Welcome to my personal homepage. It has been over 6 years since I last fully refreshed this site, so welcome to the all new version.
The biggest difference between this and the previous site is the technology used to develop it. I have always been a Java developer, but I have resorted to PHP for hosting homepages for a number of reasons:
- It is cheaper
- It is faster
- And it is just easier
All of those things have been true, until about late 2009. That is when the Play Framework was launched, and when I first started to get involved with it. Since then, I have been busy blogging, and writing a book about Play, as well as building web applications using it. If you don't already know, Play is a web application stack, that uses Java, but does not use J2EE. Therefore, it is not bloated, and it is far easier to develop.
I would never have dreamed of writing a static website using Java before the Play Framework arrived. Now I can do so, without restriction.
And what is more, whilst Play makes it easy to build static sites in Java, it is so powerful when building fully functional web applications that it is now my development platform of choice for ALL web projects. This is the reason I blog and write books about the technology. It just works. No hassle, no fuss, just works.
The other problem with building websites in Java for non-enterprise purposes, is that hosting is not cheap. A simple PHP host can cost as little as $1 per month, and there are several free ones available as well. For Java I struggled to find a host that offered anything less than $10 per month. Really no contest for a simple site. But now, many Cloud hosting applications offer a simple hosting solution for Java web applications for free (for reasonable traffic levels). First there was Google Application Engine, and now there is Heroku, and that is what you are seeing now. What is more, Heroku works with Play natively, not having to deploy Play as a WAR file like Google App Engine. Well done, Heroku + Play.
So, what about me? Well, I am a Software Architect working for a FTSE 100 insurance company. I studied at Aberystwth University where I gained my Masters in Software Engineering, and most recently completed an MBA at Cardiff University.
I live in Wales, UK, with my wife, daughter and son, and spend most of my time either at work, with my family, or working on one of my many personal projects. You can read more about the projects I am working on here, but in summary they are: -
- I have written a book and several blogs on the Play Framework.
- I have written an extension for Google Chrome to track property price changes on the RightMove website.
- I have developed 4 Facebook applications, 3 of which I have sold on.
- I am starting to use PhoneGap (Apache Cordova) to write an Android and iPhone application.
As for hobbies, although I love sport and try to watch a bit now and then, I rarely get time to play these days! The sports and hobbies I most enjoy include:
- Reading, and lots of it!
- Snooker and Pool
- and boardgaming (Puerto Rico and Caylus style boardgames).
Many years ago, a mentor of mine suggested I do two things to help keep my focus on success. He said to keep a list of things you want to achieve, and always keep your eye on the goal. Set achievable, but challenging targets and always aim to complete those goals. Secondly, keep a list of all the achievements you have met, both on and off the former list. Use this list to remind yourself of how capable you actually are, especially during the tough time, to encourage you to continue to push to achieving your goals.
So, here is a list of things that I have achieved (outside of work) that I am particularly proud of.
- Published my first book 'Introducing the Play Framework'.
- Developed 2 Facebook applications with over 1 million users, one of which peaked at 5million page views per day.
- WDA Technology Prize Winner 2004 Software & IT Category
- Invited Keynote Speaker at a Computer Assisted Assessment Conference
- Graduated top in class
- First undergraduate in Computer Science at Aberystwyth to become published (totalled 5 papers in my undergraduate final year).