About me

So who the devil am I?

  • I live in Birmingham, West Midlands, UK with my wife Nicola and two children, Madeleine and Joel.
  • I am self-employed, currently working on a contract at the BBC on the RES project (Linked Open Data for memory organsiations). [Note: this site does not reflect the opinions of my employer, only my personal opinions.]
  • I enjoy programming (JavaScript, Ruby, PHP, Java, Python etc.) and have been an active open source developer since 2005. I am experienced with modern web development (HTML5/JavaScript/Intel AppFramework/jQuery/jQuery Mobile/jQuery UI/Sencha Touch etc.), and have had a long love affair with the web (I put together my first website in 1994; here it is in 1998). I was also a Zend Certified Engineer (this is a PHP professional qualification), though I think that may have lapsed.
  • I enjoy watching comedy on DVD (Parks and Recreation, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Armando Ianucci, Nightingales, Father Ted, etc.), sf box sets (Babylon 5, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Survivors [the 1970s original series]), and old science fiction/Hammer horror films (The Abominable Dr. Phibes is one of my favourites). I also collect sf books, particularly avant garde stuff from the late '60s and '70s with fantastic covers (especially Pan); my favourite authors are Barrington Bayley, J.G. Ballard (R.I.P.), Jack Vance, M. John Harrison, Barry Malzberg, Michael Moorcock, Robert Silverberg, and Christopher Priest. Recently I've developed an interest in classic ghost/supernatural stories. See what I've been reading or look at a list of some of my favourite books for more information.
  • I like gardening, and have a small collection of Mexican butterworts (a type of carnivorous plant).
  • I have quite a large record collection; my favourite shopping websites are Bleep, Boomkat and Amazon.
  • In case anyone is wondering which Elliot Smith I am, I'm not the singer who committed suicide (obviously); I'm the one who went to Spalding Grammar School, then the University of Kent (to study English and Comparative Literature), then Canterbury Christ Church College (to study Business and I.T.), then the University of Birmingham (where I did an MSc. in Artificial Intelligence and a Ph.D. in Computer Science); in between, I worked for Canterbury Christ Church College in the art library, at Armada Computer Publications as a technical author, at the University of Birmingham as a Learning Advisor and Web Developer, at OpenAdvantage as an open source advocate, at Talis on semantic-web backed library systems, and at Intel's Open Source Technology Centre.

Bits of me elsewhere

Recent projects.

Github profile.

LinkedIn profile.

Ohloh profile.

Flickr photos.

Twitter profile.

Last.fm profile.

Facebook profile.

ODesk profile (outlines my professional skills).

BrainBench transcript (IT and programming skills self certification results).

Technical projects

I work on Yocto, which means some of my work is in OpenEmbedded, too.

I was a committer for the Intel HTML5 appframework project.

grunt plugins for Tizen and others:

HTML5 games:

Python code for posting Mozilla bookmarks to del.icio.us.

AxleGrease (aka ROROX), a Rails package for XAMPP for Linux, which I used to maintain (Passenger and better Ruby packaging has pretty much made it redundant).

s33r, a Ruby library for interacting with the Amazon S3 service. NB I have now deprecated this library as there is a better alternative: Marcel Molina's S3 library.

Flickrlilli was a Creative Commons search engine for Flickr, built using Ruby on Rails. Unfortunately, it broke, and Flickr introduced decent Creative Commons searches and it became redundant, so I let the domain and code expire.

I have contributed a few tiny patches to Rails (although they're tiny, I'm ridiculously proud of them).

I made one tiny commit to GNOME tracker. (Look ma! I can do a bit of C programming!)

I messed about with writing a Google App Engine triple store (for RDF), called hardfidget. You might find it interesting if you want to use Sesame or JDO on Google App Engine.

I made various small contributions to Moblin, MeeGo, and related projects like Mx.

I was vaguely involved with the Instant Rails project, but not very much.

I did some work on the XAMPP control panel for Linux. The source code is in XAMPP, but no longer maintained as far as I know.

I designed a website for Self Help Services in Manchester; they've now redesigned it while keeping my structure and the content I rewrote for them. I picked up the project through IT4Communities.

I used to work at the University of Birmingham, where I built the Online Vacancies System (ASP and MySQL); and the Prospectus Request Form, plus its attendant back-end system (again, ASP and MySQL, with a Microsoft Access front-end for the distribution centre). Both ran for about three years after I left the University, but now are no longer used. I also wrote the old Newscentre news and events software, but they don't use it any more as they have a new content management system.

I designed a website for my brother in law's business, Alljays Building Services. It's built using Drupal with a stock Garland template, Views and CCK.

Technical and academic writing

I co-wrote a book about Ruby on Rails, which didn't do very well, though it was reasonably well-received. (I think it was partly down to timing: the book went out of date very quickly after publication as Ruby on Rails was in massive upheaval at the time [just before 2.0 came out].)

I've made significant contributions to the Clutter cookbook.

My contribution to the British Computer Society Annual Review 2006, Why you should care about open source.

My Ph.D. thesis - "Incoherence and Text Comprehension: Cognitive and Computational Models of Inferential Control"

A paper I published with my supervisor in AI Review 15(4): "Representation, Coherence and Inference"

I presented a paper called Computing Incoherence from Schema Structure at the 3rd Annual Computational Linguistics UK Research Colloquium, 2000.

Town X: an explanation

See this page.