Bens House dot net

About

Welcome to my space on the Internet. Of course, I've had space on the web for quite some time, starting with a bit of free webspace from the family's first ISP (Virgin Net). The last update to the site was done in the summer of 2000 whilst I apparently wasn't looking at the screen, but it nicely demonstrated everything needed for whatever course I was on at the time. Unfortunately, the page has since been removed from the web.
After making it through my A levels, I arrived at Aberystwyth University in 2002, had a great time and finally graduated in 2006 with a 2:1 in Software Engineering. Part of the course also included an industrial year, for which I worked in the Information Services department at the University. As part of my job there as Desktop Services Technician, I was part of a team that provided technical support for the University's 1000+ machines, as well as any staff, students or members of the public that requested support as well. At the end of my industrial year, I continued to work for Information Services as a Weekend Advisor with similar responsibilities but providing less on-site support.

The main programming language taught on my course was Java, a language I felt that I picked up quickly and had helped lower years to learn during my time as a module Demonstrator in my 2nd year. However, when it came to the time to write the specification for my dissertation, I wanted a change, so I began to learn VB.Net. I began writing the application for my dissertation in VB.Net, but due to the large amount of prototyping I was doing with sections of code for GPS, mapping and UI for mobile devices, the code quickly became a mess. Eventually I restarted the project in C#.Net, which allowed me to rewrite the code in a neater way and restricted the ability to copy and paste code from one version to the next so I had to check that the code was acceptable. I'm rather proud of the final project, which I have used on several occasions to get lost in the countryside.

The .Net language also came in handy for the 2006 Imagine Cup which I entered as a part of a team of three, plus our group mentor. Despite our relatively late entrance into the competition, the team (known as The Lost Boys) was one of the top 10 teams in the UK and made it through to the UK finals held at Microsoft UK headquarters in Reading. I've been back there a couple of times since for various other Microsoft events and keep an eager eye on the Microsoft UK Events homepage for any other events of interest. Unfortunately, the timing and cost of travelling to Reading from Aberystwyth means that I can't always attend the events I want to, but I hope one day to move closer to the Reading area.

Upon graduating, I started work as a Software Developer with a local company which had heard about my dissertation and wanted a couple of ideas of theirs turned into prototypes. Environment Systems was a great company to work for and a demonstration of the prototype EveryWhichWay was shown at the 2006 Systems Conference in Germany and some great feedback was received.

With the prototype complete, I moved back to the University and begun work as a Software Engineer with CASIS - the Centre for Advanced Software and Intelligent Systems. In this role I developed an in house system for following and documenting tests, and eventually started work taking over a larger project, eCRIS for the Welsh Education system. Originally this application was written by another company, but CASIS would now be taking over development and maintenance, as such it was my task to learn about the system, document tests and fix some of the minor bugs.

I eventually left CASIS after being offered an opportunity at the University of Reading, within the Intelligent Multimedia Systems and Services group. My initial project was CALLAS but I am now also the internal project leader for the IMSS contribution to the MoD Grand Challenge. More about these projects and my role within them can be found on the projects page.

With all of these work related activities, keeping track of the latest tech news (for which Techmeme can be brilliant), keeping my own knowledge up to date (via such useful sites as Channel 9) and finding time to maintain benshouse.net can be difficult - even I need a break from the computer screen occasionally! On those odd occasions where I'm not at a PC, I might be reading (good books include - Jones and Marsden: Mobile Interaction Design, Richard Hammond: On The Edge, almost anything by Terry Pratchett, almost anything by Tom Clancy, and the Halo series), playing pool or snooker (which I'm still not particularly good at even after all these years), or just generally socialising (what a strange way of saying "in the pub"). If the weather's nice I might even have gone out on a bike ride.

And that's me in a nutshell. A lot of what's written above has been blogged in much greater detail over on Windows Live Spaces, but you may also have noticed that the front page of benshouse.net also has my latest entries. Hopefully the current design shows up nicely in your browser. If it doesn't, or if you have any comments, suggestions or just fancy saying "hi", drop me an email at ben@benshouse.net.