Hi, I’m Andy.
Freelance Developer, Linux, Privacy and Digital Rights Advocate
From my first software release in 1997 on the coverCD of PCFormat and the subsequent release in 2000 on the coverCD of the .NET magazine, I expanded my development skills further into developing web based applications. Initially working with (classic) ASP, but then moved onto PHP4, then jumped in head-first when PHP5 was released.
The first software release happened when I was at school - written in 16-bit Borland Delphi, I developed a useful system health application that would help free up memory on the system improving the user experience. This was back in the days when 8mb was the average computer memory. After I completed my GCSEs and started college, I was offered a full-time position working for a company that developed hardware and software solutions for pharmacies. I jumped on the opportunity as the course I was studying was by no means challenging. I worked for this company for a couple of years, gaining networking and development experience, almost completing MCSEs in Exchange 5.5 and NT4 server. I got to travel the country and visit pharmacies to install and troubleshoot their installations, and from that helped to develop some small tools which would improve the support experience for customers.
After I left, I started working for a local web hosting provider, which gave me more access to further my understanding of PHP. As the servers were Linux based, I started to learn more about how it was more of a viable alternative to Windows, dual booting my Windows98 machine at home with RedHat Linux and it’s AfterStep desktop. Something clicked for me then, and I fell in love. I worked in a telephone support role for a around 18 months, and when the company was bought by a larger hosting company, I moved into ADSL provisioning, an internal role which involved me working directly with BT Wholesale (now BT OpenReach) to organise provisioning and diagnostics for people’s phone lines.
When I decided it was time to move on, I started to work for a private school and took a more hands-on role in networking and server administration. Over the years I honed my skills in networking, terminating copper and fibre optic manually. We also had an Apple-based network - Apple xServe servers, and hundreds of iMac machines across the campus. With my passion for Linux now well-entrenched, I used the opportunity to migrate servers from OSX Server to Debian - a webserver at first, but then when the opportunity to build the campus telephone system, that was my chance to shine - Debian and Asterisk with a device to connect into the campus ISDN lines.
With the work I was doing with Asterisk, my curiosity got the better of me, and I started to develop applications that worked with the VoIP system, and I started a small freelance company, evenings and weekends where I would develop bespoke solutions for people, from broadcast calling platforms (a preacher would ring in, it would call the congregation, and they could listen in) to bespoke billing systems that would read in call history and generate branded PDFs for their customers. I even developed an application that could be used by virtual assistants that when they received a call, the application would bring up all the company details so that the agent could answer on behalf of the company, and with integrations into a local SMS provider, would allow the agent to immediately inform their customer of the call. However, with a growing family, I could no longer afford the time to be working on my freelance business and I wound it up.
From there, I understood that my future was in development. I enjoyed the challenge and every day was different. I left the school, and started working full-time as a PHP developer, working on projects from tee-shirt ecommerce sites, finance systems, custom numberplate sites, to something as crazy as a chicken-themed site allowing the visitor to shoot a paintball gun in a Spanish shopping centre. Unfortunately, the Managing Director phoenixed the company, and I quickly found myself working for an award-winning mobile marketing company as a developer.
In 2012, I joined my current employer as a developer, working in PHP and Perl. Having been a customer of the company in the past, I managed to hit the ground running. Over the years I developed the initial version of the companion application using PhoneGap (Now Cordova), taught myself the low-level fundamentals of SMS messaging and implemented Unicode support within the platform, plus many more amazing features. As the company grew, an opportunity arose to become Operations Manager and manage the Linux infrastructure behind the company, which I took - it was a good change in direction, and haven’t looked back since.