My name is John, I was born December 17th 1968 in Oxford, England. I grew up and went to school in Oxford and now live in south Oxfordshire with my wife and our two children.
I have worked for the British Geological Survey since January 1988 after leaving school with A-levels in 1987. I am based in the Wallingford office of BGS which deals with hydrogeology. I have an Earth Sciences degree from the Open University from which I graduated with honours (2i) in 1994. I also have a MSc in Computing for Geoscience which I gained in 1997. I am an Oracle 9i Application Development Certified Professional.
I was originally employed by BGS to work in the stable isotope laboratories as a lab technician, but I also worked for the overseas department and spent two extended field trips in Zimbabwe in 1990 and 1992 developing hydraulic fracturing of basement aquifers for rural water supply. I subsequently went on to run the geophysical logging equipment for BGS logging boreholes all over the British Isles and interpreting results.
I had been involved in databases since the very early days of my career with BGS. My first database was in DBIII and contained borehole records from Malawi. I decided to move into IT after my degree and my dissertation for my MSc was entitled “A Database for the Dissemination of Hydrogeological Information”. The main thrust of the project was to design and build, in Oracle, a database to digitise and hold the 100,000 paper borehole records from the National Well Record Archive. Since 1997 I have been working in IT full time and my interest outside of work in developing websites has spilled into my professional role as the majority of my time recently has been spent developing intranet and extranet applications for accessing BGS’s vast collections of borehole information. In 2003/04 I spent a year seconded to the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge working in the data centre. In 2006 I spent 8 weeks in Mozambique working with the IT department in the National Directorate of Geology. I have also visited South Africa and Botswana as part of my duties for BGS.
In 2011 I became involved in developing mobile applications for iOS devices. My first application is mySoil which maps and crowd sources information about the soils of the UK and Europe. I’m currently lead developer on the 3rd version of mySoil which should be available in Q2 2015.
You can find a very non-exhaustive list of my authored publications in the NERC Open Research Archive. Although not complete it gives a flavour of my published research over my career.
I am a keen amateur astronomy and have several telescopes, I recently built my own backyard observatory which has enabled me to do more serious astroimaging and you can see examples of my work on this site. I also monitor asteroid occultations. I have been chairman of the Reading Astronomical Society for around 9 years and have been a member since 1997. The society has around 100 members from Reading and the surrounding area.
I play league Table Tennis in the Didcot & District Table Tennis Association where I am currently Fixture Secretary, Vice-Chairman, Bidmead Secretary and Website Administrator! I also play in the Oxford & District Table Tennis Association league. I have played Table Tennis since I was a boy thanks to my late father who encouraged me and my siblings to play. I have played league since I was a teenager, and have at various times played in the Oxford, Didcot and Newbury leagues. I currently play in Division 2 of 5 in Didcot and Division 2 of 4 in Oxford. I was secretary of the Howbery Park Table Tennis Club for many seasons until it folded due to losing our venue in 2011, I now play for Upton Village Table Tennis Club. In the Oxford league I play for Viking Sports Club for Vikings B for whom co-incidentally my father played in the late 60s and early 70s.
In 2008 I took up cycling and trained hard for cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in May/June 2009. You can read about the trip on my LEJOG pages. I now regularly ride with the CTC Wantage club. I am currently Rides Secretary for the club and organise the regular ride programme and lead many of the rides. I ride audax regularly and completed Randonneur Round the Year in 2014.
I took up running in 2014 with my local club Didcot Runners initially as a beginner and then improver. I ran my first 5k race in March and my first 10k race in May. I’m currently training for my first half-marathon in March 2015. I was the proud recipient of the club’s Most Improved Runner award in 2014.
I have a vast collection of old machines and games, running into the thousands. I am particularly proud of my Atari 2600 cartridge collection and my Vic-20 collection. I have played everything over the years, current favourite is the Xbox One but I have every current generation console and handheld.
I enjoy heavy metal music and listen to quite a diverse range of bands. I have enjoyed Iron Maiden since the mid-80s and have virtually every single thing they have ever released. I have seen them live around 20 times. We try and get to the Monsters of Rock / Download festival / Sonisphere each year where we have enjoyed some truly great bands over the years. Other bands I enjoy are Metallica, Type O Negative, Korn, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, Ghost, InMe and many others. I am also a fan of 70s punk music and especially NWOBHM music from the early 80s. More recently I have become interested in Scandinavian black / death / progressive metal and listen to bands such as Enslaved, Avantasia and Katatonia. At the softer end of the spectrum I enjoy CAKE, Melanie C, P!nk and Masters of Reality.
I originally started this blog so I could document my visit to Mozambique in 2006. For friends and family to keep up with my daily activities whilst I was away and communication was difficult. It’s great looking back at those early posts and reminding myself of that time.
I try and write articles I find interesting and I want to remember about my life. I have a wide range of interests and I want to make them relevant and interesting to the reader.
The website title is inspired by the lyrics of the B-side to Lily the Pink by The Scaffold. Which coincidentally was at number one in the charts in the UK on the day I was born! This is my favourite ever lyric.
“The buttons of your mind were difficult to find and my fingers far too clumsy.”
These are the buttons of my mind.