Sunday, March 09, 2008

OGB: Bio

Glynn asked the OGB nominees to provide brief affiliations and a Bio. I've done the affiliation already, so here's a brief history of me:

I come from Nottingham, England. I read physics at St. John's College, Oxford, and stayed on to do a D. Phil. in Theoretical Astrophysics in the Department of Theoretical Physics. Computing at this point was VAX VMS based - I managed to get my hands on a VAXstation 2000.

I moved over to Toronto, to the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. This is where I first used Unix in anger - on my own Sun 3/50. (Almost everyone had a 3/50, so I rewrote my code and ran it across a dozen 3/50s at once.)

Back to England, to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. There was a gradual incursion of Sun hardware into predominantly VAX territory and, being a Unix guy, I ended up doing the sysadmin because there wasn't anyone else at the time who would. I also set up one of the earliest websites in the UK at the IOA.

With a family to support, and having found that I had some level of competence with this computer malarkey, I joined the Medical Research Council to work as a Systems Administrator at the Human Genome Mapping Project, which offered online services to academic researchers working on the Human Genome Project. We were Sun based, by and large, and this lasted almost 11 years before the grant renewal process failed and I was out of a job.

I then spent a year commuting down the the University of Hertfordshire. This wasn't a great success, not helped by the several hours a day it took to drive down there.

I'm now working as Senior Unix Systems Administrator for ProQuest, an online publisher in Cambridge. Not only is it a good place to work, it's less then 15 minutes from home.

Along the way I've used mostly Sun systems, with IBM, SGI, and DEC alpha, and Linux disturbing the peace from time to time. I remember the pain of the SunOS 4 to Solaris transition. I've been using Unix for almost 20 years and have never (a) used a shell without command line editing, and (b) used vi. (Except for long enough to exit them for something better, that is.)

I was part of the beta programs for Solaris 7, 8, 9, and 10. Including the various update releases, and we were a Solaris 10 platinum beta site. We managed to beta test some hardware along the way - including the B1600 blade system, the V250, and the V40z (tunred it on and I was deafened; ran one benchmark and I was a convert). And then I became involved in OpenSolaris, including being part of the pilot.

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