New Job!

After nearly nine years at Memset Ltd, I’m leaving to pursue application support and management for an e-commerce agency based in Wimbledon (hence the mysterious Wombles theme tune post).

The chariot that took me from Guildford to Dunsfold affectionately known as the “chuckle bus”,

I’ve generally loved my time at Memset, but I feel that I’ve spent far too long in the customer service role and want to get back to proper sysadminning – tinkering (within reasonable, established procedures) with stuff to get it working optimally and keeping it online.

What excites me about working for my new employers is that as they are a very well established company, they’ve chosen to offload management of the day to day stuff. Thus, G Suite for Business, managed hosting, etc.  which leaves somebody such as myself time to automate stuff and make sure everything works around the application that we supply and support.

While scripting has never been a particularly strong point of mine (never had the time or patience), I don’t shy away from it.  In the past I’ve written Perl, PHP and Bash scripts to do a variety of repetitive stuff.  How efficient those scripts are is anybody’s guess, but they did work!  One downside is that if I spent any great amount of time away from doing these things, I forget it.  So I’ve been fortunate to pick up some digital O’Reilly and other technical books on the cheap, so I have reference books to bone up on.  If this is one thing that I am looking forward to with this job is to get into scripting properly and take it to the next level.

So I think this is a good career move for me.  I think my time working in the web hosting industry has come to an end.

It’s the 20th Anniversary of!

Good grief, has it really been twenty years?

Back in 1996 I left UEA in Norwich early to pursue a career and ended up working for a company in Aylsham Road that specialised in building, selling, and repairing PCs. They took me on because I had experience with Linux as they wanted to set-up an ISP.  So I was charged with setting up the servers and infrastructure which would provide dial-up access to 400 customers and web hosting to a variety of local businesses and personal users.

On this day in 1997 I asked my boss if I could register my own domain for the purposes of testing stuff.  As we were members of Nominet, I used the automaton to generate the request and send it off as a PGP signed email. There were no fancy point and click web interfaces in those days!

In the twenty years since’s registration, I’ve changed jobs many times.  Moved home multiples times.  Got married.  Got divorced.  And I’ve been travelling a lot too.  A quarter of my adult lifetime.  And my domain has been with me in one form or another during all that time.  I’ve ran multiple email services (settling on G Suite – but known as Google Apps for Your Domain back in 2006), multiple web servers (Zeus, Apache, IIS, and nginx to name a few), different web hosting providers.  But I’ve always been a blogger.

I’ve used the WayBack machine to go back through some of my old web pages/blog posts.  Some of it WTF, some of it has me raging about this or that, and some of it deeply sad (when it came to IVF treatment).

Click on the images to enlarge.

I have had a love/hate (mainly hate) relationship with Windows Server ever since..
Here I was tinkering with FreeBSD and Linux. At the time I was running the Anglian Linux user Group web site/mailing lists too.
Moving houses .. and dedicated servers?
Unemployed just before getting married was awful – but thankfully it all turned out in the end. And this was the beginning of my journey into VFX..
I was still unemployed at the time, but I would find work (albeit I was taken advantage of) within a few weeks. Thankfully that job only lasted 5-6 weeks before I joined MPC.
Even when I was working in the VFX industry, I was thinking about web hosting..
Dealing with spammers was a bane both personally and professionally, and one of the reasons I switched to G Suite in 2006 rather than my own email services.

Sometime after that there are a number of posts about the ectopic pregnancy.  It was perhaps one of the most awful times in our lives and I’d really rather not post them here (although you can still read them on the WayBack machine).

It lead to a great deal of depression which I still struggle with today (though I don’t take medicine for it – I felt at the time that I don’t think the drugs that I was given did much anyway).  These days I deal with depression in a variety of ways – this blog (having an outlet to rant is great, though there are times I know I go overboard and have to tone things down a bit – thankfully my Dad reads everything and provides me feedback if I do!), the other is travelling – something I’m looking to do more of.  A bit difficult when one is single, but there are plenty of things I can still do.

It’s an ongoing struggle, but I seem to be winning for the most part.

Anyway, back to happier things.

When I went to the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s King Kong in New York. The ironic thing was that the associate producer of the film (who was there) came to work at MPC and it was only because I was wearing a souvenir t-shirt that I found this out.


When I went to Neil Gaiman’s private screening of a nearly compete version of Stardust. Not sure why I was having a rant at MPC, but it’d be a few months before I had quit and started working for Imagineer Systems.


That time when I went flying around filming interviews for a video for Imagineer Systems (and getting a valuable lesson on how to setting automatic gain control for microphones).


More filming for Imagineer. This time in New York.

So happy 20th birthday,  Here’s to the next 20 years (good grief, I’ll be 60 by that time!).

Now’s THAT’s magic!

As an early (yet late) birthday (the event is in June, birthday is in May) treat for next year, I’ve just bought a ticket for Penn & Teller’s 2017 UK tour – specifically at the Hammersmith Apollo.  I’ve been a big fan of magic, and of P&T’s for donkey years, but have never seen them live (and this is from somebody who has been to Las Vegas 3 times and never been any of the shows there).

My name is.. Slartibartfast

Over the past 16 years I’ve travelled extensively – from cross-country USA to Bora Bora and New Zealand, and a lot more in-between!  I have seen much of the world – but there is much, much more to see.  My last big adventure was in 2015 when I visited a friend in Seattle and we drove up to Vancouver, then down to the Oregon coast.

Back in 2012 I was introduced to the world of cruising.  We ventured on the Azamara Journey from Italy through to Portugal, and it was a wonderful experience (except the time I drank a little too much red wine during rough seas around Nice, but I’ve learnt my lesson and won’t be doing that again).

As I’m still single (all offers gratefully received – hehe), holidaying is a rather odd affair. Dining alone consists of a table for one while I’m checking the smartphone for new Twitter or some other social networks’ updates.  So the past few years proceeding the divorce hasn’t seen much in the way of a good holiday abroad  (the USA-Canada trip being the one exception).

So I’ve been looking at cruises over the past few months.  Based on my previous experience, dining is definitely not a solitary affair for a singleton like me.  Even as a couple you are sat at a table with other diners (often a mix of couples, families and singles) and you get to meet other people.  Where else could you meet one of Jim Henson’s neighbours (when he was growing up), an ex-New York circuit judge, an ex-representative for a major US telecoms company who personally looked after Apple’s account in its earlier days? A cruise, that’s where.

I decided that as I’ve always wanted to visit Norway (hence the HHGTTG reference) and Iceland, I’d take a two-week cruise from Southampton to Norway, then to Iceland, then Dublin, and finally back to Southampton.  There’s no flying, and getting to Southampton is mere triviality from where I am.  I’ve already put down the deposit, and to say I’m excited about it is an understatement.  And even more so, I’m going to buy myself a decent tux (how I miss thee – the last time I wore one was at the world premiere of Peter Jackson’s King Kong back in 2005).  And as the trip is a way off, I’m going to get myself in shape too.  It’s given me a goal to work towards.  This cruise is adults only, and a medium size ship – so hopefully it’ll be fairly quiet!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy my Viking helmet..

Having a house clearout? I highly recommend HIPPOBAG..

Rather than hiring an expensive metal skip (which also requires a permit from the local council), I’ve been using HIPPOBAG from Hippowaste over the past couple of months to help clear out junk from my house.  A courier delivers the bag all nicely folded up a couple of days after ordering.  You just place the bag somewhere where their lorry can collect, submit a request for them to pick up, and the job’s done.

What’s great about a HIPPOBAG is that I can place it away from the shared drive, so my neighbour doesn’t lose their parking space.  Both the medium and large size bags will fit my front “garden”.

The service comes highly recommended by me.  So if you’re thinking of having a bit of a clearout, I’d recommend getting a HIPPOBAG.