My first experience of programming was back in the early 90’s at the age of 11. Our only computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ which was mainly used to play such classic games as Manic Miner, Daley Thompson’s Decathlon and Chuckie Egg. However, I remember the Spectrum also came with a book containing lots of BASIC program scripts to draw a variety of pretty patterns onto the screen, and I recall patiently typing away at these scripts line by line to see the end result being drawn on the TV screen, and the joy at seeing all my hard work rewarded – there was no ‘save’ function so any mistakes or power outages and it was back to square one, often causing much frustration as the longest program was two entire pages of the book!

With my appetite for programming truly whetted, I moved onto an Amiga 600 and shortly afterwards an Intel 386 PC. At the age of 15 I started teaching myself Visual Basic and also began learning the ‘C’ programming language too. By the time I was at Sixth Form I had become proficient in VB6 and modestly skilled at C as well, resulting in an unofficial “teacher’s assistant” role helping my fellow students with their Computing course practical work.

Having achieved the required grades to continue my studies at degree level, I opted for a Computing Science course at the University of East Anglia where I went on to achieve a solid 2:1 class BSc (hons.) degree. During my 3 year course there were many choices to be made as to what modules to study each year, and I decided to push myself as hard as possible by taking several Computer Graphics modules as well as Artifical Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, Networking and Data Structures and Algorithms. I found all the units very enjoyable, although the graphics modules in particular were exceptionally challenging owing to the complex mathematics involved.

By this time I had also got involved in Web Development with the emergence of the internet and had taught myself HTML, CSS, some basic Javascript and also ASP as my first ‘server-side’ web technology. In doing so I was able to set up an interactive website for my local swimming club, Dereham Otters*, with whom I’d been a member since the age of 6 and gained great satisfaction and vital experience running the website successfully for several years.

From University I was lucky enough to be asked back to join a local company that I’d had a summer job with the previous year, and was initially tasked with rebuilding their internal support website. Given the choice between building it in classic ASP (which I knew pretty well) or what was, at the time, a brand new technology called ASP.NET, I naturally opted to push my skills further and elected .NET technology which perhaps has been the most important decision in my career so far! Choosing ASP.NET allowed me to learn C#, and fairly soon I had the new support site up and running and exceeding the expectations of the business. Having learnt C# I was then fortunate to be the only employee of the business with any .NET experience, which resulted in my taking over development of two key products which had, until that point, been developed by an external contractor at great expense to the business. I was able to take both products and continue to develop them over the next 12 months and both products were released into production on several client sites to much success.

Using my .NET experience I was able to move first to another small family-run business where I spent 12 months writing VB.NET for both Windows and Web environments, and then onto a slightly larger company where I spent the next 5 years refining my development skills; firstly as a Senior Developer, then Development Manager before finally being promoted to Technical Director in recognition of the hard work, expertise and leadership skills I had demonstrated. By this time I was firmly back in the C# camp and working with such emerging technologies as LINQ, Entity Framework and most recently MVC 3 and MVC 4. Along the way I’d also become proficient at Database Design, Deployment and Maintenance, primarily with Microsoft SQL Server (200/2005/2008) but also using MySQL in my spare time.

In 2012 I decided on a major career change and set up my own business, Fastcode Ltd, to offer my services as a consultant/contractor in the IT marketplace. I eventually hope to expand into a fully-fledged software development house allowing me to supply quality software products and services on a global scale.

If you’re in need of some IT expertise, feel free to get in touch via my contact page and I’d love to discuss how my business can help yours.

* Please Note: In the interest of transparency, the current Dereham Otters website is no longer the one I designed and built, it has now been taken over and re-designed by somebody else.

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