I developed an interest in music from a young age. I began playing the recorder aged eight, and later the keyboard. I then started to learn guitar as a teenager and developed an interest in songwriting. For my 15th birthday I was given a Korg X3 synthesiser and began sequencing electronic music, the old fashioned way.
At Sixth Form College I began producing demos with my friend, vocalist and fellow student James Brown. I experimented with multi-track audio recording software and digital signal processing techniques to marginal success. After racking up a hefty collection of demo recordings, in 2004 I developed an interest for web publishing and created this website to host examples of my work for others to download.
Despite my conflicting musical interests I acquired A Levels in Maths, Physics and Computing which later secured me a place to study Musical Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University, Leicester.
Contrary to common misconception my course heavily focused on technological innovation and algorithmic programming to counter traditional forms of artistic expression.
This course was also officially recognised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
Throughout my time at university I continued to post my work on this website and this led to an ever growing interest into developing interactive media content for the web.
Some hidden gems from this period can be found in my music player widget project here.
During the summer of 2007 I applied to go back to De Montfort University and study a Masters in Creative Technologies at the IOCT (Institute Of Creative Technologies). I was successful and received a studentship worth ten thousand pounds to assist with tuition fees and living costs.
It was during this period (August 2007) I developed my beloved Photo Blog after being unhappy with the cost of photo blogging provided by my current mobile network operator. Lets just say the future was certainly "not bright" or "orange" at the price they were charging per photo upload. After some basic php programming I could blog a photo for a fraction of that price.
During my masters I undertook modules on Interactive and Fused Media, Sonic Art and Creative Digital Media Design. For my dissertation project I extended an empirical research tool I had developed that could be distributed as a Facebook application (Fedak's Research Project). After drawing what little conclusions I could from this early research in September 2008 I published a wider report of my investigation into identity consumption within Facebook.
Life after university?
Fortunately I entered the world of full time employment a whole 3 months prior to completing my master's degree. In June 2008 I became a recognised member of IOCT staff when I was awarded a place in a AHRC Knowledge Catalyst Scheme as an Online New Media Centre Developer collaborating with Phoenix Arts, Leicester.
During this position I researched the possibilities of using collaborative online new media as a tool for developing new audiences for PHOENIX SQUARE (a new digital media centre being constructed in the city centre). I developed a creative community driven web site ONMC (Online New Media Centre) for individuals to discuss and upload (or pull in via an API) their work. I completed my project in December 2008 and sought after a new exciting employment opportunity.
Now, lets get Activ!
Thanks to gumtree, in late January 2009 I began working as a web developer full time again for Activ, a local Leicester based sales and marketing company with a global client basis. Activ offered online business opportunities in Web Design, Pay Per Click and now SEO.
In the early days at Activ I was responsible for developing bespoke web solutions for new and existing web design clientele but soon progressed to product development where I re-developed the Activ Web Design online website creation software. It was well received by Activ franchisees all over the country and is now powering hundreds of businesses online presence. In late 2010 I became the head developer at Activ and continued to work on new franchise opportunities and forthcoming releases of Activ software. In September 2011 at the annual conference I launched Activ V3 Ecommerce, a new and improved e-commerce CMS I had been developing for several months. I don't think anyone could have predicted what would happen next though...
Running away from it all
It was Ian Brown I think who said "Keep what you got by giving it all away" and in October 2011 that's what I decided to do. After some self reflection and careful planning I decided it was time to seek a new way of life and backpack around a few continents. I set off to Thailand with plans to move on to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Hong Kong.
It wouldn't take long...
After buying a dead cheap laptop in Kuala Lumpur I started tinkering again with a few things and ended up making a few changes to this site. After travelling around Australia for 2 months I decided to look for some work. Thanks again to gumtree I was soon hired as a web developer by 2 companies (Digital Eskimo and Velocity Web) in Sydney, Australia. After a few months of hard graft I recouped some funds and put back my South American flights to travel New Zealand for a few weeks. After travelling around even more of the planet I decided to go back to Australia in August 2012 for a couple months to continue living the Sydney high life until my upcoming trip to Hong Kong. It was great to get back on the regular Tech meet-up scene and I also worked a lot in a personal project to help Compare Mobile Phone Recycling. I had a great time in Hong Kong on my final week away and arrived back to a misty, cold, London Heathrow one year to the day I left. I moved back to Leicester the following weekend and began working as a web developer full time again at Anicca Digital based in the city centre the week after.
Back t'up Yorkshire
Coming back home after a year away was quite hard and just as much a life test as was travelling at times. I settled into a routine again quite quickly going regularly to my old gym and seeing the same circle of friends. As time moves on though, so did I and others around me. Apart from work colleagues and the remains of my old pub quiz team there was really not much for me left in Leicester. After 9 years away from Sheffield I decided to move back in March and join the web development team at Plus.net. After several years renting I decided I should put on my big boy pants and purchase a property of my own. I have to say buying a house was one of the most boring, unexciting and over hyped things I have ever done. I love living in the Crookes area and Sheffield certainly has a lot more to offer than Leicester but I still don't really feel settled. It caused a bit of a dent in my 2013 finances so I was only able to get away to Estonia for a mini-adventure but it was amazing and I have now been 3 times!
Eat, Sleep, Work hard, Repeat
Soon after being back in Sheffield I found out about StartUp Weekend and decided to take part in November 2013. Our team came 3rd place and through this I found about a local lead generation company who were seeking a PHP developer to front a project idea they had. I decided to pursue it and joined them in January 2014. A year later we had launched the competition site generation software platform and had white labelled it to one of the UK's largest independent newspaper networks. It was great learning how to scale a large ZF2 based app for a high traffic site using technology new to me like Redis, AMQP and Docker. In 2015 I managed to get out and travel a bit too. I learned to Ski in Bulgaria last Christmas and checked out Norway's capital Oslo for a long weekend in May.
Sprichst du Deutsch?
During summer 2015 I was reflecting on my life and realised that I had yet to learn another language or live in a non-English speaking country. Apparently not learning another language is in the top ten list of things people regret when they are old. With the big "three-zero" approaching I decided to make a few changes and look for a new challenge. I took on a medium sized freelance project under my own small company Sub85 Ltd and began having German lessons twice a week. Working from home meant I could have lessons any time during the day and plan my study around work. After a few months I began working with a company in Duisburg, Germany and since then I have slowly been making progress each day. Duisburg is close to Düsseldorf airport so it's a short flight home and can be quite cheap if you book well in advance. After 6 months trying to soak up as much German language and culture as possible I decided everyone needs a break though. I decided to treat myself to a short 10 day travel break to Cambodia. Along with an old school friend I visited Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. It was a great experience and everyday I met 2 or 3 German speakers who were happy to help me practice my German.
Last Updated: April 2016
Quick Facts Timeline
- 1997 - Starts playing Keyboard
- 2000 - Starts playin Guitar
- 2001 - Starts sequencing on Korg X3
- 2004 - Builds this site for his music
- 2004 to 2007 - BSc. Music Tech @ DMU
- 2007 - Starts photo blog, learns some PHP
- 2007 to 2008 - MSc. Creative Tech @ DMU
- 2008 - Decides to switch to Web Development
- 2009 - Joins Activ as junior web developer
- 2010 - Develops V3 CMS for Activ
- 2010 - (Aug) Head of product development at Activ
- 2011 - (Sep) Launches V3 Ecommerce CMS for Activ
- 2011 - (Oct) Starts travelling the world
- 2012 - (Jan) Go Sell My Mobile launched!
- 2012 - (Feb) Hired by Digital Eskimo, Aus
- 2012 - (Mar) Hired by Velocity Web, Aus
- 2012 - (Sep) Hired by Anicca Solutions, UK
- 2013 - (Mar) Hired by Plusnet, UK
- 2014 - (Jan) Hired by MediaBowl, UK
- 2015 - (Aug) Going solo as Sub85 Ltd
- 2015 - (Sep) Has first German lesson