I am Rich Boakes.  Hello 🙂

I was born and raised in Swansea.  I studied for a BSc (Hons) in Computing & Informatics in Plymouth, graduating in 1995. After several years of commercial employment I returned to academia and undertook a research degree within the Distributed Systems Group (DSG), part of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, graduating in 2007 with a PhD. I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing.

I’ve worked for IBM and Netscape so I’ve been a part of Internet computing since it gained popularity in the mid 1990′s. I’ve designed, developed, installed, configured, tested, launched and supported systems for many household name companies – so I’ve spent a lot of time in meeting and server rooms alike.

I was the first person ever to send email using a phone on the Orange GSM network (because I installed (and helped write) the software).  During my time with the DSG I was a co-editor of the Grid Computing section of dsonline – an IEEE publication.

In stark contrast to the geek/engineer stereotype I do not drink coffee, but I have been known to enjoy a pot of tea.  I’ve run Win32, GNU/Linux, Solaris, OS X, OS/360 and RISC OS machines, and can’t be bothered with holy wars about which system is technically best – they’re all good for different purposes. I believe open source and free software are a fundamental good.  My main development languages have been (in chronological order): BBC BASIC6502 AssemblerAMPLEARM2 AssemblerPascalCoBOLModula-2CC++LispStrandSmalltalk,JavaPythonJavaScript (again) and PHP. There are lots of other languages in there too, but these are the main ones.

I have crowd surfed at Glastonbury, ran the London Marathon, slept without a tent in the middle of the Australian desert, dived on the Great Barrier Reef, watched sunrise from the bottom of Death Valley, frightened an octopus in the Caribbean; accidentally got very close to a wild brown bear while walking through the national park in Sequoia, California; and (carefully and respectfully) clambered over and around many ruined temples in Cambodia; been caught in a bushfire (and helped the local farmer get help saving his crop); held a piece of the moon (and met one of the twelve who’ve walked on it), been inside Oskar Schinder’s factory, and visited Auschwitz.

I still own a surfboard, but don’t get the chance to use it. If any university by the sea with a regular left-hand break and light offshore winds is looking for a guest lecturer, please drop me a line.  Everyone should have an ambition that is almost impossible to fulfill, so mine is to fly in an Avro Lancaster and maybe to walk to the Geographic North Pole.

I hope that humans can escape the planet before the heat death of the sun.

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