I am Keith Brown, originally from Carlisle, I’ve been studying some form or another of computer science at the University of Derby for the past four years, now in my fifth and final year on BSc Hons Computer Science. My main area of interest is in web development and internet-enabled applications. I have an interest in robotics and am experimenting with LEGO Mindstorms NXT and the Dexter Industries BrickPi with the aim of incorporating it into my Dissertation.
I’m very comfortable in all MS office applications, as well as being able to get around Photoshop and GIMP to manipulate and repair images.
A quick history of my education in computer science:
Before university I was always known as “the one who was good with computers” but that just extended to general operation, MS office skills and some basic image editing. I did my first foray into a little bit of programming around age 11 when a family friend sent me a CD with Mark Overmars’ Game Maker 5 and a bunch of Examples and Tutorials after I asked him how games and programs were made. Shortly after, I was taught basic HTML in Information Technology at school, and took to it rather quickly using only notepad to create a 3-page sited demonstrating what I’d been taught, the teacher pointed me at more resources with which I turned that 3-page site into a mini-site about my hometown and was hosted on tripod.com until recently.
I took A-Levels in Maths, Physics, Computing, and Systems and Control (Design and Technology).
Thanks to the basic programming I did in Game Maker I had a basic understanding of the concepts I was taught in Computing , and picked up VB.Net rather quickly, as well as a completing a minor project in Prolog within a weekend (out of the given 14 days) even after missing the first lesson on the language.
In systems and control I made a 2-player score counter and match display; it was rather complex for my school’s facilities as I used 4-bit binary to operate two 7-segment displays from a single PIC micro-controller as well as being the first project to involve dual-colour LEDs. My teachers in the subject left me to it as some of the concepts I was researching and using were above what they’d seen at the level they were teaching.
I started out doing the university’s BSc Hons Computer Games Programming course as it was famed for being one of the most complete; but during the middle of my first year I realised that this was not the area of Computer Science I wanted to go into, and the course was lacking at least a basic foray into databases and web development.
As a result I wanted a more general course, and at the time that was BSc Hons Computing, however due to the lack of some core modules from year 1, namely those on databases, web development and systems analysis, I couldn’t go straight into year 2. So I transferred onto BSc Hons Information Technology (which was in essence a make-your-own computer science degree at the time) and took a selection of first year modules that encompassed Databases, Web development, Networking, and Systems Analysis to give me at least a basic understanding of those areas, as well as a couple of the year 2 modules in Mobile Device Programming (with a focus on Android) and Team Software Development which I could take with the modules I’d done.
After that academic year I was all set to do the course I wanted. The university had reformed it’s Computing department and I transferred into the new BSc Hons Computer Science course. First semester I worked on more advanced Databases, basic graphics programming and some basic network programming.
It was during the first semester I applied for and accepted a work placement with the Science and Technology Facilities Council on their Scientific Computing project ready for the industrial work placement I needed for my next academic year.
It was during the second semester I learnt what I really wanted to do. We had to a module in applications for web, focusing on PHP and Apps using REST services, and I found I enjoyed the module more than most that year.
The next year was spent living in Oxford, working at the nearby Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for the STFC in their division that owned a particle accelerator. I was on the Mantid project that made MantidPlot, a program for the analysis, manipulation and plotting of data taken from instruments at a selection of facilities that investigated Neutron science. I was mainly tasked with fixing and updating user interfaces and Load/Save algorithms. During that year my experience in C++ and Python was improved immensely having now got some actual industry experience in them. It was also my first time using Linux in any real capacity as before it had baffled me, while in the mantid project it was under the supported operating systems and being around a lot of linux-based developers i learned at least how to get around in the system as well as some of its quirks.
Now I’m back in derby I’ll be working on my final year and dissertation, and logging my progress on this site.