Tagged by FatBloke!

I was wondering when this meme would get to me - seems it did so a couple of weeks ago, only I didn't spot it until now!

So, without further ado, "5 things you didn't know about me"...

1. The "index" and middle toes on my left foot are the same length. While this is only a minor deformity, I gather it was sufficient to prevent my paternal grandfather (who also had it) successfully applying for a job with the Cheshire Constabulary. More interestingly, the scarring on my left cornea from a nasty case of Acanthamoeba Keratitis a decade or so ago, coupled with having extremely dark irises, may confuse iris scanners.

2. My first piece of paid work was a farm management game, commissioned by my school's Geography department, and which I wrote (in a combination of BBC BASIC and 6502 assembler) over the course of a school summer holiday on a BBC Model B, with cassette tape as my only storage. I was 13 at the time, and my fee was a floppy disk drive and controller card :-).

3. My academic background is in Physics (primarily condensed matter), and I believe that the superconductor I produced while doing my MSc at Bristol - an amusing mixed-valent Mercury Barium Calcium Copper Oxide in the usual distorted-perovskite structure that the high transition temperature superconductors tend to share - remains the highest-transition temperature superconductor made there. Oh, and my supervisor, Dr John Wilson, recommended serious investigation of anomalous magnetic effects in mixed-valent cuprates at low temperatures in a paper he published in 1978, 9 years before the whole high-temperature superconductor thing took off; see Phil. Mag., B38 427-444 (1978). "CuCl; more facts and thoughts on high temperature superconductivity". Had he secured funding to follow his recommendation, he'd probably be a Nobel laureate now.

4. The last time I used Microsoft Windows was in October 1990 - it was Windows 3.0. After having spent 6 unbelievably frustrating hours trying to get it to do something useful without crashing, I said "never again", went home and did the job in 20 minutes on my Archimedes. I've spent a mostly-reliable computing life for the last 16 years (and counting) on - at various times - Acorn RISC OS 2 through 3.6, RISC iX, RSX-11M, VMS, SunOS 4.3_U1, NetBSD, IRIX 5.2, Debian, Solaris 2.5.1 through Solaris 10, and Mac OS X, and it suits me.

5. As stereotypical "professional security geek" activities go, I've been "blooded". In other words, I've worked with a police force on an incident where a customer's systems had been broken into - and were actively being poked around at the time, so we came up with all sorts of mad techniques to mitigate the risk of the Bad Guy taking the entire enterprise out - and we nailed the guy who did it; he got prison time for his efforts. Maybe I should write my reminiscence up as a blog article, suitably anonymised; some of the techniques we came up with were genuinely useful, although the situation is "somewhat niche".

So now - hmm, who do I know who blogs but hasn't been tagged yet, who do I not mind apologising to for tagging them by buying them beer, and who might appreciate the reminder to blog more often...

I therefore tag Glenn, Darren, Jon, Martin and Simon.

Job done.

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