What are your favourite sports and hobbies?
My work involves spending far too much time sitting in meetings or working on a computer, so I like leisure pursuits that involve fresh air and exercise. I’m keen on backpacking and mountain biking, and a week with the lads is a great way to start the summer. I also help with expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, which gives me an excuse to go camping in some of the most beautiful parts of Northern England.
I like to keep fit, so I go jogging when I can. Monday night is usually gym night.
When I have an idle moment, I like to play fingerstyle guitar. I started many years ago on a home-made electric guitar, but I now have two electric guitars, one steel-string acoustic and one classical guitar. There isn’t room in the house for any more.
What music do you like?
I’m a great fan of music. I carry around two iPod Shuffles (one for classical and one for popular music) so that I always have something available to suit my mood. On the classical iPod, Rachmaninov’s 2nd piano concerto is a particular favourite. It conjures up memories of driving through the Berkshire countryside on a beautiful June morning on the day that my daughter was born. Other favourite composers include Chopin, Mendelssohn, Bach, Handel and Mozart.
My popular music iPod is mainly filled with guitar music (both electric and acoustic). I also like piano music, but I’m not keen on synthesisers. I love silly stuff like Glam Rock and the songs of Tom Lehrer, and I’ve recently discovered Fats Waller. My all time favourite track is probably Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival – it’s brilliantly simple.
What are your favourite foods?
I’m not a foodie, and I don’t like big, heavy meals. I’m reasonably health conscious, so I try to avoid unnecessary salt and saturated fats. If left on my own, I would eat fruit and cereal for breakfast, soup for lunch and a nicoise salad for dinner – every day! My real weaknesses are sugar and chocolate.
What books do you read?
During my years in the desert, I tackled some pretty daunting books such as Tolstoy’s War & Peace and Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples. These days, I’m reluctant to take on any book that is as long as that – most of my reading is done in bed or while travelling, and I generally fall asleep after a few pages.
When I’m on holiday, I generally read a thriller or something by PG Wodehouse. However, the stack of books beside my bed consists mainly of popular science books dealing with relativity, quantum mechanics and astronomy. The more I delve into these subjects, the more amazing they become. Who needs science fiction when science fact is so incredible? Favourite writers in this genre include Stephen Hawking, Brian Greene and Paul Davies.
Is DOT-DASH TO DOT.COM your first book?
Yes, it is the first book that has been published. Immediately after my PhD, I was approached by a publisher to write a book about computer architecture. Sadly, that project had to be abandoned at Chapter 6 after my daughter was born. Some years later, I had a go at writing a novel, but it didn’t get beyond the first draft.
What prompted you to write this book?
I’ve felt for some time that there was a need for a layperson’s introduction to telecoms. We all depend upon mobile phones and the Internet in our everyday lives, but very few people understand how these technologies evolved or how they work. This book not only explains where telecoms has come from, but also where it’s going in the future.
When / where do you write?
My writing has to fit in with other leisure interests – and a full-time job. However, I travel quite a bit with my job, so a substantial part of the book was written on trains, planes and in hotel rooms.
DOT-DASH TO DOT.COM took more than eight years from initial concept through to the first printed copy going on sale. That’s partly a reflection of how long it takes to write a book in spare moments, and partly indicates just how difficult it is for a new writer to find a publisher.
Do you have any ideas for another book?
Whilst it may be a year or so before I’m ready to sit down and write another book, I’ve had a few thoughts on the subject. I like the way that DOT-DASH TO DOT.COM mixes history, science and technology, and I think that a similar treatment might work well in related subject areas. If you have any good suggestions, please send them to me using the contact form near the top of this page.