Hi Everyone - I'm Philip (I never much liked "Phil") and I only discovered the Restart Project earlier this year (2014) following LJ Rich's report on the BBC website. (Hey Janet, that was a pretty cool coup - how did you wangle that?!?). I've now done a number of Restart Parties and greatly enjoyed not only tinkering with stuff but also showing people that screws can be undone and that what they hide is often pretty fascinating.
I first started tinkering at the age of about 6, with batteries, bulbs, switches and bits of wire. Suddenly, the boring and rather frightening activity at school called Reading acquired meaning and purpose when I discovered that the local library contained books on Electricity! I read them all in no time at all. (I well remember standing in the library check-out queue a little later, having selected another science book, when a lad just a little older remarked "you won't understand that - it's about ATOMS"! My father, a research chemist, had already explained to me what atoms were.)
My electronics started with a crystal set just a few years later. I used to run home from Cubs on a Monday night and get into bed in time to listen to the Goon Show before falling asleep, sometimes before the end at 9pm. (Yes, I'm *that* old, but people tell me I'm wearing well.)
When I left school, it had to be an Electronic Engineering degree, but following a Summer vac job when I was given a project to build with early integrated circuits on 20 tracks/inch Veroboard (twice the standard density), and spending much time fighting cracked tracks and solder shorts, I decided that software was where I wanted to go. I'd already learned to program the Elliott 803 computer at Hatfield Tech (as it then was) in my last year at school. I reasoned that software played fair - it didn't mess you around with shorts and bad connections. (But that was before I discovered real time software, which isn't always quite so friendly.) So I then spent a year in Cambridge doing their Computer Science Diploma, following which I took a year out with Voluntary Service Overseas, teaching A-Level maths and physics in Sri Lanka. I enjoyed teaching, and have always got a kick out of explaining things to people.
A large part of my career I spent in software development, for a number of years as design authority for a proprietary minicomputer operating system kernel, which was quite sophisticated for its day. After moving over to Unix, the latter years have been in Information Security, advising public sector clients on risk assessment and management, and security accreditation. I retired at the end of 2013 but for now I'm maintaining a modest level of involvement with my professional body, the Institute for Information Security Professionals. And so I discovered the Restart Project just when I was looking around for ways to use my new freedom.
I've always maintained an interest in electronics, often having some sort of project on the go, and also had a spell building and flying kites. (You'll normally find me at the Dunstable Kite Festival with something or other to stick to « la voute céleste ». Oh yes, and I try and maintain my French, too, through reading French novels and a French astronomy magazine.) In addition, I love classical music and have been a member of the St Albans Bach Choir for over 40 years. I'm active in my local church, in charge (naturally) of the computer we use for projection, and with my wife, leading services around once a month.
I've enjoyed meeting many other Restarters over the last few months with their infectious enthusiasm, and both learning from them and sharing some of my own knowledge and skills. So may it continue, for as long as the ol' grey cells hold out!