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About

Recent History

[A picture of David McBride]
Aboard the tall ship Stavros S Niarchos.
Credit: Nick Maynard

In 1999 I moved to London and started a 4-year Masters degree in Computing (Software Engineering) from Imperial College. During this time I worked as a sysadmin in the Computing Department's specialist Computing Support Group, developing a reputation for knowing what I'm talking about as well as being a very useful and helpful person to know.

During an already-busy 2002 I simultaneously became both a full-time student as well as a full-time employee of IBM UK Ltd. when I spent 6 months as an Industrial Trainee working in the Java Technology Centre at IBM Hursley.

I graduated tired but happy in 2003 with my 2‧1 MEng in Software Engineering — and was pleasantly surprised to be offered the opportunity to join the London e-Science Centre as a Research Assosciate, which I accepted. As well as continuing to be a Generally Useful Person, I worked on a range of grid computing systems — including development work on the Large Hadron Collider Compute Grid, which culminated with the integration of the Department's 400-processor production Mars cluster into the production grid.

Also in 2003, I — along with a few other DoC graduates — founded Tastycake.net, a small-scale hosting service intended to provide us, and a few of our friends, a continuous internet presence for ourselves now that we no-longer had access to Imperial's hosting resources.

In Oct 2006, looking for a change, I reverted, pumpkin-like, back into a student and embarked on a full-time PhD — still at Imperial — working to put some of my ideas on how to build a better large-scale authentication system into practice.

In Oct 2009, I hadn't yet finished the PhD but my funding had run out. So I worked part-time as a Unix Systems Administrator for the Bioinformatics Support Service at Imperial. (Which is full of lovely people.)

In Apr 2010, the BSS post sadly came to an end — but fortunately, another one opened up in the Computing Department's Computing Support Group. Amusingly, despite working on CSG systems frequently over the previous decade, this actually marked the first time I was formally made a member of the staff.

In Oct 2011, I submitted by PhD thesis and was commissioned as a full-time permanent member of staff with CSG — pausing to defend my thesis, successfully, in late February and submitting the final corrected version in mid July.

I continued to work, full-time, for CSG. As I once put it, "I work in IT. My job is to make other peoples' day better." This continues to offer up lots of interesting challenges — not least maintaining the Department's (Linux) computing infrastructure.

In July 2012, I left Imperial (after more than 13 years!) for the University Computing Service at the University of Cambridge, where I joined the Platform's Group as a Unix Specialist.

Current

I'm getting to up to speed at Cambridge -- lots of similarities to Imperial, and lots of differences!

I still spend a little time caring for the Tastycake.net services, shooting at pixels, crewing LARP festivals as a techie and field medic, and — from time to time — getting some well-earned sleep.

See also:

My PGP public key
With the right software, you can use this key to encrypt messages so that only I can read them, or to verify that any signed message that I have sent you is genuine.
My FOAF card
This file briefly describes certain properties of me in a machine-readable format.
My Facebook profile
Yes, I am Facebook-enabled — at least until a better distributed facility becomes commonplace.
My Twitter profile
The service I currently use for advertising thoughts I think might be of interest.