An Introduction: Who am I?

Published: Sun 22 July 2018

For the first post of this new blog, I’d thought I’d tell you a little more about me and my experiences as a developer and a writer. Depending on your point of view this is either going to be really interesting, or really boring. Either way, I hope it gives you a little insight into how I came to be where I am now, and through the pages on this blog, you’ll be able to join me on my journey to where I’m going — even if I don’t know the final destination — but that’s the fun part!

I moved to Virginia, in the United States from Leicester, England, in October 2014. Prior to moving, I worked as a registered nurse with experience in critical care nursing and anesthesiology. I enjoyed it, I was good at it, but in 2010 I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, the degenerative autoimmune condition Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.).

Managing my daily symptoms and chronic pain became very difficult in such a high-pressured job. So when we moved across the pond I stayed at home to look after our then almost 3-year-old and 6-month-old children, with my wife returning back to full-time employment.

I’m not the kind of fella to sit and do nothing (not that looking after two kids is doing nothing). I like to keep my mind working, always learning and improving, and as a result, a lot changed in the coming years. I learned a lot and achieved things some people only ever dream of. I would never have guessed that in the next three and a half years I would earn a black belt, write two books, co-found a non-profit, learn to code, and start my own web development business.

Rewind <<

I should backtrack a little because it wasn’t like I came to code from nowhere. I’d always had an interest in code and tech ever since I was a kid, even if I never always realized it.

My first coding experience was in school when I was 11 or 12 years old. I started out copying some text commands from an old scruffy book in computer class into a BBC micro. This turned out to be BASIC code, which invariably wouldn't run because of a typo on line 50. (It's funny how some issues never seem to go away...)

In grammar school (~15yrs old) I set up an FTP server on my x486 computer so I could share funny memes and short video clips with my friends. I spent most nights 'tinkering' with my computer, mostly learning by trial and error. Sometimes I regret not staying with my early interest and pursuing it further. It wasn't until over a decade later that I returned back to something that resembled coding when I built a website for my sister’s photography business using Dreamweaver in 2010.

Fast-forward >>

Fast-forward to Jan 2017, and I finally made the leap to learn to code 'properly' by learning Python, after first trying several other languages (C++, PHP, and C#.)

I fell in love.

The more Python I wrote, the more I loved it. But the best part of Python, by far, is the community. As someone who suffers from the disease A.S., and is a patient advocate, (former) blogger, and has started a non-profit for A.S. sufferers, I understand just as much as anyone the importance of community. Being part of the right community is life changing, literally. And fostering a positive and devoted community is hard work. This is something I have been doing in one-way shape or form for a long time. So it made me appreciate the Python community so much more when I encountered the positivity and encouragement it displays daily. So much so that I now work as the Community Manager for the team at Real Python (*waves to Dan.)

Aside from being a Python developer (albeit a relatively new one), I am a professional writer who has written articles for many online publications. I have written both fiction and non-fiction books, and I can now write in both American, and British English (should the need arise.)

And when I'm not caring for my children, teaching martial arts, advocating for the chronically ill, or writing code, I can normally be found cultivating my bonsai trees, playing my guitar, or building amazing forts with the furniture (apparently, I hate sleep.)

If you have any questions about anything you have read here today, please do get in touch. I am very open and transparent about most things, and I would like to chat with you in the comments or via email about any or all of it.

I am here to teach, grow and learn. And I hope I can help you do the same, too.