A Child of the times
Demonstrable skills by doing, not by a string of qualifications.
My name is Alex.
Location: South East England.
Age 45 at the time of going to press.
About my site.
I’ve been involved within the IT industry since 1995, mostly within Technical Support and infrastructure together with a couple of management roles. More than 16 years then.
Previous working lives have involved financial accounts work [Revenue Auditor] and six years as a door to door salesman in office equipment.
From a work perspective this gives an enviable and balanced view with an eye on Finance, Customer needs/ benefits and Technology solutions.
My interest in technology, electronics specifically, started at the whipper snapper age of 12. As most kids could be described as being ‘brought up on porridge’, which I still enjoy, i came up on a menu of Electronics Today International, Practical Wireless, Everyday Electronics and of course the Bernard Babani series of books. I still have the first Bernard Babani book I ever purchased, way back in 1972. Back then 25 pence bought you a book.
This interest placed me to see the very first adverts by Clive Sinclair for his ZX80 and 81 series computers when they were bleeding edge technology, leading to the BBC micro, the Commodore Pet etc. With a keen interest in Radio and that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were still busily building the computer industry as we know it, Radio was my first employment within another fledgling industry, Mobile Phones.
My first commercial role was with London Car Telephones Ltd, before Car Phones became ‘available to the man in the street’. That is to say they did not have a dialing pad, you had to be connected through an operator who would dial the number for you. In those days a portable phone came in its own briefcase. Yes this pre dates the ‘brick telephones’ that most people know as the earliest car phone as even those evolved from a predecessor. It was heavier than you could imagine, and thats what I used to build, using drills, metal casings, ribbon cable and of course a soldering iron. I still enjoy building things this way.
Building things – yes, that is who and what I am about. People talk about themselves being ‘passionate about…’ but now everyone and his dog is passionate about something. I wouldn’t call it a passion, because for me its what keeps my feet attached to mother earth, and is therefore, more powerful than gravity.
This is reflected in the Land Rover purchased after it suffered a fire and rebuilt. The Suddenly unloved radio who’s guts were ripped out over a park bench, or Hajra, a sailing boat abandoned for many years in Brighton Marina. All these things I build back into useful things again. Yes my other half gives me ‘that look’ every time I buy something else ‘that doesn’t work‘. Occasionally I am improving some brand new product I’ve just purchased. Some people like to solve a cross word puzzle, I like to solve a three dimensional problem.
If its a website, an image in a word document, a networking infrastructure problem, a business process or what really is the foundation of our countries or world economy, I want to have a better understanding of what’s making it work, and I demonstrate that by building, repairing and using what was a broken down thing. Ripping things apart, discarding the trivially broken seem a part of our consumer culture. I am interested in building things up or back to what they were as you might actually be happy with it in that state. It can really be infuriating for on lookers but when its all solved, working and doing what its supposed to, well, need I say more.
From my chair repairing the economy is a little harder. Since it affects us what ever we are doing its as well to have some understanding. As our great leaders don’t seem to have much demonstrable knowledge about it, better answers are found in ‘alternative media‘.
My father, a second fiddler in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, handed down an interest in boats and sailing. As an aside I might appear to be an odd product of a musician, but there is a family lineage that goes back further.
The sailing interest culminated years later in spending the odd bored moment at work looking for boats for sale eventually taking me to America where I purchased a vessel in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands.
I never saw the vessel before I bought her, nor did I met the man who was selling her, nor had I even been to Puerto Rico before.
None the less I embarked on a new adventure paying thousands of pounds to a man I’d never met for a vessel I’d not seen in a country I’d never been to. I guess it was the pinnacle moment of self reliance in so far that what ever happened, I would handle it. Now that sounded like an adventure.
With that uncertain future I resigned my job, packed a suitcase full of money, and set off on a journey of complete unknown.
The result was nearly four years sleeping on deck of an anchored yacht in some bay somewhere in the northern end of the Caribbean, the stars and moon being the last things I saw as I closed my eyes each night. Work became a mix of taking American tourists on 7 day sailing vacations around the British Virgin Island on a 55 foot plastic fantastic or working with one of the local islands computer suppliers or engineering establishments lacking electronics and computing engine management skilled engineers. If you’ve got problems, I’ve got solutions, and if you don’t like my solutions, I’ve got others (what salesman?).
Eventually I began to miss such things as a winter log fire, a British pub, decent food, decent roads, Sunday Roasted Chicken, Brussel Sprouts and the ability to do techie stuff.
Now in my eighth year of living aboard boats, small ones are my interest, and have a wealth of experience such that I feel I could write a book about the experience. Clearly if it was that bad I wouldn’t still be doing it.
I’m afraid your not going to read about my Bsc in Engineering or Qualifications in computing or how I did my Microsoft Systems Engineering because I don’t have them. What I have learned is there is more than one way to solve a problem and I have demonstrable first hand experience. Indeed I mused over this just the other day. When I left school none of the technologies I have spent my working life working with had been invented.
Such is the pace that in another 10 years, probably 80% of what we work with today will be obsolete, and so in effect will your degree. Why would you want to put yourself in debt for most of your life for that? If you want to learn something the books and so many web resources have never been so accessible than they are today. With such accessibility why are education fee’s rising?
When something interests me I go off and find out about it. From this I am self taught and an independent thinker. I think for myself, not that I would say, I am all that brilliant about it but then I am always being reminded how I under sell myself by those around me. These pages reflect what’s been going on better than I might say here.
I am not one of life’s sheep, holding a high value on independence, or as my friends remind me from time to time, I am ‘alternative’.
This site is my voice and is probably the best way to know who I am, and, for my time and trouble, because I do feel I have something to contribute to the world.