Simon Tatham: About Me

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Simon the collection of historical fact

Births, marriages and deaths: 3rd May 1977, none, and none, respectively.

Education: changed primary schools three times but only went to three primary schools, due to doing the same one (Dolphin, Hurst) twice. Then Leighton Park, Reading; Cambridge University; hard knocks. Mostly in that order.

Employment: three varied and mostly interesting summer jobs at Digital (as was), followed by my current full-time job at ARM.

Simon the human being

I live in Cambridge (UK), near a large group of friends who I met at the University. Some of those friends form the sinister Green End organisation and the mysterious Tartarus. I also know some number of the users of Monochrome. (See this transcript for one of the funniest things I ever saw happen on Monochrome...)

I played the violin as a child; I gave up when I was 14 or 15, because I got tired of the pressure to practise and there were other things I wanted to do with my time. I still maintain some interest in things musical, though, which is why I created Gonville.

When I was about ten, I was forever dropping and breaking things. I was the clumsiest kid I knew. Then one day I saw one of those "never a dull moment" books, with a double spread on how to learn to juggle, and I picked up three balls and went "Right! Nobody is ever going to call me clumsy again." (It didn't work. Any time I haven't got three balls in my hands, I can still drop and break things with the best of them.) I don't juggle so much these days, but I can still do it reasonably well if the occasion arises.

I like science fiction, or magical fantasy, depending what mood I'm in. I like destructive computer games which don't require thought, because my job and several of my other hobbies require thought, and sometimes I like to switch off and blast things mindlessly. (That said, I'm fonder of puzzle games than I used to be; I maintain a collection of them to prove it.)

I have no sense of smell. Most people who find this out tend to ask me the same questions, so here's a FAQ about it.

I also suffer from coeliac disease, which means I can't eat gluten (found in most wheat products and a few other things) or else my intestines begin to tear themselves apart.

Simon the geek

I've been doing computers for most of my life, ever since my well-meaning parents bought a 16K Spectrum when I was five and I started reading the manual. By the time I was nine, I could write reasonably complex things that worked, and my dad had attempted to teach me C (unsuccessfully; eight-year-olds don't take well to pointer arithmetic). By the time I was fifteen, I was writing serious things that the people and occasionally small businesses around me were finding useful; by the time I started at university, it was clear that I wasn't going to be concentrating on my maths degree nearly as much as on my free-time hacking. Now I work at ARM, but I still try to find time to benefit the rest of humanity when I'm not at work.

Type "man console_codes" at a Linux machine, and in the section that describes the escape sequences for changing the colour palette, you'll see a frowny bemoaning the fact that the sequences conflict with established policy on escape sequence layouts. This was my fault: those sequences were my contribution to the Linux kernel, along with an enhancement or two to the virtual console scrollback.

I was sitting on one of the Intel x86 assembly language newsgroups one day when someone started bemoaning the lack of a decent free Intel assembler (all of them being either not decent, or not free, or not either). Being a young and idealistic student, I accepted the challenge and found myself becoming the primary developer in the Netwide Assembler Project. I left the project a few years ago, because a full time job made it infeasible; it still seems to be active, though.

Once upon a time, I had a vision that maybe it would be possible to take the Linux telnet implementation, and the xterm front end, and hack them together to form a terminal-emulator-and-telnet client which should then be relatively easy to port to Win32. So I tried it. It was an utter failure: I have never found two more mutually hostile pieces of software. So I re-implemented a terminal emulator, and Telnet, from scratch, and produced a thing called STel. While avoiding revising for my exams in 1998, I accidentally implemented an SSH back end, and PuTTY was born. It's still an active project.

Those are the highlights of my various computer-related activities, but there are quite a few lesser things I've done. Return to my home page and browse around the rest of my site if you're interested.


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(last modified on Mon Jul 11 15:37:12 2011)