Hello, I’m Mike.
I’m a very, very, very late 30s (ahem) bloke who is married, I live in Oldham but am originally from Sarf Larndun (or South London for people not from Sarf Larndun) and have been involved in mucking about with tech stuff since my Dad gave me and my brother a brand new ZX81 in kit form and said “If you wanna play with it, build it”.
After leaving school I apprenticed as an Electronics Test Engineer working in radio transmission (this was in the days when an ATE was a room full of 19inch racks, well trained people were cheaper). I then shuffled across to the slightly sexier world of TV broadcast engineering doing test management, quality management, field repairs, engineer training, system integration and various other interesting things often in interesting war-zones.
Along the way I accidentally ended up writing software too due to having an idea for an ATE system that could save a lot of time and money, asking the company owner if I could borrow a software engineer, being told no and given a copy of VB3 and a dummies book and told “It’s a good idea. Build it yourself”. He reminded me of my Dad.
I then took a detour into the world of Bank Note Validators (for those in the know, this coincided with my arrival in Oldham) where I ended up writing a lot more software, learning all about Lean Manufacturing, doing pioneering Lean projects involving big data and no paper, and talking to groups of people about said projects.
This led to a major career change writing enterprise applications for a massive faceless globo-corp involving many, many acronyms (the worst being SAP). I very nearly followed that to it’s inevitable conclusion - Financial Services software development. Which in turn would lead to an obscene salary, some awful posh car, a Bolivian marching powder habit and a mid-life crisis. Fortunately I came to my senses at the last minute and am back in the world of making reluctant computers talk to stroppy electro-mechanical devices. And I’ve never been happier.
In terms of skills I have a pretty good knowledge of electronics, RF and TV (I could still read Teletext with nothing but an oscilloscope if pushed, if any one still transmitted it, and I know what QAM stands for), I’ve had some level of professional exposure to just about every programming language invented since the 60s (even COBOL), I’ve done web stuff to death and despite trying really hard to wipe it from my mind, still know how SAP works. I also know a fair bit about comms protocols.
Outside work I’ve, at various times, built custom air-cooled VWs for shows and drag racing (originally I wanted a cool car, I had no money, so I built one), playing Rugby Uni*n, coaching junior Rugby League (because I hate being predictable), picked up a couple of degrees in stuff, had a Japanese TV documentary made about my wife and I (genuinely true story), played way too many video games, been admin and developer for a large and successful website aimed at older video gamers (which also involved producing the podcast, editing videos for the YouTube channel and producing image macros for the site) and nursed my amazing wife through her thankfully complete recovery from a devastating brain injury (which was the hardest, most heart-breaking and most hilarious thing I’ve ever done, all at the same time). I hate being bored.
I currently spend every Saturday morning in Oldham’s fine and wonderful library (not been? You really should go) volunteering at the Digital Drop In, offering help and assistance with tech related problems to any one who asks. Which is where I met HackOldham.