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Jon's Informal CV

Health warning: this is my informal CV. It's in a much looser style than a formal CV. If you'd prefer the formal stuff, check out my formal CV on this site.


Complete with new, short crop!

Who or what am I?

These days, I'm spending most of my time running businesses (consumer electronics manufacturing and software/hardware consultancy).

I started out as a software engineer, working on device drivers and generally anything on any platform which involves designing operating system architecture, tickling chips directly with software or anything that seemed a neat idea at the time. I've been programming since 1975, professionally since 1985!

 

Work history

A quick history to date: after getting my Computer Science degree from Queen Mary College (now plain Queen Mary), London University, I spent a few months at Istel Ltd. before heading off to Acorn Computer. I was there for two years, working on anything from Econet for OEM products to porting the Berkeley Unix toolkit to ARM-based UNIX boxes and doing Unix device drivers.

I left to join EPiSYS Ltd., as one of their founding employees. Episys (they've changed the capitalisation now) do a kind of DTP product for graphical label design and printing, as one of the founding employees. For five years I wrote all their device drivers and did a fair bit of printer firmware too (including one ground-up rewrite). I even mended the occasional printer.

From there, I went off to Hyphen Ltd., where I designed another output (and input) architecture and wrote their UNIX device drivers. I'd like to show you their home pages, but they went bust in mid-July '95. (The old link was to here, but that site's now the exclusive property of Hyphen's Australian offices, the only ones to survive the Group-wide collapse.) The Receivers kept me on as a sysadmin for two or three weeks after the workforce was laid off, so I've the minor honour of almost being Hyphen Ltd.'s last employee. I turned out some of the lights...

I spent four years at Harlequin plc. I worked in pre-press for three years, doing everything from core PostScript interpretation to colour science, then moved to the Sequential Image Processing Division, where I developed on a really neat product for the movie and TV post-production industries. It's called Panoptica. Sadly, it was canned just after first release, as part of company-wide cutbacks that eventually led to Harlequin's Receivership and purchase by Global Graphics, so I came back to colour science to add a few more bells and whistles to my previous work. Just after the corporate buyout, I left to go to Imerge.

Imerge was a small, young, fun company of maybe eight people when I joined to do low-level architecture, design products and write device drivers. It stayed most of these things for a fair while, until it ran into investor problems following the events of Sept. 11th 2001 and laid off most of its "blue-sky" developers to concentrate on existing core products. I was one of them. It's the first time I've been made redundant whilst a company's still in running order. Oh well - in a career based almost entirely on start-up and small companies, it had to happen sometime.

Almost immediately after, I joined iMagicTV, as the technical and team lead of a team of 2-3 people, working on set-top box technologies, porting their existing software stack to Linux. The project foundered when a third-party company we were dependent upon couldn't provide their set-top box platform as fast as we could develop for it!

It was time to move to consultancy. I started out as as permie (hired out as a contractor) at Atrial Systems Ltd. Atrial is a consultancy house; I'm employed as a permie. My first placement was at Pace Micro Technology plc, working on their Linux set-top-boxes. After seven renewals, this culminated in being their last Cambridge-based developer (whilst they laid off the permies and other consultants around my ears). I really did turn out the lights this time. From Pace, I moved onto Ant Limited. Ant produces Web browsers for set-top-boxes (we're starting to spot a theme here, aren't we? grin). I was setting up the testing régime for their Galio browser, which was at the pre-market stage at the time.

Then I struck out on my own, creating a consultancy named Adeptium Limited.  (Now Adeptium Consulting Limited, although the web address hasn't changed.)

I'm now running LookBox Limited, a designer and manufacturer of thin client and set-top box technologies, and low-energy monitors, for everything from Emerging Countries computer-based education to Digital Signage applications.

 


What are my working principles?

Code and designs, once created, are shared, not "owned" by their authors.
Everyone will eventually change projects, companies, take a holiday or fall under a bus. It's a developer's responsibility to ensure that at least one other person - whose skills they respect - knows their code as well as they do.

A corollary from that...

Documentation Is King!
All software engineers are used to taking on poorly documented or completely undocumented code; it's an unfortunate rule of the game. However, I don't feel that's a particularly professional way to run a project. I'm very keen on documenting code both internally (within the code text) and externally. It's our duty to the poor saps that have to pick up where we leave off.

Honesty is essential.
Truth can hurt, but misleading or poor communication is more damaging than almost anything else in the workplace. I expect frank discussion, and I will not wilfully mislead colleagues. The most successful teams I've worked on have been the most honest.

And...

Make a decision ... even if it's the wrong one!

 


What are my ambitions?

Simply to keep learning and keep creating. If I'm not creating, I'm leaving teeth marks in the carpet.

There are so many interesting fields in business and software engineering that I can't put my hand on my heart and say I'll become a specialist in such-and-such a field. Every time I've done that, Fate has bowled me a Yorker and I've found myself doing something different, unexpected and fun. Why fight fun?

The opportunity to create, drive and evangelise an entire company, or its technical direction, really appeals. I love bringing together disparate ideas into products, and seeing them succeed. I've a long career record of seeing projects from inception to market in small companies, I'm used to wearing a business head, and I really enjoy putting those skills together.


And when I'm not at work?

I've two kids now: a daughter, Meri (born 2002), and a son Alex (born 2005). They're both (in their very different ways) mad as a bucket of frogs, and great fun, but maddening at times, too!

I'm a keen surfer (the sort you do with longboards, not keyboards), when kids and jobs give me the chance - so not much at the moment! I've done screenwriting, and might come back to writing as a possible career option for the future.

And I've just come back to angling after a thirty-year break. The proof is here!

My wife and I used to have no fewer than five motorbikes! We've trimmed the collection down to just one (needing some repair) for now, but we're hoping to get back on two wheels sometime in the next few years.

I've been a glider pilot and trainee power pilot too, although they're lapsed for the time being.

I can be emailed as This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last updated 2009/09/25

Last Updated (Monday, 26 July 2010 13:56)