Chat from our Creative Director

I’m going back to my roots and spending more time in the digital world (though not neglecting my craft or home education world, turns out, I can do more than one thing at a time… :-รพ
(see this link for an article on linking craft with code)
Never used to talk about all this stuff, but “geekery” is now trending, so I might as well join in as I always enjoyed passing on my unix knowledge, as I enjoyed working with it!
Many jobs I had (I was a contractor/consultant for some years, 3-6 months at a time), I was the only unix person there, helping them out with their one mysterious machine, working with a few young men who could operate microsoft/NT stuff, but didn’t know what to do when the unix machine broke! So I can talk about unix, but make it understandable to microsoft people, that’s a skill, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Not to mention the whole “Women in IT” thing…)

I was one of the first to get an O level in Computer Studies, and went from that to a B/TEC in Computing course, which had work experience included. Very lucky to get in, I think there was hundreds of applications for 12 places (I only just remembered that!); and I was one of 3 girls on the course. Have things changed much for girls in Computing/IT/ICT/STEM or whatever we call it now? I often read articles stressing that more girls should get involved.

After the B/TEC, the business that supported me through the course with work experience, the RSPB, took me on as a full-time employee, working mainly with PR1ME computers; I then moved on to a company that had PR1MEs, but also DEC VAX and others. These were the giant “fill a room” type computers. You know in old movies the way the big computers have tapes spinning backwards and forwards? Yep, I changed those tapes; and those clattering machine typing out strange incantations? I understood what they were saying, and, genuinely, I knew if the machine was about to die by the noise the console made… (it’s all coming back to me now!) Machines always used to die then too, and it was me and the others in the systems admin team who rushed in to fix them while the programmers put their feet up not knowing what to do with themselves without a computer to program on.

I had a few years working in various companies, I’d moved on to Unix machines though. Suns, HPs, SGIs etc etc I installed them from the box to the desk – including hardware upgrades, rewiring/soldering cables to get them to work with various monitors; installing new memory, installing the whole operating system to get what was needed. They came more as blank slates in those days.

If a machine crashed, it often crashed its networked neighbours, until various ways of dealing with that came along, but this meant a lot of learning went on and I can still to this day remember how to edit the right file to get the machine to boot up, without being able to see anything on a monitor as the machine wasn’t even alive enough to know what a monitor was! LOL!

The Raspberry Pi that has been developed brings back these memories, they’re fantastic little machines, but they’re still using a more advanced version of what I’d had to cope with!

I like the weirdness of Unix, and rarely find someone who I can ask if they say vi or vee-eye; if they know what emacs is and why I wouldn’t use it, and what xyzzy means! So I called the new twitter account for this new part of Red Barn Creative, xyzzy – and because I’m not the only one in the world who thinks that’s cool, I’ve had to add two underscores – so find me @xyzzy__ and say hello world ๐Ÿ™‚ (that’s a geek thing too…)

as are smilies. ๐Ÿ™‚ proper ones! };-&