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whiteland.net/jonathan

About

I live and work in Cambridge, UK. Of course I’m a computer nerd: my excuse is I trained as an engineer (gives me a broader perspective on things) and I’m in it for how I can help people use their computers more effectively. I’m sure if I wasn’t into computers myself, I’d be just as happy helping them do something else.

Cambridge resident

I’ve been living in Cambridge for round 30 years (in Autumn 2016) and I’m feeling pretty much like this is “home”.

  • I was very involved with “CamNet: The Cambridge Freenet” for several years. However, the arrival of free ISPs in the UK saw an end to CamNet. Had we managed to build a strong community-based internet advocacy and training organisation before then, there may have been a future, but we hadn’t.
  • I was a member of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign which is still trying to improve facilities for local cyclists. I edited their newsletter for a time in the mid-90’s.

Computer nerd

I own a computer (a Mac, in fact). I work with people and their computers (almost all of which are Macs too). Most of my friends use computers. This doesn’t make me quite the sad person that that implies.

I work for an international marketing company as their IT Director. That means I engineer websites (the coding and user-interface aspects) and do technical support for everyone. We have offices in in several places across the UK.

In my previous job I worked for the electronic publisher doing technical support and looking after their web site. While there I also designed several websites for subscription-based services.

Prior to that I worked for a friend’s startup. We were writing computer-based training (CBT) software and I headed up a small development team.

Before that was a great 3-and-a-half years working for a computer-aided design (CAD) company. Initially I worked in their documentation department writing several of the more technical manuals, then I transferred to work as the programmer on their HVAC (ducting) application.

And my first job (after graduating from an engineering degree at Lancaster), in 1986, was as the User Liaison Officer in the Computer Centre of the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT), now Anglia Ruskin University.

Cyclist

I’ve been a cyclist in Cambridge ever since I arrived here 25 years ago. For the majority of that time I’ve lived within what I would consider easy cycle-commuting distance of my employers. For example, I’m about 15 minutes ride from my current employer.

Amazingly, I’m only on my third bike – the first finally broke irreparably after 21 years! That’s all the more surprising, since it was actually stolen three times:

  • from behind a bike shop awaiting a new chain: it wasn’t locked. They didn’t get far, and a neighbour spotted it, abandoned a street away.
  • from behind the Corn Exchange in the city centre: in my hurry to the Bruce Cockburn concert I forgot to lock it. A few days later a student friend of mine saw a bike “with a bag on the back like yours” abandoned, coincidentally, quite near where I worked at the time.
  • from outside a friend’s house: it wasn’t locked to anything. I found it about 100 metres up the road. Moral: always lock your bike to something.

I’m only really interested in cycling as a means to an end. For me that “end” is any, or all, of:

  • saving me money
  • personal fitness
  • ease-of-mobility in a crowded city
  • environmental friendliness