stages and parts of this suite of programs except for the initial database design.
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.
These are all the major contracts I worked on as a freelance programmer.
|The Wellcome Trust||Information Systems Department |
210 Euston Road
|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 |
|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 |
|June 1995 to October 1995||VB, Access, Crystal Reports|
|Portman Building Society||Systems Development Dept. |
314 Bournemouth Road
|November 1995 to May 1995||VB, SQL Server, Crystal Reports|
|National Westminster Bank||IT Planning & Finance Dept. |
1 Prescot Street
|July 1993 to September 1994||VB, Access, Crystal Reports, Excel, Lotus 1-2-3|
|London Economics||91 New Cavendish Street |
|April 1993 to May 1993||Lotus 1-2-3|
|Baring Investment Services||155 Bishopsgate |
|December 1992 to March 1993||Lotus 1-2-3|
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.