I’m often asked how or why I “got into computers” and I usually answer, only half-jokingly, “I went to an all boys school and they were easier to talk to than girls.”
Back in that distant past, you didn’t just own a computer, you had to be “into it.” My first three computers (ZX81, BBC Model B, BBC Master 128) were pretty much useless if you didn’t know at least some code. If you weren’t willing to spend hours fighting a tape deck or poring over code listings in magazines then the computer was just an expensive ornament.
Even my first PC (and much to the horror of my Amiga and Archimedes owning peers, I was the first PC user at my school) needed a lot of coaxing to get it to do anything at all. If you were scared off by a black screen with a little A:\> prompt then you didn’t use a computer. Yes, it was an A in those days, we didn’t have hard drives.
We were mostly self-taught and a mixture of curiosity and the satisfaction of making these boxes beep and flash at our command, spawned a generation of geeks and coders. We may not have all learned machine code or assembly language, but we could knock out a great bit of BASIC, PASCAL or even C.
So almost 24 years to the day, I was a very proud 16 year-old to have a prize-winning letter printed in PC Plus magazine, especially as it sounded like I had out-geeked all the staff there when writing it.
And so it continued. In 1993, when the first web browser appeared, getting online was not just a case of plugging it in and going (actually, you don’t even need to plug anything in nowadays!) – it was a long process of setting up stacks and socks, whining modems and a fair amount of determination.
If you didn’t know how to set it up, you didn’t use it. If you were online you supported yourself, you knew how to fix everything that came your way.
Which is why I worry a little now. Pretty much every house has a PC in it and every child is using Word or Powerpoint to complete their homework.
But if the PC doesn’t work, most of them don’t have a clue of what to do.
Obviously, in my PC repair trade that’s not an entirely bad thing! But it is a concern when so few youngsters want to code and we see most of the skills we need in the future being provided by countries other than our own. It’s why we need organisations like Young Rewired State to encourage children who are interested in developing these skills.
The fact that 500 people around the country have signed up for this year’s Festival of Code workshops is great. It’s very sad that none of them are from the Canterbury area. So when Liz from the Whitstable Times telephoned to ask if I had any views on the issue, I was happy to climb onto my soapbox. How she got my rant into such a small box on page 6 of this week’s paper I do not know!
But it’s quite spooky that this latest appearance in print, calling out for support for young geeks, is almost 24 years to the day that this young geek first had his work printed.
Apparently, although no doubt this is not cast in stone, come June Whitstable will have their broadband connection upgraded. “Fibre to the Cabinet” will roll out, which means instead of dodgy old copper between your house and the exchange, most of the distance will be covered by fibre optic cable.
So the broadband connection between the exchange and the little green cabinet round the corner from you will get a lot better. And boy, do we need it…
I’ve been fiddling around with mobiles and SIMs while I upgrade to a Nokia Lumia 800 (more on that in another post, I suspect) and decided to run some speed tests. First of all, on my normal broadband connection:
Then, on my 3 mobile connection:
Yes, that’s a 40% increase using the mobile.
Roll on June, I cannot wait!
As I hinted at in a previous post about the definition of a geek – I had a nice chat with Jan Thom of the Whitstable Times last week, and today the results of that chat appear on page 10 of the Whitstable Times, along with me popping up on the front page too.
It’s amazing how much Jan could prise out of me in about an hour and turn that unintelligible (to me) shorthand into an an article.
Just a couple of things to point out to the world…
Answer 1: I started HDG with Helen, not Jane. Oops.
Answer 5: not quite the first romance at Pfizer, but the first Sandwich to Surrey commute marriage.
Answer 6: I left Pfizer at the end of 2007, Helen left in 2006 because that’s when James was born!
Answer 8: support the Oyster Festival – please like their page!
Answer 9: East Kent
Answer 11: see more about #geekstable
Answer 16: Yes, I know Bill Hicks is dead. It’s a dream dinner party before the smoking ban…
All over breakfast at the rather lovely Whitstable Castle.
It seems like every day there’s another networking event or breakfast club popping up. Whether it’s a group of people chatting over coffee, exchanging business cards to make mini appointments in a speed dating style, small town events or county wide socials, they all claim to boost your business.
And the network I’m a member of is no different, they claim to be the single most effective way of generating new business. What does make them different is that they measure how much business is being passed and you can actually work out what it’s worth.
You could quite easily spend an hour or two every day at some event or other, but how are you going to benefit if people are just turning up because it’s nice to have a chat?
I’m a member of Herne Bay & Whitstable BNI. It’s not just a networking club, it’s a referral network. That means that when you go along you’re not just trying to sell to everyone in the room. You actually go with the intention of finding them more business.
And if you give them business, they will want to give you business.
Each week, we pass business to each other on little referral slips. They contain the name and contact details of potential customers and information on what they need. They are not just cold calls, they are expecting your call, they already know about you – they’ve been warmed up!
This week I received 5 of those little slips of paper and handed out 3. But that’s not the end of the story.
Later on in the meeting, we actually acknowledge how much business those little slips of paper have brought to us. We pass little “Thank You” cards. These are used to measure performance of the group as a whole, as well as helping people see if their referrals are paying off. If your referrals are not warm enough, they won’t generate business.
So this was a great week for us. For starters, it was our first week in our new venue, Whitstable Castle, a great way to start a New Year. It was also a great week for “Thank You” cards. Over £19,000 worth of business was acknowledged this week alone.
If you want to grow your business and share some of that, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more!
Or you can go somewhere for a coffee and a chat and just hope that something comes out of it, one day…
HDG are helping their local primary school raise funds at their summer fair by donating a digital photo frame and memory card for a prize or auction item.
Come along and join the fun!
Thanks to Pressup, we’re back in the local paper again. Just a small article on page 5 of the Whitstable Times to remind everyone of who we are.
We are pleased to add another website to our growing portfolio of sites we have designed.
Whitstable Farmers Market started regular markets in February 2007 in the heart of Whitstable. The market aims to have mostly organic produce stalls, and all stalls are from closer than 30 miles from Whitstable.
Please take a look at the website or, even better, go along to Whitstable Farmers’ Market!