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About Me
Well, I'm an engineer, studied Mechatronic Engineering in DCU, and currently working in the medical industry developing new medical devices. I've always had a thing for electronics, computers and all that stuff, owning my first soldering iron when I was still in primary school. I also learned to program in primary school, just from reading books at first though, seeing as there wasn't a computer in the house when I was young. I cut my teeth on a BBC micro in my school, and by the time I was 10 I was writing simple games and utilities on it. Eventually I got my hands on an old Atari 800XL, which I quickly got to know inside out (literally) and patiently wrote all sorts of games and applications, including a 16-colour paint programme which was pretty impressive for its time, and had the ability to load and save images from the creaky old tape deck. There must be hours of tapes of my programmes in the attic at home...
It Gets Serious
This Atari servied me well for many years, even though it was outdated when I got it. I had also been exposed to PCs by this time, horrible, ugly 286 and 386 systems which just seemed to me to be clunky, awkward and boring things to use. They seemed to me right from the start to be the brute force, utilitarian tools they were. Yet everyone said they were the way forward... I couldn't understand this. I'd used the Atari for years and found it nicer to work with though severely limited. I'd used an ST, and that seemed better with its mouse, desktop and floppy disks, and I'd vaguely heard of the Amiga, the successor to the extremely popular Commodore 64 and the best graphics money could buy, but I'd never seen one. Finally, when I was 14, and had worked for the summer building a retaining wall for a neighbour, I had the cash available for a new computer. Just in time as well, seeing as my trusty old Atari had died of a broken Pokey. I was intending to buy a PC of some description, probably a 486 at the time, but a friend in school recommended getting a second hand Amiga. Not having used one, it was a bit of a gamble, but from everything I had heard I was sure it would do the job, and they were starting to get old even then so could be bought cheaply. I bought a standard Amiga 1200 from the Buy and Sell, complete with the obligatory shoebox of copied floppies, and I was hooked! This thing, while it had no hard drive, had the OS on one floppy, and even with that absolutely ran rings around the PCs I was using. Why couldn't they do all this, and be so nice and intuitive and friendly and responsive and colourful and fun and... And... And... And... And...

Since then I've been a dedicated Amiga user, still using various machines of my collection almost every day. Of course they can't compete with modern PCs on most fronts, so I have one of them too, but PCs just don't have the character or feeling of the Amiga, and so I'm constantly drawn back to it.

Other Stuff
Of course, there are other things I'm very interested in, all of them seem to centre around technology though... Funny that! First up, I like my cars, I'm a very technical driver and love to feel the car, the road, the interactions... I used to drive an old Mark III Golf GTi 16V, something that was relatively rare in Ireland, and I loved it! Alas, it had too much structural rust to be economically repaired, so it had to be scrapped. I hear the engine lives on in a Mk II Golf rebuild... The replacement was a 2004 Seat Leon Cupra R, which added an extra 75 BHP over the Golf, and was a joy to drive. Not a fan of Japanese cars at all, they just feel too detached, and there's too much of a feeling of the car dictating what you should do. A bit like Windows on a PC really! A friend of mine put it better than I ever could: "Japanese cars are like household appliances." That really captures it, they're functional and good at what they do, but who really cares what it is or how it does it once it washes your clothes?
The Leon was sadly written off in a crash caused by a very stupid person not leaving enough space or not paying attention on the motorway. Being stuck for a car, I grabbed a 2006 Audi A3 2.0 TFSi as a temporary measure, which turned out to have some issues that meant it wasn't as enjoyable to drive as it should've been. Eventually, two years later, it was replaced with a 2011 Skoda Octavia vRS, which is a far more enjoyable car. It doesn't have the quality of finish of the A3, or the excellent power + handling package of the Leon, but being based on the Mk 6 Golf GTi chassis and engine, it's a decent, practical all-rounder with a lively character.
Next up is photography. It's another thing I started having a keen interest in in school, but not being able to afford a decent camera, had to cut my teeth on an old Hanimex (I think) SLR in secondary school and a basic point-and-shoot camera at home. Eventually got the money together to buy a nice digital compact when I started working full-time, and went on from there. Took hundreds of pictures with it, before I left it in a hotel room on the island of Gozo, along with all the photos taken during my week there. I was gutted, never saw it again, and eventually replaced it with a newer model. That disappointed me by being less configurable than the old one, but I stuck with it nonetheless until I finally bought my first SLR: the excellent Nikon D80. You can read more about all this, and see some of my photos in the photography section.

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