Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Another while since posting... This blog seems to be becoming a monthly thing rather than weekly.

Okay so, as briefly mentioned last update, I now have a semi-full-time gig doing some programming for a small group of ex-colleagues, who have formed a small business called Futurecoders. There is an event tomorrow which I was developing some software for as part of this, in order to demonstrate progress, but my programming environment messed up. I have spent a few days trying to correct the issue but it looks like we're not going to have anything soon enough after all. as there isn't enough developing time left before the event. Still, two weeks is a very bad time frame to be given to learn the Android SDK, Healthvault's SDK and the Eclipse IDE and build a prototype app incorporating them all. Thankfully, getting the app done to that stage so soon was never the main goal of the project, which is to test out one of the APIs involved for app development. But I regret not having the chance to show how quickly I can work. I have asked the team to put together a small presentation to compensate, demonstrating our goals and direction, so at least we can show something, even if a prototype of the app can't be demonstrated at the event.

On to the masters, progress is slow. Most lectures consist of tutors explaining class tasks and last week, we were showed a 5 minute long video of a guy playing guitar in the middle of a presentation, just to make a point that practice in anything is the key. We have been given assignments but nothing majorly stressing or obstructing. or truly relevant to information systems for that matter. We have one which is essentially a demonstration of research and academic writing skills. The other is a team exercise, in which business software is used to manage a virtual computer-building business. A write up for the latter is due to be handed in at the end of May.

The start-up company's progress is going well. Money is trickling in and my only customer so far are Futurecoders. Not that I have time for more work right now! I will be setting up some new web server space soon however and offering hosting and web site creation services, while spending some time on the bitZone website to finally polish and tidy it up...

Monday, 27 October 2014

Wow, now it has definitely been a while since I posted here!
I haven't forgotten, just been swamped with tasks...

Where to start... First of all, I decided to take on the Masters. That has now started and things are slowly progressing. Numerous modules include a lot of project / business management, IT networks which I don't expect will give me any trouble given my professional background, and the dissertation,  for which I plan to use a professional project I am working on as a foundation.

As well as the Masters degree, I have also decided to set myself up as a freelance programmer and web developer to support myself and pay for my Masters.
I decided to go down this route rather than look for work part time, in part because I was offered some programming work by an ex colleague. I had been thinking of setting up a small business for a while and it seems the powers that be are hinting for now to be the best time. The one interview I had told me I interviewed really well but they went with someone else because of a past project of theirs being a lot like the job they were offering and other calls from recruitment agents had lead to them letting me down in one way or another. Frankly I grew tired of the level of unprofessionalism in my circle of contacts and instead of waiting for someone to hire me, have decided taking my career in to my own hands is the best option.
I am currently in the process of setting up while working on a number of projects for an ex-colleague as a sub-contractor.

Things are going smoothly so far. Although I would ideally like a little more financial support, I do have plenty of free time to invest in development of my skills and studying for my Masters degree.

I will soon be updating the website and looking into providing some web hosting and apps for clients as part of the new business.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

News Everyone!

I had a call back a couple of days ago and turns out, I did not get the job at Civica. But I apparently interviewed well and only missed out on the role because another interviewee had managed to show experience of previous work similar to the role by way of a previous project they had done at university. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, it was a great role but it was obviously not meant for me...

After a week of hard thought and contemplation, I decided to contact a few people regarding my current circumstances and have gone from not having a clue what direction to turn, to having many many options.

First is that one of the guys from the Chester Devs Summer BBQ wants to chuck me a few projects in return for a revenue share. An option I will be giving serious thought to after finding out more over a coffee within the next few days...

Second, an ex colleague of mine from Onteca, who now has his own business is involved with developing some e-Health apps and wants me involved with the development. They have apparently come into possession of a new API linked to NHS software... Though I'm unsure how much detail I will be able to go into at this stage, this could be a very exciting project indeed!

Finally, I have put in an application to do my Masters degree in Information Systems at The University of Chester! The Computer Science program is not running this year and I want to further my education sooner rather than later, not only to further develop my career prospects, but to develop my skill-set further too and gain some experience with business software and IT management. This Masters program in Information Systems plays to my strengths in focusing on academic writing and network technologies and will give me the opportunity to advance my knowledge of my weaker areas; database technologies and data management.

It's strange how life can come to a halt and then suddenly whisk you away like a train that comes out of nowhere when you have just got off one and thought you'd have a long wait for another.

When you take small positive actions, life really does take notice...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Once again, another while!

I have had a job interview since my last post. A company in Manchester presented me with a very promising role developing database input front-ends in COBAL for local government and NHS services.

The interview was promising and the work environment very comfortable. The company themselves sounded perfect for someone at my current level of experience and I remain hopeful that I may get the role based on how the interview went. I will update as soon as I hear anything!

Meanwhile I have been working on developing my SQL skills. They are an area I did not get to experience much of during the degree and are much sought after in industry. I may also begin looking into .Net technologies in order to further increase my employability. Without a job it is difficult to know what to focus on most however and I do not want to spread myself 'too thin'.

I may update the website soon. Older versions of internet explorer appear to have issues with my pure CSS menu and so I will need to replace it with a Javascript based menu for the time being.

It has also become apparent that I can only share limited details of my projects on the website because of the university officially owning the rights to the code developed for the degree. I will try to redevelop the projects from scratch at some point, perhaps in Swift in order to go into further detail about them.

Finally, in regards to personal life, I have just two weeks left on my tenancy and then it looks like I may have to move back with family until I can find work. Something I was trying to avoid.

I have to admit I am worried about getting stuck there, not that I dislike my family, but I need my freedom. I can't be myself without my own space and that may limit my progress...

Monday, 11 August 2014

Yikes! It has been a while!

I have been busy with updating some projects for the site (not done yet, though!) and hunting for work since the BBQ. I have managed to generate a fair bit of interest in myself so far though nothing definite as of yet.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of my tutors at the new Thornton Science Park in Thornton, Chester. The newly built technology campus for The University of Chester's department of Mathematics, Business and Computer Science is the new home of Computer Science for students studying at Chester. If I am still in Chester when I get around to doing my Master's Degree, I can look forwards to studying here.
Academic poster created for AI in Video Games during my final year.
While taking a look around, I was pleasantly surprised to find a part of my coursework hung up on the wall amongst others (above).

This poster was developed as part of my Games design module shortly after the Ace Invaders game which should soon be demonstrated over on the website.
The poster represents a brief history of AI in games as well as a brief explanation of some of the techniques used over the years.

Turkish Coffee
One discovery I have made in the last month is that Turkish coffee is fantastically better than any other type for assisting focus. I wish I had discovered this much sooner!

So here we are. The main reason I haven't updated earlier is because there has been very little to report.

Here's to hoping the next one will be more exciting.

Until next time...

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Chester Devs

Chester Devs Summer BBQ!
(Thanks to Fran and Adrian!)
Okay so, bit late again with this update.

The Chester devs meeting was a blast. Met some good contacts, and possible future friends. Ate some food, drank a couple of beers and played some games. I even won a prize!

Attending the events regularly will definitely be good for me one way or another. It is a great group and I am sure to learn a lot.

My tenancy has been extended until 7th September, so I now have an extra week or so to find some work and a place to stay. So far I have had some very positive responses but am still waiting on replies.

I have a new project I need to complete by the 18th of August too. It's a poker hand calculator, in which the user inputs the hards they have to play with and the calculator tells them the best available hand with the given cards. It is a lot of fun, but I find myself scratching my head at the use of Apple's drag and drop - then connect the dots user interface development scheme, (It is not programming!!!) so that is slowing me down a little.

I still have some work to do on the website (, I'm considering a menu redesign, and a few projects to polish up, too.
(Click to visit my site)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Interesting week

A little late with this weeks entry, but it has been an interesting week.

The earlier part of the week has been largely uneventful. I began work on a new project and had a few call backs for possible work interest.

Yesterday I was at the Liverpool Sound City festival where I met the awesome Don Whiteford from Nomad Games (formerly Digital Image Design, Rage, THQ) who was there promoting their new game Talisman, and Roderick Kennedy of Simul (formerly Evolution Studios, Digital Image Design), both of whom were involved in developing what is still my favourite flight sim of all time, F22 Air Dominance Fighter (Youtube link). I had a great time meeting them, there was some very interesting conversation and I got a lot of perspective from talking to them. Thanks guys!

Other notables were RedTouch Media, PPL, Black and Ginger and Milky Tea, who are best known for their 3D animation work on the Lloyds TSB advertisement on British TV and the game Coffin Dodgers, which is currently on Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight.

All in all a productive week for networking.

Next week I will be attending a social event for local devs in my area.

(Click to visit the site)
(Click to visit my site)