About me

Long John Silver and his parrot...ah, no, me actually I have a bushy beard, a parrot on my shoulder and a wooden leg...oh, no, that’s the other guy.

Actually, I’m a fairly ordinary English bloke, living in London, and working with computers. (Do you still call it work when you do it for fun even without being paid?) Sometimes I do have a beard, as you can see in the pictures, and sometimes I don’t. And I definitely don’t have a wooden leg. Not anytime. I’m not married yet, so I have plenty of time to indulge in my favourite hobbies. Among these are computing, travelling, photography, walking, camping, sailing, cycling, swimming, reading, and music. And did I mention computing? A lot of my time is also taken up organising youth clubs and other activities related to my Christian faith. When I can find time in between all these things I sometimes do paid computing work, too.


I’ve been hooked on computers since 1979 when I was about 14 years’ old and dad brought a Commodore PET home for us. The arrival of this pet was the death-knell of piano lessons and railway modelling. I honed my computing skills writing text adventure games in BASIC, and I even wrote an assembler in hex code and entered it using a hex editor. Fortunately, I’m not old enough to have written programs by plugging in cables or punching cards, but even my early experiences seem very primitive compared with today.

After a brief flirtation with Natural Sciences at Cambridge University I returned to my computing roots working at Liverpool University and doing a PhD in parallel computer algorithms. The rot really set in in 1991 when I bought myself my first home PC; to finish my thesis, I claimed. This PC has since been joined by another desktop system and a laptop, and they all still chat away quite happily, if noisily, over the network at home.

Over the years I have played with a huge range of software. From the BASIC environment on the Commodore, through MS-DOS, OS/2, and Windows, finally arriving at Linux. I like to pretend I don’t do Microsoft these days, but I must admit my laptop dual-boots between Linux and Windows 2000, and I still write my diary using Word, keep my accounts using Excel, and use Access for address lists and the like.

I’ve written programs in a number of languages, ranging from that hex code on the old Commodore, through 6502, 68000, SPARC and x86 assembler, to scripting languages such as Perl, Python, and Unix shell scripts, to languages such as C, C++, Java, Fortran, and obscure parallel programming languages such as OCCAM. And I’m sure there are others I’ve now completely forgotten such as Pascal, BCPL, and Cobol.

I’ve usually got several computer projects on the go. My days of writing text adventure games and Mandelbrot drawing programs are long over, and my recent projects have mainly revolved around the redevelopment of this web site.

Some people like to go and see football matches. Sometimes, I like nothing better than to open up a PC and add new disks or cards, or to experiment with a new bit of software. Sometimes I’ll even reinstall a system completely. All for fun!


To get paid for doing something you enjoy may be some people’s idea of heaven. I have the privilege of being paid to play with computer systems all day long. The work environment also gives me access to more and bigger toys than I have at home.

For information about the sort of things I get up to at work have a look at some of the projects I’ve been involved in. There’s also my CV.


Temples in the morning mist at Tikal, Guatemala One of my dreams is one day to sit on the top of a ruined temple poking out above the jungle, as the sun rises and clears the mists away, the shadows race across the tree tops and the air is full of the sound of howler monkeys...and make a phone call home on a satellite phone!

While the cost of satellite phones is still so high I must content myself with the former conditions only. I love to organise trips to unusual places, and I’m always on the lookout for novel ways of getting to them. I enjoy the challenge of not knowing where I’ll be spending the night, or even where I’m going! Many of my most memorable experiences were never planned, but resulted from taking advantage of opportunities as they arose.

Track to Mulhacen, Sierra Nevada, Spain I’ve travelled round Europe and Scandinavia by train; cycled up and down England, round Scotland and across Spain; sailed across the Channel, round the southern coast of Ireland, and down the Baltic Sea in the Tall Ships’ Race; driven a car round parts of the US; and travelled by bus and boat around Central America. Finally, I also spent a year travelling overland from the Middle East through the Indian subcontinent to South East Asia. This last trip involved train, bus, boat, tractor, foot, and unfortunately the occasional airplane.

My most recent trip was a nine-week drive from London to Istanbul and back along a route which looped through Western and Eastern Europe.

To see photographs from some of these trips have a look at my photo diaries.


A half-decker on the Norfolk Broads, England Me beside Grains Gill, Lake District, England When I can’t escape to the ends of the earth, I still like to be out and about. I enjoy sailing yachts and dinghies, cycling, and walking. I like to pack my tent and go cycling round the country or camp in the Lake District and sail on the lakes and walk in the mountains.

I spend far too much time at my gym. My friends seem to think I just prop up the bar there, but really I’m swimming in the pool, honest.

I’m also an inveterate tourist. I love visiting stately homes and castles in the countryside. And London has almost endless possibilities: from its famous landmarks, architecture and history to its theatres and museums and art galleries.

When I can’t even escape from the house I like listening to music and reading. And perhaps just a quick play with the computer!


Last, but not least, my Christian faith is very important to me and influences every area of my life.

One of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects for me is the opportunity to work with young people. I’ve spent many years organising and leading camps, youth clubs and Sunday Schools; and spent many hours covered in paint, clay, cooking ingredients and children. I must be a kid at heart! I’ve also been a skipper for many years on an annual sailing holiday for young people on the Norfolk Broads. It’s the sort of holiday where you return home exhausted and need another holiday just to recover!

In a more sedate vein I also enjoy leading adult bible study groups: no mess, no noise...

Getting in touch

If you have any comments about this site or you just want to get in touch with me then please do contact me.

Last updated May 06, 2004
Copyright © Tim Oliver. All rights reserved.