The Digital Village

Tim Browse

Technical Lead and Honesty Evangelist

Philosophy: "Cynicism is the condom of the romantic."

Ok, this is my CV of the month. In an attempt to make a CV of my otherwise dull and uneventful life seem interesting and interminable, I have stolen a trick from Clive Anderson, and this CV will be in the style of Eddie Izzard., yeah. This is my CV...sorry that's a bit of a crap beginning isn't it? I've tried tarting it up a bit and making it more exciting, by doing it in the style of PG Wodehouse, but it just doesn't work. So that's that. So anyway. I went to school. Schools are funny places aren't they? They have lots of rules. And they're never good rules are they? They're never the sort of rules where you can look at them, and think, "yeah, that's a good, strong, long, sensible rule - I can see why they do that." They never have those do they? They always have rules like "You're not allowed to wear your coat indoors." One of my particular favourites, that one. How did that one happen? Was there a spate of indoor-coat-wearing-related accidents, and a pressure group was formed, tabloid newspapers involved, and government legislation passed to combat the coat crisis? No. It was just a headmaster somewhere who thought "I know, I'll tell the little devils they can't wear their coats indoors - that'll confuse them." And it just grew and grew and spread - throughout the land! Until no shire or hamlet could bear the heinous shame of any of their schoolchildren wearing coats indoors. And the reason the headmaster came up with it was because he was barmy. They have to be - it's the one thing the government did legislate on - you have to be clinically insane to reach the pinnacle of success in the teaching profession - the headmaster. They're always coming up with barking mad rules. Another good one is "no whistling". You're never allowed to whistle in schools, are you? Again, being a reasonable person, you may wish to look at the story from both sides, and think "Well, maybe whistling has been shown to cause lung cancer in supply teachers" but you'd be wrong. It's all just garbage. Totally and utterly bonkers and out there and bleah. And our kids grow up with this stuff. Some parents might say "Rules at school are excellent - they teach children how to behave and respect rules and laws", which is all fine and groovy, but I mean let's give them some decent rules - rules they can respect. Does "thou shalt not wear trousers or skirts with zip pockets" really give them a sound establishment to build on? I think not. But anyway - exams. That's what I really wanted to talk about. Because they're weird, aren't they? You can do one of three things. The first one is revise and revise and revise until you know the stuff backwards and just have to walk in and write the stuff out, and the only issue is how fast you can write. This is the best way - but it took me until I was at University to work it out. So that was not ideal. I used to go for option 2, which was to laze about the place, and then suddenly go into a panic and revise 26 hours a day for one and a bit weeks before the exams in a positive blizzard of A4 ring binders, Letts revision books, cups of tea and highlighter pens. So you'd go to the exam, and most people had gone for option 2 - and they'd be asking each other questions about the subject and scaring each other to death because they hadn't learnt it and didn't know nearly as much as anyone else and oh God their Mum was going to kill them. And there'd always be one kid who'd turn up to, like, the biology exam and say "So, what's the equation for the movement of a pendulum?" and others would say "Duh...that's physics - that's next Wednesday - this is biology" at which point the other kid would glow bright red - hotter than the hottest sun, almost, and then say "Oh yeah, I knew that - just kidding." and then have to go to the toilet for 15 minutes. But even the people who had learned the right subject would hear other people's questions and think "Oh no, I haven't learned anything about that at all! Surely we didn't have to learn that? I'm sure 'blood' wasn't in the biology syllabus was it? It was? That's outrageous!" So then you all excite each other into a state of nervous panic - a bit like realising you've just looked at someone the wrong way in Camden and now they're going to have to stab you with a bread knife - and then you all file into the exam, and it becomes a matter of immense difficulty to even find your desk with your own copy of the exam on it. Eventually the teachers - except they're not teachers now, are they? They're invigilators. Which is a posh word, meaning teachers with bugger all to do that day. So anyway the teachers tell you to start writing, so you look at the clock,and you have this idea that you're in control - that you stand a chance, that you're wise to the whole exam scam, and so work out how much time you've got, how many questions you have to do, and think "It's ok, uh-huh, I'm doing fine, mmm, just got to pace myself...yeah, that's right. Ok, fine, fine. I'll just go through the whole paper - give myself 15 minutes to read it all, really thoroughly, just like Mr. Slowbottom told me to, and I'l put a mark next to the questions I think I can have a really good go at." So it starts out like that...but it doesn't work, does it? 20 minutes later and you still haven't taken the pen off your cap and you're thinking about going through the paper again, and putting a mark next to the questions you think you might possibly be able to have a wild stab at. And then you look around and panic as you see everyone else writing furiously, and fail to realise that what they're all actually furiously writing is along the lines of (I can't do the accent) "Help me help me Jesus Lord, Help me now my Mum is going to kill me help me save me now Lord help me sweet baby Jesus I love you take me to Heaven". And then you see some kids not writing at all. They don't seem to care. Surely they can't have finished already? And no they haven't - because they're the kids who decided to take option 3 - don't do any work at all because they're so bloody hard and don't care. But in the fever of the exam room, you don't understand this. All you see are people writing feverishly, and some people looking up at you, and smiling, as if to say, "my, that inadvertant pun in question 2b, part (iv) was amusing wasn't it?" and you don't want them to look at you, you just want them to explode in a earthquake of smugness. And you see those smartarses who know how to subvert questions around to subjects they know about, starting their essays with "The dilemmas that Macbeth went through while debating whether or not to kill Duncan are, though at first it might not seem apparent, very similar to the by-products of chemical reactions that take place in mitochondria during extreme anaerobic exercise in water rats." And the text swims before your eyes as you try to remember what the hell a rubric is and just as you think you've done it, the uber-leutnant invigilator says "stop writing please." and to be honest it's a miracle I ever got 3 'A' levels and a degree in Computer Science, but the Underground - that's what I want to talk about - no link - the Underground, yes. Because it's a bizarre other world that people who work in London (as I do) venture into every day. There are different rules on the underground. Most of them are only slightly less silly than the rules we learned at school. The first rule is that you have to be stressed out and impatient and pushy and - get this - not realise that it makes absolutely no difference to how fast you get where you want to go. The slightest provocation will set people off on the tube. A person can have travelled for weeks and weeks without a problem on the tube, and then, while parked in a dark stretch of tunnel, hear the apologetic voice of the driver saying "We apologise for the delay..." and they swear loudly and profusely as if really - you know, this is the limit, I really am very angry. They just go from zero to crazy ape bonkers in the space of a second and start foaming at the mouth, while sane people like you and I sit quietly and listen politely to the driver's excuse. And they have such great excuses - my particular favourite is "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are unable to proceed at present because of a problem." Oh that's a cracker that one, isn't it? "A problem" - they were up all night on that one, weren't they? To think they pay people to say these things. And all the other strange people they employ. Oh yes. Imagine the scene...a fresh young graduate joins London Transport, ready to do her bit at the front. She doesn't know what she might be doing - this is the covert section of LU. Perhaps she'll be one of the people who bustle about in the back of the ticket office never actually serving anyone or doing anything - just a shadowy presence that springs into action whenever they're required and shout "bunch of flowers!" (joke for three people...see Eddie Izzard in concert - then laugh). Or perhaps she'll be one of those people who wander around the station doing nothing? Or one of the people who stand by the ticket stiles ready to ignore you if anything goes wrong. Then an important man comes into the room...head honcho at London never hear about honchos, do you? It's always head honchos - no-one ever says "I'm a honcho at Pimkins Amalgamated, you know" do they? "Oh yes, I report to the head honcho - but I'm in charge of lots of bottom-bananas who genuflect to me, but who are in turn in charge of very small cheeses." Anyway - the head honcho comes in, "We've got a special mission for you, Ibkiss - we want you to be...the covert operative who goes around sticking bits of chewing gum to the eyes or nose or mouth in every poster on the underground! You'll have a code-name - sticky-fingers - and we'll let you in at night to do it." Someone has to do it! No sane person would bother...surely the joke of sticking bubble gum on someone's eye would wear thin after a while. They must pay someone to do it. It's the only explanation. But seats on the underground, yes, seats. They have their own laws of the underground universe too. To fill you in, most tube trains have two types of seats that go across the width of the train. There's the seats with enough room to seat two people comfortably, and then on the other side you have the other type - the wider ones that *also* seat two people comfortably! Oh yes, you can spread out on those, can't you? Put your bag on the seat and everything...oh yes. And if someone comes along and wants to sit down, well that's just too bad, isn't it? They have to stand in the corner and face the wall. But computers are what I really want to talk about. Well, I don't really, but I have to tell you something about myself in this CV otherwise it's all a bit pointless. Well, actually the main point is to give me some mental exercise and any other side effects like someone else reading it are no concern of mine. If children come up to me and say "Why does your CV tell us nothing about you?" I will laugh heartlessly and trample them underfoot. Go away, small kids, I will say, and trouble me no more. Unfortunately I did try that and they ganged up on me...I was subjected to a small committee of small kids headed by Boutros-Boutros-Ghali-small-kid, who demanded the return of my CV-writing apparatus. I was forced to compromise by giving them the lead from my computer monitor and a curly-wurly. Oops, that joke was a bit laughed at that one...never mind, I don't do it for the laughs. I do it for the money. But if there's one thing my experience at Rediffusion Simulation taught me (no link), it's that some jobs just don't pay that well. Especially when the company is desperately trying to drag them selves into the 90s. The 1890s. Let's see, we started off computer programming with a load of groovy people using APL and ALGOL, and what have you got it down to..? Programming Gould processors in FORTRAN...I mean, no one outside Rediffusion had barely heard of Gould! That's really a keen and sharp analysis of the best way to do things. At least at Thorn Security (15 months sentence) they used C. I wonder if they've heard of Java. Java's very shiny isn't it? It's right out there in the front with big jazzy logos and animated icons shouting "me! me! me! use me to implement whatever you're doing! it doesn't matter if I'm totally inappropriate - I'm a new buzzword! I'm new and improved - and there's been a miracle breakthrough in garbage collection! Hurry while stocks last!". And then there's the application builder programs like Visual BASIC - slightly more muted, lots of features though, and we're really quite good for enterprise solutions...just as soon as someone figures out why Star Trek personnel need VB database programs, we'll be sorted. Then, right at the back, all the subtlety falling away, big blue and white packaging, C++! We're fast, we're low-level, and if you're not careful, we haemorrhage memory like an after-sales assistant at PC World, and we don't give a damn! All those new campaigns to get you to use Java for your intranet and applet needs...welcome to Java..."Welcome to C++!!! We never went nowhere! We scare the hell out of IT managers everywhere! You want a bespoke system? We've got a spoke class in the library already! Just derive a new one!" And that's where I stand. Between C++ and Java, basically, whilst also crushing VB into the dust with the wheels of my chariot, like the unwanted child that it is. Games are the thing though - no more award-winning graphics applications programming for, games are what I do now. I nearly said that they're what I play now. How quickly we forget. Why do people say that? How quickly we forget... "how do you know how quick you forgot it, if you've forgotten it? The very fact that you're talking about it means that you haven't forgotten it." That's what people say. Apparently. And other people say "Yes, yes, that's very silly. What a foolish thing to say - I'd never say anything like that. Not here at James Mason arguers, no." "It's er...I wonder if you could, er...I'm not really sure if I can, you see, er, I'm James Bond, you know." "Oh, how strange, Sean Connery's here...can't Izzard do any other impressions?" "No, I'm afraid not." "Ooh, that's another crap bit, mate - no-one laughed at that bit." "I know - that's because it's a text file and no-one is laughing at all anyway, because it's all just letters." (Got out of that one!) And Starship Titanic. Yes, I'm working on the Starship Titanic game, which is something you have to do at least once in your life. Just once in your life, just for the hell of it, throw in the towel and go and work on a Douglas Adams game, and have a good time. Aha, you say, how do I do that? Well, if I was going to tell you that, do you think I would have taken this long to say it? No. Well, there we are - that was my CV. I hope you liked it. And if you didn't, there were the inline GIFs to look at. Or you could check out the penguins. Anyway...that's all I've got time for, so scarper! It's the rozzers!


You, yes you, can control the style of my next CV. Simply mail me and tell me which of these styles you would like to see, or perhaps suggest a style to be included in a future vote. Do it now! You have the power! Do you care? Very probably not.

Possible choices are:

And remember: vote early and vote often!


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