WHO AM I?
Figure 1: A Russian Soyuz Space Capsule
Predominantly, I work as an IT Solutions / Technical Architect, although from time to time, I also work as a Rocket Consultant (a freelance Rocket Scientist) on a number of professional rocket and space projects, as well as media productions.
Yes, for those who may ask if I do exist outside of a computer, this is me. Or rather, this was me several years ago. The attractive piece of furniture I am sat on is a rather toasted Soyuz descent capsule (re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere at 17,500 mph tends to do this) at the VDNK in Moscow, in 1992. At the time, I was working on some data from the Russian Phobos Mars mission, hence the reason I was in Moscow (and also St Petersburg).
The data I was working on was mainly thermal data of the Martian surface obtained by an instrument onboard the Phobos spacecraft called Termoskan. Unfortunately, the Phobos spacecraft went belly up not long after entering Mars orbit, so the data returned was a fraction of what was expected. Nevertheless, the data returned was very useful.
The chap whose photo is behind me, is Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. It was sat in this particular Soyuz spacecraft, that I had the inspiration for my Soyuz 2000 design.
Those who know me will realise the anomaly in this photo - this is one of the only times when there is no computer in sight. How did I cope ? Well, there were lots of big space toys to compensate, such as a Vostok capsule, Voshkod capsule, an Apollo spacecraft docked to a Soyuz spacecraft, all manner of planetary spacecraft etc. I wanted to bring them home with me, but somehow I think I'd have had problems getting them out of Russia & bringing them back through customs!
I live in London, & have done for the last decade and a half. Until a few years ago, my pride & joy was a way too big rambling 6 bedroom pile in North West London, bought in the heady days of the dot com boom, sort of mock tudor - looked nice, but the wooden beams were a bit of a pain. It was being completely revamped though, & the idea was to bring the interior into the 21st century - not so much Star Trek with the tech on display, but more along the lines of MIT's "things that think", with the technology hidden away or embedded.
The whole house was networked with over 100 network points & CAT 5e network cable, X10 home automation modules were spread throughout the house to turn the kettle, TV & lights on via computer, CCTV cameras were fitted, the mains electrical system was ripped out & a new one fitted, & the rooms were slowly refurbished. However, it was far too big for just me & my partner, so when she & I parted, I decided to go for something more practical next time.
I grew up in Rhiwbeina, a suburb of Cardiff (Caerdydd), the Capital City of Wales (Cymru). I then migrated over the border first to England to do my B.Sc degree, then to Scotland to do my M.Sc degree, & much of the rest of the time, have been working in London, with spells in Holland & Russia.
A native Welsh speaker, I also speak a bit of Dutch, from a year spent working in Holland, a bit of Russian, from time spent involved with the Phobos-2 Mars mission, & a bit of Spanish, learnt both during my B.Sc & during the year I did my M.Sc.
Not that it's hard to miss, but I'm a self confessed techno-junkie. I have interests in both computer hardware and software, as well as the wider world of electronics and space technology. If it's got an electrical connection, network it, I say. You'd be amazed what you can put a TCP/IP stack on.
PDA's and portable computers are generally my pet gadgets (I can't choose between them). As a fan of renewable energy, I frequently mess around trying to power various electrical gadgets and systems via solar power, to cut down on battery consumption.